Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 The manuscript and its charact...
 The Maya calendar
 Explanation of figures and characters...
 Suggestions as to the probable...
 Symbols, pictographs, and other...
 The written characters of...
 Illustrations of the day columns...
 A discussion of dates, with special...
 Inscriptions on the Palenque...

Group Title: study of the manuscript Troano,
Title: A Study of the manuscript Troano,
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080851/00001
 Material Information
Title: A Study of the manuscript Troano,
Series Title: Contributions to North American ethnology.
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Thomas, Cyrus ( Author )
Brinton, D. G. ( Author of introduction )
Publisher: United States Government Printing Office
Place of Publication: Washington, D. C.
Publication Date: 1882
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080851
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 00610806

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
    Table of Contents
        Page xi
        Page xii
    List of Illustrations
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
        Page xix
        Page xx
        Page xxi
        Page xxii
        Page xxiii
        Page xxiv
        Page xxv
        Page xxvi
        Page xxvii
        Page xxviii
        Page xxix
        Page xxx
        Page xxxi
        Page xxxii
        Page xxxiii
        Page xxxiv
        Page xxxv
        Page xxxvi
        Page xxxvii
        Page xxxviii
    The manuscript and its character
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    The Maya calendar
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
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        Page 15
        Page 16
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        Page 20
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        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
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        Page 48
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        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
    Explanation of figures and characters on plates XX-XXIII of the manuscript troano and 25-28 of the Dresden codex
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
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        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 82a
        Page 82b
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 86a
        Page 86b
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 90a
        Page 90b
        Page 91
        Page 92
    Suggestions as to the probable meaning of some of the figures on the other plates
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 94a
        Page 94b
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
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        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
    Symbols, pictographs, and other figures which cannot be properly classed as written characters
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
    The written characters of the manuscript
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
    Illustrations of the day columns and numbers in the first part of the manuscript
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
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        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
    A discussion of dates, with special reference to those of the Perez manuscript
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
    Inscriptions on the Palenque tablet
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 200a
        Page 200b
        Page 201
        Page 202
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        Page 238
Full Text











I am fully aware that this paper bears the marks of haste and gives
evidence of the fact that a number of the more important points are not
worked out as thoroughly and completely as they might have been had
more time been devoted to them. But the growing interest in the public
mind in reference to all that relates to the past history of our continent has
induced me to present it in its present incomplete form rather than defer its
publication to an indefinite period in the future. It is therefore offered to
the public more as a tentative work than with the expectation that all my
conclusions will stand the test of criticism.
I have endeavored, as will be seen by an examination of its contents,
to confine my studies as strictly as possible to the Manuscript itself, without
being influenced in my conclusions by the conclusions of others-using
Landa's "Belacion," Perez's Cronologia," Brasseur's works, and the Dresden
Codex as my chief aids; not intending by any means to ignore the varu-
able work done by others in the same field, but that I might remain as free
as possible to work out results in my own line of thought.
I may also add that at the time the main portion of the paper was
written I was in the West, out of reach of any extensive library contain-
ing works relating to the history, antiquities, &c, of Mexico and Central
America. This fact I mention as an apology for the comparatively few
works referred to in the paper.
I have studied the Manuscript somewhat in the same way the child
undertakes to solve an illustrated rebus, assuming as a standpoint the status
of the semi-civilized Indian, and endeavoring, as far as possible, to proceed
upon the same plane of thought. In other words, I have not proceeded upon
the assumption that the pre-Columbian Indians of Yucatan were learned phi-


losophers, thoroughly versed in science and general knowledge, but were
Indians, who through some influence, whether introduced or indigenous,
had made considerable advance in certain lines of art and science. But
these lines, as I believe, were few and limited, relating chiefly to architect-
ure, sculpture, painting, and the computation of time.
As an examination of the Manuscript soon satisfied me that it was, to
a great extent, a kind of religious calendar, I found it necessary first to dis-
cuss the Maya chronological system in order to make use of the numerous
dates found in the work-a fact that will explain why so many pages of the
first part of the paper are devoted to this subject.
The results of my investigations are summed up at the close of this
preface. I find the work consists of two parts: first, a calendar giving the
dates of religious festivals running through a long period of time, in all
probability a grand cycle of three hundred and twelve years, together with
brief formulas; second, an illustration of the habits, customs, and employ-
ments of the people. But these two subjects are mingled together through-
out the Manuscript; the first including most of the characters or hiero-
glyphics around the spaces; the second the figures in the spaces.
One omission in my paper will be observed by those who are familiar
with the subject, that is, the failure on my part to notice and account for, in
the Maya chronological system, the surplus days of the bissextile years. This
omission on my part has been intentional. I can find no plan by which to
insert them in the series, numbering them as the others, without interfering
with that order which is essential to the system itself. I have therefore
proceeded upon the assumption that they are added as uncounted days, and
hence interfere in no way with the regular order. If I am mistaken in this
conclusion, considerable modification in my tabular arrangement of the
years may be necessary, even though the general plan be correct.
A very serious drawback to the attempt to explain the written char-
acters or hieroglyphics has been the lack on my part of a knowledge of the
Maya language. Such a knowledge I do not claim; therefore, in this part
of the work, the best I could do was to quote from the lexicons, as there
given, such words as I found it necessary to refer to. The propriety of
attempting anything in this direction without this knowledge may be justly


questioned. But after seriously considering this point, I concluded it best
to give to the world the result of my investigations with these explanations,
as I felt confident I had made some progress in deciphering this mysterious
I take this opportunity of acknowledging the obligations I am under
to Dr. D. G. Brinton, of Philadelphia, for the valuable notice of the Maya
Manuscripts which he has contributed as an introduction to my paper.


These may be briefly summed up as follows:
1st. That the work was intended chiefly as a ritual or religious calen-
dar to guide the priests in the observance of religious festivals, and their
numerous ceremonies and other duties. That the very large number of
day columns and numerals, which form fully one-half of what may be
called the written portion, are simply dates which appear to run through
one entire grand cycle of 312 years, fixing the time when festivals should
be held and other religious observances take place. Also that much of the
text proper-the portion in hieroglyphics or written characters-is purely
ritualistic, consisting of very simple formulas.
2d. That the figures in' the spaces are in some cases symbolical, in
others simple pictographs, and, in quite a number, refer to religious ceremo-
nies, but that in many instances they relate to the habits, customs, and oc-
cupations of the people-as, for example,'their method of capturing game,
which, as appears from this work, was as stated by Herrera, chiefly by "gins
and traps"-and the incidents of the chase; that which relates to the busi-
ness of the apiarists; making ropes; the manufacture of idols; agricultural
pursuits; occupation and duties of the females, &c. But even here we see
the religious element pervading everything.
3d. That the work appertained to and was prepared for a people liv-
ing in the interior of the country, away from the sea-shore. This is inferred
from the fact that nothing is found in it relating to fishermen, or their vessels.


But there are reasons for believing that it pertained to a comparatively well-
wooded section.
4th. That the people of the section where it was prepared were peace-
able, not addicted to war; and were sedentary, supporting themselves chiefly
by agricultural products, though relying upon their "gins and traps" and
the chase to supply them with animal food. Twelve of the plates (VIII
to XIX) are devoted to this latter subject; ten (I* to X*) to the business,
festivals, &c., of the apiarists and honey-gatherers; and ten (XXIV to
XXXIII) to rains, storms, and agricultural pursuits.
The execution and character of the work itself, as well as its contents,
bear testimony to the fact that the people -were comparatively well
advanced in the arts of civilized life. But there is nothing here to warrant
the glowing descriptions of their art and refinement given by some of the
earlier as well as more modern writers, nor even to correspond with what
might be inferred from the architectural remains in some parts of Yucatan.
We find in the work indications of stone and wooden houses, but generally
with thatched roofs; at least they always have wooden supports, and are of
a temporary character.
The dress of the males appears to have consisted of a strip of cloth
(probably cotton), passed once or twice around the loins, with one end
hanging down behind and the other in front, or a small flap in front and
the ends behind. That of the females consisted of a skirt fastened at the
waist and hanging down to the ankles. A kind of broad anklets and wrist-
lets appear also to have been quite common with the better class, but the
feet were always bare. The women parted their hair in the middle, that of
the matrons or married women not being allowed to hang down, while that
of the younger or unmarried ones was allowed to hang in long locks behind.
Mats alone seem to have been used as seats.
The pottery, so far as I can judge by what is shown in the Manu-
script (and in this prefatory statement I confine my remarks strictly to
what seems to be shown here, unless otherwise expressly stated), was of an
inferior grade as to form and decoration, but it is-worthy of notice that pots
with legs were common. Some censers in the form of a snake's neck and
head are the best specimens represented.


