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TRIBES AND TEMPLES
A RECORD OF THE EXPEDITION TO
MIDDLE AMERICA CONDUCTED
THE TULANE UNIVERSITY
THE TULANE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA
New Orleans, La.
An edition of fifty numbered copies of
this book has been printed on
This book is dedicated
ALFRED P. MAUDSLAY
who was the first to explore the Maya ruins in a modern
scientific way, and who in the section on archae-
ology of the Biologia Centrali Americana
gave the world a monumental collec-
tion of material for future
FRANS BLOMI, Archaeologist, in Charge
OLIVER LA FARGE, Ethnologist, Assistant
---- o --
LAZARO HERNANDEZ GUILLERMO, Guide
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I
LIST OF ILLUSTRATION . . . . .
PREPARATIONS AND EQUIPMENT .
THE START . . . . .
AMONG THE INDIANS OF THE TUXTLA
MOUNTAINS . . . .
OBSERVATIONS ON THE IN)IANS OF THE
SAN MARTIN PAJAPAN REGION .
THE COATZACOALCOS BASIN . .
THE MAYA COUNTRY . . .
ALONG THE FOOTHILLS OF CHIAPAS.
PALENQUE. . . . .
INTO THE BIG FeREST . . .
ENCANTO . . . . .
THE TULANE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA
ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOLUME I.
I. Key Map, showing route of expedition in relation to New Orleans ..on Cover
II. Southern part of the State of Veracruz, Mexico........-- .. .... ........ 14
III. The State of Tabasco, Mexico --.....-....... ...--..- .... ...... 92
IV. Rough map of the Ruins of Palenque -..........-..--------........ .......-.... ..1 80
I. Palenque. Example of fresco painting on exterior wall on House E..... ..172
II. Palenque. Stucco ornament with original colors from Temple of the
Foliated Cross .......-....... -.....----- .. .. .. .174
III. Yoxiha. Jar U-6 -.......... ...... ... .... ............. .. .. ... 228
IV. Yoxiha. a. Bowl L-3 ..-........--..-----.-.... .. 232
b. B owl L-1 -........... --~~. ............ ... .. ... - .... .. 232
V. Yoxiha. Bowl L-4 -....-....--- ....--..-...--. ~................ -- 232
VI. The Tuliha Valley -- ..---------..............--- ... 234
1. Tampico. Oil tankers entering Tamesi River----....... ....... ......... 9
2. Tampico. Mounds by the Gorgas Hospital....................... ...-......-. .. 10
3. Tampico. Clay figurine -.... ...........----...-. .. .- .---. 11
4. Tampico. Public scribes on the principal square ........-... --... ......... 11
5. Huexotla, D. F. End view of ancient wall----.....---.............--....... --- 12
6. Huexotla, D. F. Section of mound showing various floor levels............. 13
7. Huexotla, D. F. Old Spanish bridge -......... ...... ......-.............. .... 13
8. Texcoco, D. F. Section of mound built of adobe brick-..............--- ..... 14
9. Coyoacan. D. F. The Avenue of Famous Men in the garden of Casa
Alvarado ........................ ... .. ------- --- ....... .....-- 14
10. Mexico, D. F. Maya limestone stela in the yard of the National
M museum ..------------.................-.---- .. -----.-.- - ----- ------ ---- 15
11. Mexico, D. F. Inscription from Maya stela in the yard of the
National Museum ............---......--....-------..... .. ---- .-- 16
12. Cocuite, Ver. Spindle whorl painted with asphalt-...... ....-.... ... .. .-..-- 16
13. Cocuite. Ver. Totonae clay idol of the laughing face type ....... ...--. 17
14. Cocuite. Ver. Design on idol, Figure 13 ...-..... ................- ..------ 18
15. San Andres Tuxtla. Ver. Stone idol representing frog ............-.. .......--. 19
16. San Andres Tuxtla, Ver. Three rabbits' heads of stone .. -.................... 19
17. The Aztec hieroglyph of Tuxtla... .. ........--...... --.....--...-... ...-..... 20
18. Catemaco. Ver. View of Catemaco village, the lake, and the sacred
island Agaltepec ..---..-.. ---... ---.----. ...--.. --------- ---.. ..... 21
19. Catemaco. Ver. Fragment of stone idol ........ -. .. -...... .... ... ..... 22
20. Catemaco. Ver. Grotesque stone head .-....-.. .... ............... ... ...........- 22
21. Catemaco. Ver. Egg-shaped idol from Tenaspi Island-...-..... --..............-- 22
22. Agaltepec Island. Rough plan of the eastern part of the island .--...... 23
23. Matacanela, Ver. Rabbit's head carved in stone..-...... ..---..... .......... 24
24. M atacanela, Ver. Two stone boxes.................- ------- ........
25. M atacanela, Ver. Serpent's head of stone......-..........----- ... ...-- .
26. M atacanela, Ver. Circular altar-......--- -..............-...... .... --- ..... .... -
27. Catemaco, Ver. Volcanic cone at the end of village street ..............-
28. Ocozotepec, Ver. Principal street with the Santa Marta mountains
in the background... ... . ........ ...........-
29. San Martin Mountain and oak forest.. .. .... ........
30. Mecayapan, Ver. The Tulane Expedition on the trail .............- ...
31. Mecayapan. Ver. Church and steeple.................
32. Tatahuicapa, Ver. Hammock bridge made of vines..... .......
33. Tatahuicapa. Ver. View of the village with the San Martin Pajapa
Volcano in the background ..... .. ......... .....
34. Tatahuicapa, Ver. Indian huts under mango tree ...
35. Tatahuicapa, Ver. Indian woman going to the river for water........
36. Tatahuicapa, Ver. Indian child carrying clay pot on her head ........
37. Piedra Labrada, Ver. Ancient metate.......
38. Piedra Labrada, Ver. Stela No. I .. .. .- ... .. ...... .
39. Piedra Labrada, Ver. Small grinding stone in form of animal....
40. Piedra Labrada, Ver. Fragment of female idol... ........
41. San Martin Pajapan. Ver. Drawing of idol from top of the volcano
made by Ismael Lova in 1897..... ... ... ..... .....
42. San Martin Pajapan. Ver. Drawing of same idol as fig. 51 as it
now stan ds .... . ... ..... .... .... . .... ... .. .
4.3. San Martin Pajapan, Ver. Idol from the top of the mountain -.......
44. Tatahuicapa, Ver. Trading for arrows with the Indians .
45. Ocozotepec, Ver. The Municipal House....
46. San Martin Pajapan, Ver. Bows and arrows .
47. Ocozotepec. Ver Popoluca man showing the use of bow and arrow
48. Tatahuicapa, Ver. Drawing of weave........ ........
49. Piedra Labrada. Ver. Popoluca Indian woman grinding corn. and
girl baking tortillas .. .. .. .. ......
50. Piedra Labrada. Ver. Indian boy with bow and arrow ...........
51. Tatahuicapa, Ver. Women preparing tortillas for the fiesta.........
52. Tatahuicapa, Ver. The village saint, San Isidro.... ..
53. Ocozotepec. Ver. Indians beating drums in honor of their saint.
54. Puerto Mexico. Ver. The mouth of the Coatzacoalcos River ....
55. Puerto Mexico. Ver. Street .......
56. Jaltipan, Ver. Indians dressed for dancing .
57. Jaltipan. Vcr. Drum and masks used by the Indians when dancing
58. Sayula, Ver. Aztec clay bowl. (10 cm. high).. ......
59. Jaltipan, Ver. Drawing of Indian girl. made by Rodriguez ...
60. Ixhuatlan, Ver. The village .... .. .... .. . ...
61. Ixhuatlan. Ver. Idol found near the village
62. Cascajal, Ver. Clay seal. (Half size) .......
63. Coachapa. Ver. Clay figurine. (Half size). .........
64. Sailing vessel on the Gulf Coast ............ . ...
65. Rio Blasillo. Tal. The sloop Lupata chartered by the expedition
66. Rio Blasillo, Tab. View of the river... ......... .
67. La Venta. Tab. Stela No. 1.. ........ ..... ..... .
68. La Venta. Tab. Rough plan of the ruins...... ...
69. La Venta. Tab. Stela No. 2.... ... .. .. .... .....
70. La Venta. Tab. Detail of main figure Stela 2 .... .. .....
71. La Venta. Tab. From Headdress of main figure Stela 2..........
72. La Venta. Tab. Small figure on Stela 2 ....-- ...--- ....... ...
73. La Venta, Tab. Altar 2 .................... ................ . .......
74. La Venta, Tab. Altar 3 .......................------ -- .......... --- ...-....-...
73. La Venta, Tab. Incised drawing on side of Altar 3........---..............-
76. La Venta. Tab. Colossal head ...........-.. ---- .....---
77. La Venta. Tab. Altar 4 .........-----------...
78. La Venta, Tab. Altar 4 --..............-- .- .......-----
79. La Venta. Tab. Large idol, now in Villahermosa............ .........
80. La Venta, Tab. Two idols now in Villahermosa ...........--..-......
81. Frontera. Tab. Maya clay head from Las Cruses on the Usumacinta
R iv er ..... ........ ..... . .. ........... .. ............... .
82. Jonuta, Tab. M aya clay figurines .. ..... ..........----..........--
83. Nacajuca, Tab. The village jail. The inscription on the wall reads:
"Get out if you can" -.. ........
84. M ap of Comalcalco Ruins ......... ..... .................
85. Comalcalco. Tab.
86. Comalcalco. Tab.
87. Comaalcalo. Tab.
88. Comalcalco. Tab.
89. Comalcalco. Tab.
90. Comalcalco. Tab.
91. Comalcalco, Tab.
92. Comalcalco. Tab.
93. Comalcalco, Tab.
Front of Temple 1
Indian with poisonous snake killed at the ruins.....
Ground plan and section of Temple 1. Scale 1:200_
Ground plan and section of Temple 2. Scale 1:200.
Rem ains of the Palace... ....... .... .....- .. .....
Potsherds on the wall of the Palace ...........-.....---
East wall of the standing portion of the Palace..._
Cross section of the standing portion of the
3:500) ............. .. ....... .. .. ..
Main temple (N-l) on the Northern Plaza,
showing its southern w alls......... ....... .... ..................
94. Comalcalco. Tab. Stucco head on brick core found upon east side
of Temple mound. N-1 ....... ...... ....--.... . ..
95. Comalcalco. Tab. Professor Taracena with huge pot found by him
in the North Plaza of the ruins. Circumference at bottom 3.40 in.
Height 1 3M .. ... ....--.-.. -- -- .
96. Comalcalco. Tab. Burnt bricks with incised drawing ...........
97. Comalcalco. Tab. Tomb showing east wall and four pillars ....
98. Comalcalco. Tab. Necklace made of clam shells. Found in tomb ...
99. Comalcalco, Tab. Ground plan and section of tomb. Nos. 1-9 refer
to position of stucco figures. (Fig. 100-103, 105-110) Letters a-j
refer to hieroglyphic inscriptions (Fig. 104)............ ... ......
100. Comalcalco. Tab. East wall of tomb showing figures 4. 5 and 6,
and hieroglyphic inscriptions d. e. and f
Comalcalco. Tab. Tomb, fig. .5...... ..
Comalcalco. Tab. Tomb, fig. 4 ....... .
Comalcalco, Tab. Tomb. fig. 6 ... .........
Comacalco. Tab. Hieroglyphic inscriptions
Comalcalco. Tab. Tomb, fig. 1 ...........
Comalcalco. Tab. Tomb, fig. 2 .........-
Comalcalco. Tab. Tomb, fig. 3.........--
Comalcalco. Tab. Tomb, fig. 7.-.............-...
Comalcalco, Tab. Tomb, fig. 8........
on walls of tomb
110. Comalcalco. Tab. Tomb, fig. 9........-....- ..... .................. -------- -
111. Hun Ahau, the Maya God of death. (from the Dresden Codex).... .....
112. Comalcalco. Tab. Boy teachers and their pupils-...............................
113. Villahermosa. Tab. Front view of clay head in Instituto Juarez.
(45 cm high) .............. ........--------- .......-------- ...---- -
114. Villahermosa, Tab. Side view of clay head in Instituto Juarez.
(sam e as fig. 113) ------.. -----.... .. ----- ..--- ... ---- ------ - -
115. Chontal H house ............. ... .
116. Tortuguero. Tab. Mlap of the ruins........ ..........
117. Tortuguero. Tab. Stela 1 -. ..................
118. Tortuguero. Tab. Stela 2 ....
119. Tortuguero, Tab. Stela 3
120. Tortuguero, Tab. Small clay heads found in ruins ..
121. Zopo Cave, T ab. .... . ...... ..................... ....
122. Zopo Cave, Tab. Clay cylinder No. 1. (80 cm. high) -.... .....
123. Zopo Cave, Tab. Clay cylinder No. 2. (76 cm. high) .............
124. Zopo Cave. Tab. Clay cylinder No. 3. (80 cm. high)............
125. El Retiro, Chis. Mlap of the ruins............- ....... .............
126. El Retiro, Chis. Ground plan and section of the temple. Scale 1:200.
127. Palenque, Chis. Corridor of House A in Palace Group................
128. Palenque, Chis. A corner of the main court in the Palace group....
129. Palenque, Chis. Section of the north side of the Palace mound
showing position of stucco masks..... ... ..... ....
130. Palenque, Chis. Stucco mask on north side of Palace mound..........
131. Palenque, Chis. Stucco ornament on west side of House B. Palace
132. Palenque, Chis. Large limestone block carved to represent a crocodile.
133. Palenque, Chis. Ground plan of the Temple of the Sun. after
M a u d sla y .- --............ . . .... ........... ......... .... .. . .. .. . . .
134. Palenque, Chis. Section of the temple of the Sun. after Holmes.
135. Palenque, Chis. Stucco inscription from the back wall of building
X V III. Scale 1:10.............. ................
136. Palenque, Chis. Burial vaults to the south of the Temple of the
Beau Relief .
B e a u R elie f .... ---. --...- ..-.-.-.- ............... .... ... ... ..... ..... .... ........ .
137. Palenque, Chis. Details of Stairway to the Temple of Inscriptions...
138. Palenque, Chis. Death head in stucco, from the temple west of the
T em ple of Inscriptions.-..-- --- ---. -...- -......-- .. ... . .. ...
139. Palenque, Chis. Hieroglyphic Inscription from Temple D. of the
N orth T em ples ..............................
140. Palenque. Chis.
141. Palenque, Chis.
142. Palenque, Chis.
143. Palenque, Chis.
144. Palenque, Chis.
145. Palenque, Chis.
146. Palenque, Chis.
147. Palenque. Chis.
148. Palenque, Chis.
149. Palenque, Chis.
150. Palenque, Chis.
151. Palenque. Chis.
152. Palenque, Chis.
153. Palenque, Chis.
154. Palenque, Chis.
155. Palenque, Chis.
156. Palenque. Chis.
157. Palenque, Chis.
158. Palenque, Chis.
159. Palenque. Chis.
160. Palenque, Chis.
Section of a room in Temple E. of the North Temples
Ground plan of "Templo del Conde". Scale 1:200..
Stucco hieroglyphs from "Templo del Conde"
Plan and section of Burial S-1 .... ....... ..
Plan and section of Burial S-2 ......
Plans and sections of Burials S-3 and S-4 ............
Plan and section of Burial S-5........ ........
Plan and section of Burial S-6 .....
MIap of Group C and plan of House A in same group.
Standing stela. "La Picota" ....................
Map of Group F showing position of "L.a Picot"
(Scale 1:1000)................. .....
Map of Group G............ ..
Plan of burial north of Group E. Scale 1:100 ..
Map of Group H.... .. .......
Plan of structure B in Group H ........
Plan of burial in Mound A of Group H. (Scale
Structure XXVI. Scale 1:750...... ..........
Temple between Groups H and F. ..............
T ablet N o. 1..... -----.... ...---- -- ..... ..... .....
Tablet No. 2 reconstructed-....................... .
T ablet N o. 2..............................
161. Palenque, Chis.
a. Tablet No. 1 with stucco coating..............--- --.. 193
b. Tablet No. 1 after stucco coating had been
removed .-----....-...-------- -- ---------- ---- ----- 193
162. Palenque, Chis. Tablet No. 3 and fragment ot same taMlet iound
in 1923 .-- -- --------
163. Palenque, Chis. Painted inscription on the wall of a room in House
D, Palace. (Half size)--....... .... ----------- ----
164. Zona Sala, Chis. Oil Camp .... -------------..--------
165. Zona Sala, Chis. Clay figurine (17 cm. high) and vase (18 cm.
high) in a grave.......
166. Zona Sala, Chis. Clay figurine (whistle)............ - .....
167. Xupa, Chis. Rough map of ruins .............---
168. Xupa, Chis. Ground plan and section of temple. (Scale 1:200)...
169. Zona Sala. Chis. View of Cojolite Pass..----- ..........
170. The dense jungle............. ..------ - .-- -- - --
171. Finca Encanto, Chis........... ....... ..... ..
172. The Tulija River, Chis ... ...... --- ------ -- .. ...--
173. Chuctiepa, Chis. Plan and section of Mound 1...........--.. -
174. Chuctiepa, Chis. Fragment of stela........ --.----.--------- ---.... .
175. Chuctiepa, Chis. Altar --- .... ..... ......- -.. ..
176. Chuctiepa, Chis. M ap of ruins..... ...... -. .. .. ...------- ..
177. The big forest......... -. .. --
178. Yoxiha, Chis. Plan of natural bridge and ruins...............
179. Yoxiha, Chis. The Tulane Expedition camp.............. .
180. Yoxiha, Chis. Stela ..........- -..- -- ----
181. Muxculha, Chis. Ground plan of ruins.....- -- -
182. The Tulija River emerges from a cave...........- ..- .......
183. The Holha Lagoon.....------ --- ------
184. A mahogany tree...............- -- -- ------
185. Yoxiha, Chis. Plan and section of two burial chambers in Mound 1.
186 and 187. Yoxiha. Chis. Tripod bowl, U-4, and U-5 ............
188. Yoxiha, Chis. Jar U-6..-.............- ---- ---- ---
189. Yoxiha, Chis. Tripod bowls U-9 and U-10 ................ ------- ------
190. Yoxiha, Chis. Filed incisor tooth with inlay of pyrite. Full size ...
191. Yoxiha, Chis. Sections of pottery.....-............... ..-- --- --.
192. Yoxiha, Chis. Bowl L-10 ..............-------- --
193. Huxumachital, Chis. A ruined temple room.........-...... ..- ---
194. Huxumachital, Chis. Plan of ruins (Scale 1:2000).......... ..--. ----
In March, 1924, an anonymous friend of Tulane University
created an endowment, the income from which would be used for
the study of the Middle American countries. It was then decided
to conduct an archaeological and ethnological invest ation t'
library research and expeditions to be sent into the Id ;
inhabited by the most notable of the an ; nt popular
"e Maya Indians.
Mr. Frans P, was selected large of
*n, assisted by Ar. Oliver L. hey sta i Te.
1 s on the 19th of Febr-'ar 5. te object ex-Pe;-
s to study ancient :tan- s N 1 as th, is
r the Ir ns. A the s, e time notes ; r
'buted that Mr. Blom n1 o
n haeology and he als geo-
'ta. ed material relat. J-ie cus-
tomn anguagt ay Indians.