In planting their corn (maize) it was dibbled in with a curved stick,
five grains to a hill being the established number. While at this work they
wore a peculiar head-covering, apparently a kind of matting. The other
cultivated plants noticed in the work appear to be cacao, cotton, and a
leguminous species, probably a climbing bean, as it is supported by a stake.
I judge, from a number of the figures, that their corn while growing
was subject to the attacks of numerous insects (represented as worms or
snakes), which ate foliage, ear, and root, and was frequently injured by
severe storms, and also that the planted grains were pulled up by birds and
a small quadruped. Their crops were also subject to injury by severe
droughts, accompanied by great heat.
The production of honey seems to have been a very important indus-
try in the section to which the work relates, but so far I have succeeded in
interpreting but few of the figures which refer to it
Rope-making (or possibly weaving) is represented on Plate XI*-a
very simple process, which will be found described in my paper.
Their chief mechanical work, as I judge from this Manuscript, was the
manufacture of idols, some being made of clay and others carved of wood.
Two implements used in making their wooden images appear, from the
figures, to have been of metal, one a hatchet, the other sharp-pointed and
shaped much like a pair of shears.
Spears and arrows (if such they be, for there is no figure of a bow in
the entire work), or darts, are the only implements of warfare shown. The
spears or darts seem to have been often thrown by means of a kind of hook,
and guided by a piece of wood with a notch at the end.
5th. The taking of life, apparently of a slave, is indicated in one place,
but whether as a sacrificial offering is uncertain. It is evidently not in the
manner described by the early writers, as in this case it is by decapitation
with a machete or hatchet, the arms being bound behind the back, and what
is presumed to be a yoke fixed on the back of the head. This is the only
thing in the Manuscript, except holding captives by the hair, as in the
Mexican Codices, which can possibly be construed to indicate human sacri-
fice. In the Dresden Codex human sacrifice in the usual way-by opening
the breast-is clearly indicated.


6th. We learn from the figures in the Manuscript that the cross in some
of its forms was in use among this people as a religious emblem, and also
that the bird was in some cases brought into connection with it, as at
7th. In regard to the written characters I have reached the following
That, although the movement of the figures is from the right to the
left, and the plates should.be taken in this way, at least by pairs, yet, as a
general rule, the characters are in columns, to be read from the top down-
wards, columns following each other from left to right; that when they are
in lines they are to be read from left to right and by lines from the top
downwards, but that lines are used only where it is not convenient to place
the characters in columns. The correctness of this conclusion is, I think,
susceptible of demonstration by what is found in the Manuscript.
8th. That there is no fixed rule in reference to the arrangement of the
parts of compound characters. The few which I have been able to decipher
satisfactorily appear to have the parts generally arranged in an order nearly
or quite the reverse of that in which the characters themselves are placed.
9th. That the characters, while to a certain extent phonetic, are not
true alphabetic signs, but syllabic. Nor will even this definition hold true
of them all, as some appear to be ideographic and others simply abbrevi-
ated pictorial representations. Most of the characters are compound, and
the parts more or less abbreviated, and, as the writing is certainly the work
of the priests, we may correctly term it hieratic.
Landa's alphabet, I think, is the result of an attempt on his part to pick
out of the compound characters their simple elements, which he erroneously
supposed represented letters. The. day characters are found in the Manu-
script substantially as given by this author, but appear to have been derived
from an earlier age, and to have lost in part their original signification. No
month characters are found in this work, though common in the Dresden
10th. That the work (the original, if the one now in existence be a
copy) was probably written about the middle or latter half of the fourteenth
century. This conclusion is reached first, from internal evidence alone;


second, from this, together with historical evidence. The tribe appears to
have been at the time in a peaceable, quiet, and comparatively happy con-
dition, which will carry us back to a time preceding the fall of Mayapan,
and before the introduction of Aztec soldiers by the Cocomes.
11 th. I think we find conclusive evidence in the work that the Ahau
or Katun was a period of 24 years, and the great cycle of 312; also, that
the series commenced with a Cauac instead of a Kan year, as has been
usually supposed.
Lastly, I add that I think Brasseur was right in supposing that this
work originated in that section of the peninsula known as Peten.


Preface .................----------------... ................................................................ iii
Results oT my investigations of the Manuscript Troano................................... v
Table of Contents .--. ---------.... .--.--..-----------........---.----...............--------------------................--------......--..-. ..-----....-- xi
List of Illustrations ---......................................................................... xiii
Introduction by Dr. D. G. Brinton ..-...------------------........-----......------------...........---------.........---------................ xvii
The graphic system and ancient records of the Mayas--...............-------------..........------------........... xvii
1. Introductory ....----------------.........-------------......----.............---............-.............----------------..... xvii
2. Descriptions by Spanish writers .................................................. xix
3. References from native sources-....-.............................................. xxvii
4. The existing Codices ............................................................ xxx
5. Efforts at interpretation ................-------------....................---------...----.---.........---.------........ xxxiv
CHAPTER I.-The Manuscript and its Characters-..-----........----------------------------------..................--.............. 1
II.-The Maya Calendar -------.....--.-----.........----------.........---...........---.....---....------....--------..
III.-Explanation of Figures and Characters on Plates XX-XXIII of the Manuscript
Troano, and 25-28 of the Dresden Codex -------------------------------......................... 59
IV.-Suggestions as to the probable meaning of some of the figures on the other plates.
Part First of the Manuscript .............................................. 93
Part Second of the Manuscript.----..----......---------.....--..---....--..---------------............ 111
V.-Symbols, Pictographs, and other Figures which cannot- be properly classed as
Written Characters .................... ............................ 125
VI.-The Written Characters of the Manuscript ..................................... 136
The direction in which they are to be read ................................. 136
The order in which the parts of compound characters are to be taken....... 140
VII.-Illustrations of the Day Columns and numbers in the first part of the Manuscript. 162
VIII.-A Discussion of Dates, with special reference to those of the Perez Manuscript... 187
The Maya Manuscript ---------------........-....--..........-........------------........------.---------..........------ 188
Maya ................---------...-----------------....---...................................... 188
Translation ...................................... .....---- ............... 189
IX.-Ins riptions on the Palenque Tablet ........................................... 198
APPENDICES .-...-..----..---..------.....--------------....-----...............--..----------------....--------...-------- ()
APPENDIX No. 1.-Extracts from the "Relacion de Cosas de Yucatn" of Diego de Landa, in re-
lation to the festhials of the supplementary or closing days of the year,
XXXV-XXXVII. (Pp. 210-226.) ..............--...-----....----.......--. 209
No. 2.-Quotation from an article by Senor Melgar .-....------------.....---.-------.............--------. 216
No. 3.-Translation of Landa's description of the festivals held in the different
months of the year. Relacion, pp. 240-310...--...---------.....-------....-----... 217
No. 4.-Mode of Building Houses among the Yucatecs-Landa ..................... 228
No. 5.-Manner of Baptism in Yucatan-Landa ..---............-------------------------........----........ 229
Original .----............---------.........--- ......-------...........---. -----.. 229
Translation .--.....----------....---...----.....------.....------.......-------.....................----------------. 231


Face Page.
PLATE I.-Fac-simile of Plate XX of the Manuscript Troano (colored)-....-----------....--..----......----...... 67
II.-Fac-simile of Plate XXI of the Manuscript Troano (colored).----..........------------...--....--..---. 71
III.-Fac-simile of Plate XXII of the Manuscript Troano (colored) ...........--............ 74
IV.-Fac-simile of Plate XXIII of the Manuscript Troano (colored) ...................... 78
V.-Fac simile of Plate 25 of the Dresden Codex (uncolored) ........................... 82
VI.-Fac-simile of Plate 26 of the Dresden Codex (uncolored) ........................... 86
VIL-Fac-simile of Plate 27 of the Dresden Codex (uncolored) ........................... 90
VIII.-Fac-simile of Plate 28 of the Dresden Codex (uncolored) ........................... 94
IX.-Fac-simile of Dr. Ran's Plate of the Palenque Tablet .............................. 201

FIG. 1.-Comparison of Landa's characters with those of the Manuscript Troano..---..--......--------... 2
2.- Day characters .................-.... .. .......................................... 5
3.-Month characters-................................................................. 6
4.-Method of giving dates with characters.....................--....................... 13
5.-Day column, with numeral characters ............................................. 22
6.-Column of day characters ......................................................... 27
7.-Time symbols from the Dresden Codex .................................---........... 42
8.-Symbols of the Cardinal points ................................................... 70
9.-Stone symbol ..---.-----------...............--------------.........---..... ................................ 74
10.- Bread symbol ............................................................. --...... 80
11.-Bread symbol in another form .................................................... 81
12.-Incense symbol ------------.......----.........-------------.............................................. 92
13.-Figure of a deity with triple-headed head-dress .....---..................--............ 96
14.-Time symbol from Plate VI ....................................................... 97
15.-Figure of an Armadillo in a pitfall........-----.....---.....-.....---------------.......-...........--... 98
16.-Copy of the middle and lower division of Plate XIV .................--.............. 99
17.-Incense-burner...... ...... ...-....--. .--...... .... ...........--..... --.........-- .... ..... 119
18.-Hatchetse-u------------------------------------------------------------------- 126
18.- Hatchets...........-- .............................................................. 126
19.-Spear and dart (or arrow) ........................................................ 126
20.- Honey symbol................................................................... 127
21.-Calendar wheel () ......--------------------------------.............................................--------------------------......... 127
22.- Mortar ...--.....--.................................................................. 127
23.-Mortar.......................................................................... 127
24.- Paint cup ......-........................... ........ ............................. 127
25.-Priest painting an adoratorio or canopied seat .................................... 128
26.-Idol in a baldachin or canopied seat ............................................. 128
27.- House symbol ................ ........ ............................................ 128
28.-House symbol .................................................................... 129
29.- House symbol .................................................................... 129
30.-House or Temple symbol from Dresden Codex .................................... 131
31.-Woman preparing material for ropes or cloth ..................................... 131
32.-Woman making ropes (or weaving) .................................:............. 132


33.-Method of carving wooden idols............................---...................... 132
34.-Method of painting idols.................-- ..........---.............................. 132
35.-Implement, supposed to be metallic, used in carving wooden idols .................. 133
36.-Implement; use unknown .----.........--.-.........----.--.........-----------------........................ 133
37.-Implement, probably used as a saw ..---....----------------... ---------------.....------ ....................... 13:
38.-Cutting instrument..............................................----................. 133
39.-Figures of matting ....................-------------------------------..........----------..........---------....--........ 133
40.- Bat or fan............. ----............. .............--.................--- .............. 134
41.- Bird-cage ....--........................ ........ ...... ...... .................. 134
42.-Block of wood marked with wood symbols....................................... 134
43.- Mimosa leaf ............... .......... ...... ....... ...... ..................... 134
44.-Supposed figure of a curtain .................................................... 134
45.-Symbol denoting tying the years"............. .............--- ....-- ................. 134
46.-Native smoking a cigar...... ...... .... ............................ ............- 134
47.-Copy of the lower division of Plate XV .......................................... 138
48.-Copy of the middle and lower divisions of Plate XIX ...........--.............. 139
49.-Landa's Maya Alphabet .......................................................... 141
50.-Stone symbol.......................... ............................... 144
51.-Bread symbol ................................................................ 144
52.-Bread symbol ............... ................. .......... ............ ........... 144
53.-Symbols for east and west ..................................................... 144
54.-Symbols for north and south ...................................................... 144
55.-Character denoting "wood" ..................................................... 144
56.-Character marked on spear-heads ................. ... ......................... 145
57.-Armadillo symbol ............................................................... 145
58.-Vase or olla symbol ........ ......................... ....... ................ 145
59.-Same character as a prefix.................................................... 145
60.-Landa's character for the month Pax............................................. 145
61.-Pax symbol from the Dresden Codex ........................................ 145
62.-Similar character from the Dresden Codex ............-----.-----.....--....--------------------............... 146
63.-Similar character from the Dresden Codex ....................................... 146
64.-Character signifying ppecuah--"tortilla of maize" ..................... ............ 146
65.-Character in head-dress, signifying ppoc-"hat" or "head-covering" ............... 147
66.-Interlaced character ...... ........ ..... ........................................... 147
67.-Landa's character for Chicchan .--.....-----------------.........-------------------------..............----... 147
68.-Manuscript character for Chiccan -........................---------....-....--........... 147
69.-Character for Omal, a certain kind of tortilla...................................... 148
70.-Character from Plate XIX ...-....--.........................-----................ 148
-71.-Group of characters from Plate XXIII *.... .................................... 149
72.-Character probably signifying prayer ............................................ 149
73.-Group of characters from Plate VII ........................................ 149
74.-Caban characters ................................................................ 150
75.-Figure from Plate VIII ......................................................... 150
76.-Character from Plate XIV ........................... ......................... 151
77.-Manuscript character for the day Cib............................................. 151
78.-Character from Plate V ......................--........----..............--.......... 151
79.-Copy of the second and third divisions of Plate XXIX............................ 152
80.-Figure of a hand from Plate III ................................................ 153
81.-Character from Plate III* ....................................................... 153
82.-Character from Plate III ............... .................................. ...... 153
83.-Character from Plate III ....................................................... 153
84.-Character often figured on Plates I to X *......................................... 153
85.-Character or symbol for East ..................................................... 153
86.-Copy of two divisions of Plate XX* ............................................... 154
87.-Character from third division of Plate XX ...................----....----..--------.........--..-. 155


88.-Character from third division of Plate XX*.................... ................... 156
89.-Character from third division of Plate XX ...--......----------...---------.....--------.....--..--....... 156
90.- Bread symbol-........................... ........................................ 156
91.- Bread symbol .................................................................... 156
92.-Armadillo symbol ...-------............................................................. 158
93.- Character.......... .............................................................. 158
94.-Character resembling death symbol ............................................... 158
95.-Character from lower division Plate XX ......................................... 159
96.-Death symbol ........ : ...... ................................................... 159
97.-Copy of upper division of Plate X............-..................................... 160
98.-Group of characters from Plate XIV............................................... 161
99.-Day columns and numerals from Plate II.......................................... 164
100.-Day columns and numerals from Plate V .......................................... 166
101.-Dr. Rau's index diagram of Palenque Tablet..................................... 199





One of the ablest of living ethnologists has classified the means of
recording knowledge under two general headings-Thought-writing and
Sound-writing.1 The former is again divided into two forms, the first and
earliest of which is by pictures, the second by picture-writing.
The superiority of picture-writing over the mere depicting of an occur-
rence is that it analyzes the thought and expresses separately its component
parts, whereas the picture presents it as a whole. The representations
familiar among the North American Indians are usually mere pictures, while
most of the records of the Aztec communities are in picture-writing.
The genealogical development of Sound-writing begins by the substi-
tution of the sign of one idea for that of another whose sound is nearly or
quite the same. Such was the early graphic system of Egypt, and such
substantially to-day is that of the Chinese. Above this stands syllabic
writing, as that of the Japanese, and the. semi-syllabic signs of the old
Semitic alphabet; while, as the perfected result of these various attempts,
we reach at last the invention of a true alphabet, in which a definite figure
corresponds to a definite elementary sound.
It is a primary question in American archeology, How far did the most
1Dr. Friedrich Miiller, Grundriss der Sprachwissenschaft, Band i, pp. 151-156.


cultivated nations of the Western Continent ascend this scale of graphic
development? This question is as yet unanswered. All agree, however,
that the highest evolution took place among the Nahuatl-speaking tribes of
Mexico and the Maya race of Yucatan.
I do not go too far in saying that it is proved that the Aztecs used to a
certain extent a phonetic system of writing, one in which the figures refer not
to the thought, but to the sound of the thought as expressed in spoken lan-
guage. This has been demonstrated by the researches of M. Aubin, and, of
late, by the studies of Senor Orozco y Berra.1
Two evolutionary steps can be distinguished in the Aztec writing. In
the earlier the plan is that of the rebus in combination with ideograms,
which latter are nothing more than the elements of picture-writing. Ex-
amples of this plan are the familiar "tribute rolls" and the names of towns
and kings, as shown in several of the codices published by Lord Kings-
borough. The second step is where a conventional image is employed to
represent the sound of its first syllable. This advances actually to the level
of the syllabic alphabet; but it is doubtful if there are any Aztec records
entirely, or even largely, in this form of writing. They had only reached
the commencement of its development.
The graphic system of the Mayas of Yucatan was very different from
that of the Aztecs. No one at all familiar with the two could fail at once
to distinguish between the Manuscripts of the two nations. They are
plainly independent developments.
We know much more about the ancient civilization of Mexico than of
Yucatan; we have many more Aztec than Maya Manuscripts, and hence we
are more at a loss to speak with positiveness about the Maya system of
writing than about the Mexican. We must depend on the brief and unsat-
isfactory statements of the early Spanish writers, and on what little modern
research has accomplished, for means to form a correct opinion; and there
is at present a justifiable discrepancy of opinion about it among those who
have given the subject most attention.
'Aubin, MeAmoire sur Na Peinlure didactliquc t l'lcriture figurative d:s ancii6us Mexicains, in the intro-
duction to Brasseur (de Bourbourg)'s Histoire des rations civiliscs d Mexique et d(Ie l'Amnrique Centrale,
ton, i; Manuel Orozco y Berra, Ensayo de Descifracion, geroglifica, in the Anales dcl Miico national de
:Aixico, torn. i, ii.