I ng pa!- will be found the report of this, the First
Tulane 7xp ec '"n to Middle America. It is based on
the jourr, s h b aa, throughout the expedition. The sec-
tions on arn haec ti- n written by Mr. Blom d hose parts
relating to the pre. da 'ians, by Mr. La Farq An attempt
has been made to p eascat he material in such a fort that the gen-
eral reader, unacquainted n'bh the history of the ancient inhabitan -
of Central America, will fine it interesting, and at the same time to
uphold a standard satisfactory to the scientist. For this reason
paragraphs describing the mythology, calendar, and customs of the
pre-Columbian Maya have been woven into the text, forming a
background to the discoveries made by the expedition.
The style used by the writers is distinct, as is also the material
they present, but as many things of interest would be lost in splitting
it into separate publications, it was decided to make this report in
the form of a book of travel.
For the convenience of those searching for special information,
a detailed index will be found at the end of the second volume.
EXPLANATIONS AND ABBREVIATIONS
Stela -A monolith, either plain or carved.
Plaza -A square enclosed by mounds or temples.
Finca -A large ranch.
Cabildo-A Municipal House.
Tams. -State of Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Ver. -State of Veracruz, Mexico.
Tab. -State-of-Tabasco, Mexico.
Chis. -State of Chiapas, Mexico.
1 kim.-Kilometer, equals 3,280 feet 10 inches.
1 m. -Meter, equals 3.28 feet.
1 cm.-Centimeter, equals .3937 inches.
All maps and plans are made to the true north,
using a magnetic declination of 7 east.
Where nothing else is indicated on the plans,
north is always towards the top of the page.
PREPARATIONS AND EQUIPMENT
For centuries man has been interested in the deeds of his ances-
tors. Innumerable discoveries of prehistoric objects have served to
rouse his interest and imagination and have made him draw hasty con-
clusions, and weave fascinating fabrics of fact interwoven with many
threads of fancy. Giants, dwarfs, dragons, knights and fair maidens,
inhabited planets and lost continents, were the designs in these richly-
Today archaeologists tell stories which resemble these gaudy
fabrics, the newspapers give much space to discoveries in all parts
of the world, the public reads and is thrilled. Rarely, though, is it
known what goes before a discovery. The reader pictures the ex-
plorer stumbling on a ruined city, without realizing that training
and careful research precede every expedition into the unknown. He
does not see the scientist working late hours over old maps and docu-
ments. He does not see him selecting his equipment with the great-
est care. He does not see the toilsome days when the expedition
fights dense forests, bad trails, and millions of insects-not for a few
days, but week after week, month after month.
Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome have their his-
torians. You learn about them in school. We can reconstruct the
daily life of the Egypt of three thousand years ago to the minutest
details. One has heard something about the North American In-
dians, but few are those who know that 1,500 to 2,000 years ago a
civilization, the Maya, that can well be compared with those of the
Old World, and on certain points even surpassed them, flourished
on the American continent.
The Spanish Conquerors and their priests wrote about the people
they met on their hunt for gold and souls. The first modern explorer
to visit this territory was an American, John L. Stephens. After
him came French, German, and British. The leadership in this field
of research again passed to America when the Peabody Museum of
Harvard University began its work, followed by the Carnegie In-
stitution of Washington, and now quite lately Tulane University
of Louisiana. Each expedition has brought home material that adds
to our knowledge of the civilizations of Ancient America.
The general history of Egypt, Greece, and Rome has been writ-
ten. The history of the foremost civilization of ancient America has
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
not yet been written, but the day will soon come when the story of an
American race as artistic, as scientific, and as human as most of the
races of the Old World will be opened to those who are fascinated
by bygone days.
We will follow the Tulane expedition from its start to its end,
and glean from its records a little of the history of the ancient Maya,
the Maya country, the daily life of the Maya descendants, and the
methods used in modern archaeological research.
The less equipment one intends to take on a long expedition, the
more difficult it is to get it together. This sounds paradoxical, but
none the less it is true. When one has a long journey ahead, and
knows that it will cover difficult trails, every piece of equipment has
to be selected with the greatest care. Far away from towns it is
impossible to get many things needed on an expedition which has
archaeology and ethnography for its main purpose: everything must
therefore be carefully considered beforehand.
The 1925 Tulane Expedition to Middle America was carefully
planned months ahead. A multitude of maps was consulted and
compiled into a main expedition map. There are maps of most of
the Middle American countries, and the greater number of them
look well, but are remarkably inaccurate in their details. None the
less, it is of value to compile all available data before starting.
Books on the region were consulted, and extracts made so that
we would have a handbook of condensed information to be used when
far from libraries.
After the route had been carefully considered, the next step was
the selection of the equipment. We knew that, for the greater part
of our journey, we should have to depend on horse or mule trans-
portation, and that we should have to cross tropical forests where
there is an abundance of trees, but no grass on which to feed the
animals. We also knew that there would be steep mountains to
cross. Furthermore, as the expedition was planned to be a recon-
naissance trip more than an excavation expedition, light equipment
would be necessary. Light fibre boxes specially made for transpor-
tation on pack animals were secured. They are called "kayaks," and
measure 58 cm. long x 23 cm. broad x 49 cm. high. They will hold
about 100 pounds each, two boxes being a convenient cargo for one
animal, and one box the usual weight carried by an Indian.
Though there were only two white men on the expedition, an
aluminum cooking set for four persons was bought. It is always
best to have a cooking outfit for two or three more than the party
numbers, to take care of guides, and visitors. Knives and forks go
with the set, but extra knives for skinning game, etc., have to be
No camp cots were taken, but hammocks with specially made
mosquito nets. These nets have a sleeve at either end through which
the ropes of the hammock run. Indian huts are built of poles and
the forest is full of trees, so there is always a place to hang the ham-
mock. We found sheets both cool and comfortable when our bodies
were itching with tick bites, and they can be used as bandages in an
emergency. A rubber wash basin also proved very convenient.
A folding table was carried for use not so much as a dining table,
as for a place on which to complete our field notes and water colour
sketches. It is comparatively rare to find tables in Indian houses.
For chairs we used our kayaks.
No complete tent was taken along, only a fly-sheet, this proving
sufficient for general use in covering ourselves and the cargo. There
are usually elephant-ear leaves, or small palm leaves in the forest,
so that in a short time one can build a shelter sufficient for a couple
of days, even if it should rain quite hard. As it happened, the ex-
pedition was fortunate enough not to encounter a full day's rain as
long as it was on the road. The trip was so planned that we would
be well up in the mountains before the rains started in the lowlands
along the Gulf Coast. Furthermore, this year proved very favour-
able in that the rains were late in the highlands.
No member of such an expedition should ever be without a coni-
pass, a snake-bite pencil, and an army emergency ration. All three
things are carried for obvious reasons. The compass serves to find
one's bearings. The snake-bite pencil, which looks like a small foun-
tain pen, contains in one end a small lancet with which to enlarge
the wound inflicted by the snake, in the other, permanganate crystals,
which, when smeared into the incision made with the lancet. have
proven a potent antidote against snake bites. The army emergency
ration contains three cakes mainly composed of chocolate, each rep-
resenting a meal.
For geographic reconnaissance work a Brunton pocket transit
was used. This is a remarkable instrument, light and compact. It
serves both as compass and clinometer. Mounted on a small camera
tripod it gives quite accurate readings, and the person trained to use
it can make very good traverses. As it contains a mirror, it can even
be used when shaving.
It is a well known fact that the ancient inhabitants of the region
which we proposed to explore oriented the greater part of their
buildings to the cardinal points. They knew the true north, but not
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
the magnetic north. Our compasses were, therefore, corrected to
true north, using a declination of 7 E. This declination is an aver-
age of declinations ascertained by surveyors of several oil companies
who have been, and in some instances still are, working in the region.
A French barometer compensated for temperature was used for
taking altitudes over sea level.
We carried three watches, which were checked with each other,
and used in combination with the barometer when observing alti-
All measurements were done in the metric system. For the con-
venience of those not conversant with this system, a table giving the
equivalent in feet is found in Appendix X.
In measuring buildings a 25-meter steel tape was employed, and
larger distances were paced. All plans of ruins were drawn to scale
on the spot. Long descriptions of arrangements and dimensions of
buildings are tiresome, and do not give a picture of their plan to the
reader. Those who wish to study the drawings in more detail can
easily ascertain the dimensions with the help of a graduated ruler.
Pedometers are not reliable, so when pacing, every fifth step was
punched on a tally.
The smaller impedimenta used in this section of the work in-
cluded drawing boards, rulers, protractors, water colours, and col-
Next came the choice of photographic equipment, which should
not be too bulky. For rough work a No. 1-A Autographic Kodak,
Jr., with roll film and anastignmat F 7.7 130 nmm. lens was used, to
this we also had a portrait attachment. This small camera gave
very good results, though roll film is always difficult in moist
tropical countries, as it is apt to stick to the covering paper when
For more special work, such as photographing monuments and
buildings, we used a Graphix camera with a Kodak anastigmat lens,
F .4.5, 11/, inches, size 31/4 x 51/ (post card size). Very good results
were produced with this machine. The speed of the camera was of
no account; all the exposures save two were made on time. with the
use of a tripod. It was of great value to be able to focus the camera
exactly with the help of the ground glass, and this camera is not so
heavy and bulky as a Graflex. Pack film was used exclusively with
this machine. The individual films in the pack lie loose between
sheets of black paper, so that the tropical moisture is not so apt to
damage them as with roll film.
It is a great help to carry an instrument, put out by the Kodak
people, with which you can tilt your camera to any desired angle.
This is specially helpful when photographing monuments which are
lying flat on the ground and are difficult to raise.
Though we were able to secure a very good collection of photo-
graphs with the two mentioned instruments, we have come to the
conclusion that small cameras with exceptionally good lenses really
are more serviceable than large ones. It is just as easy to make an
enlargement from a small, sharp negative as from a larger negative.
A small camera is much easier to handle both when on foot and on
Before leaving for the field we were given a medical examina-
tion, and this same was repeated upon our return. The first inves-
tigation was to ascertain that we were in fit condition for a long,
strenuous journey, and the second to find out if we had succeeded
in collecting some interesting germs in our blood which might be of
importance to medical students.
A small medical kit from Burroughs, Wellcome & Co., served
us very well. The products of this company are wonderfully com-
pact and of high grade. We carried a large stock of quinine, which
was chiefly used to help the Indians.
For work in the ruins we had folding shovels, trench picks, a 11/.
ton jack for lifting and turning fallen monuments, stiff brushes to
scrub moss and lichens off the monuments, and some sheets of tin for
use as reflectors when photographing monuments and hieroglyphics.
These sheets of tin were cut so that they would fit inside the kayaks.
When selecting saddles and pack saddles it is advisable to get
the kind commonly used in the country to be visited. The North
American horse is larger and broader than his Central American
brother, and the McClellan and Texas saddles are generally too
broad for the Central American animals and are apt to damage their
backs. We, therefore, bought saddles of the usual Mexican type.
Muleteers are accustomed to particular types of pack saddles, and
much annoyance and delay is avoided when the traveler buys the
kind of pack saddle his servants are acquainted with.
Our personal equipment was very small, consisting chiefly of
riding breeches, flannel and linen shirts, heavy boots, and broad
brimmed Stetson hats. For protection against rain we had native
ponchos made of cloth covered with native rubber. These are very
practical, as they cover the entire saddle and saddle bags.
Only a small supply of canned goods was carried for emergency
purposes. For the greater part of the journey we lived off the
8 TRIBES AND TEMPLES
country, buying our supplies of sugar, salt, coffee, beans, and rice
in the villages we passed through. No firearms were carried on the
first half of the trip, but in Palenque we purchased a small Win-
chester .22-calibre rifle which proved to be sufficiently powerful to
kill such food game as curasaw, wild turkey, and monkey.
A stock of glass beads, bandanna handkerchiefs, and a collection
of chromo prints of saints were carried for bartering with the In-
dians, or as gifts to the more important members of the tribes with
which we came in contact.
Leafax notebooks were used for our field notes, and all notes
were made with a carbon copy. Original and copy were kept in
separate places and whenever we had a safe opportunity of sending
out mail, the carbons were shipped home, so that if we should have
the bad luck to lose our equipment, our field notes at least would
New Orleans was cheering the first Mardi Gras parade of the
year 1925 when the steamer Copan on the 19th of February went
down the river carrying the writer and the greater part of the First
Tulane Expedition's equipment on board. By dawn on Sunday
morning we steamed into the mouth of the Tamesi River followed
by eight huge oil tankers, (fig. 1) lying high on the water, as they
were empty. We were all heading for the oil city, Tampico. Tank-
ers steadily come and go there. They come to be filled with crude
oil, lubricating oil, and gasoline, and leave for all ports of the world.
*- :,.MA --
FIG. 1-Tampico. Oil Tankers Entering Tamesi River.
Tampico is the heart of the oil region running along the Mexican
Gulf towards Vera Cruz. The river bank is crowded with refineries.
Everything is oil-large islands of it float on the river, even the air
is saturated with its stench.
We anchored in the mouth of the river to undergo a superficial
medical inspection, after which we proceeded to the city. A town
grown up around oil camps is never attractive, and though millions
and millions of dollars have gone into Tampico's municipal treasury,
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
the town is still without paved streets and very dirty. Only where
the foreign oil companies have built their quarters does one see well
kept houses and gardens.
On a large field close to the Gorgas Hospital are several ancient
Indian mounds through some of which new roads have been cut, and
all of them have been dug into by treasure hunters (fig. 2). Only
a few pot sherds were found, and these did not give any indication
as to the authors of the mounds. The cross sections made in the
mounds by the road builders show successive layers of cement floors
about a foot apart. The mortar in the floors has been made from
burnt oyster shells, and chiefly consists of a conglomerate of oyster
shells with a thin smooth surface. As many as sixteen layers of
mortar were counted in one mound.
<- - --. -- -- .
FIG. 2-Tampico. Mounds by the Gorgas Hospital.
A visit was made to the famous old pot hunter, Professor William
Niven. He has changed his residence from Mexico City to Tampico
and here continues his eager search for antiquities. In his rooms he
had a collection of small clay figurines, all females and of quite primi-
tive character (fig. 8). Several of them had black paint on their
head-dresses. Mr. Niven reported them to have been found near a
station called Paso Vera Cruz on the railroad.
It was carnival time in Tampico, and during the afternoon crowds
were circulating through the streets in decorated cars, and the pave-
ments were littered with paper streamers and confetti. On the main
plaza sat the Public Scribes, unaffected by the gayness around them,
typewriting love letters for illiterate Mexican swains (fig. 4).
TAMPICO AND YERACRUZ
Some cargo was unloaded and then we proceeded to Vera Cruz,
where the S. S. Copan was to load bananas. Again we went through
a cursory medical and customs inspection. Once
outside the customs station, one is attacked by a
swarm of carriers, all crying at the top of their
voices and offering to carry your luggage to the
hotel. Woe to the poor traveler who does not
drive a careful bargain in advance! He invariably
will be overcharged, and when he makes a row
about it, the carrier will call in a policeman, who
will force the traveler to pay up, and then the two
of them, carrier and policeman, will go out in the
street and split the dividend.
In Vera Cruz also it was carnival time. Sun-
shine and flowers, bright colors and gay crowds-
everybody seemed to enjoy the peace that now
prevails in the country. Indians were dancing in
FIG. 3-Tampico. Clay the streets, and decorated cars and floats moved
Figurine. (/1 Size). slowly up and down. A shot was heard. A man
disengaged himself from the crowd and limped over the Plaza
towards a Red Cross station. Blood was dripping in his trail. He
FIG. 4-Tampico. Public Scribes on the Principal Square.
was shot through the foot. Nobody seemed to take any notice, and
the carnival went on.
In Mexico City it was necessary to acquire government permits
for the work of the expedition, and various letters of introduction.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
Every department of the government with which we came in touch
offered the University whole-hearted co-operation, and furnished the
Expedition with letters to the State Governments, as well as to the
Military and Civil authorities.
Oliver La Farge joined me in Mexico City, and together we
visited various ruins in and round the capital.
Guided by Mrs. Zelia Nuttall, a trip was made to the ruins of
Huexotla, where some very interesting ancient walls and foundations
for buildings are found (fig 5).
This is a large group of ruins.
The top of one mound has been
excavated. No walls of build-
ings are on this mound, but a
series of platforms, and Mrs.
Nuttall suggested that it might
have been used as a market place.
The side of the mound has been
washed out and shows several
successive layers of floors with
stone rubble and dirt between
(fig. 6). On one of the largest
mounds stands a beautiful old
Spanish church, and in front of
this is the fragment of an idol.
The whole group of ruins lies 7W .
along a deep baranca and along
the edge of this a retention wall
was built in ancient times. Now -
the baranca is crossed by a very -
picturesque old Spanish stone
bridge* (fig. 7).
On the same trip we visited
FIG. 5 -Huexotla, D. F. End View of
a mound near the large town of Ancient Wall.
Texcoco. This mound is built entirely of adobe brick covered with
plaster (fig. 8).
Mrs. Nuttall is widely known as an expert on the ancient history
of Mexico, and her beautiful old Spanish home in Coyoacan is a
meeting place for all prominent people visiting Mexico. Many are
those who think of the garden of Casa Alvarado as one of the out-
standing places of beauty in the Valley of Mexico, and many are
*L. Batres. 1904.
FIG 6-Huexotla, D. F. Section of Mound Showing Various Floor Levels.
those who have enjoyed Mrs. Nuttall's charming hospitality. The
garden is rich with beautiful flowers, and here and there among the
flowers stand Aztec stone idols.
One of the paths in the garden
is lined on both sides with such
idols and has wittily been christ-
ened, "Avenida de los Hombres
Illustres," The Avenue of the
Famous Men (fig. 9).
Much time was spent in the
National Museum studying the
magnificent collections of Mex-
ican antiquities. Unfortunately,
this collection is very badly cata-
logued and the origin of many
of the specimens is totally un-
known. For example, a Maya
stela carved in the style of the
Usumacinta Valley stands in
the patio of the Museum, and
nobody knows from which an-
cient city it came (fig. 10).
A fragment of another stela
carries a much weathered in- FIs. 7-Huexotla. D. F. Old Spanish Bridge.
14 TRIBES AND TEMPLES
FIG. 8-Texcoco, D. F. Section of Mound Built of Adobe Brick.
FIG. 9-Coyoacan, D. F. The Avenue of Famous Men in the Garden of Casa Alvarado.
/?o- ~ pt -j ;
81mc~pno v 1-0u
is M 1 XII
77es tapobes 76 ,Srkci la..
O I ezalapa LYAsm
bIaie ;'"'~:' SANT~r VI&
S CVi a AM'loc
(I A9UaLate, Amameloydo
c ~ /1La Cn~ddd Cu;I oi~ao
V ERA C
~';"~;~Y";~s C. Cerro AcalaloaMe~/o
R;d 0 M~ ~ancuep,
0 -L C e ro Nral
op tke Stste of
VERACRUZ AND COCUITE
scription of which only a few glyphs could be drawn, but which,
nevertheless, seem to record the date 9-17-15-0-0 5 Ahau 3 Muan.*
In the Hall of Monoliths are two monuments which undoubtedly
come from the ruins of Tonina in the State of Chiapas, which will
be discussed when describing those ruins.
After all our letters of introduction were in order and our equip-
ment completed, the real expedition was ready to start. By train
we returned to Vera Cruz,
and there our civilized
clothes were packed and
shipped home to New Or-
.... leans. On the 12th of
:,M' arch we donned our rid-
ing clothes and high boots
and boarded the small train
running southward towards
the Isthmus of Tehuante-
pec. The train bounced
along on a miserable track,
"' at first following the Gulf
Coast. Out in the blue
S..' waters of the Gulf we got
S-. '... 3 ., "" glimpses of the Isla de Sac-
rificios, where the Spanish
"" L Conquerors f o u n d aban-
S.'" ""''-" doned temples with newly
sacrificed victims lying on
the altars, when they
anchored off the coast in
At the station of Mader-
: eros, 55 kilometers f r o m
FIG. 10--Mexico, D. F. Maya Limestone Stela in the Yard Vera Cruz, are several large
of the National Museum.
mounds, and here also starts
the road for the Cocuite Oil Camp, where many clay figurines have
It is rumored that the Oil Company drilling there mistook arti-
ficial mounds for mud volcanoes, the latter said to be good oil indi-
cations in this region. The pottery from Cocuite is chiefly of To-
*Glyph A-1 is erased, but is undoubtedly the Katun glyph. B-1 shows 0 Tun. A-2 and B-2 are 0
Uinal and 0 Kin respectively. The numeral to A-3 is not distinct; the glyph must be Ahau. B-8 may
be a supplementary series glyph, and A-4 appears to be 3 Muan. In case this last reading is correct,
this should give the above recorded date (fig. 11).-Morley, 1928, Page 263.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
tonac character. Some pieces are painted with Chapopote, as the
Indians call asphalt (fig. 12). Mr. Ibarola, Mexican Government
Inspector of Oil, has in his possession a very fine Totonac figurine
found here. It is one of the few specimens where one of the well-
known "laughing faces" of Totonac origin
is seen on a complete figure (fig. 13). The
X/ figurine has a band around its breast and a
Small apron on which are designs* (fig. 14).
It was a long and dreary journey, with
the train rattling and jumping on a
wretched track and us wondering how long
it was going to keep on going. The country
is covered with dense bush, now and then
changing into extensive savannas. In the
vicinity of Tierra Blanca the Oaxaca
SPMountains come in sight. Thereafter the
train runs parallel to them, crossing innu-
mnerable rivers. In several places we passed
single mounds, or whole groups of mounds.
The land is low and humid, and covered
With dense tropical second growth, here and
Fin. 11-Mexico, D. F. Inscription there broken by banana plantations. To
from ? aya Stela in tiue yard pass the time we reviewed our knowledge
of the National 'Museum.
(:>)' of the route lying ahead of us.
The country we were traveling through was one of the first to
be settled by the Spanish Conquerors. These rich alluvial plains
had good crops, and Cortez granted himself lands here. In the
rivers around Tuxtepec in the mountains, which we could see to our
right, the Indians washed gold, and paid it as tribute to the rulers
of Mexico, who in turn were forced to deliver it to the Spaniards.
WVe were headed for the volcanic moun-1,
tains around San Andres Tuxtla. Sometime
around the year 1900 a small nephrite
statuette was found in the Canton of the
Tuxtlas. This object eventually drifted
into the National Museum at Washington,
D. C., and there it was discovered that the
figure was covered with hieroglyphs-Maya
hieroglyphs at that--which opened with the
date 8-6-2-4-17 8 Kaban 0 Kankin in
Mava figures, later correlated with our FIG. 12--ocuite. Ver. Spindle Whorl
Painted with Asphalt.
calendar to be the year 98 B. C. The so- (Full Size).
*Professor Byron Cunmmings of the University of Arizona lias recently made excavations at "El
Cocuite," and states that he found burials in the sides of mud volcanoes.
THE TUXTLA REGION
called Tuxtla Statuette carried nothing less than the oldest date
recorded in writing from the whole of the American Continents.*
Since the finding of this statuette only a few scientific expedi-
tions have entered the area. The German archaeologist, Dr. Eduard
Seler, has worked at Matacanela, and the Geologist, Dr. Imanuel
Friedlaender, has studied the volcanoes of the district. There was
a good reason for not going into the country. Constant revolutions
had made that wild mountain region a hiding place for all kinds of
bandits, rebels, and political refu-
gees. These people had imposed
brutally on t he Indian tribes, ,
who considered the forests their
property and, therefore, turned
hostile to all strangers.
The great Maya cultural cen-
ters lay east of the Isthmus of
Tehuantepec. An out 1 ying '
branch of Indians speaking a
dialect of the Maya language is
still found in the Huasteca, south
of Tampico. Little is known
about the link between these two,
and it has long been desirable to
investigate the re g ion between
the Maya proper and the Huas-
teca. The lack of information
on the area between these two
groups of the s am e language,
and. the existence of the Tuxtla
Statuette was enough to warrant
an expedition to the Tuxtla
Mountains. To add to this, a
photograph of a monolith had
ph glap been received at Tulane F. 13-Cocuite, Ver. 'Totonac Clay Idol of the
recently been received at Tulane Laughing Face Type. (24 cm. high).
University -- a stone monument
carved with figures that looked somewhat like Maya glyphs. This
photograph was sent by a Mexican engineer, Sr. Rafael de la Cerda,
of Mexico City, who had made some explorations in the region in
question in search of petroleum. At a place called Piedra Labrada
he had seen some other stone monuments.
Now we sat in the train speculating on what we would find in
these fascinating mountains. Would we find Indians speaking a
*Throughout this report the correlation between Maya and Christian Chronology established by Dr.
H. J. Spinden in his book, "Reduction of Mayan Dates," 1924, will be used.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
Maya dialect Would we find that the figures on the monuments
were Maya? Were there any hopes of discovering a date still older
than the one on the Tuxtla Statuette and what about the rebels
and the hostile Indians? To be frank, they occupied our minds
much less than the prospects of some archaeological discovery.
The train stopped for a while. Something had gone wrong with
the engine. After about an hour's waiting we started off again, and
finally limped into the station of El Burro, where we had to stop
over for the night. The train, though, was scheduled to go on to
Santa Lucrezia, but as the engine was out of order, it did not re-
sume its tedious progress until about 2 o'clock in the morning. We
were glad that we could get a room and beds, and that we did not
have to spend the night in the mosquito-infested cars.
The small wooden shack hotel, run
by a Chinaman, was not bad, and
quite clean. At table we were seated
with Mexican cowboys, a German and
\I a Chinese trader, a few passengers
-- and all the crew from the train. From
now on we would certainly be in very
The following morning we boarded
a small branch line train. A re-
modeled box car serving as first class
compartment, we christened the "Cat-
tle Pullman." The jolting was not
Sas bad as the day before, but we
moved more slowly. Right and left
on the track we saw mounds and at
FIG. 14-Cocuite, Ver. Design on Idol. "Kilometer 17" beside the station La
Cafiada, there was quite a large group
of mounds arranged around a court. Again at El Laurel we saw
a mound of average size, and here it is undoubtedly that Mr. Seler
had seen one of his stone idols.
As we crossed the CuautotolapAn River the Tuxtla mountains
became visible ahead of us. The nearer we got to the mountains,
the more hilly became the country, and the more the track wound
in and out among the hills. Progress was very slow, and La Farge
amused himself picking flowers from the car windows.
About noon we finally reached our destination, San Andres
Tuxtla. At the bottom of a picturesque kettle-shaped valley formed
by high volcanoes, lies a group of white houses with red tiled roofs
and large clusters of bouainvillea hanging over the garden walls.
SAN ANDRES TUXTLA
The town is the proud owner of one Ford and a truck, has its own
electric light plant, and a telegraph line. It has its old church, a
nice Plaza, a market place, and all the rest of the paraphernalia be-
longing to a good-sized Mexi-
can town including an army
of about a hundred men, and
As a circus was expected in
town the good citizens at once
decided that we were part of
the show, and all the village
youngsters crowded around us
as we worked our way to the
only "Hotel," a combination
boarding house and cigar fac-
Shortly after our arrival we
FIG. 15-San Andres Tuxtla, Ver. Stone Idol went in search of antiquities.
Representing Frog. n ea of antoi
Willing village youngsters led
us up to the church and showed us a stone figure representing a
frog crudely carved in volcanic rock* (fig. 15).
We soon found that we were the great sensation of the town.
Men and children crowded around us and it required a struggle to
get room enough to take photographs. The crowd was, however,
not without its uses- everybody showed himself eager to tell us
about idols and caves. Soon we were the center of a procession
walking towards the cemetery. Here we were shown three stone
heads representing rabbits (fig. 16). The name of the Canton is
Tuxtla, a Spanish corruption for the Aztec Toxtli, which means
rabbit, and undoubtedly these rabbit heads represent some kind of
coat of arms (fig. 17). Fried-
laender states that these rab-
bit heads, as well as the frog,
all of Olivine Lava, have been
brought from the ruins re- +
ported on the southern side of
the Santiago volcano.t
It is always a good plan to
pay official visits to the town :t ._.-- '
authorities and the chief of .... '*
the garrison, so this was done, -
and we were assured of all FIG. 16-San Andres Tuxtla, Ver. Three Rabbit
Heads of Stone. (40 er. high).
*C. Seler, 1922. Page 544, Plate 5, 2.
tFriedlaender, 1923. Page 155.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
support. Then we visited an old German school teacher, Don
Federico Sandrock, a pleasant old gentleman who knew much about
the surrounding country. He showed us some huge
fossil bones found by an Indian at Xanasca near
the town. His Mexican wife told us of imprints of
S, the feet of a man, a child, and a dog on a lava
block near San Juan los Reves. These imprints, may
well be of recent origin as the last eruption of the
FIG. 17-The Aztec San Martin volcano began with underground thun-
rTuxta.for during on March 2, 1793, and a serious eruption
occurred on May 22nd. Previous eruptions had oc-
curred in 1664 and fumaroles were reported as late as 1829.*
All the volcanoes in the Tuxtla region are now extinct, and
covered with vegetation.
Close to San Andr6s is a small crater lake called Laguna En-
cantada the Enchanted Lagoon and the popular belief is that
the waters of this lagoon rise during the dry season and fall during
the wet season.
The Santiago Volcano is considered sacred by the Indians and,
as already mentioned, ruins are reported on the southern side. WVe
heard of groups of mounds at Tatocapan and Tula. Mr. and Mrs.
Seler saw a colossal stone head between Los Lirios and Tres
At Montepio, on the Gulf Coast, some mounds are reported, and
it is also said that here is a cave formerly used by the famous pirate.
The distance between San Andr6s Tuxtla and Cateiaco is about
15 kilometers over a fairly bad motor road. We loaded all our
equipment on a truck and with a Mexican driver set out for Cate-
maco, the last point that could be reached with mechanical trans-
portation. About midway we passed through the tobacco planta-
tions of Siguipan and Natacapan. both belonging to a German
company. At the first place were some small mounds, and at the
latter, a group of very large mounds, some of which have been dug
into by the owners of the plantation. The road was quite rough.
and after many ups and downs we reached the rim of a hill range
and came in sight of the Catemaco Lake. All around the lake tower
volcanic mountains and odd-shaped volcanic hills are thrown, thrust,
and flung into the landscape. Down below us lay the picturesque
grass-roofed village on the shores of the lake and beyond the lake
*Ioziiio. 1913-Robelo, Jardin de Raises. Aztequismos. Page 386-Friedlaender, 1923.
*Seler, C., 1925, Plate V-1-Melgar, 1871. Page 104-Lelnmann. 1922. Plate 3s.
were high, forest-clad mountains (fig. 18). We began to realize
that we had heavy work ahead of us. We were to cross those
mountains and find hidden archaeological cities in the forest beyond.
Before noon we reached the town and found quarters in a Mexi-
can house of the usual wood and adobe type, with chairs standing
stiffly against the walls of the main room, and the walls decorated
with polychrome almanacs and beer posters. Shortly we were served
with a huge meal of fish from the lake and the everlasting Mexican
"polio," a flattering name for an old hen. Then we went to see Mr.
Jacob Hagmaier, the German manager of several of the tobacco
plantations along the lake shore. He at once placed himself at our
disposal and, thanks to his kindness and help, we succeeded in get-
ting some excellent men for our trip through the mountains. He
Fio. 18-Catemaco, Ver. View of Catemaco Village, the Lake and the
Sacred Island Agaltepec.
took us into his warehouses, where long rows of Indian girls were
sitting on straw mats and sorting tobacco leaves into first, second,
and third grades. These grades are exported to Germany. The
fourth grade is very poor and is used for the domestic cigarettes.
It was very interesting to see the fermenting of the tobacco, which
reached as much as 65 centigrades (200 F.), and the pressing of
the finished leaf in bales.
The guide provided by Mr. Hagmaier took us to see a mound
in the outskirts of the town, also some stone idols, one lying outside
a house close to this mound (fig. 19). The idol probably repre-
sents a human figure with the head knocked off. Its lower half was
roughly chipped and served as a plug. Inside the same house was
a small stone head with a tenon at its back, this has grotesque fea-
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
tures with broad upturned lips, and ears perforated
for ear ornaments. It undoubtedly should be ascribed
to the Totonac culture (fig. 20).
Close by, in front of another house, we saw an
egg-shaped boulder with a face carved on it, very
well done, and giving an impression of slight Maya
S influence (fig. 21). This idol is
reported to come from the Tenaspi
Island in the northern end of the
The patron saint of Catemaco is
the Seiora del Carmen and the
Ver. Fragment of Indians come from far away to
Stone Idol. worship on the day of this saint.
Towards evening we went to a point north of
the village and there found a small group of Fie. 20-Catemaco, Ver.
mounds in an enclosure. From there was also a Grotesque Stone
very good view of the Agaltepec Island (fig. 22). (18 cm. high).
It appeared to us that the position of this island was so central in rela-
tion to the country surrounding the lake that some important
FIG. 21-Catemaco, Ver. Egg-shaped Idol from Tenaspi Island.
(60 cm. high).
mounds ought to be found on it, but all our inquiries in the village
produced only negative answers.
Sunday morning we got a small gasoline launch and crossed the
lake to Finca Victoria. It was gray and windy and the waves were
quite choppy. At La Victoria on the east shore of the lake Mr.
Hagmaier had arranged for horses, and soon we were in the saddle
on our way to Matacanela. The trail wound steeply up a moun-
tain side, and the lake lay like a beautiful panorama below us. Then
we crossed a small range and rode in high forests. Gradually climb-
ing, after about half an hour's ride, we reached the small finca Mata-
canela, where Seler is reported to have made excavations, though
we have not been able to locate a description of these.
Mrs. Seler mentions some
stone figures, and we found
these in front of the main house.*
They had been brought there
by some captain in the rebel A\
army and set up very nicely,
where they remained until a
few years later when some gov- Fer7'es Fd
ernment troops arrived and o (
scattered them. We found sev-
eral stone boxes, also a few \f
pieces of sculpture. Among the
latter was another rabbit, or at
least the fore-part of a rabbit,
with the legs and part of the Like
body complete (fig. 23). The
stone boxes were decorated on
all four sides, one with some i o, Po- fo
PRouh 1.,n of
excellently carved bivalve shells P-Er .nof
(Pecten) and another with a AGqLTEPEC TSLAND
row of circles (fig. 24).
Some mounds lay close to the // nl ce
house, and a sculptured stone is
reported to have tumbled down
reported to have tumbled down FIG. 22-Agaltepec Island. Rough Plan of the
into a small stream close by. Eastern Part of the Island.
We tried to locate it, but with-
out success. A crude stone serpent's head lay close to a small palm hut
(fig. 25) and with the stone boxes stood a circular stone altar on a
base (fig. 26). All these objects have been carved out of volcanic
rock, and they show unusual skill in the stone mason's art. They
look very Aztec, especially the stone box with circles, but neverthe-
less I believe them to be connected more closely with the Totonac
culture. The Aztec intrusion into this region must have been of a
*Seler, C., 1922. Plate V, 4.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
The different German caretakers on the plantations we visited
were all very helpful, and one must admire the tenacity with which
they fight the exuberant vegetation and the restless social condi-
tions which have prevailed through
so many years. At the time of
our visit Mexico was calm, and it
is earnestly to be hoped that peace
may last, as it is a country of un-
limited commercial a n d natural
By one o'clock we had returned
to Catemaco, and after a meal we
again set out in the launch, this
time to investigate if our suspic-
ions that there were monuments
.- .. on Agaltepec Island were cor-
Al a.., ,rect. Mr. Hiibele, the owner of
the small launch, was most enthu-
FIG. 23-Matacanela, Ver. Rabbit's Head siastic about the vessel. He had
Carved in Stone. built the small craft himself, and
was very proud of its ability to stand a threatening storm. Huge
black rainclouds were gathering along the eastern side of the lake,
blown in from the sea through a gap in the mountains. Due to this
gap the eastern side of the lake has a rainfall almost double of that
on the western side.
For a short time the small craft chopped and jumped in the
waves, until we got in under the island. This island is crescent
shaped, and it did not take us long to judge from its profile that it had
FIG. 24--Matacanela, Ver. Two Stone Boxes.
been remodeled by man. We landed at its eastern point, and soon
stood on the first mound. A rapid survey showed us that every
square foot of the island had been under the hand of man. On the
low east and west points were mounds around courts; the high cen-
tral part had been terraced, and on its top were a series of mounds.
In vain we search-
ed for monuments.
But in several
places w found
wa lls built of a
stone, easy to
carve into square
blocks, and used
Sto this day by the
Sd i -l The court on the
FIG. 25-Matacanela, Ver. Serpent's Head of Stone. eastern point was
the most interest-
ing. A truncated pyramid lay to the east, and from this a raised
road led to the northeastern-most point of the island, apparently a
ceremonial road. To the west of the pyramid was a court in which
we found one stone which may have served as a monument.
The island lies in a position where it can be seen from every
mountain pass leading into the Catemaco Basin, and it is also visi-
ble from nearly every place on the lake' shore. A more excellent
and dominating location could hardly be found on which to build
a place of worship.
In between these
visits to ruins we had
arranged for horses and
pack animals for our
trip over the mountains,
and Mr. Hagmaier's
help again proved val-
uable. He placed us in
communication w it h a
Mexican, Don J u a n
Brisuefio, caretaker of
the Cuezalapa cattle V.
ranch. He was a tall,
slow-spoken man who
had gone through the FIG. 26-Matacanela, Ver. Circular Altar.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
shifting phases of many revolutions, remaining friends with fed-
erals, rebels, and Indians- just the man we needed to help us
On March 16th we were at last in the saddle. Don Juan took
the lead as we rode out of Catemaco (fig. 27), and we followed with
saddle horses for ourselves and our chief guide, cook, and interpreter,
Enrique Hernandez, several pack horses, and two Mexicans on foot.
The First Tulane Expedition had reached the beginning of the trail.