The earliest exploration of the coast of Yucatan was that of Francisco
Hernandez de Cordova, in 1517. The year following, a second expedition,
under Juan de Grijalva, visited a number of points between the island of
Cozumel and the Bahia de Terminos.
Several accounts of Grijalva's voyage have been preserved, but they
make no distinct reference to the method of writing they found in use.
Some native books were obtained, however, probably from the Mayas, and
were sent to Spain, where they were seen by the historian Peter Martyr.
He describes them in general terms, and compares the' characters in which
they were written to the Egyptian hieroglyphics, some of which he had
seen in Rome. He supposes that they contain the laws and ceremonies of
the people, astronomical calculations, the deeds of their kings, and other
events of their history. He also speaks in commendation of the neatness
of their general appearance and the skill with which the drawing and paint-
ing were carried out. He further mentions that the natives used this method
of writing or drawing in the affairs of common life.1
Although Yucatan became thus early known to the Spaniards, it was
not until 1541 that a permanent settlement was effected, in which year
Francisco de Montejo, the younger, advanced into the central province of
Ceh Pech, and established a city on the site of the ancient town called
Ichcacnziho, which means "the five (temples) of many oracles (or serpents),"
to which he gave the name ]MIrrida, on account of the magnificent ancient
edifices he found there.
Previous to this date, however, in 1534, Father Jacobo de Testera, with
four other missionaries, proceeded from Tabasco up the west coast to the
neighborhood of the Bay of Campeachy. They were received amicably
by the natives, and instructed them in the articles of the Christian faith.
They also obtained from the chiefs a submission to the King of Spain; and
I mention this early missionary expedition for the fact stated that each chief
signed this act of submission "with a certain mark, like an autograph."
Peter Martyr, dccad. iv, cap. viii.


This document was subsequently taken to Spain by the celebrated Bishop
Las Casas.1 It is clear from the account that some definite form of signa-
ture was at that time in use among the chiefs.
It might be objected that these signatures were nothing more than rude
totem marks, such as were found even among the hunting tribes of the
Northern Mississippi Valley. But Las Casas himself, in whose possession
the documents were, here comes to our aid to refute this opinion. He was
familiar with the picture-writing of Mexico, and recognized in the hiero-
glyphics of the Mayas something different and superior. He says expressly
that these had inscriptions, writings, in certain characters, the like of which
were found nowhere else.2
One of the early visitors to Yucatan after the conquest was the Pope's
commissary-general, Father Alonzo Ponce, who was there in 15SH. Many
natives who had grown to adult years in heathenism must have been living
then. He makes the following interesting observation:
"The natives of Yucatan are, among all the inhabitants of New Spain,
especially deserving of praise for three things: First, that before the Span-
iards came they made use of characters and letters, with which they wrote
out their histories, their ceremonies, the order of sacrifices to their idols,
and their calendars, in books made of the bark of a certain tree. These
were on very long strips, a quarter or a third (of a yard) in width, doubled
and folded, so that they resembled a bound book in quarto, a little larger
or smaller. These letters and characters were understood only by the
priests of the idols (who in that language are called Ahkins) and a few
principal natives. Afterwards some of our friars learned to understand and
read them, and even wrote them."3
The interesting fact here stated, that some of the early missionaries
I "Se sujetaron de su propria voluntad al Seforio do los Rcies do Castilla, recibiendo al Emperador,
como Rei do Espaina, por Seflor supremo y universal, o hicicron ciertas seiales, como Firmas; las quales,
con testimonio do los Ieligiosos Franciscos, que alli estabau, 11ev6 consigo el buen Obispo do Cliapa,
Don Fr. Bartolomb do las Casas, amparo, y defmesa do estos Indios, quando so fu6 6 Espaiia." Torque-
mada, Monarqula Indiana, lib. xix, cap. xiii.
2 "Ltreros do ciertos caracteres quo on otra ninguna parte." Las Casas, fistoria ajologetica de
las Indias Occidentalcs, cap. cxxiii.
'Rlelacion, Breve y Vcrdadera de Algunas Cosas de las muchas quc sucedieron al Padre Fray Alonso
Ponce, Commissario General, en las Provincias de la NScra Espaiia, in the Coleccion de Documentos para la
Historia de EspaiAa, tom. Iviii, p. 392. The other traits he praises in the natives of Yucatan are their
freedom from sodomy and cannibalism.


not only learned to read these characters, but employed them to instruct
the Indians, has been authenticated by a recent discovery of a devotional
work written in this way.
The earliest historian of Yucatan is Fr. Bernardo de Lizana.1 But I
do not know of a single complete copy of his work, and only one imperfect
copy, which is, or was, in the city of Mexico, from which the Abbd Bras-
seur (de Bourbourg) copied and republished a few chapters. Lizana was
himself not much of an antiquary, but he had in his hands the Manuscripts
left by Father Alonso de Solana, who came to Yucatan in 1565, and remained
there till his death, in 1599. Solana was an able man, acquired thoroughly
the Maya tongue, and left in his writings many notes on the antiquities
of the country.2 Therefore we may put considerable confidence in what
Lizana writes on these matters.
The reference which I find in Lizana to the Maya writings is as follows:
"The most celebrated and revered sanctuary in this land, and that to
which they resorted from all parts, was this town and temples of Ytzamal,
as they are now called; and that it was founded in most ancient times, and
that it is still known who did found it, will be set forth in the next chapter.
"III. The history and the authorities which we can cite are certain
ancient characters, scarcely understood by many, and explained by some
old Indians, sons of the priests of their gods, who alone knew how to read
and expound them, and who were believed in and revered as much as the
gods themselves," etc.3'
We have here the positive statement that these hieroglyphic inscrip-
tions were used by the priests for recording their national history, and that
by means of them they preserved the recollection of events which took
place in a very remote past.
Another valuable early witness, who testifies to the same effect, is the
Dr. Don Pedro Sanchez de Aguilar, who was cura of Valladolid, in Yucatan,
1Bernardo do Lizana, Historia do Yiucatan. Devocionario de Nuestra Sefiora de Izmal, y Conquista
Spiritual. 8vo. Pincito (Valladolid), 1633.
'2For these facts see Diego Lopez Cogolludo, Historia de Yucatan, lib. ix, cap. xv. Cogolludo
adds that in his time (1650-'60) Solana's MSS. could not be found; Lizana may have sent them to Spain.
S31 add the original of the most important passage: "La historic y autores queo podemos alegar
son unos antiguos caracteres, rmal entondidos do muchos, y glossados do unos indices antignos, que sou
hijos do los sacordotes do sus dioses, queo son los quo solo sabian leer y adivinar, y a quion crcian rover-
cnciavan come A Dioses destos."


in 1596, and, later, dean of the chapter of the cathedral at Merida. His
book, too, is extremely scarce, and I have never seen a copy; but I have
copious extracts from it, made by the late Dr. C. Hermann Berendt from a
copy in Yucatan. Aguilar writes of the Mayas:
"They had books made from the bark of trees, coated with a white
and durable varnish. They were ten or twelve yards long, and were gath-
ered together in folds, like a palmhn leaf. On these they painted in colors the
reckoning of their years, wars, pestilences, hurricanes, inundations, famines,
and other events. From one of these books, which I myself took from
some of these idolaters, I saw and learned that to one pestilence they gave
the name Mfayacimil, and to another Ocnakuchil, which mean 'sudden deaths'
and 'times when the crows enter the houses to eat the corpses.' And the
inundation they called Ilmuyecil, the submersion of trees."
The writer leaves it uncertain whether he learned these words directly
from the characters of the book or through the explanations of some native.
It has sometimes been said that the early Spanish writers drew a broad
line between the picture-writing that they'found in America and an alpha-
betic script. This may be true of other parts, but is not so of Yucatan.
These signs, or some of them, are repeatedly referred to as "letters," letras.
This is pointedly the case with Father Gabriel de San Buenaventura,
a French Franciscan who served in Yucatan about 1670-'80. He pub-
lished one of the earliest grammars of the language, and also composed
a dictionary in three large volumes, which was not printed. Father Beltran
de Santa Rosa quotes from it an interesting tradition preserved by Buena-
ventura, that among the inventions of the mythical hero-god of the natives,
Itzamna, or Kinich ahau, was that of the letters of the Maya language,"
with which letters they wrote their books.2 Itzamna, of course, dates back
to a misty antiquity, but the legend is of value, as showing that the char-
acters used by the natives did, in the opinion of the early missionaries,
deserve the name of letters.
'Pedro Sanchez deAgnilar, Informc contra Idolorum cultures del Obispado de Yucatan. 4to. Madrid,
16:i9, ff. 124.
'2 "El primero que hall6 las letras de la lengna Maya 6 hiz6 el c6mputo'de los afios, meses y edades,
y 10 eniscilo todo a los Indies do esta Provincia, fud un Indio llamado Kinchiahau, y por otro nomibre
Tzamna." Fr. Pedro Beltran. do Santa Rosa Maria, Arte del Idioma Maya, p. 16 (2dod., MWrida do Yuca-
aln, 159).