We rode along the northern shore of the lake, and time after
time Don Juan stopped his horse to tell us about the country. Large
volcanic cones lay on our left, and we also passed two crater lakes,
then we came in sight of Tenaspi Island, from which one of the
FIG. 27-Catemaco, Ver. Volcanic Cone at the End of Village Street.
idols in Catemaco is reported to come. Don Juan told us that much
pottery was to be found there. Not far from Teotepec we saw a
small mound with rough stone walls, and shortly afterwards Don
Juan made us dismount and took us to a well of mineral water. It
seems that there are several wells of this kind along the northern
shore. The water bubbles slightly, and has a very pleasant mineral
Then we traversed the root of a small peninsula, and again our
guide had something to tell. A small enclosure of sticks marked the
place where a fleeing rebel had been shot in the back by the moun-
THE RIDE BEGINS
When we reached the lake shore we found another mineral well,
called Coyame, a short distance from the shore. A stone wall has
been built around it and several dugouts lay alongside it, and some
Indians were there filling their bottles with the water. All the in-
habitants around the lake send for their drinking water to this
Here the trail runs along the foot of a vertical cliff, the cliff on
one side and the lake on the other, a favorite place for ambushes
during many revolutions.
At Tebanca we passed through the remains of a coffee planta-
tion. There are now no signs of coffee bushes, and the houses lie
in the most picturesque ruin. This plantation was situated some-
what above the lake on its eastern shore. Don Juan informed us
that the peak of the snow-clad Orizaba volcano could be seen from
here on a clear day.
Finally, about 2 o'clock, we reached Cuezalapa, our destination.
Here ended our first day's ride and we certainly were a little stiff,
but a drink of bush-cognac, concocted of very little water, some
sugar and lemon, and a large amount of sugar cane rum, soon
brought us to life again.
The houses of the finca were in a sad state of decay caused by
time and the shifting tides of revolution. During the evening Don
Juan told us of the extraordinary life he has been living at this place.
The ranch was a favorite haunt for bandits and rebels. Some nights
they would come and stay until dawn, and a few hours later federal
troops would arrive. Sometimes fleeing men would hide here one
rebel general stayed here for months curing his wounds, alone in a
little hut, hidden away in the forest. The federal troops passed by,
and all the time Don Juan had to be friends with everybody. "And
when they stopped coming because of peace in the country, it was
quite strange and lonesome," he told us.
We were sitting by a fire outside the house when an Indian boy
turned up with a bow and some iron pointed arrows. We had long
before heard that the Indians we were going to visit used bows and
arrows, but not until now, on the verge of entering their country,
had we seen any of them. The sight was highly suggestive. The
mountains lay as a black silhouette against the night sky, and we
sat wondering what lay in store for us.
AMONG THE INDIANS OF THE TUXTLA
At Cuezalapa an Indian was added to our outfit. He was armed
with an old muzzle loader, and looked quite dangerous. We our-
selves did not carry any firearms whatsoever, as we deemed this a
Don Juan gave our guide, Enrique, his final instructions, telling
him how to make friends with some of the worst Indians, and what
to do about getting food for us. Then we mounted and followed
by our host, we rode towards the forest. At the end of a long
FIG. 28-Ocozotepec, Ver. Principal Street with the Santa Marta Mountains in the background.
mountain spur which gradually ascended towards the heights, Don
Juan bade us farewell, and we started our climb. Following the
spur, we soon came onto a narrow ridge, and this we followed to the
top. On either side of us stood dense semi-tropical forest. Here
and there trees had fallen, leaving an opening in the thick vegeta-
tion, through which we could look down over the mountainside. We
made slow progress as the trail was wet and slippery, and steep as
well. In several places we got off our horses in order to lighten their
burden. Our boys were driving the pack animals with loud cries,
and now and then we had to stop to readjust cargo.
Our guide pointed out the tracks of a tapir which had crossed
the trail, and shortly afterwards we met the first family of monkeys,
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
some of the amusing and inquisitive small, white-bellied spider
monkeys. The top of the pass is called the Cerro Bastonal and is
part of a chain of volcanic cones which extends from the volcano
Santa Marta towards the southeast and forms the western side of
the Coatzacoalcos basin. We reached the top (1,050 meters) about
noon and made a short stop to rest the animals and ourselves.
About two hours later we came out of the tropical forest into
low second-growth and open country with a corn field here and
there, and finally about 3 o'clock we reached the village of Ocozo-
tepec, two rows of grass-roofed huts on either side of a red earth
ridge, the bare ridge forming the main street (fig. 28).
Here we had our first contact with the Indians. It took some
time to locate the chief who carries the proud title of Municipal
President. This gentleman was not very enthusiastic about our
FIG. 29-San Martin Mountain and Oak Forest.
arrival, but finally quartered us in the "Municipal Office," a grass
thatched hut with mud walls recently built and not quite so miser-
able as the other houses of the village. Next to the office was the
jail and here we stored our saddles. In front of us we had the
church, also a grass thatched house with mud walls, the largest
building in the village. These three buildings were lying on the
highest part of the ridge. Looking north we saw the vivid red soil
of the village street bordered by squalid huts. Beyond were forests,
and far away loomed up the San Martin Pajapan volcano which we
had planned to ascend (fig. 29).
The male part of the village of Ocozotepec crowded around us
next morning to watch our preparations for leaving, and after much
touching of hands-one does not shake hands here, but barely lets
the hands touch-we finally got away. The trail ran through hilly
country covered with open oak forest and here and there a pine. The
ground is carpeted with grass and the soil, where it shows, has a
deep red color (fig. 30).
An hour and a half brought us to Soteapan, a more bleak and
miserable place than Ocozotepec. Rebels and bandits have in turn
had their fling at the village with fire brands, so only little was left
of the houses. The women were sitting in the huts and the men
were loafing around the office.
FIG. 30-Mecayapan, Ver. The Tulane Expedition on the Trail.
A friend of the University had advised us that the Indians of
Soteapan were supposed to be blonds, having faded blond hair about
the color of drying corn silk and dirty blue eyes, and that they all
should be at least six feet high. We found the Indians to be of
exactly the same stature and type as those of Ocozotepec, and fur-
thermore, that they likewise speak the Popoluca language. The vil-
lage cannot now contain more than about 20 families, but is un-
doubtedly the same as the one called Xocotapa by Villa-Sefior y
Sanchez, and at the time of his writing it contained 358 families of
*Villa-Sefior y Sanchez. 1746. Vol. I., Page 867.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
From SoteApan the trail wound more towards the northeast, and
soon we reached the large and prosperous looking town, Mecayapan,
a change from the last two villages. All the houses were well built
and in the middle of the village lay an immense grass roofed church
with adobe walls. Two bronze church bells hung outside the church
under a separate little roof (fig. 31). Women were busily engaged
around the houses; one was spinning, turning the whorl in a basket;
others were weaving. They were dressed only in gay colored skirts
and prettily woven belts of cotton.
We stopped to salute the chief who was loafing outside the
"office" and had a chat with him. Here the Indians all speak the
Nahua tongue and they are of much better physical appearance than
our Popoluca friends.
FIG. 31-Mecayapan, Ver. Church and Steeple.
Again we took the trail, which led up and down stony hills and
over cool mountain streams, the path winding through an oak forest
looking like a beautiful park. The Guasantla river was forded and
shortly before reaching our destination we crossed the Tesisapa and
there found a fine hammock bridge newly made of vines slung
across the river (fig. 32). Then we rode in among the small huts
of Tatahuicapa and up in front of the large brick church which the
Indians had built for themselves (fig. 33).
Rumors of our coming had preceded us, and soon the village
chief and his council of elders turned up. They took us to an old
store behind the church, and we at once started to unpack.
The first things to come out of our boxes were some red handker-
chiefs and other trinkets we had brought as presents. Then after
some talking and explaining we invited the most prominent men of
the town to take a little drink with us, thus establishing friendly
relations. We told them of our wish to find old carved stone monu-
ments, and a host of young fellows at once volunteered to show us
one which they said was sitting on the top of the San Martin Paja-
pan volcano. This we had heard of before. We also asked for
guides to go to Piedra Labrada on the north side of San Martin.
We questioned them, and the answers came slowly, but apparently
they were friendly.
The village has a guard, armed with some old, rusty rifles. They
patrol during the night in order to be on the lookout for stray in-
truders. This guard also made an appearance and, as it is well to
FIG. 32-Tatahuicapa, Ver. Hammock Bridge Made of Vines.
be in standing with the higher powers, they also were invited to have
a drink. Then the captain of this formidable army in a somewhat
dispassionate way told us that he, about ten days before our arrival,
had killed some Mexicans who had arrived heavily armed to seek
shelter. These were rebels against the government and were fleeing.
They, however, had made themselves obnoxious and the villagers
had simply killed them. That was a fine hint.
We unpacked our folding table. This table, by the way, turned
out to be one of our main drawing cards. In every Indian village
or hut where we set it up, it caused great joy and admiration. Then
by the light of a storm lantern we sat down to write our field notes.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
Along the wall stood and squatted the village authorities, smoking
and spitting, and with a small hope for another little drink slumber-
ing in their hearts. They conversed in their own Indian (Nahua)
language, and now and then questioned us as to what we were
doing. One man turned up with a dozen tortillas, another with
some eggs, as presents to the strangers. Now and then the guard
would appear in the doorway and join in the chatting.
Presently they started to tell us of their hardships, how one
party of bandits after another had come plundering, burning, and
raping, and how finally when they could stand it no longer, they
took matters into their own hands. It seems that they had sought
support from the Mexican authorities, but in governmental affairs
FIG. 33-Tatahuicapa, Ver. View of the Village with the San Martin Pajapa
Volcano in the background.
they are subject to the rule of the neighboring town of Pajapan,
whose good people graft all they can from Tatahuicapa, so a strong
enmity between the two towns, which may break out in fighting at
any time, has resulted.
Tatahuicapa must have at least a thousand inhabitants, and is a
clean and peaceful place. The roofs of the houses are made of
bunches of grass, tied closely together on rafters; the walls are of
mud mixed with grass; and the doors are of boards. Windows seem
to be unknown, and all doors are on the southern side of the house.
This is the warm side, and is protected against the blast of the cold
northern winds (fig. 34).
We made up our minds to leave some of our equipment here
while we rode out along the coast to Piedra Labrada, where the
monument which was the chief object of this part of the expedition
was supposed to be located. Then having examined that place, we
planned to return to Tatahuicapa, and from there to ascend the
San Martin Pajapan.
One by one the spectators disappeared into the dark, to go
home and tell the women about the sensational arrival of the friend-
ly strangers. The guard passed once more, and we gave them some
cigars with which to pass away the night. Closing the door we went
to sleep in our hammocks. It was somewhat of a triumph for us to
be sleeping peacefully among these Indians considered by all out-
FIG. 34-Tatahuicapa, Ver. Indian Huts under Mango Tree.
siders to be so warlike and unfriendly, but really a peaceful com-
munity when left alone, and a kind people when treated the right
The men here all wear straw hats, shirts, and long trousers of
cotton, with sandals on their feet. They tend to the cornfields and
do the hunting. Most of their time is spent in front of the office
discussing their all-important local politics.
The women dress in gaudy coloured striped skirts held up by
finely woven white belts. Shoulders and breasts are naked, and as
they are well built they certainly gave a pleasant impression, espe-
cially the young women when they passed by our hut on their way
to the river, walking straight and willowy with a large earthen jar
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
or basket of corn on their heads (fig. 35). Many wear flowers or
leaves as a crown in their hair. The small girl children are carried
astride the hip of their mothers, and as soon as they can walk they
trail along after them, always with flowers in their hair, shiny glass
bead chains around their necks, and dressed in small skirts-an
exact miniature of their mothers (fig. 36). The young boys run
around stark naked.
The town was preparing for a "fiesta," a great celebration in
honor of its patron saint. These
"fiestas" rarely take place with-
out much noise and shooting of
rockets imported from the
Mexican towns along the Te-
huantepec railroad. We were,
therefore, not astonished when
awakened about two o'clock in
the morning by some shots,
rockets going off to tell the '..'.
world that Tatahuicipa would
be celebrating before long.
Reducing our packs to two
cargoes, we set out the next
morning towards the Gulf coast.
Where the territory of Tata-
huicipa and of Pajipan meets,
the Indians have erected a cross,
and this is constantly kept deco-
rated with flowers.
First we reached Pajipan, a
place more sophisticated than
Tatahuic a p a, with several
houses built in Spanish style,
and a huge old Spanish Colonial FIG. 35-Tatahuicapa, Ver. Indian woman going to
the river for water.
church. As we passed through
we, as usual, presented our respects to the chief, an old white-haired
Indian, who looked perfectly unreliable. He glanced at our govern-
ment papers and called for his secretary, saying that he could not
see very well. That is the excuse always used when the good chief
cannot read and write.
Pajipan lies on the eastern slopes of the San Martin Pajipan
volcano, and from the village Plaza is a fine view both of the moun-
tain towards the west and over the Laguna de Ostiones (the Oyster
Lagoon) in the lowlands of the CoatzacoAlcos valley to the east.
ALONG THE GULF COAST
It was still early when we continued towards the coast. First
we passed through a high forest and then rode out among low bush
and grass clad hills. We had to cross several small streams, and,
as was to be expected, one of the horses could not miss the chance
of getting bogged. We pulled and pushed and at last had to un-
load him. But he did not seem to want to stir until our men, and
we too, for that matter, opened up on him with a shower of pro-
fanity. That helped.
Soon we could hear the waves
breaking against the shore; a
distant murmur that grew to
thunder when we rode over a
sand dune, and saw the Gulf
lying before us.
Following the sandy beach
towards the west we came to a
*44, wall of lava projecting far out
into the sea, and at its end lay
an isolated rock looking like a
g l sentry of lava thrown there by
a po his majesty, the volcano. A
crack leading up to the back of
the lava stream was found, and
we then rode along on an open
u e grass plain for some time, wind-
te o Saing in and out in order to avoid
S .large cracks in the cliff. Then
.. e rwe scrambled down again to the
o a s,--.'. m o sandy beach, and followed it.
The sun was now high, and the
glittering white of the sea and
sand pained our eyes. Another
lava stream had to be crossed
FIG. 86-Tatahuicapa, Ver. Indian child carrying but thereafter, the beach lay be-
clay pot on her head.
fore us unbroken as far as we
could see. To our right lay the blue Gulf showing white teeth of
foam-tipped rollers, and to our left, a belt of forest out of which rose
the volcanoes, San Martin and Santa Marta. It was a place of
While we rode along, it entered our minds that four centuries
ago a small band of Spaniards, some of the "Conquistadores," had
followed this same strip of coast going towards the east in search
of a port where the great Captain, Cortes, could land his ships; and
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
with them were some of the men of the Emperor Montezuma with
a map of native paper "on which were painted and marked very
true to nature, all the rivers and bays on the northern coast from
Panuco to Tabasco, that is, for a matter of one hundred and forty
leagues, and the river CoatzacoAlcos was marked on it."*
Few are those who since then have followed this coast. We were
told that here and there pirates had taken shelter, and we heard
stories of political refugees who had taken this route. But other-
wise, it had apparently been deserted by everybody for centuries.
Some small rivers had to be forded, but only one of these was
so deep that we found it necessary to place our feet on our saddle
in order to keep dry. We were on the lookout for a trail which
should turn inland to the settlement of Piedra Labrada, and did
not find it until late in the afternoon. This trail was very narrow
and its entrance well concealed. Into an opening in the bushes we
drove our horses, and then struck a low and muddy path. All the
time we had to be on the lookout for branches, and as our horses
stuck to the edges of the trail in order to avoid the mud, we had to
be on the alert not to get our knees smashed against the trees.
Our guide insisted that we were now nearing the settlement, but
we rode on for an hour and a half without seeing a sign of human
beings. Then he gave up, and another guide, whom we had christ-
ened "the Pope," his name being Bonifacio, set us on another trail
which by five o'clock brought us to all that was left of the settle-
ment of Piedra Labrada-a few charred house posts over-grown
with plants. Nine hours in the saddle, and then to reach an aban-
doned and burnt settlement!
But that was not all our trouble. Huge black clouds were
gathering around the mountain tops; a storm was near. Hastily
we rigged up our tent fly on three charred posts, hung up our ham-
mocks, and set to prepare a well-earned lunch. When we climbed
into our hammocks for rest and sleep, it had begun to rain slightly.
The rain gathered force during the night, the tent fly sagged,
and pools of water formed on it and started to drip on us. We
managed to keep fairly dry, though La Farge had a fight to stop
a small river from running down his hammock ropes. The "boys"
huddled together under our hammocks and really had the drvest
place in camp.
Shortly after dawn, two of the "boys" set out in search of some
rumored inhabitants and the third tried hard to make a fire with
some wet wood. He finally gave this up and turned to a job which
pleased him infinitely more-he sat quite still for an hour looking
*Diaz, Bernal, Maudslav Edition.
at the rain water dripping from the edge of the tent into a bucket.
This he enjoyed because if the bucket would fill he need not go
down to the river for water. The bucket finally did fill. The rain
started in real tropical fashion, coming down in streams. Every-
thing was now wet, and our breakfast was perforce limited to some
cold rice left over from the previous evening and a few slices of
About half past nine our scouts returned bringing not only a
local Indian guide, but also dry weather, so at once we packed up
our belongings and started off for some Indian huts reported to be
Before leaving our camp a photograph was made of a small
stone idol which some of the former inhabitants had found in the
bush and brought to this place. This idol has a human face, but is
so crudely done and has so little character to it, that it is hard to
place it in any particular culture.
We had not gone very far before we reached some very well-
kept corn fields with a trail leading through them, flanked by rows
of pineapples. Here and there were clusters of bananas and in
another place was a patch of sweet potatoes and calabash. It was
apparent that the owner was a hard-working man.
Jos6 Albino, an old Indian who spoke Popoluca, was the proud
possessor of these corn fields, a score of pigs, eight sons, two daugh-
ters, one son-in-law, and a kind, hard-working old Indian wife. He
lodged us in a small corn barn with a good, solid palm-leaf roof to
shelter us against the rain, and after a while we went over to his
house to enjoy a good meal he had prepared for us.
Some small low huts were clustered together in the centre of the
cornfield. In front of them was a palm roof under which the women
were preparing the food (see fig.
49), and behind them was a pig sty
where the prides of the family were
The old lady of the house served
us with eggs, coffee, and hot tortil-
las. The corn for the latter we had FIG. 37-Piedra Labrada, Ver. Ancient
seen her grind on an old metate, or
Indian grinding stone, which had been found in the forest near the
ruins we were in search of. This grinding stone was quite elaborate
with the high leg at its upper end carved as shown in the accom-
panying drawing (fig. 37).
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
The Indians insist that these grinding stones found in the
ground are far superior to those manufactured today, as they are
of a better grain, and the corn, therefore, can be ground much
finer on them.
The preparation of the corn for grinding and subsequent baking
into tortillas is done in the following way. First the corn is boiled
in water containing lime, whereby it swells up. Then this swollen
corn is taken to the river where the lime is washed out by sieving
the corn in a basket. WTell cleaned in this way it is laid on the grind-
ing stone. The person grinding stands at the higher end of the
stone, and grinds by pressing and rolling a cylindrical stone pestle
over the corn. This operation is repeated many times until the
dough has the desired fineness. Then the dough is flattened out in
the hand to make thin cakes varying in size according to the custom
of the district, and laid over a clay disk resting on the three stones
of the fireplace. The tortilla is baked on both sides, and is then
ready for eating. These tortillas are the principal food of the
Indians. To make them is a slow process and hard work. The In-
dian women spend, it appears, two thirds of their time in front of
the metate preparing tortillas for the household.
After our meal we at once set out for the reported monuments.
One of the sons of the house took it upon himself to guide us to
them. They were there, to our great relief.
Through the forest and across a small stream, the Xuichapa, we
came out in a clearing, and soon discovered that this clearing re-
cently had been used as a pasture for cattle. It was infested with
ticks, and before long we were covered with these pests. Walking
along we would brush them off the smaller bushes onto our clothes,
and these insects, as large as the head of a pin, at once started for
every opening in our clothes in order to get at us.
On a slope facing towards the sea were several artificial mounds,
and between two of these we at last came across the monument we
were in search of. The information we had received from Air. La
Cerda, the Mexican engineer friend, who first drew our attention to
this stone, proved correct. It was well carved, and around it lay
several other carved stones. The principal monument, Stela 1, was
a monolith, 2.02 meters long, the lower 18 c.m. of which was shaped
into a plug. This plug fitted a nearly circular hole in a square
stone tablet lying close to the Stela. Undoubtedly the monument
once stood upright, the square stone forming the base. The Stela
was an average of 35 c.m. broad, and on its front were a series of
carvings. At first sight they looked Maya, but a closer investiga-
tion proved them not to be so. The best description of this monu-
PIEDRA LABRADA RUINS
ment is the attached drawing. To this only
shall be added that above what resembles
the Maya glyph Pax is a bar with two
dots underneath, and over this bar is a con-
ventionalized head of some monster seen
fully "en face" and over this a scroll. The
monument has plain sides and back and is
carved out of hard volcanic rock, as are the
other monuments in this place (fig. 38).
o o To state definitely to what culture this
Monument belongs is difficult. The carv-
ing in the hard rock is so skilfully done
that it might be made by the Totonacs but,
0 search as we may, we have not been able
to find any similar design with which to
compare and classify our discovery.*
Close to this Stela lies the base, a square
block 1.04 x 1.23 x 0.55 meters, with an
approximately circular cavity in the centre,
45 c.m. across and 35 c.m. deep.
A few paces from these stones is a small
stone basin, broken, and a small crouching
stone jaguar with its head gone, and at the
foot of a mound is a large metate, likewise
with an animal head and its legs doubled
up under it. (1 meter long and 23 c.m.
high). (fig. 39).
On the top of the small mound are
charred house posts of a recent dwelling.
It was agony to draw and photograph
these monuments, as hoards of ticks were
crawling over us. We were glad when the
ordeal was over and we could prepare to
return to camp. But the guide had an-
other surprise in store for us. He led us
into the high forest again, and at the foot
of a huge Zapote Mamiey tree, he showed
us a fragment of a female stone figure.
This fragment was 70 c.m. high, and
Fro. aS-Piedra Labrada, Ver. showed head and breasts of a woman. The
Stela No. 1.
long hair was indicated by fine parallel
*Recently Dr. W. Lehman, of Berlin, said that the monster head was the hieroglyph for leotihuacan,
and that the monument was Toltec.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
lines down the back. The head was well carved, somewhat broader
at bottom than top, and well rounded, giving the impression of a
bald-headed person when seen
from in front (fig. 40). This
piece of sculpture is very in-
teresting. There is something
about it that reminds one of the
much smaller Tuxtla Statuette,
and it also shows similarity to
some small green stone idols in
various collections, as well as
one seen by us in Comithn at
FIG. 9--Piedra Labrada, Ver. Small grinding a later stage in our journey.
stone in form of animal.
Though the hieroglyphs on the
Tuxtla Statuette are Maya, the statuette itself was executed by a
people of another culture.
A rough plan was made of the structures, and for a short mo-
ment we enjoyed the view from one of the mounds over the forest
to the blue waters of the Gulf. Then
the itching of millions of tick bites
drove us back to camp where we at
once stripped and started the slow
process of removing the insects with
a concoction of tobacco leaves soaked
in alcohol. The little wretches dis-
liked this treatment and fell off, but
left wounds which could be felt for
some time after.
As we woke up the next morning
it was raining again, so we got hold
of the son-in-law of the house and, as
he was a little more intelligent than
the rest of the family, we succeeded
in getting a short list of words of his
language. The settlement here is a
Popoluca outpost. The inhabitants
migrated to this place in the old man's
time from Ocotal Grande.
Our informant was very ill. He FIG. 40-Piedra Labrada, Ver. Fragment
could not be more than 23, but looked
35 to 40 years old, and walked with difficulty; his limbs were thin
and withered, and he could not eat without becoming nauseated and
RETURN TO TATAHUICAPA
Our house stood on a small mound, and great quantities of
sherds lay scattered about, but not one with incised drawings or
paintings on it to give us a clue as to origins. The cornfield itself
was very well kept, and so clean that it could be planted three times
without re-cleaning. The stalks of the first growth lay bent down
to the ground, and the second planting stood high.
By ten o'clock the rain had entirely stopped, so after having pre-
sented our hosts with some small trinkets and a beautiful chromo
print of a saint, we bade farewell. We were to return not by the
beach, but by what was said to be a much shorter way through the
forests, passing between the volcanoes of San Martin and Santa
One of our men went ahead to find a local guide, and after some
time he returned advising that the guide would meet us along the
trail. We stopped at the given point, and while we were waiting
the rain started again with full force. For one-half of an hour we
sat patiently in our saddles, and meanwhile our guide was waiting
just as peacefully a few hundred meters further up the trail. We
found our new guide sitting on a log. He was dressed in a much
torn cotton shirt, and the pants of the same material rolled up well
above his knees. An old torn straw hat and a home-made cigar
completed his costume.
During the morning we forded several rivers, now quite full
after the recent rains, and then we started up hill. Possibly this
trail was shorter as the crow flies, but the trail along the beach had
the advantage of being horizontal for its greatest part. The trail
was vertical, up and down the walls of cautions with cool mountain
streams at their bottoms.
There have long been rumors of gold in the San Martin moun-
tains, though we were not able to trace them down. In several
places there are, on the other hand, large indications of oil in form
of asphalt seepages, also there are springs of sulphur water, and
deposits of sulphur. Cinnabar is also said to be abundant.*
The occurrence of cinnabar is of interest to the archaeologist, as
it was highly treasured by the ancient Maya, and was often used as
offerings in burials.
Well into the afternoon we reached the highest point (600
meters) and there found two trails, one leading off to the south-
east to Ocotal Grande, and the other more to the north and north-
east through Encinal Amarillo to Tatahuictipa. Just before reach-
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
ing the first mentioned place, we came across a man and four boys
well armed with bows and arrows. They were cleaning a curassow
they had just shot.
Encinal Amarillo is a cluster of falling huts, all very poor look-
ing and dirty, and, as far as we could see, only inhabited by old
shriveled-up, half naked women and totally naked children.
Just as it was getting dark we came in sight of Tatahuicipa.
Crossing the river we scattered a crowd of lightly clad women who
were chatting around the public washing and gossiping place-the
local newspaper. We rode up to the "Oficina" and were heartily
welcomed by our friends, the chief and the armed guard.
Hungry? Indeed we were, after a day's ride without a bit of
food, but first we attended to our tired animals. Then our diplo-
matic agent, Mr. Demijon, showed himself, much to the joy of our
Indian friends. Everybody had a drink, and we at last sat down
to a hearty meal.
In Latin America, like everywhere else, it is important to know
the right people. In some places these are senators, bankers, and
other big men; but in Southern Mexico the best people are some-
times men with loose guns and knives, or bad Indian chiefs. If
one from the beginning gets hold of the right man, everything
is easy. So with our trip-from the start we got hold of one man
who was friends with all the leading elements around, and, thanks
to his direction, we went through without any trouble.
To climb the San Martin Pajapan volcano was our next objec-
tive. Guides were procured in Tatahuicapa, and we left the village
on horseback. But after an hour's ride we were forced to tie our
horses near a small Indian coffee plantation, and then proceed on
foot. The Indians grow a little coffee which they carry over the
mountains and trade in Catemaco.
We now left the trail and entered the forest, climbing at an
easy grade until we reached a small stream at an altitude of 506
meters. Here, our guide told us, was the last place where we could
get a drink of water before we started the real ascent. In this part
of the forest every rock and stick was covered with some sort of
white larvae the size of one's little finger. There were hundreds of
thousands of these, and we wondered what kind of plague they
The underbrush was dense with small palns with thorny trunks,
but as we reached higher altitudes they disappeared. The trail was
very steep. The path followed a narrow ridge, and we saw very
little outcropping rock. The ground was covered with fine, rich,
IDOL ON SAN MARTIN
black soil. As we neared the top the trees grew short and wind-
beaten, and their branches were covered with moss. Up to the very
top the mountain is covered with forest, which indicates that it must
be a very long time since the crater was active. The top has two
peaks, and on the highest point of the southernmost of these we
found a big stone boulder marked with the number 1211. This num-
ber was carved in the rock by a Mexican engineer, Ismael Loya, who
made a survey of this area in 1897. The number stands for the alti-
tude of the mountain, 1211 meters.
Lova was the first one to see the idol on the mountain top, and
he told the writer in 1922 that he had removed this idol a short dis-
tance in order to use it as a
corner mark for his survey. In
doing so, he broke the arms of
the image. Before having
broken it, though, he made a
drawing of it which is shown
Sin figure 41. Under the figure
a small pit was found in which
stood some pieces of pottery
containing various small ob-
jects of jade. Mr. Loya had
/ given all these away but one,
/ which is a small piece of light
green jade carved in the form
of a rattlesnake.
The idol is squatting and
according to Loya's drawing,
holds a bar horizontally with
FIc. 41-San Martin Pajapan, Ver. Drawing of Idol both hands, its body leaning
from top of the Volcano made by forward. Arms, feet, and the
Ismael Loya in 1897.
bar have disappeared, and the
face is badly nmtilated. The total height of the figure is 1.35
meters, of which 57 c.m. is taken up by the head-dress. The head
is well carved and has large plugs in the ears. The head-dress is
very elaborate. On its front is a face with slanting eyes, a small
broad nose, and a downward curved mouth with a broad flaring
upper lip. This face resembles a jade head now in the National
Museum of Mexico City. Over this is a kind of small hat, the top
of which appears to have been broken off. Seen from the side, the
head-dress shows a band with some figures that may represent a
conventionalized rattlesnake, and over this band are feathers (figs.
42 and 43).
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
This monument stands on a small level in the saddle between the
two highest peaks of the crater rim. It may represent a fire or
mountain god. For the time being we would not venture to ascribe
it definitely to any culture.
Clouds had gathered around the mountain top and it was rain-
ing slightly while we were working with this monument, but when
we started our descent the
wind tor e a momentary
.Jm 1 rift in the clouds and we
g o t a most magnificent
.w ||view of the Coatzacoalcos
basin, with the town of
l Pa japan and the Laguna
de los Ostiones in the fore-
Sground, and a glimpse of
the Chiapas mountains far
away to the southeast.
SO11ur old g guide was
searching t h e landscape
for his dear "pueblo." It
is remarkable to note how
these people are attached
to their home towns. It
is the first and last to
them; the fate of the coun-
try as a whole does not
The descent was not so
bad as we had expected,
\ / \ / though in some places we
) y were sliding rather than
walking downwards. A
S family of monkeys fol-
lowed us for a while,
Sjtumping"' from one tree top
FIG. 42-San Martin Pajapal. Ver. Drawing of same Idol as
FIG. 41 as it nowi stands, Returning to Tatahui-
capa we found everybody
busily engaged in preparing for a fiesta. Hunters were out to kill
deer in the forests, pigs were being slaughtered, and boys came in
with bundles of fire wood. The women were gathered in groups of
fifty or sixty in different parts of the village. Sheltered by light
structures built of palm leaves, they were grinding corn, baking
tortillas, and cooking other food. Chatting was in lively progress.
Some women were carrying water, children were playing around,
and in the background some of the elder men were watching the
behaviour of the gay youngsters. The colours of the women's skirts
and belts, their bronze bodies and their black hair adorned with
flowers made an excellent picture.
We walked from group to group watching the work, and were
able to persuade the Indians to sell us some of their bows and arrows
as well as some samples of the textiles made in the village.
Our chief "boy," Enrique, gave an amusing description of how
he had seen a group of about
twenty Indians hauling at a
rope trying to throw a bull.
The bull jumped about, the
rope broke, and the twenty
Indians fell on top of each
other with much noise and
The Indians were much in-
terested in our photographing
and we were requested by the
elders to take some pictures of
the village saint. This could
not be done in the dark inte-
rior of the church, so the saint
was moved to the door, which
called for much ceremony and
drumnning. Several Indians
were beating wooden drums
made out of hollow logs cov-
ered with deer skin. Those
who were carrying the saint
o we FIG. 48-San Martin Pajapan, Ver. Idol from the
never touched it directly with top of the mountain.
their hands, but used a cloth
when handling the image. They set the saint on a table and deco-
rated it with natural and paper flowers; whereafter we took his
photograph. (See fig. 52.)
Our friends were urging us to stay for the fiesta, but unfortu-
nately we were not able to do so. We packed our animals and left
these friendly "bloodthirsty" Indians, who had treated us with so
A broad trail leads to Chinameca, a station on the Tehuantepec
railroad, but unfortunately there is also a broad trail leading to
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
some of the Indian corn fields. WVe took the wrong trail which cost
us two hours delay and forced us to ride very hard in order to reach
Chinameca in time for the daily train to Puerto Mexico.
All along the road we met parties of Indians on their way to
the fiesta in Tatahuicapa, the men generally riding and the women
trotting behind carrying baskets and bundles. A little procession
of Indians, in all seven or eight men, all of whom had had several
drinks for breakfast, stopped on the roadside at one point, and
every one of them insisted on shaking hands with us. As we rode
along the line, we bent over from our horses and shook hands with
each and every one of them, wishing them a pleasant fiesta.
We were now down on the lowlands, in the Coatzacoalcos basin.
Within sight of the station, and right in the main street of China-
meca, our rush to catch the train was stopped by one of the pack
horses running into a mud hole and getting bogged. The delay was
irritating, but had no serious results. We had to unload, and haul
and pull the poor animal before we got it out, but reached the sta-
tion with just time enough to pay off our boys and check our bag-
gage. Late that afternoon we reached the town of Puerto M\exico.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE INDIANS OF THE
SAN MARTIN PAJAPAN REGION
The San Martin Pajtipan area between Lake Catemaco and the
coast is occupied almost exclusively by Indians speaking Nahua and
Popoluca. The country is mountainous, rainy, and extremely fer-
tile. The lower parts are covered with thick jungle; the higher,
whether from clearing or through a change in soil, are open grass
and oak country; while the slopes of the San Martin Volcano itself
are covered with jungle and thick woods. This growth of jungle,
a quantity of steep ridges and deep stream beds, and the mountain-
ous quality of the interior have made it difficult of access and a
natural refuge, for which reason, probably, it has been so well pre-
served to its original inhabitants.
At the time of the Conquest, Montezuma had Aztec garrisons at
several points in this region. The Spaniards regarded it as part of
the province of Coatzaeoalcos, and some of the Conquerors held
land-grants in the area. Early descriptions of the area are meagre,
and not until 1746 do we get much information about the towns and
inhabitants. In that year, Villa-Sefior y Sanchez published his
book, "Theatro Americano . and though he deals only with
part of the towns, he gives us some idea of the fertility and general
state of ihe district, for which reason we quote him here at some
"CONCERNING THE JURISDICTION OF ACAYUCA
AND ITS TOWNS
The town of Acayuca (Acayucan) is the capital of the province of Guzacualco
(Coatzacoalcos) at a distance of 100 leagues from the city of Mexico. It is situated
on the northern coast, but the district starts to the southeast. Its temperature is
warm and humid, and the land so fertile that it gives four crops of corn a year;
and, as this has no outlet to other jurisdictions, this same abundance of crop is
the cause of the Indians being very little energetic in working, because to make
their fields. they only have to cut the bush and make holes in the ground with
pointed sticks, and they do the same with beans, without using plow or any other
implement of cultivation. Here the Alcalde Mayor lives, together with the Gov-
ernor and Officials of the Indian republic. Its population consists of 13 families
of Spaniards. 296 Indians, and 70 of Mestizos and Mulatos. It has a district
church with a priest and a vicar who speaks the Mexican language. This is a
*Villa-Senor y Sanchez. 1716. Chap. XXVIII., Page 366.
tModern names are given in parentheses.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
small number of preachers for such a backward administration and large number
of parishioners, and some of the towns are at such distance from the principal
town that they in many days do not have a chance of even hearing the sacred
mystery of the mass, for which just reason it would be of service to both majesties
to establish some mission in this province.
"The towns pertaining to this doctrine and government are: San Pedro Xoco-
tapa located in the hot zone on the southern slope of the San Martin Mountain at
a distance from the principal town of eight leagues, and it contains 358 families of
Indians; the town of Macayapa (Mecayapan) is also located on the slopes of said
mountain, but towards one-quarter northwest, two leagues distant from the last
mentioned town, and is inhabited by 107 families; to the east of said principal
town at a distance of one league is the town of Santiago Zoconusco (Soconusco),
having 295 families; the town of San Juan Olutoa lies one league to the southeast,
and in it live 97 families; in the same direction is the town of San Miguel Thesis-
tepec (Tesistepec) three leagues from the principal town, and having 50 families;
and the one named San Andres Zayultepec (Sayultepec) at a distance of two
leagues, located between north and south, and with a population of 140 families
of Indians; the climate of these towns is warm and humid and their trade and
maintenance are their corn fields, beans, fruits, and rope of fibre (pita) which
makes the best rope for general use, and has its market in many parts of this
kingdom as substitute for the fine French twine which is brought here from
"The town of San Juan Tenantitlan is a republic of Indians with a governor
and is the principal town of the curate of Chinameca (Chinameca). It is eight
leagues towards the east from the principal town (Acayucan), and is situated in
the hot climate. Its population consists of 50 families of Mulatos [Mulatos Mili-
cianos], and 32 of Indians who speak the Popoluco in which they are preached
to by a priest of their district church, and to which doctrine and government the
following towns belong: the one of San Francisco Menzapa at a distance of eight
leagues to east one-quarter northeast, inhabited by 63 families of Indians; and at
the same distance is located the town of Oteapa (Oteapa) towards the east one-
quarter south, and in this town are 69 families; following the same direction and
at a distance of ten leagues is the town of San Felipe Cozolcaque (Cosoleacaque)
with 51 families; the town of San Francisco Xaltipac (Jaltipan) lies at a distance
of six leagues towards the east of the principal town and in it live 97 families
of Indians who trade in the same fruits as those of the principality.
"The town of Santiago Moloacan (Moloacan), eighteen leagues from the prin-
cipal town in direction east one-quarter southeast, is the principal of the district
of the Ahualucos numbering 109 families of Indians including those of the town
of Pochutla (Pochotla), which lies so close that it is only separated by the dis-
tance covered by one shot of a musket. At a distance of eighteen leagues is situated
the town of San Cristobal Ixhuatla (Ixhuatlan), in warm climate and with 47
families. The town of San Francisco Ocuapa is the principal of the district of
the Ahualulcos, is forty-three leagues distant from the principal town towards the
south, and is inhabited by 4 families of Spaniards, 20 of Mulatos, and 20 of In-
dians, who are preached to in the Popoluco language by a priest of the district
church of this town, under which lies the previously mentioned town, and the one
of San Cristobal Huimanguillo, with its suburb San Pedro Ostitan, a distance of
five leagues towards the south from the head town, and in these two the number
of Indian families is 66; and in the same vicinity is that of Macatepeque (Meca-
tepec), one league towards the east with 18 families; and the one of Tecominucan,
two leagues away following said direction and having 26 families of Indians, who
cultivate the same fruits as those previously mentioned, and they are the only ones
VILLA SENOR Y SANCHEZ
in this jurisdiction who do, because though they have cattle and cultivate fruits
and vegetables, it is only in accordance to the annual consumption of the inhabi-
tants, as they, for the greater part, occupy themselves little with the cultivation
of the ground.