Father Diego Lopez Cogolludo is the best-known historian of Yucatan.
He lived about the middle of the seventeenth century, and says himself
that at that time there was little more to be learned about the antiquities of
the race. He adds, therefore, substantially nothing to our knowledge of
the subject, although he repeats, with positiveness, the statement that the
natives "had characters by which they could understand each other in
writing, such as those yet seen in great numbers on the ruins of their
buildings." 1
This is not very full. Yet we know to a certainty that there were
quantities of these manuscripts in use in Yucatan for a generation after
Cogolludo wrote. To be sure, those in the christianized districts had been
destroyed, wherever the priests could lay their hands on them; but in the
southern part of the peninsula, on the islands of Lake Peten and adjoining
territory, the powerful chief, Canek, ruled a large independent tribe of
Itzas. They had removed from the northern provinces of the peninsula
somewhere about 1450, probably in consequence of the wars which followed
the dissolution of the confederacy whose capital was the ancient city of
Their language was pure Maya, and they had brought with them in
their migration, as one of their greatest treasures, the sacred books which
contained their ancient history, their calendar and ritual, and the prophecies
of their future fate. In the year 1697 they were attacked by the Spaniards,
under General Don Martin de Ursua: their capital, on the island of Flores,
in Lake Peten, taken by storm; great numbers of them slaughtered or
driven into the lake to drown, and the twenty-one temples which were on
the island razed to the ground.
A minute and trustworthy account of these events has been given by
Don Juan de Villagutierre Soto-Mayor, in the course of which several
references to the sacred books, which he calls Analtds, occur.
The king Canek, he tells us, in reading in his Analtis, had found
notices of the northern provinces of Yucatan and of the fact that his pre-
'Diego Lopez Cogollndo, Bistoria de Yucatan, lib. iv, cap. iii. The original is: "No acost mn-
braban escribir los pleitos, auuque tenian caracteres con que so eatendian, do que so veni munchos en las
ruinias de los edificios."



decessors had come thence, and had communicated these narratives to his
These books are described as showing "certain characters and figures,
painted on certain barks of trees, each leaf or tablet about a quarter (of a
yard) wide, and of the thickness of a piece of eight, folded at one edge and
the other in the manner of a screen, called by them Analtehes." 2
When the island of Flores was captured these books were found stored
in the house of the king Canek, containing the account of all that had
happened to the tribe.3 What disposition was made of them we are not
I have reserved until now a discussion of the description of the Maya
writing presented in the well-known work of Diego de Landa, the second
bishop of Yucatan. Landa arrived in the province in August, 1549, and
died in April, 1579, having passed most of the intervening thirty years there
in the discharge of his religious duties. He became well acquainted with
the language, which, for that matter, is a comparatively easy one, and though
harsh, illiberal, and bitterly fanatic, he paid a certain amount of attention
to the arts, religion, and history of the ancient inhabitants.
The notes that he made were copied after his death and reached Spain,
where they are now preserved in the library of the Royal Academy of
History, Madrid. In 1864 they were published at Paris, with a French
translation, by the Abbe Brasseur (de Bourbourg).
Of all writers Landa comes the nearest telling us how the Mayas used
their system of writing; but, unfortunately, he also is so superficial and
obscure that his words have given rise to very erroneous theories. His
description runs as follows:
"This people also used certain characters or letters, with which they
wrote in their books their ancient- matters and their sciences, and with them
(i. e., with their characters or letters), and figures (i. e., drawings or pic-
1 "Porque lo loia su Rey en sus Analtehes, tonian Noticias do aquellas Provincias de Yucatan (quo
Analtelics, o Historias, os una misma cosa) y do quo sus Pasados avian Salido do ellas." Historia de la
Conquista de la Provincia de el Itza, Reduccion y Progrcssos do la de el Lacandon, etc. (folio, Madrid, 1701)
lib. vi, cap. iv.
2Ibid., lib. vii, cap. i.
3 "Y en su casa tambien tenia do estos Idolos, y Messa do Sacrificios, y los Analtehes, 6 Historias
do todo quanto los avia sucedido." Ibid., lib. viii, cap. xiii.



tures), and some signs in the figures, they understood their matters, and
could explain them and teach them. We found great numbers of books in
these letters, but as they contained nothing that did not savor of superstition
and lies of the devil we burnt them all, at which the natives grieved most
keenly and were greatly pained.
"I will give here an a, b, c, as their clumsiness does not allow more,
because they use one character for all the aspirations of the letters, and for
marking the parts another, and thus it could go on in infinitum, as may be
seen in the following example. Le means a noose and to hunt with one;
to write it in their characters, after we had made them understand that there
are two letters, they wrote it with three, giving to the aspiration of the I the
vowel 6, which it carries before it; and in this they are not wrong so to use
it, if they wish to, in their curious manner. After this they add to the end
the compound part."1
I need not pursue the quotation. The above words show clearly that
the natives did not in their method of writing analyze a word to its primitive
phonetic elements. "This," said the bishop, "we had to do for them." There-
fore they did not have an alphabet in the sense of the word as we use it.
On the other hand, it is equally clear, from his words and examples,
that they had figures which represented sounds, and that they combined
these and added a determinative or an ideogram to represent words or
The alphabet he gives is, of course, not one which can be used as the
Latin a, b, c. It is surprising that any scholar should ever have thought so.
It would be an exception, even a contradiction, to the history of the evolu-
tion of human intelligence to find such an alphabet among nations of the
stage of cultivation of the Mayas or Aztecs.
The severest criticism which Landa's'figures have met has been from
the pen of the able antiquary, Dr. Phillip J. J. Valentini. He discovered
that many of the sounds of the Spanish alphabet were represented by
signs or pictures of objects whose names in the Maya begin with that sound.
Thus he supposes that Landa asked an Indian to write in the native char-
acter the Spanish letter a, and the Indian drew an obsidian knife, which,
I Diego do Landa, Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan, pp. 316, 318, seq.



says Dr. Valentini, is in the Maya ach; in other words, it begins with the
vowel a. So for the sound ki, the Indian gave the sign of the day named
Such is Dr. Valentini's theory of the formation of Landa's alphabet;
and not satisfied with lashing with considerable sharpness those who have
endeavored by its aid to decipher the Manuscripts and mural inscriptions,
he goes so far as to term it "a Spanish fabrication."
I shall not enter into a close examination of Dr. Valentini's supposed
identification of these figures. It is evident that it has been done by run-
ning over the Maya dictionary to find some word beginning with the letter
under criticism, the figurative representation of which word might bear
some resemblance to Landa's letter. When the Maya fails, such a word is
sought for in the Kiche or other dialect of the stock; and the resemblances
of the pictures to the supposed originals are sometimes greatly strained.
But I pass by these dubious methods of criticism as well as several
lexicographic objections which might be raised. I believe, indeed, that Dr.
Valentini is not wrong in a number of his identifications. But the conclu-
sion I draw is a different one. Instead of proving that this is picture-
writing, it indicates that the Mayas used the second or higher grade of
phonetic syllabic writing, which, as I have before observed, has been shown
by M. Aubin to have been developed to some extent by the Aztecs in some
of their histories and connected compositions (see above page xxviii). There-
fore the importance and authenticity of Landa's alphabet are, I think, vin-
dicated by this attempt to treat it as a "fabrication."1
Landa also gives some interesting details about their books. He writes:
"The sciences that they taught were the reckoning of the years, months,
and days, the feasts and ceremonies, the administration of their sacraments,
the fatal days and seasons, their methods of divination and prophecies,
events about to happen, remedies for diseases, their ancient history, together
with the art of reading and writing their books with characters which were
written, and pictures which represented the things written.
"They wrote their books on a large sheet doubled into folds, which
Dr. Valcntini's article was published in the P'roceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 1680,
and also separately.



was afterwards inclosed between two boards which they decorated hand-
somely. They were written from side to side in columns, as they were
folded. They manufactured this paper from the root of a tree and gave
it a white surface on which one could write. Some of the principal nobles
cultivated these sciences out of a taste for them, and although they did not
make public use of them, as did the priests, yet they were the more highly
esteemed for this knowledge."1
From the above extracts from Spanish writers we-may infer that-
1. The Maya graphic system was recognized from the first to be dis-
tinct from the Mexican.
2. It was a hieroglyphic system, known only to the priests and a few
3. It was employed for a variety of purposes, prominent among which
was the preservation of their history and calendar.
4. It was a composite system, containing pictures figuress), ideograms
(caracteres), and phonetic signs (letras).

We might reasonably expect that the Maya language should contain
terms relating to their books and writings which. would throw light on
their methods. So, no doubt, it did. But it was a part of the narrow and
crushing policy of the missionaries not only to destroy everything that
related to the times of heathendom, but even to drop all words which
referred to ancient usages. Hence the dictionaries are more sterile in this
respect than we might have supposed.
The verb "to write" is dzib, which, like the Greek ypdcpenv, meant
also to draw and to paint. From this are derived the terms dziban, some-
thing written; dzibal, a signature, etc.
Another word, meaning to write, or to paint in black, is zabac. As a
noun, this was in ancient times applied to a black fluid extracted from the
zabacche, a species of tree, and used for dyeing and painting. In the sense
I Diego de Landa, Rclacion de las Cosas d Yitca!tan, p. 44.



of "to write," zabac is no longer found in the language, and instead of its
old meaning it now refers to ordinary ink.
The word for letter or character is uooh. This is a primitive root
found with the same or a closely allied meaning in other branches of this
linguistic stock, as, for instance, in the Kichd and Cakehiquel. As a verb,
pret. uootah, fut. uoote, it also means to form letters, to write; and from the
passive form, uoohal, we have the participial noun, uoohan, something writ-
ten, a manuscript.
The ordinary word for book, paper, or letter, is huun, in which the
aspirate is almost mute, and is dropped in the forms denoting possession, as
u Uun, my book, yuunil Dios, the book of God, il being the so-called "de-
terminative" ending. It occurs to me as not unlikely that uun, book, is a
syncopated form of uoohan, something written, given above. To read a
book is xochun, literally to count a book.
According to Villagutierre Soto-Mayor, the name of the sacred books
of the Itzas was analtd. In the printed Diccionario de la Lengua _Ljyai, by
Don Juan Pio Perez, this is spelled anahte, which seems to be a later form.
The term is not found in several early Maya dictionaries in my pos-
session, of dates previous to 1700. The Abbd Brasseur, indeed, in a note
to Landa, explains it to mean "a book of wood," but it can have no such
signification. Perhaps it should read huniltd, this being composed of hunil,
the "determinative" form of hiun, a book, and the termination td, which,
added to nouns, gives them a specific sense, e. g. amayte, a square figure,
from amay, an angle; tzucubt6, a province, from tzuc, a portion separated
from the rest. It would mean especially the sacred or national books.
The particular class of books which were occupied with the calendar
and the ritual were called tzolante, which is a participial noun from the verb
tzol, passive tzolal, to set in order, to arrange, with the suffix td. By these
books were set in order and arranged the various festivals and fasts.
When the conquest was an accomplished fact and the priests had got
the upper hand, the natives did not dare use their ancient characters. They
exposed themselves to the suspicion of heresy and the risk of being burnt
alive, as more than once happened. But their strong passion for literature
remained, and they gratified it as far as they dared by writing in their own


tongue with .the Spanish alphabet volumes whose contents are very similar
to those described by Landa (above, page xxvi).
A number of these are still in existence and offer an interesting field
for antiquarian and linguistic study. Although, as I say, they are no longer
in the Maya letters, they contain quite a number of ideograms, as the signs
of the days and the months, and occasional cartouches and paintings, which
show that they were made to resemble the ancient manuscripts as closely
as possible.
They also contain not infrequent references to the "writing" of the
ancients, and what are alleged to be extracts from the old records, chiefly
of a mystic character. The same terms are employed in speaking of the
ancient graphic system as of the present one. Thus in one of them, known
as "The Book of Chilan Balam of Chumayel," occurs this phrase: Bay
dzibanil tumenel Evangelistas yetel profeta Balam-"as it was written by the
Evangelists, and also by the prophet Balam," this Balam being one of their
own celebrated ancient seers.
Among the predictions preserved from a time anterior to the Conquest,
there are occasional references to their books and their contents. I quote,
as an example, a short prophecy attributed to Ahkul Chel, "priest of the
idols." It is found in several of the oldest Maya manuscripts, and is in all
probability authentic, as it contains nothing which would lead us to suppose
that it was one of the "pious frauds" of the missionaries.

"Enhi oibte katune yume, maixtan a naate;
Ualac u talel, mac bin ca oabac tu cwo pop;
Katune yume bin uluc, holom nil tucal ya;
Tali ti xaman, tali ti chikine; ahkinob uil yane yume;
Mac to ahkin, mac to ahbobat, bin alic u than uoohe,
Ychil Bolon Ahau, maixtan a naate?"
"The lord of the cycle has been written down, but ye will not under-
He has come, who will give the enrolling of the years;
The lord of the cycle will arrive, he will come on account of his love;



He came from the north, from the west. There are priests, there are
But what priest, what prophet, shall explain the words of the books,
In the Ninth Ahau, which ye will not understand ?"1
From this designedly obscure chant we perceive that the ancient priests
inscribed their predictions in books, which were afterward explained to the
people. The expression bin alic u than uoohe-literally, "he will speak the
words of the letters"-seems to point to a phonetic writing, but as it may
be used in a figurative sense, I shall not lay stress on it.2


The word Codex ought to be confined, in American archaeology, to
manuscripts in the original writing of the natives. Some writers have
spoken of the "Codex Chimalpopoca," the "Codex Zumarraga," and the
"Codex Perez," which are nothing more than manuscripts either in the native
or Spanish tongues written with the Latin alphabet.
Of the Maya Codices known, only three have been published, which I
will mention in the order of their appearance.
The Dresden Codex.-This is an important Maya manuscript preserved
in the Royal Library at Dresden. How or when it came to Europe is not
known. It was obtained from some unknown person in Vienna in 1739.
I add a few notes on this text:
Enhi is the preterit of the irregular verb hal, to be, pret. enlii, fut. enac. Katun yum, father or
lord of the Katun or cycle. Each Katun was under the protection of a special deity or lord, who con-
trolled the events which occurred in it. Tu coD pop, lit., "for the rolling up of Pop," which was the
first month in the Maya year. Holomn is an archaic future from hil; this form in on is mentioned by
Buenaventura, Arte de la Leagua Maya, 1684, and is frequent in the sacred language, but does not occur
elsewhere. Tucal ya, on account of his love; but ya means also "suffering," wound," and "strength,"
and there is no clue which of these significations is meant. Ahkinob; the original has tukinob, which I
suspect is an error; it would alter the phrase to mean "In that day there are fathers" or lords, the word
yum, father, being constantly used for lord or ruler. The akin was the priest; the ahbobatwas a diviner
or prophet. The 9th Ahan Katun was the period of 20 years which began in 1541, according to most
native authors, but according to Landa's reckoning in the year 1561.
-In quoting and explaining Maya words and phrases in this article, I have in all instances fol-
lowed the Diccionario Maya-Espaiiol del Convento de Motel (Yucatan); a copy of which in manuscript
(one of the only two in existence) is in my possession. It was composed about 1580. The still older Maya
dictionary of Father Villalpando, printed in Mexico in 1571, is yet in existence in one or two copies, but I
have never seen it.



This Codex corresponds in size, appearance, and manner of folding to
the descriptions of the Maya books which I have presented above from
Spanish sources. It has thirty-nine leaves, thirty-five of which are colored
and inscribed on both sides, and four on one side only, so that there are
only seventy-four pages of matter. The total length .of the sheet is 3.5
meters, and the height of each page is 0.21'5 meter, the width 0.085 meter.
The first publication of any portion of this Codex was by Alexander
von Humboldt, who had five pages of it copied for his work, Vues des Cor-
dilleres et Monumens des Peuples Indigenes de l'Amnrique, issued at Paris in
1813 (not 1810, as the title-page has it). It was next very"carefully copied
in full by the Italian artist, Agostino Aglio, for the third volume of Lord
Kingsborough's great work on Mexican Antiquities, the first volume of which
appeared in 1831.
From Kingsborough's work a few pages of the Codex have been from
time to time republished in other books, which call for no special mention.
Two pages were copied from the original in 1855, and appeared in
Wuttke's Geschichte der Schrift, Leipzig, 1872.
Finally, in 1880, the whole was very admirably chromo-photographed
by A. Naumann's establishment at Leipzig to the number of fifty copies,
forty of which were placed on sale. It is the first work which was ever
published in chromo-photography, and has, therefore, a high scientific as
well as antiquarian interest.
The editor was Dr. E. Forstemann, aulic counselor and librarian-in-
chief of the Royal Library. He wrote an introduction (17 pp. 4to) giving
a history of the manuscript, and bibliographical and other notes uponi it of
much value. One opinion he defends must not be passed by in silence. It
is that the Dresden Codex is not one but parts of two original manuscripts
written by different hands.
It appears that it has always been in two unequal fragments, which all
previous writers have attributed to an accidental injury to the original. Dr.
Forstemann gives a number of reasons for believing that this is not the cor-
rect explanation, but that we have here portions of two different books,
having general similarity but also many points of diversity.
This separation led to an erroneous (or perhaps erroneous) sequence of