"The province suffers from the great calamity that it at certain periods is
flooded with grasshoppers, which destroy the plants and fields in the most sad
way, and, as no human remedy has been found for such great destruction, the
inhabitants have sought the favor of the divine forgiveness through help of the
most holy Virgin, miraculous in the mystery of the pure conception, whose picture
can be seen in the head town of this district, Chinameca, whose patron saint she
is, because she has freed the fields from these obnoxious insects, and this marvel
has been felt because when the insects abound, they take out the holy image in
procession, then the number of insects diminishes and the destruction which they
cause to the fields stops.
"This country is watered by the large river Guazacualco, which gives its name
to the province. It runs from north to south, always running in the center of the
province until it empties in the sea, and on its banks on each side grow trees of
great height capable of serving as they, in fact, do for the construction of large
ships, for which reason woods, spars, boards, and whole trunks are carried to
Vera Cruz, and at the present moment this business is run by the Royal Hacienda.
It is a fact that if the cutting of trees was more regular they would be more useful
and the Bar of the Guazacualco river would be constantly protected if the town
of Espiritu Santo would again be inhabited, but this town now is totally abandoned,
and the name only remains of that which it once was."*
At present, in the interior as at Mecayapa, mentioned by Villa-
Sefior y Sanchez, there are no avowedly "mestizo" or non-Indian
families to be found.
If this description is accurate for its period, the Popoluca ("Po-
puloco") area must have considerably diminished. Huimanguillo,
there mentioned, is no longer in the definitely Indian territory;
Chinameca has become a sophisticated town of the ordinary Mexi-
can type. The Nahuatl group has been, on the whole, expanding,
side by side with the Spanish.
At Piedra Labrada we were told that the following towns still
These towns make a small island, or rather a group of islands,
scattered about among Nahua-speaking and Spanish peoples.
*Abandoned because of frequent attacks by English Pirates.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
The physical make-up of the Indians does not appear to vary
with the linguistic division, save that the Nahuatl groups may be a
triflle broader in face, and heavier built than their neighbours. On
the whole they are of good stature, estimated at about 1.65 meters
for the men, with round heads, brachycephalic, and fairly high-bridged
noses tending to mesorrhine with some platyrrhine. The brachyceph-
ly is emphasized by a flattening of the skull just above the forehead,
due in the men to the use of the tump-line from, early infancy,
causing the skull to come up to a conical point in back.
Musculature is heavy, especially in the legs (see figs. 44 and 50).
Very small boys begin using the tump-line to carry fire-wood, ac-
FIG. 44-Tatahuicapa, Ver. Trading for arrows with the Indians.
customing themselves to considerable burdens, although in this re-
spect they are not so specialized as the Tzeltal and other Chiapas
tribes later observed, nor have they developed, as with these latter,
a walk which, even when unburdened, suggests the burden-bearing
The women do not use the tump-line, but carry loads on their
heads, carrying a small ring of cloth for that purpose. This practice
gives them a very straight carriage and great grace of movement.
The large gourd borne by the woman in fig. 35 is a typical water-
vessel, and when filled must have no small weight.
In common with most Indians of Mexico, these are capable of
sustained travel on foot without fatigue. A guide who accompanied
us from Piedra Labrade to Tatahuicapa, an eight-hour trip over a
INDIANS OF PAJAPAN
very bad trail, was always ahead of the horses, obviously slowing his
pace at times so that they might catch up, and less exhausted than
they at the end of the day. Anyone who has travelled with Indians
in Mexico can duplicate this experience.
Hair-form and distribution is typical, the form being straight,
black, and coarse, its distribution sparse on the chin and rare or
lacking elsewhere on the body. Short, straggly beards on the chins
of the old men may have some correlation with the more long-faced
type; not enough bearded people were seen, however, to assure this.
Eves are dark brown, and fairly wide set. No marked Mongoloid
traits were observed.
The Indians belong linguistically to two stocks, the Nahuatl, and
Mixe-Zoque. The Nahuatl is predominant, being spoken probably
by a population of several thousand. The Mixe-Zoque is repre-
sented by one of the many dialects known in Mexico as Popoluca.
The name is unfortunate, for the various Popolucas are unrelated;
Berendt* says of them, "It is a grave error to consider all these dif-
ferent . Popolucas as scattered parts of the same whole."
The nearest dialect of that name to Paj4pan is Popoluca of Puebla,
which is entirely distinct, being associated with Mixteco.
No attempt was made to study the Nahuatl, beyond noting that
the final I of the nominal ending tl was dropped off, as cuaithuit
for cuauhitl, and that the n of the suffix pan was often omitted,
Pajapan becoming Pajapa in daily speech.
Lists were made of Popoluca at Ocozotepec (called tenaj'ko by
the natives), and at Piedra Labrada, which while lacking in gram-
matical forms and very brief, supports Berendt's* statement that
the language belongs to the Mixe-Zoque stocks although the affilia-
tion would appear to be more directly with Zoque, and not, as he
said, with Mixe. Out of 145 words compared,t 85 show a recogniz-
able lexical similarity, and root forms may be traced in many more.
The verbalizing suffix given by de la Grasserie4 and Lehmann: as pa
or ba, appears in a majority of the Popoluca verba as pa or pu, cor-
responding to a general, although irregular, vowel-shift from a to u.
Many words have been replaced by Spanish; and elements in-
troduced in recent times almost always have Spanish names. All
men speak Spanish fluently, but the women ordinarily cannot. The
native numerals only go up to seven, although we were told that
some of the old men could count up to monyi, the Mexican txontle.
*Berendt, 1876. Page 9.
'See Appendix for word-lists and more full discussion.
il)e la Grasserie, 19q--Lehmann, 1922.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
The presence of a Zoque group here on the Atlantic coast is of
considerable interest, giving support as it does to Brasseur de Bour-
bourg's* theory that the Mixe-Zoque people originally lived north
and east of their present home in Oaxaca, being pushed back by the
conquering Zapotecs. That theory offers the best explanation for
the Pajapan dialect, on the supposition that a small group, split off
from the main body, went north to take refuge in this mountainous
The men in all the villages dress in ordinary Mexican-European
costume of cotton purchased outside. Ordinarily this consists of
white trousers and collarless shirt, sandals, and straw sombrero of
local make, with a slightly smaller brim than that used by Mexicans.
Ready-made coloured trousers and shirts are not at all uncommon. At
Pajapan there is a store, and in the other villages traders coming
in at fiesta times bring such goods. Their hair is worn short, and
banged across the forehead (see fig. 44).
The women wear skirts and sashes of their own weaving (see
figs. 35-36). The skirts are uncut rectangles, wide enough to reach
from the waist to the ankles, and long enough to go well around the
body and overlap, without hampering the legs. The width is ob-
tained by sewing two strips together. These skirts are striped,
either with broad bands of colour divided by lines, or narrow stripes
on a coloured background, always running the long way of the cloth.
Buff, grey, yellow, and blue predominate; red is more highly prized,
but we were told that the red dye could only be obtained by trade.
The other dyes are made from native plants.
Ordinarily the women do not wear any other clothing, save in
the towns nearest the railroad. In time of fiesta, however, they do
wear blouses, which are bought from traders. Cheap earrings and
necklaces, preferably rosaries are worn.
The hair is done in two braids; on the head it is drawn tight and
parted down the middle. Bright-coloured flowers are placed over
the ear or worn in a chaplet by women of all ages.
Dwellings are built with palm-roofs and stick or dirt walls, with
a rectangular ground-plan. The essential frame-work consists of
four uprights on which two long plates are laid, following the lines
of the two long walls of the house. The corner-posts are often of
very heavy, squared logs. Between the plates four cross pieces are
*Brasseur de Bourbourg, 1859.
laid, with ends projecting. From these the frame-work of a gable
or of a hip roof is built up to the ridge pole. Thatching-poles are
laid along this frame-work, parallel to the ground. The members
are tied together with vines (see figs. 31 and 34).
The wall (tuk'ntana) is of sticks or roughly split boards set into
the ground and standing independent of the house. If the wall
is to be of mud, the sticks are set about 20 centimeters apart, and
cross-sticks are interwoven at the same interval, forming an open
wattle. On this a mixture of mud and grass is built up. For a
stick or board wall, the upright members are placed at an interval
of about a centimeter, and bound together by passing long, slender
vines in a loop around each for the length of the wall.
The thatch is of grass bundles, from 20 to 60 centimeters thick.
It is allowed to hang low over the eaves (see fig. 31).
The floor is sometimes partially boarded to serve for storing corn,
and the space over the cross pieces is often similarly made into an
attic, for corn or general storage.
The fire and kitchen may be indoors, but are usually in front of
the house, or under a wall-less shelter hard by. The metate is sup-
ported on a low table, with legs sunk into the ground. The fire-
place itself consists of three stones, to support the round-bottomed
pots (see fig. 49).
The doors face south, to get the sun, and away from the constant
cold winds and rainstorms coming down from-the volcno to north-
Community structures are built on the same principle as ordi-
nary houses, with the exception of some churches. The Cabildo, or
Town Hall, is always mud-walled, usually a little larger than the
dwellings, and provided with windows and hinged doors (fig. 45).
Large shelters of thatched roofs without walls are maintained for
shade, and for the common preparation of food at fiesta times. (See
Social Organization, fig. 51).
The churches may be, as at Ocozotepec and Mecayapan, merely
unusually large buildings. Whenever possible, however, they are
tiled roofed, and occasionally, as at Tatahuicipa, of brick and
stucco. The plan remains a plain rectangle with a gabled or hip
roof. At Tatahuicipa the very simple facade shows a faint echo of
Spanish tradition (see fig. 33).
Near the Trans-Isthmus Railroad some attempt at decoration of
houses was observed. At Mizapa the church, although grass-roofed,
was white-washed, with a dull red and ochre stripe painted around
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
it, floral designs on the side, and a crude facade painted on each side
of the door. At Chacalapa several houses had stripes and floral deco-
rations. This is the most sophisticated section of the Indian country.
Ethnologically, a feature of unusual interest is the revival of the
bow and arrow among a people who had almost forgotten its use.
At the end of the Diaz regime, archery was, as with us, an amuse-
ment for children, who made small bows of sticks, fitted probably
with unpointed arrows. Such play outfits may be seen in many
Indian houses today in Southern Mexico. They are not much su-
perior to the blunt-ended arrows and cotton-stringed bows sold to
American children, although they are in more common use. About
FIG. 45-Ocozotepec, Ver. The Municipal House.
1910, or shortly thereafter, large groups of outlaws came into the
Pajipan country for refuge, who immediately proceeded to take all
fire-arms from the Indians. The latter thus found themselves not
only defenseless in the presence of a well-armed enemy given to
plundering their villages, but deprived of the means of hunting, an
important factor in their food-supply.
The Indians reverted to the bow and arrow, which, at the time
of our arrival among them, had been developed for some fourteen
years into a powerful weapon (fig. 47). We found here a situation
which must in some degree re-enact the original evolution of the bow
and arrow at the time of its first invention. In many respects these
weapons here are unique among primitive tribes, and in each case
the distinctive character is one of incomplete development and still
BOWS AND ARROWS
The bows (bekcin')* average
about 1.15 meters in length, are un-
backed, plain, with a slight tendency
to a reverse curve. Saragossa wood is
preferred. The fish-arrows (kaapi")
which have a pointed, very heavy
iron wire head, average 80 centime-
ters in the shaft, and 50 in the head.
Light reed shafts are preferred.
Deer a r r o w s, with laurel-leafed
heads of hammered iron, are about
60 centimeters in the shaft, with a
head averaging 10 centimeters in
length. Ordinarily, the arrows are
notched. Feathers are never used
The unique characters to which I
have referred occur in the complete
lack of standardization of any part.
The statement given above summar-
izes the general type, and the form
towards which the bow-makers are
tending. At present, it may be said
that no two bows or arrows are of
the same length. Some bows are
finely smoothed, rounded on one
side, flat on the other; some are
knotty, retain part of the bark, and
are almost flat, or faintly convex,
on both sides. In most cases, the
curved side is towards the string,
but not in all. The string itself may
be of ixtla, hennequen, or cheap,
commercial cord; it may be finely
braided, two or three-strand rolled, A
or a loose, fuzzy twine. The detach-
able end may be tied in a loop with FIG. 46-San Martin Pajapan, Ver. Bows
a bowline or square knot, or made and Arrows.
fast with a timber hitch. The fast end is usually tied with a clove
or timber hitch.
The deer-arrows are fairly well standardized, probably because
the difficulty of working the iron enforces a standard, small size of
head. Fish arrows, on the other hand, show the widest possible
*"Popoluca" names are given.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
variation. There is no constant relation between the shaft and the
head. The shortest observed was little over 80 centimeters in total
length; the longest, taller than the man who sold it, and twice the
length of his bow, was 1.75 over all.
Ordinarily, bow-using tribes standardize their weapons very ex-
actly in form, decoration, and either by an absolute measurement or
by a set relation to the body of
the archer, as we standardize
skis. Moreover, the number of
arrows to a set is often pre-
scribed; as, with the Lacandone,
Sa quiver must contain one arrow
of each kind made; or, with the
Navajo, arrows are always
made in fours. In the Pajipan
country there is no such specifi-
cation. The number of arrows
varies from one to four, and
deer arrows may or may not be
included. The metal used for
these arrow-points is thick fence
wire for the fish arrows, and old
discarded files, bought in the
villages by the railroad, for the
deer arrows. These files are
cold-hammered by the Indians
to the desired shape.
It would be interesting if
the development of this weapon
here could continue; however,
FI. 47-uOcozotepse.ofv' Popoluca rwman showing the guns are rapidly being re-intro-
duced, and probably the bow
will disappear, unless the easily-made arrow for fishing, already by
far the more common, is retained for that use.
The names "fish" and "deer-arrow'' are taken from the Indians
themselves. The deer-arrow, we understood, is also used in fight-
ing, and the fish-arrow, while best adapted to shooting fishes, is cer-
tainly put to many other uses.
The fire arms now coming back are the usual percussion-cap,
muzzle-loading fowling-piece, with a few bolt-action rifles provided
by the government to assist the Indians in keeping the country free
of refugee outlaws, which, when properly armed, they seem well
able to do.
ARTS AND INDUSTRIES
The loom in use is the usual, narrow, simple type, with single
heddle. The head stick is made fast to a branch or stick in the wall;
the foot is fastened to the weaver (see fig. 59). Weaving is done by
the women. This loom weaves long, narrow strips of cloth for skirts
(see costume). Both warp and woof are handled in double strands
of fine cotton thread.
The ribbed weave of
the sashes is more intri-
cate. We did not find
out how it is done, or if
a special loom is used FIG. 48-Tatahuicapa, Ver. Drawing of Weave.
(fig. 48). Looms are
seldom to be found in use, as weaving is only done as the cloth is
The spindle is a stick about 18 centimeters long, with a clay
disk near the bottom for a weight. The lower end is placed in a
small half-gourd for spinning.
The native mandolin, or jarana, is made by the men. In shape
and size it resembles a ukelele, but is adapted to playing actual
tunes. Tobacco pipes are made, with very small bowls and reed
stems. (See also the description of bows and arrows under Weapons).
Chairs and squatting seats are made of wood. The chairs are of a
simple European model, straight-backed, with a square seat. All
the pieces are nicely mortised into each other, and held with wooden
pegs or, occasionally, nails. The work is neat and well finished.
Squatting seats are simply squared light logs, with a handle at one
end and often concave on the under side to save weight.
The arrow-points mentioned under WTeapons are made locally.
The fish-arrows have for head a length of heavy iron wire, about 3
millimeters in diameter, hammered at the end to a four-sided point.
The head of the deer-arrow is a laurel-leaf shaped piece of iron,
hammered out from a file, with a shank at the butt to insert in the
end of the shaft. It is ground smooth and is fairly sharp all around.
Pottery is undecorated and simple. The typical form is nearly
a sphere, with a wide mouth and slight curved lip. (See pot carried
by woman in fig. 35). Gourds are used as much or more than pots.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
Baskets are of wickerwork, with split reed warps and splint
Metates are ordinarily bought from stores in the outside towns,
but old metates found buried in the neighbourhood of prehistoric
sites are much preferred, and used whenever obtainable. Volcanic
rock, suitable for making metates, is to be found in the area, but
presumably the Indians prefer excavation or purchase to the toil of
manufacture (see fig. 37).
The rich soil of the jungle sections is ordinarily used for farm-
ing, in preference to that of the more open, grass and oak country.
FIG. 49-Piedra Labrada, Ver. Populca Indian woman grinding corn, and
girl baking tortillas.
It is possible, indeed, that the open land is produced by partial ex-
haustion of the soil due to "bonanza" methods of farming.* Aban-
doned fields that we saw were growing up in grass and small, thick
The jungle is cut, and the dead wood burned on the field, after
such wood as may be useful is carried off. On the whole, the clear-
ing here is neatly done, the fields being fairly free of rubbish.
The soil is prepared with a digging stick, only the top soil
*The effects of soil depletion from Mexican Indian methods of farming are described in detail in
0. F. Cook's "Vegetation Affected by Agriculture in Central America," 1909.
being disturbed. There is no plowing. Old machete blades are used
Corn is the staple crop, and to it the larger part of every field
is given over. With it are planted beans, melons, papaya, pine-
apples, and sweet potatoes. Gourd trees are cultivated, and a bush
with a red fruit called in Spanish ajon, used for flavouring meats.
Two crops of corn a year are raised except at Piedra Labrada where
three are usual.
Small coffee plantations are made in jungle or woods handy to
the town, the underbrush being cleared out.
Pigs are kept by all families for food, and also serve as scaven-
gers. Poultry provide both meat and eggs. Keeping cattle is rare
if not unknown.
Besides cultivated plants and flocks, many wild fruits are eaten,
and game, especially birds and wild pig, are important. The Indians
hunt fish with spears, arrows, and traps in the many rivers of the
The general governmental system is that of a Mexican district,
with its center at Pajapan itself. The individual villages have each
their Presidente Municipal and Secretario, elected as in any Mexi-
can town. The feeling, however,
is not that of belonging to the
district as a whole, but of inde-
pendent villages related to each .
other only in so far as their in-
terests join, and as the local of-
ficials at Pajapan can make their
The local native garrisons, or
"Guardias Municipales," m a i n -
tained by the government to sup-
press banditry, occasionally serve
also as the nucleus for village war
parties, in the occasional disputes
over lands or rights. Thus Tata-
huicapa, a town of some four
hundred families, is sometimes FIG. 50-PiedrabLabrado, Ver. Indian boy with
hundred families, is sometimes bow and arrow.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
hostile with its neighbour on one side, Mecayapa, because Mecayapa,
although smaller, is the head town of the sub-district. It has also
had fights with Pajapan, its other neighbour, over the ownership of
a coffee plantation.
It must not be inferred that the villages are constantly quarrel-
ling, rather the reverse. Although the Pajapan people came and
destroyed the Tatahuicapa brick-kiln when the latter were building
their new church, and they, in turn, had recently possessed them-
selves anew of the coffee land, Indians of Pajapan came freely to
partake of the general hospitality of the Tatahuicapa fiesta.