the pages in Kingsborough's edition. The artist Aglio took first one frag-
ment and copied both sides, and then proceeded to the next one; and it is
not certain that in either case he begins with the first page in the original
order of the book.
The Codex Peresianus, or Codex Mexicanus, No. II, of the Bibliotlhque
National of Paris.-This fragment-for it is unfortunately nothing more-
was discovered in 1859 by Prof. Leon de Rosny among a mass of old papers
in the National Library. It consists of eleven leaves, twenty-two pages,
each 9 inches long and 54 inches wide. The writing is very much defaced,
but was evidently of a highly artistic character, probably the most so of
any manuscript known. It unquestionably belongs to the Maya manu-
Its origin is unknown. The papers in which it was wrapped bore the
name "Perez," in a Spanish hand of the seventeenth century, and hence the
name "Peresianus" was given it. By order of the Minister of Public In-
struction ten photographic copies of this Codex, without reduction, were pre-
pared for the use of scholars. None of them was placed on sale, and so
far as I know the only one which has found its way to the United States is
that in my own library. An ordinary lithographic reproduction was given
in the Archives paldographiques de l'Orient et de l'Amdrique, tome i (Paris,
The Codex Tro, or Troano.-The publication of this valuable Codex we
owe to the enthusiasm of the Abbd Brasseur (de Bourbourg). On his return
from Yucatan in 1864 he visited Madrid, and found this Manuscript in the
possession of Don Juan de Tro y Ortolano, professor of paleography, and
himself a descendant of Hernan Cortes. The abbd named it Troano, as a
compound of the two names of its former owner; but later writers often
content themselves by referring to it simply as -the Codex Tro.
It consists of thirty-five leaves and seventy pages, each of which is
larger than a page of the Dresden Codex, but less than one of the Codex
Peresianus. It was published by chromolithography at Paris, in 1869,
prefaced by a study on the graphic system of the Mayas by the abb6, and
an attempt at a translation. The reproduction, which was carried out under
the efficient care of M. Leonce Angrand, is extremely accurate.
All three of these codices were written on paper manufactured from



the leaves of the maguey plant, such as that in common use in Mexico. In
Maya the maguey is called ci, the varieties being distinguished by various
prefixes. It grows luxuriantly in most parts of Yucatan, and although the
favorite tipple of the ancient inhabitants was mead, they were not unac-
quainted with the intoxicating pulque, the liquor from the maguey, if we can
judge from their word for a drunkard, ci-vinic (vinic= man). The old writers
were probably in error when they spoke of the books being made of the
barks of trees; or, at least, they were not all of that kind.
The above-mentioned three Manuscripts are the only ones which have
been published. I shall not enumerate those which exist in private hands.
So long as they are withheld from the examination of scientific men they
can add nothing to the general stock of knowledge, and as statements about
them are not verifiable it is useless to make any. I may merely say that
there are two in Europe and two or three in Mexico, which, from the
descriptions I have heard or read of them, I think are probably of Maya
In addition to the Manuscripts, we have the mural paintings and
inscriptions found at Palenque, Copan, Chichen Itza, and various ruined
cities within the boundaries of .the Maya-speaking races. There is no mis-
taking these inscriptions. They are unquestionably of the same character
as the Manuscripts, although it is also easy to perceive variations, which are
partly owing to the necessary differences in technique between painting and
sculpture; partly, no doubt, to the separation of age and time.
Photographs and "squeezes" have reproduced many of these inscrip-
tions with entire fidelity. We can also depend upon the accurate pencil of
Catherwood, whose delineations have never been equalled. But the pictures
of Waldeck and some other travelers do not deserve any confidence, and
should not be quoted in a discussion of the subject.
Both in the inscriptions, manuscripts, and paintings the forms of the
letters are rounded, and a row of them presents the outlines of a number of
pebbles cut in two. Hence the system of writing has been called cal-
culiform," from calculus, a pebble. The expression has been criticised,
but I agree with Dr. F6rstemann in thinking it a very appropriate one. It
was suggested, I believe, by the Abb. Brasseur (de Bourbourg).
IiI M. T




The study of the Maya hieroglyphic system is still in its infancy. It
is only two years since an unquestionably faithful reproduction of the
Dresden Codex supplied a needed standard of comparison for the Codex
Troano. Some knowledge of the Maya language, if not indispensable, is
certainly desirable in such an undertaking, particularly if the writing is in
any degree phonetic. But it was not till 1877 that any printed dictionary
of that tongue could be had. The publication of the Diccionario de la
Lengua Maya of Don Juan Pio Perez was completed in that year, and,
though still leaving much to be desired, especially in reference to the ancient
forms and meanings of words, it is a creditable monument of industry.
When the Abb6 Brasseur edited the Codex Troano he also attempted an
explanation of its contents. He went so far as to give an interlinear version
of some pages, and wonderful work he made of it! But I am relieved of
expressing an opinion as to his success by his own statement in a later work,
that he had, by mistake, commenced at the end of the Codex instead of its
beginning; that he had read the lines from right to left, when he should
have read them from left to right; and that his translations were not intended
for more than mere experiments.'
The attempt at a translation of the Dresden Codex by Mr. William
Bollaert, published in the Memoirs of the Anthropological Society of London,
1870, may be passed over for the same reason. He also "read from the
bottom upwards, and from right to left," and his renderings were altogether
The first who addressed himself to an investigation of the Maya
hieroglyphics with anything like a scientific method was M. Hyacinthe
de Charencey, of France. I append, in a note, a list of his essays on this
subject, with their dates, so far as I know them.2 When they first appeared
SBr.isseur do Bourbourg, Bibliolhique Mexico-Guatimalienne, prdedddj d'un Coup d'CEil sur les Etudes
Amcricaines, p. xxvii, note (Paris, 1871).
2 Tlyacinthe do Charencey, Essai de Ddchi'reiment dun fragment d'inscription Palenqudene, in the
Actes do la Soci6t6 Philologique, mars 1870.
Essai de Ddclhifrement d'un fragment du Manuscript Troano, in the Revue de Philologie et d'Ethwo-
graph ie, Paris, 1875.
The above two were republished under the title: .Ltudes do Paleographic Amdricaine; Ddchiffrement
des 1criturcs Calculiformes ou Mayas.
Ieccherches sur le Codex Troano, Paris, Ernest Leroux, 6diteur, 1876, Svo., p. 16.



I translated the results, and gave them to the public in this country in the
same year (1870), together with a copy of the alphabet of Landa,1 which
was the earliest notice of the subject which appeared in the'United States.
The conclusion which M. de Charencey reached was that the Codex
Troano is "largely made up of combinations of numerals and reckonings
more or less complicated, either astronomical or astrological, the precise
purpose of which it were as yet premature to state." He especially ad-
dressed himself to the Plates VIII to XIII, and showed by diagrams the
arrangement in them of the signs of the days, and the probability that this
arrangement was taken from a "wheel," such as we know the Mayas were
accustomed to use in adjusting their calendar.
An ingenious and suggestive analysis of Landa's alphabet and of various
figures in the Dresden and Troano Codices was carried out by Dr. Harrison
Allen, professor of comparative anatomy in the University of Pennsylvania.
It was published in 1875, in the Transactions of the American Philosophical
In the following year (1876) appeared the first part of Prof. Leon de
Rosny's Essai sur le DMchiffrement de l'icriture Hieratique de l'Amerique Cen-
trale, folio. The second part was published shortly afterward, but the third
part not till some years later. Professor de Rosny has collected many
facts which throw a side light on the questions he discusses. He points
out that the signs are to be read from left to right; he gives a valuable list
of variants of the same sign as it appears in different manuscripts; and lie
distinguishes the signs of the cardinal points, although it is doubtful whether
he assigns to each its correct value. He has also offered strong evidence
to fix the phonetic value of some characters. Altogether, his work ranks
as the most thorough and fruitful which has heretofore been done in this field.
In 1879 Prof. Charles Rau published, through the Smithsonian Insti-
tution, his work, "The Palenque Tablet in the United States National Mu-
seum, Washington." Its fifth chapter is devoted to the "aboriginal writing in
Mexico, Yucatan, and Central America," and offers a judicious summary of
what had been accomplished up to that datr. He defends the position,
'The Ancient Phonetic Alphabet of Yucatan. By D. G. Brinton, M. D. New York, J. Sabin &
Sons, 1870, 8vo., p. 8.



which I think is unquestionably the correct one, that the Maya writing is
certainly something more than systematized picture-writing, and yet that
we cannot expect to find in it anything corresponding to our own alphabet.
In the same year (1879) Dr. Carl Schultz-Sellack published in the
Zeitschrift fuir Ethnologie, Bd., XI, th results of some studies he had made
of the Dresden Codex, compared with others published in Kingsborough's
work, especially with reference to the signs of the gods of the cardinal
points. He recognized the same signs as De Rosny, but arranged them
differently. Many of his comparisons of Maya with Aztec pictographs are
suggestive and merit attentive consideration; but he speaks a great deal too
confidently of their supposed close relationship.1
Although Dr. F6rstemann, in his introductory text to the Dresden
Codex (1880), expressly disclaims any intention to set up as an expounder
of its contents, he nevertheless compared carefully the three published
codices, and offers (pp. 15-17) a number of acute suggestions and striking
comparisons, which the future student must by no means overlook.
Finally, the "Studies in American Picture-Writing" of Prof. Edward
S. Holden, published in the "First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnol-
ogy, 1881," are to be included in the list. He devotes his attention princi-
pally to the mural inscriptions, and only incidentally to the Manuscripts.
The method he adopts is the mathematical one employed in unriddling
cryptography. By its application he is convinced that the writing is from
left to right, and from above downward; that the signs used at Copan and
Palenque were the same, and had the same meaning; that in proper names,
at least, the picture-writing-was not phonetic; and that in all probability it
had no phonetic elements in it whatever.
As Professor Holden states that he is entirely unacquainted with the
Maya language, and but slightly with the literature of the subject; as his
method would confessedly not apply to the characters, if phonetic, without
a knowledge of the Maya; and as he assumes throughout his article that
the mythology and attributes of the Maya divinities were the same as those
of the Aztec, for which the 'evidence is very far from sufficient, we must
'Dr. Schultz-Sellack's article is entitled "Die Amerikanischen Gotter der Vier Weltgegenden und
ihre Tempel ia Palenque."



place his attempt at decipherment along with others which have failed
through an inadequate grasp of the factors of the problem. Nevertheless,
his attentive study of the relative positions of the signs have yielded results
which will merit the thanks of future students.