FIG. 51-Tatahuicapa, Ver. Women preparing tortillas for the Fiesta.
At Piedra Labrada we had occasion to observe a single family,
attached to no village, whose organization, thus noted in isolation,
may be taken as typical of the whole area. The father is the head
of the family, and carries on business negotiations as far as they
affect the whole. Individuals, however, have their own possessions
and rights. One of his sons, hiring out to us, made his own bargain,
and, in other cases, where we bought textiles woven by the women,
either the women did the trading, or dictated the price charged by
the men. In case of marriage, the man pays the woman's father, in
goods and labour. Once the marriage is completed, the new couple
sets up its own unit independently. Between such separate groups
the ties are very much the same as those between related families
among ourselves, with, perhaps, less recognition of the influence of
the original head of the family.
The men work in the fields, cut wood, hunt, and take a hand in
shelling and stacking corn. Women also work in the fields and cut
wood, but their chief care is the house and the kitchen, drawing
water, grinding corn, and weaving.
FIG. 52-Tatahuicapa, Ver. The Village Saint, San Isidro.
COMMUNITY PROPERTY AND LABOUR.
Ownership is individual in all smaller things. Land, however,
forms of labour which affect the village as a whole, and property
connected with religion are common. The village land has been
allotted to it originally by the government, individuals hold parcels
so long as they occupy or cultivate them. Fighting the present
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
plague of grasshoppers, and occasionally the clearing of large new
areas are undertaken co-operatively.
At the time of a fiesta, food must be prepared for the whole
village and a tremendous number of guests. This is done by all the
women, working together under big sheds maintained for that pur-
pose (fig. 51). The village of Tatahuicapa owned a bull, which was
killed on the day of the fiesta for distribution to all guests and to
the village. Evidently this was not an old custom, at least in this
form, for none of the men in the village knew how to slaughter the
animal, and one of our men had to do it for them.
Fro. 53-Ocozotepec, Ver. Indians beating drums in honor of their Saint.
All the Indians of San Martin Pajipan are Christian in doc-
trine. In each village the church, always the most important build-
ing, houses the patron saints (fig. 52). Near to it are lodgings kept
for the occasional visits of the priest. These visits, and the Saint's
Day of the town, are the occasion for fiestas, a combination of
ceremony and celebration. Drumming, music of flutes, jaranas, and
various foreign instruments, such as mouth-organs, accompanied by
rattles, begin sometime before the fiesta proper. Dancing is done
before the saint, as a rite, and generally as an amusement. Often,
as at Ocozotepec, the image, there a Virgin, is moved out into a
bower of green branches hung with streamers (fig. 53). Whenever
the saint moves, whatsoever the occasion, drums must be rolled, as
when the saints and altar were brought forward for us to photo-
graph at Tatahuicapa. Aguardiente is brought in from the Mexi-
can towns for the fiesta, and a supply of rockets which are set off
all during the period. General hospitality is extended to all comers.
The visit of the Priest is occasion for baptisms, confession, and
mass. The photographs of the saints at Tatahuicipa were wanted
for affixing tp pardons to be made out by him. The priest is main-
tained by the village during his stay.
At this time the doorway of the church and the priest's house
are decorated with palms. The inside of the church is hung with
palms, streamers, coloured paper, and flowers.
THE COATZACOALCOS BASIN
In the earliest reports of the Conquerors we find mention of the
Coatzacoalcos River. Grijalva passed the mouth of the river, and
Bernal Diaz speaks of it as follows: "As we sailed along we noted
the position of the great river, Coatzacoalcos, and we wished to en-
ter the bay (not merely) to see what it was like, but because the
weather was unfavourable. Soon we came in sight of the great snow
mountains which have snow on them all the year around, and we
FIo. 54-Puerto Mexico, Ver. The mouth of the Coatzacoalcos River.
saw other mountains near the sea which we called the range of San
Martin, and we gave it that name because the first man to see them
was a soldier from Havana who had come with us, named San
The snow clad mountains here mentioned are undoubtedly the
peak of Orizaba, which can sometimes be seen from the sea, and the
San Martin mountains are those which the Tulane Expedition had
Later, when HernAn Cortes had arrived at Tenochtitlan, we
again hear of the river. He was looking for a port more favourable
*Bernal Diaz. Maudslay translation. Vol. I., Page 50.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
than the anchorage off the coast at Vera Cruz and men were sent
along the coast guided by Indians, and with a map drawn on agave
cloth. The leader of this expedition was Diego de Ordaz. They
followed the coast until they reached the mouth of the Coatzacoalcos
without finding any other suitable port. Montezuma had told Cortes
that he did not reign over the tribes living along the river, and he
gave an order to the chieftain of his garrison somewhere near it to
aid the Spaniards as much as possible.
When Ordaz reached the river the local chieftain, Tuchintecla,
gave the Spanish explorers canoes so that they could make sound-
ings (fig. 54). "They found the shallowest part at its mouth, 21/.
fathoms in depth, and 12 leagues up the river they found the great-
est depth of 5 or 6 fathoms. From their observations they judged
it had about the same depth for 30 leagues up from its mouth. On
its banks are many large towns with an innumerable population,
and all the province is level, and rich, and abundant in produce."*
Bernal Diaz further writes: "When Ordaz had taken the sound-
ings he went with the Caciques (chieftains) to the town, and they
gave him some jewels of gold and a very beautiful Indian woman
and they offered themselves as servants of his majesty, and they
complained of Moctezuma and some of his warriors."t
A little further in the same narrative it is told how the inhabit-
ants fought the Mexicans and killed many of them. The place
where this battle was fought they called Cuylonemiquis, which in
their language means "where they killed the Mexican profligates."
This may be the place named "Cuilonia" today?
Still later, Cortes sent another expedition to the Isthmus and
Bernal Diaz joined this. Now the Spaniards found the natives
hostile to them. The ill feeling resulted in a battle, in which the
leader of the Spaniards surprised the principal town at night, and
seized a woman "to whom all in those parts obeyed and everything
quieted because she sent to call the chiefs and ordered them to ob-
serve whatever was commanded them." The Spaniards then founded
the town of Espfritu Santo, and many of the Conquerors received
grants of land along the river.
From Bernal Diaz's accounts we constantly hear of fighting with
the natives in the district, and also that Dofia Catalina Suirez, the
wife of Cortes, landed on the coast in a place called Ayagualhlco.
and passed through Espiritu Santo on her way to the capital.
The old soldier, Bernal, finally grew tired of fighting and wanted
to settle down on his properties, but the Indians did not leave him
*Cortes' Second Letter. Edition MaeNutt. 1908. Page 215.
iBernal Diaz. Maudslay translation. Vol. II., Page 132.
ISTHMUS OF TEHUANTEPEC
alone. In one of the fights against them he was wounded in the
throat by an arrow: then he got orders to join Louis Martin on an
expedition to Chiapas, where he underwent more hard fighting.
Finally in November, 1524, Cortes came to Espiritu Santo on his
way to Xaco, in Honduras, and he ordered Bernal Diaz to join him.
This is all the early information we have about the Coatzacoalcos
basin. Up until around the year 1800 we hear little about it. Hum-
boldt states that the climate of the area is very unhealthful.*
In 1829 and 1830, several ships left France with colonists for
Coatzacoailcos. They had been tempted by a get-rich-quick scheme
which quickly broke down. Another ship left in 1831, and one of
the participants in this expedition, Pau Pierre Charpenne, tells
us about the total failure of this colonization scheme. Most of
the French colonists died from fever and several of them committed
suicide. Now only a few place names remind one of the struggles
and hardships these people went through.t
Cortes was the first to propose a communication between the
Atlantic and the Pacific by way of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
After him came, in 1774, a reconnaissance for a road made by the
engineer, August Cramer, in the times of the Viceroy, Antonio
In 1842 a contract was made between the Mexican Government
and the Louisiana-Tehuantepec Railroad Company for a steamship
line from New Orleans to Minatitlin and a service of coaches over
the Isthmus. This road was much used during the California Gold
Rush in 1849, and many were the eager gold hunters who died here
of fever, on their way to the promised land.
The Louisiana Company did not fulfill its contract, and pro-
longed discussion followed between it and the Mexican Govern-
ment, resulting in a new contract of 1852.4
The famous Americanists, L'AbbW Brasseur de Bourbourg,
crossed the Isthmus in 1859-60. He has not much good to say for
the way in which the American company managed the transporta-
tion. In his book on this voyage he gives a charming report of his
experiences, and also a large amount of interesting historical data.
A more serious study of the Isthmus was made by the U. S.
Government engineers, at the direction of the Secretary of the
Navy in 1870. This survey was conducted in order to see if it was
practicable to make a ship canal from coast to coast. Various
methods of crossing the higher points of the Isthmus were proposed,
*Traite Politique de M. de Humboldt sur la Nouvelle-Espagne, 1811.
*Williams, 1852. Supremo Gobierno, 1853. Ramirez, J. F., 1853.
Brasseur de Bourbourg, 1862.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
such as locks, hauling the ships over on tracks, and a tunnel through
the mountains. A very instructive report with many maps and
cross sections were presented to the Senate, but no definite steps
were ever taken to execute this plan.*
Finally, around the year 1900, a railroad was run across the
Isthmus, and a few years later a British firm built huge port works
at the mouth of the Coatzacoalcos on the Atlantic side and at Salina
Cruz on the Pacific side. For a few years an enormous quantity of
merchandise was hauled over this road. Coatzacoalcos, formerly a
settlement of a few Indian huts, grew into a town and was named
Puerto Mexico (fig. 55). The
revolution a g a i n s t President
Diaz was a blow to this project
and finally the opening of the
Panama Canal entirely killed it.
Now the magnificent wharves
at Puerto Mexico are rotting
away, and the Pacific Ocean is
building a bar of sand across
the mouth of the port of Salina
The northern part of the
Isthmus of Tehuantepec is wa-
tered by the CoatzacoAlcos river
and its numerous tributaries.
The climate is sub-tropical, the
year being divided into two sea-
sons: a rainy season from June
to the middle of December, and
a so-called dry season, during
FIo. 55-Puerto Mexico. Ver. Street. which small showers a r e fre-
quent. During the months of
October and November, strong northern winds, called "Northers,"
bringing cold and heavy downpour, occur several times a month.
The whole Isthmus is low and swampy, cut by many rivers and
dotted with lagoons. The ground is covered with thick, luxuriant,
tropical bush, here and there alternating with open savannas. The
soil is, for the most part, very rich, though only sparsely cultivated.
It is said that some places will give as much as three crops a year.
The town, Minatitlin, was originally the port, exporting ma-
hogany. When oil was found in the region, and a refinery built, the
town gained new life. Puerto Mexico now has tank farms and is
the shipping point for the oil refined at Minatitlin. Though exten-
sive drilling has been conducted, no great quantities of oil have yet
been found in this district. All wells seem to produce small quanti-
ties of paraffin base oil of very high grade.
Formerly mahogany grew in great quantities along the river
bank, but cutting was so thorough that now it is rare to see a ma-
The Spanish and Mexican population reside in towns, and there
are also several large Indian villages, though a great part of the
population lives scattered in clusters of small huts along the river
As the archaeological and ethnological material of this area has
never been collected, we will give some extracts of notes made by
the writer during his stay in the Isthmus in 1920-21.
Mr. Ismael Lova has already been mentioned as the one who
first ascended the San Martin PajApan volcano. He formerly lived
in the small town, Jaltipin de Morelos, on the Tehuantepec railroad.
Having traveled widely over the area and also having married an
Indian woman he possessed a great amount of valuable knowledge.
He was the first to draw attention to the monuments at Piedra
Labrada, and also spoke of burial mounds in the vicinity of San-
Near Los Cerritos, at a distance of about 20 kilometers from
Puerto Mexico, Loya had seen some hills which appeared to be
artificial and on which are traces of walls. These hills are entirely
surrounded by swamps and would form an excellent stronghold.
From the railway station to the town of Jaltipin is a short dis-
tance, which now is covered by truck. Just as one enters the town,
to the right of the road lie several artificial mounds, the largest of
which is called the "Cerro de Malinche. It is said in Jaltipin that
Malinche, the famous interpreter of Cortes, was born and raised in
the town. All the early chronicles disagree as to the place where
she was born. The tradition which still persists in JaltipAn about
Dofa Marina, the Spanish name for Malinche, has previously been
reported by Dr. C. H. Berendt.*
Brasseur states that the Islands of Tacamichapa formed by two
branches of the CoatzacoAlcos river, was given to the family of Dona
Marina by the Spanish crown.t
Mr. Young, of the International Oil Co., which has its offices in
Frontera, Tabasco, told us this year that some lands near China-
meca were given to the family of Marina, and remained intact until
*Icazbalceta, Page 178. Note 2.
tBrasseur, 1862. Page 57.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
the year 1687. This land was called Chamulco. The owner of it,
a woman named Ana Tobar, sold parts of the property in that
year. Mr. Young stated that he had seen the documents relating
to this property a short while ago.
Doha MarIrin-ia is one of the most outstanding personalities of the
Conquest of New Spain, and the Spaniards would undoubtedly not
have succeeded if it had not been for her. It is said that she was
born in the province of Coatzacoalcos, and that her mother married
a second time, and gave birth to a son. When this son was born she
agreed with her second husband to dispose of the daughter, and
therefore, sold her to some Indians from the town of Xicalango in
Tabasco. As a slave she was sold several times, and finally she was
presented, together with nineteen other girls, to Cortes.
In her home she had been brought up to speak the Aztec lan-
guage, and in Tabasco she learned the Maya. In Cortes' retinue
was a Spaniard, Ger6nimo de Aguilar, who had lived among the
Mayas, and who had joined Cortes when the latter landed on Cozu-
mel Island. Thus, at the beginning of the Conquest, Cortes gave
his orders in Spanish to Aguilar, who translated into Maya to Mal-
inche, who again translated into Aztec to the Mexicans. In this
way, she was of prime importance to the Conquerors. She soon
learned enough Spanish so that she could dispense with Aguilar, and
as she furthermore became Cortes' mistress, she was really the one
who held the fate of the Spanish army in her hands.
After having risen to great power she again happened to return
to her country, where she met her mother and her young half-
brother, whom she recognized. Her mother was afraid of her re-
venge and asked Dofa Marina for forgiveness. This was granted
and at the same time Dofa Marina loaded her family with gifts of
jewelry and land. This is the land mentioned in the traditions of
the town of Jaltipan.
There are now considerable numbers of Spaniards and Mexicans
in the town. They live in houses of brick with tiled roofs, and along
the edges of the settlement are large Indian quarters. The sur-
rounding country is likewise inhabited by Indians who all speak the
Nahua language, and still maintain many of their old ceremonies.
The ancient custom of dancing before the village saint is one of
those which has thus survived.
After the Conquest, the friars noted how fond the Indians were
of dancing. In order to divert their attention from the idols to the
saint, the priests arranged dances in honour of the latter. The
Saint-feast of Jaltipan is held on the 30th of August. The Indians
from the vicinity take possession of a square in front of the church.
INDIAN DANCE, JALTIPAN
The men are dressed in their ordinary cotton cloth garments, but on
their faces they wear masks carved out of wood and painted red and
green (fig. 56). Some of these masks have moustaches made of
horse hair and we saw one which had a small pair of deer's antlers
on the forehead. On their heads they wear bonnets covered with
feathers of fowl and the long red tail feathers of the macaw termi-
nating in small tufts of cotton (fig. 57, a, b, c). They all carry
hooked sticks and in the middle of the procession walk two drum-
mers, one carrying a small drum, the other a large double drum.
These drums are made out of hollowed tree trunks. The small drum
is covered with deer skin on both ends, while the large one has skin
only on the top (fig. 57, d). The drummers are followed by three
FIG. 56--Jaltipan, Ver. Indians dressed for dancing.
men playing flageolets. After the men come a procession of women,
all carrying lighted candles and small Mexican flags.
The procession stops in front of the church and while the women
go inside, the men form a circle and commence to dance. About
twenty take part in the dance. Carefully following the rhythm given
by the drums, they commence very slowly, little by little gaining
momentum. Then again they slow down. Sometimes they dance
in a circle, one moving behind the other, and sometimes they divide
into two parties, each party attacking the other with their staffs.
Again they return to the dance in a circle, changing the staff from
one hand to the other. The man wearing the mask with the deer
antlers leaves the men in the circle, and goes into the center. Then
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
the man wearing the mask with a moustache also leaves the circle,
chasing the person representing a deer. The deer dances inside the
ring, sometimes fleeing outside, continually followed by the hunts-
man, both moving to the rhythmic beat of the drums. The hunts-
man tries to catch the deer by its left heel in order to throw it, and
the deer defends itself with its antlers.
Finally, the huntsman catches
the deer, throws it on the ground,
|i and goes through the motions of
S cutting off its left leg. Then
the deer frees itself and quickly
crawls away on all fours. The
Huntsman sneaks after as it tries
,0 to escape, and it is caught at
Last. Then the huntsman cuts off
its head and skins it, ending the
During the whole of this pan-
tomime the rest of the dancers
have been circling around the
Stwo chief actors, moving now
1 slowly, now quickly to the tunes
of the flageolets and to the beat
of the drums.
D/ After a short pause the In-
dians begin another dance, a
more common one called "MNoros
3 vy Cristianos," wherein both Cor-
tes and Montezuma, as well as
parties of Indians and Spaniards
g fare represented. After finishing
this dance, the men also go into
c the church to worship the Saint
of the village.
J In Jaltipain the remnants of a
Fic. 57-Jaltipan, Ver. Drum and masks used by collection of antiques made by
the Indians when dancing.
J. M. Rodriguez was found in
1922. A few words should be said about this man. It is believed
that he was of pure Indian descent. He was much given to the
study of the antiquities, and eagerly collected the ancient artifacts
from the surrounding country. His daughter married a Spaniard
named Villegas, and when the old man died, his collections were put
in sacks and moved with the family from one house to another. The
greater part of this collection was naturally soon broken to pieces.
What survived was given as toys to the children of the family. The
only object saved is now in the possession of Sefora Villegas. It
is a clay bowl (fig. 58). In the house
was found the greater part of the old
man's collection of books. Among
S them was a nearly complete set of the
S"Anales del Museo Nacional" of Mex-
\0 ico, on the pages and covers of which
the old man had made a lot of valu-
able notations, as well as many pencil
S sketches (fig. 59).
Mr. Ansell, an Englishman, living
0 in Jaltipan, says that the greater part
of the above mentioned collection came
from Tesistepec and Sayula, both in-
dicated on our map. The small bowl
from the collection indicates that these
S objects must have been of Aztec
The most important town of that
FIG. 58--Sayua, cVe. hiAtec clay bowl. section of the country is Acayfican. It
is said that a colossal stone figure is
found approximately three hours ride to the northwest of this town.
This figure is called "La Piedra Colosal de Hueyapan," and can-
not be the same as the head described by Melgar and Seler (see
page 21). It was removed from its original position before the
work of bringing it to the museum in Mexico City was abandoned
due to the Revolution in 1911.
If we follow the river Coatza-
coAlcos upstream from its mouth, \.,A .i') A N-
we will see some hills on its right
bank near Nanchital. Here an
ancient mound has been used as o rv ..
base for an oil tank. There are --
some oil drillings about fifteen
kilometers inland towards the east s .. --
of this place. .....
A short distance further up
the river lies the ranch Tuzantepe,
and near by, is a low hill with
some large blocks of stone on it. F. 59-Jaltipan, deVer. Drawing of Indian girl,
some large blocks of stone on it. made by Rodriguez.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
The Indians of the region state that these stones were brought
there by the ancients, "Los Antiguos"; that they found these stones
far away and moved them by touching with a magic wand. These
stones have the appearance of being an outcrop of rock.
From this place runs the main trail to the large Indian village
of Ixhuatlan (fig. 60). The inhabitants of this village speak Nahua
and Spanish. The proximity of the oil camps is having a disastrous
influence on them. They are acquiring all the white man's vices and
getting thoroughly unreliable. The chief product of the village is
pineapples, which are carried down to the river by the women and
from there rowed to the market in Puerto Mexico by the men. Near
the trail at a short distance from
the village used to stand an idol,
about 75 c.m. high, carved in
igneous rock, and representing
some kind of an animal (fig.
61). It is now said to have been
removed to the village square.
Further inland is the Indian
town Moloacin, where the In-
dians likewise speak the Nahua
language. These Indians have
been exposed to influences from
the outside much less than those
of Ixhuatlin, and do not look
kindly upon strangers who stop
over night in their village.
Half way between this last
village and the ranch San Jost
del Carmen, on the Tancochipa
river, some idols are reported
rinear Pare idolos arhe rephorte FIG. 60-Ixhuatlan, Ver. The Village.
near Paraje Solo, where there is
also an outcrop of volcanic rock. Oil seepages are frequent through-
out this region.
Several mounds lie scattered over the savannas around San Jos6
del Carmen, and J. J. Williams, who worked on a survey of the
region in 1852,* tells us the following:
"It seems important to state that in connection with the finding
of precious metals in these streams, that among the many remains
of the indigenous people who formerly occupied this locality, there
are a number of artificial wells on the west bank of the Tancochaipa,
which seem to be rather huge jars of earthenware, four or five feet
high and three in diameter, buried in the ground, and which cor-
respond precisely to those now (1853) existing in Sonora and other
gold districts of Mexico. The peculiar construction and locations
of these receptacles, and the abundance of drinking water in close
proximity, justify the conclusion that they were formerly used for
washing gold . .
"The number and variety of mounds found near San Jos6 render
it a place of considerable interest. These are scattered over various
points and generally composed of chalky earth, alternated by vari-
ous coloured clay, beneath which are fragments of ancient vessels.
In examining some of these mounds,
: several c o p p e r hatchets and other
antiquities have been discovered. The
banks of the arroyos exhibit great
'' quantities of plumbic ocre, and usually
intersect strata of variegated clay suit-
able for purposes of pottery."
A's ^.. Mr. Williams states that gold has
been washed in the rivers of the dis-
Strict. Now and then a few grains can
still be washed out of the river sand,
but the amount is so small that it has
not been found profitable. This view
is confirmed by the reports of the Con-
querors, who tell us that they found
only gold of poor grade in this district.
Unfortunately the writer was not
FIG. 61-Ixhuatlan, Ver. Idol found near acquainted with the Williams report
the Village. when he, in 1921, passed through San
Jos6 del Carmen, so that he was not able to investigate the wells
which are mentioned.
Returning to the river, we continue upwards until we reach Paso
Nuevo. It is the tradition that the town Espiritu Santo, the first
town founded by the Spaniards, was located here. Now one only
sees a few wretched huts on a hill. The surrounding corn fields,
though, are full of potsherds and obsidian chips.
Thirty kilometers up the river from its mouth we pass the
Uspanapa river, one of the main tributaries to the Coatzacoalcos,
and shortly afterwards we reach the large oil refinery at Minatitlan,
and the village supported by this industrial plant. It is an unat-
tractive place, and the native inhabitants are more so.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
Antiquities have been found in a multitude of places along the
Uspanapa river. At Filesola, pottery was found; in Ribera del
Carmen and Tecuanapa, large quantities of pottery in streams; in
Cascajal, a pottery stamp of Aztec type (fig. 62). Arroyo Man-
cuernillas is well known among the Indians because they have found
m a n y ancient corn-grinding stones
metatess) at this place.
The area is of importance, as the
contact line between western civiliza-
tions, such as the Totonac and Aztec,
with the eastern, the Maya, in u st
have been here.
A small clay figurine such as the
or(. 62-cHaalf Clay Seal. ne found by the oil camp near San
Cristobal on the Coachapa river sug-
gests Maya influence (fig. 63). On the other hand, the clay seal
from Cascajal further east is purely Aztec.
Puerto Mexico has nothing attractive about it. Some high sand
dunes face the Gulf, and in the lee of these lie a few streets of
miserable houses (see fig. 55).
The greater part of the houses are built of board and corrugated
iron; only the offices and quarters of the oil companies are built of
brick. When it is dry and windy, sand blows into everything, and
when it rains the streets turn to rivers which carry the refuse of the
town out into the big Coatzacoalcos river.
In this hole we stayed for ten days waiting for a boat to take us
to Frontera in the State of Tabasco. Telegrams re-
ceived told us that Director Gates of the Tulane De-
partment of Middle American Research, as well as
the members of the Tulane Botanical Expedition to
Tabasco, Messrs. Haskell and Hartenbower, would
soon arrive by steamer from Vera Cruz.
On the Expedition schedule was a visit to some .'
ruins reported near Tonali, five hours ride from
Puerto Mexico, so for several days we tried to get
animals in order to ride eastward along the coast to
Tonala, and from there search for the ruins. But the Ver. Cyc flaurine.
recent De la Huerta revolution, of which Puerto (Half Size).
Mexico was for some time the headquarters, had done away with
nearly all private animals, and the horses available cost up to $7.50
However, we were able to charter a small sloop, and boarded it
in the belief that such a small craft could go and come as it pleased;
but no, both customs officials and port captain had something to
say about it, and as the port captain was going on a picnic, he
would not give us clearance papers to leave port on Sunday morning.
At last on Monday morning we hoisted the Tulane pennant on
the good sloop "Lupata," and sailed out into the Gulf. We fol-
lowed the low coast towards the east. With all sails set and a small
auxiliary motor running we made good progress, and after four and
one-half hours we entered the mouth of the Tonala river.
Tonala means "hot place" in Aztec, and the sun certainly was
blazing down on the sandy "streets" of the small cluster of palm
huts which forms the town.
The little settlement lies picturesquely hidden behind sand dunes
beside a shallow bay formed by the river, which is the boundary be-
tween the States of Veracruz and Tabasco. It was here that Bernal
Diaz landed in 1518 when he was on Grijalva's memorable trip of
discovery along the coast of Mexico. Let us use Bernal Diaz's own
words: "There came many Indians from the town of Tonala which
is at a distance of about one league from here, and they were very
peaceful, and they brought us bread of corn, and fish, and fruits, and
they gave it to us with good will, and the Captain flattered them
much and told them to give green beads and diamonds, and said to
them through signs that they should bring gold for exchange and
that he would give them of the things we had for exchange, and
they brought jewelry of low grade gold, and he gave them beads for
this. And also those from Guazacalco (Coatzacoilcos) came, and
from other towns around and they brought their jewelry, which was
not very much, because in addition to this exchange all the Indians
of these provinces usually brought some hatchets of copper, very
brightly polished for refinements or adornment with handles of
painted wood, and we thought they were of low grade gold. We
commenced to trade for these, and I tell vou that in three days we
got more than six hundred, and we were very content believing them
to be of low grade gold, and the Indians still more with their beads,
and we all came out empty handed for the hatchets were of pure
copper and the beads a little or nothing. And one sailor had bought
seven hatchets, and was happy about this, and I also remember that
one soldier by name of Bartolomn Pardo went to a house of idols
which was on a hill, and of which it is already said that they are
called Cues, which is as much as to say House of One's God, and
in that house he found many idols and much copal, which is like a
rosin with which they fumigate (the idols), and knives of flint with
which they sacrificed and circumcized, and in a chest of wood he found
many bits of gold which were diadems and collars, and two idols and
others as cast beads, and the soldier took the gold for himself, and
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
the idols and the other objects of sacrifice he brought for the Cap-
tain, and it did not miss that somebody saw this and told it to Gri-
jalva, and he wanted to take it, and we prayed him not to do this,
and as he was in good humor he ordered that the Royal fifth should
be taken and the rest was given to the poor soldier and it had the
value of 150 pesos.
"And I also want to tell how I planted some seeds of an orange
next to another idol house, and this happened in this way: Because
as there were many mosquitoes in that river, ten of us soldiers went
to sleep in one of the tall idol houses, and next to this house I planted
the seeds which I had brought from Cuba because it had been told
us that we were going out to settle, and they grew very well because
the priests of those idols cultivated them and watered them and
cleaned them as soon as they noted that they were plants different
from their own, and from these came
I ----- --y all the oranges of that province .. ."*
/ In this narrative are several points
that interest us. First, the ruins,
described as located about one league
I from the mouth of the river, were
S ,7 undoubtedly those which we were in
.. i search of; secondly, the small tale of
Sr the planting of the orange seeds.
I -. Here is then the place where the first
---_ oranges were planted on the Ameri-
can continent (and not in California).
| ... "'_ We anchored near the settlement
FIG. 64-Sailing Vessel on the Gulf Coast. for a time and went ashore to pro-
cure guides and food. The guides
told us of two ways by which to reach the stone monuments reported
at the ruins. The one was by a dugout over the river and
then following a small stream, a little more than a league from the
Tonala river. The other lay up the Tonala river and then in
through a tributary, the Blasillo river. This last route would give
us a shorter distance to walk and to carry our equipment, so we
decided on it.
With our motor going and the sail stretched out to protect us
from the sun, we then proceeded up the Tonala river. This river
has several names. At the mouth it is called Tonala, further up
from the tributary Zanapa, to a place called Buena Vista, its name
is Tancochapa, and from this last place it splits into two rivers, the
Rio de las Playas, which runs nearly due south, and the Pedregal,
*Diaz, Bernal, Garcia Edition, 1904. Page 46-47.
which runs more to the southeast, and together with the Tancochapa
and the TonalA forms the boundary between the States of Veracruz
and Tabasco. The two rivers above the place where they join are
swift and narrow with many small rapids, but along its lower
reaches, the river is slow and deep.
The section we followed was broad, and the banks were covered
by a thick growth of mangrove. Here and there white herons would
be frightened up by the noise of the motor and fly along the river
in front of us. After two hours and a half we reached the mouth
of the narrower Blasillo river and turned into it (fig. 65). We had
to progress with care as snags were plentiful. In some places huge
FiG. 65-Rio Blasillo, Tab. The Sloop Lupata chartered by the Expedition.
trees had fallen into the river and nearly stopped our advance. At
last towards evening we reached a small Indian ranch called Blasillo,
where we remained for the night.
One of the first things we did was to hang up our hammocks and
mosquito nets. The place was infested with these bloodthirsty in-
sects, and when we went to rest we heard millions of them sing
woeful serenades outside our nets.
We were up before dawn, and after a meal set out for the ruins.
Leaving the river, we had to cross low ground, so low in some places
that we had to wade along in water above our knees. Our guide
told us that La Venta was an island entirely surrounded by swamps,
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
the island itself being covered with low hills, with soil excellent for
growing all kinds of plants. The land is divided into lots, each lot
belonging to one Indian family.
As we neared La Venta we met several Indians on their way to
their corn fields or going hunting. We stopped them and persuaded
them to help us as guides, and to clear the thick growth which we
were sure would cover the monuments.
After an hour's brisk walking from Blasillo, we at last turned
off from the trail and stood in front of the first idol. This was a
huge stone block, 2.25 meters high, 86 c.m. broad, and 72 c.m. thick.
It had fallen on its back and showed us a human figure carved
crudely in deep relief, the deep-
est carving being 14 c.m. (fig.
Our jack was not strong
e n o u g h to swing this huge
block, so we could not see if it
had carving or inscriptions on
its back. There is no distinct
style to this figure, though its
general appearance may be said
to give an impression of a slight
Close by, in a northwest di-
rection, we saw a long row of
stones like small pillars, averag-
ing 80 c.m. high with tops brok-
en off, set in the ground in a
row and close together, forming
something like a fence (fig. 68),
FIG. 66-Rio Blasillo, Tab. View of the River. and in the center of these to the
east, a huge block, probably an
altar (Altar 1), rough on the under side and with figures en-
graved on the smooth upper surface. This altar is approximately
circular, between 1.5 and 2.0 meters in diameter, and has rolled over
so that it stands at an angle where it is impossible to get a good
photograph of it. Moreover, the Indians have had corn fields
here, and after cutting the bush they burned it off, thereby
badly damaging the stone by heat. There was no hope of turning
it without a large gang of workmen and some ropes, so we had to
content ourselves with making some drawings of the best preserved
of the figures engraved on the surface.
LA VENTA RUINS
From this monument we went back over the trail to a pyramid
about 25 meters high, which was facing south. There was no sign
of a structure on its top, and if Bernal Diaz really was at this place,
the idol house he slept in must
have been a palm-roofed build-
ing possibly with adobe walls.
The next monument found
by our guides we named Stela
2 (fig. 69). This was a large
monolith, 3.20 meters high and
2.00 meters broad. Fortunately,
it also lay on its back, showing
us a standing human figure with
a large head-dress and holding
a ceremonial bar diagonally
across its breast (figs. 70-71).
It is a full face figure, carved
on the somewhat rough surface
of the stone, standing out bold-
ly against a set of three smaller
figures on either side. These
are carved in low relief follow-
ing t h e irregularities of t h e
stone. They turn their knees
towards the main figure, heads
away, and also hold staffs in
their hands (fig. 72).
There is no doubt that this
figure is strongly influenced by
Maya art, if it is not really
Maya. The ruins of Comalcal-
co, the nearest Maya city pre- (
viously reported, lies 100 kilo-
meters to the east. The crudity
of some of the La Venta figures
must undoubtedly be ascribed
to the hardness of the material
in which the carving was done.
All the monuments at La Venta FIG. 67-La Venta, Tab. Stela No. 1.
are of igneous rock and are all
of great size. Inquiring of the oil geologists who work for the Cia.
Mex. de Petroleo El Aguila, we were told by one of these, Mr. N.
F. Keller, that rock of this kind could not be quarried nearer than
100 kilometers up the river at a place called La Laja. At Paraje
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
Solo, on the trail between the Nahua speaking village of Molocan
and Rivera del Carmen, is an igneous outcrop, and another geologist
of the same company, Mr. S. W. Lesniak, reports an idol at that
Here again we stand before one of the amazing riddles of an-
cient engineering. How did the Indians transport these large blocks
of stone over a distance of more than 100 kilometers, across swampy
ground or along the rivers?
Colossat *A'LtdW 2
We had bad luck at La
Venta-one whole pack of film,
the one containing our photo-
graphs of the most interesting
monument, Stela 2, turned out
totally blank, so we can only
present some of our drawings
of this monument.
After having worked Stela
2, monuments appeared in rapid
succession. Altar 2 is located
at the foot of the pyramid, to
the south. It lies with face up,
and on it is carved a crude
figure sitting in a niche with
legs cross Turkish fashion (fig.
Altar 3 is a square block
standing close by, carved so
that it gives the appearance of
A Lt-a. 4 having a cushion on its top. On
St- its north side, i. e., facing the
%S Rauo L31 Pl pyramid, is a deeply carved
niche in which a figure is sitting
Fic. x68-La Venta, Tab. Rough Plan of bt f d wi
the Ruins. bent forward with legs crossed.
To the left of the niche is a
panel on which a standing figure in low relief is engraved (fig. 74).
A similar panel was probably also on the right side, but this side of
the altar has been damaged. The southern side of the altar is plain,
but on the western side two sitting figures are seen engraved (fig.
75). They face each other and appear to be in some kind of dis-
pute. We had to dig a little in front of this altar in order to get
After this we came to the most amazing monument of them all
-a huge bell-shaped boulder. At first it puzzled us very much, but
LA VENTA RUINS
after a little digging, to our amazement, we saw that what we had
in front of us was the upper part of a colossal head. It had sunk
deep into the soft ground, and it was out of the question to expose
it (fig. 76).
The visible part of the head measures 6 meters in circumference,
and protrudes 1.35 meters from the ground. In the lower right hand
corner of the photograph which we made of this monument one
Fie. 71-La Venta, Tab.
From head-dress of
main figure Stela
FIG. 72-La Venta, Tab.
Small figure on
Fro. 69-La Venta,
Tab. Stela No. 2.
FrI. 70-La Venta, Tab.
Detail of main figure
Stela No. 2.
sees the left eye of the head. The colossal head reminds one of the
one found by the Selers between Los Lirios and Tres Zapotes in the
Canton of the Tuxtlas. La Venta is certainly a place of many
puzzles, and further work should be done there in order to ascertain
more definitely where this ancient city should be placed in our se-
quence of cultures.*
*Seler, C., 1922. Plate VI.
TRIBES AND TEMPLES
On our way to the next monument we stopped by an Indian hut
to get something to eat. We were received in a friendly manner by
an old Indian woman dressed in a white cloth wound around her
waist. Long flabby breasts
were hanging down beneath
her belt line, and flowers were
in her hair. Another woman
with a face like that of a horse
apparently was overcome with
shyness, and rushed out to get
a chemise with which to cover
herself. But the loveliest mem-
ber of the family, a young girl
FIG. 73-La Venta, Tab. Altar No. 2. of about 15 years of age, ap-
peared in the doorway in all
her golden brown glory, plus a white cloth around her waist, and
some red flowers in her hair. She was beautifully built, with laugh-
ing eyes, and the most exquisitely shaped breasts.
We stayed for lunch, enjoying a dish of black beans, tortillas
and coffee, as well as occasional glimpses of the young Venus walk-
ing to and fro inside the hut, now and then stealing up to the door
to get a look at the strangers outside.
The old lady told us that her father came to this place from
Jaltipan, on the Tehuantepec railway, and that all the inhabitants
around La Venta speak Mexicano, i. e., Nahua. This settlement is
FIG. 74-La Venta, Tab. Altar No. 3.
LA YENTA RUINS
undoubtedly recent, as are also the Nahua settlements at Moloacin,
Ixhuatlin, and ChichigApa, all on the Coatzacoalcos and its tribu-
tary, the Uspanapa.
After our meal the guides brought
us to a lot of land owned by an In- (. -
dian, Leopoldo Sarabia, and h e r e
showed us another huge altar. This,
Altar 4, was a large square block of
stone, 3.15 meters long along the top,
1.90 meters deep, and with about 1.5
meters exposed above the ground.
re calculated the mass of this block FI. 7--La Venta, Tab. Incised drawing
on side of Altar No. 3.
to be at least 9 cubic meters. On its
north side is an incised ornament along the upper rim of the table,
and under this is a deep niche in which sits a human figure, legs
crossed Turkish fashion. The front of the altar had sunken into
the ground, and only with some difficulty were we able to expose
enough of the ornament to get a fairly good photograph of the
figure (figs. 77-78).
There is a strong Maya feeling about this monument. The
person in the niche resembles figures on Stela E at Piedras Negras,
and the design above the figure undoubtedly represents a conven-
tionalized animal's head.
FiG. 76-La Venta, Tab. Colossal Head.