This manuscript was found about the year 1866,1 at Madrid, Spain, by
the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, while on a visit to the library of the
Royal Historical Academy, and named by him "Manuscript Troano," in
honor of its possessor, Don Juan de Tro y Ortolano.
So far as I am aware, nothing more is known in reference to its history;
we are not even informed by its last owner where or how he obtained it.
In ordinary cases this would be sufficient to arouse our suspicions as to its
genuineness, but in this case the work itself is sufficient to dispel all such
suspicions, a fact which will become apparent to the reader before reaching
the end of the present paper.
This work was reproduced infac-simile by a chromolithographic process,
by the Commission Scientifique du Mexique under the auspices of the French
Government, Brasseur being the editor.
The original is written on a strip of Maguey paper about 14 feet long
and 9 inches wide, the surface of which is covered with a white paint or
varnish, on which the characters and figures are painted in black, red, blue,
and brown It is folded fan-like into thirty-five folds, presenting, when
these are pressed together, the appearance of an ordinary octavo volume.
The hieroglyphics and figures cover both sides of the paper, forming
seventy pages; the writing and painting of the figures having been ex-
1 I cannot find that the exact date of the discovery is given anywhere. Bancroft says "about
1865," but a careful examination of Brasseur's Introduction satisfies me it was at least as late as 1866.


ecuted, apparently, after the paper was folded, so that this does not interfere
with the writing.
The fac-simile edition is divided into two parts, paged separately; the
first part containing thirty-five pages or plates, numbered with simple
Roman numerals from I to XXXV; the second with Roman numerals
accompanied by a star, thus: XII*; but this part has only thirty-four
pages, numbered I* to XXXIV*; the first plate, which appears to be-as
Brasseur has designated it-the "title page," is not numbered.
The two parts I presume are made to correspond with the two sides
of the original; the title page being at the end of one side and forming the
page on the first fold.
The lines and columns of written characters are uniformly black, some
of the numeral characters red, others black; the pictorial portions are
usually red, brown, or blue, but occasionally varied with black, and often
simply outline figures. The background of the compartments or spaces
on which the figures are painted is usually white, but in some cases it is
blue, in others, brown or red. Several of the plates are more or less
damaged, all of the imperfections, as it is claimed, being reproduced in the
fac-simile edition.
Our colored plates, which are reproduced from the fac-simile work,
will give the reader an idea of the characters and figures.
It is admitted by all who have made the comparison, that the written
characters belong to the same class as those given by Landa.
Although there are numerous variations, and also some characters in
the manuscript not given by him, yet most of his letter and day characters,
especially the latter, can be found identical in form and details. As proof
of this I give here the following examples of exact copies after Landa and
the Manuscript:

FIG. 1.-Comparison of Landa's characters with those of the Troano manuscript.


This fact is sufficient of itself to authorize us to pronounce it a Maya
document, a conclusion which we shall find strengthened as we proceed
in our examination of its contents.
As what is known in regard to Mexican and Central American writings
has been presented by Dr. Brinton in the Introduction, I will not go over
the same ground here, but will confine myself to the special object in view,
to wit: an explanation and discussion of what I believe to be real discov-
eries made during my examination of the contents of this work.
As before stated, an examination of this manuscript is sufficient to
convince any one at all familiar with Landa's characters that those here
used are substantially the same, be their signification what it may.
On almost every page are to be found columns of characters agreeing
precisely with those given by him as representing the Maya days. These
are generally placed at the left of the compartments or spaces containing
the figures, and as a general rule there are five characters in a column.
Another prominent feature is the great number of numeral characters-
dots and short straight lines. These are found on every plate, often dozens
on a single page.
The frequent occurrence of these day and numeral characters, often
in connection, led to the belief that the work was a kind of religious cal-
endar, a belief strongly supported by the character of the figures in the
spaces. With this as the only opinion to hamper or aid me, as the case
might be, I began the study of the Manuscript.
I was convinced that if I could form a correct idea of the general
design of the work it would aid greatly in deciphering its characters. As
the day and numeral characters seemed to afford the most direct road to
this desired result, I began with these.
Brasseur de Bourbourg has designated the day columns "legends,"
believing them to contain a summary of what is written, or represented by
the figures in the compartments to which they severally belong.
That they are characters representing the Maya days he admitted, but
as the names of these characters have each one or more significations, it
was his belief that they were used to express this signification, and not
simply as the names of days.



To be able to decide positively whether this opinion of the Abbe's
was correct or not, would, I felt, be taking one important step toward ascer-
taining the contents of this mysterious document, as these day columns
form a considerable part of it.
The frequent occurrence of numerals in connection with these day
characters appeared to indicate dates or the numbering of days, somewhat
as we find them in our ordinary calendars.
How to verify or disprove this inference was the first problem that
presented itself.



The Maya divisions of time (no notice is taken here of the divisions
of the day) were as follows: The day, the week, the month, the year, the
five intercalated days, the week of years, the Ahau or Katun, the cycle of
fifty-two years, and the Ahau Katun or great epoch.
The day ("Kin" or Sun) was used in the ordinary sense, each of the
twenty days of the month having its name, as we name the days of our
week, and its character or hieroglyph, as follows:




FIG. 2.-Day characters.
The characters here given are copied from Landa's work, our only
original authority on this point. There are several important variations
from these forms found in the Manuscript, but these, the orthography of
the names according to different authors, together with the significations of
the'names, have been given by.others, hence will not be repeated here.
Although the month did not always commence with the same day, the order
6f the days as here given, to wit, Kan, Chicchan, Cimi, Manik, Lamat,


Muluc, Oc, Chuen, Eb, Ben, Ix, Men, Cib, Caban, Ezanab, Cauac, Ahau,
Ymix, Ik, Akbal, was always preserved. For example, if the month began
with Muluc, the second day would be Oc, the third Chuen, and so on to
Akbal; then followed Kan, just as we would name seven days com-
mencing, say, with Wednesday, then Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday,
Monday, &c.
The Maya year contained 365 days and consisted of two unequal parts,
as follows: 360 days, or the year proper, divided into eighteen months of
twenty days each; and five intercalary days, which were added at the end
in order to complete the number 365.
The eighteen months were named and numbered as follows:
1. Pop; 2. Uo; 3. Zip; 4. Tzoz; 5. Tzec; 6. Xul; 7. Yaxkin; 8. Mol;
9. Chen; 1"0. Yax; 11. Zac; 12. Ceh; 13. Mac; 14. Kankin; 15. Muan; 16.
Pax; 17. Kayab; 18. Cumhu.
sop, uo. zIP. TZOZ. Tzer




FIG. 3.-Month characters.
The year always commenced with the same month-Pop-the others
invariably following in the order given, so that the number of the month
being given we know its name.
But eighteen months of twenty days each not completing the year, five
days were added after the close of Cumhu-not as a part of that month;
for no month could have either more or less than twenty days-to complete


the number 365, and were called "nameless days" (though in reality named
as other days), and were considered unlucky.
If the year began with Kan, the last day of the eighteenth month-
Cumhu-would, as a matter of course, be Akbal, the last of the twenty.
The five intercalated days were named in regular order following the last
of Cumhu, and in this case would be Kan, Chicchan, Cimi, Manik, and
Lamat. The next-Muluc-would begin the new year. Muluc being the
first day of the month, Lamat would necessarily be the last-the five added
days at the end of the year would be Muluc, Oc, Chuen, Eb, and Ben,
making Ix the first of the following year. Ix being the first, Ben would be
the last of Cumhu, and the added days being Ix, Men, Cib, Caban, and
Ezanab, Cauac would be the first of the next year, the added days would
close with Akbal, and the following year commence with Kan. It will be
seen from this, that the year always commenced with one of the four days,
Kan, Muluc, Ix, Cauac, following each other regularly in the order given.
If these were all the peculiarities of the system, the Maya calendar
would be comparatively simple and easily understood.
But another method of numbering the days was introduced, doubtless
long after the calendar had assumed a regular form, and probably by the
priests, for the purpose of complicating it and rendering it as far as possible
unintelligible to the people. This was to limit the number to thirteen, or,
in other words, to divide the year into periods of thirteen days. I have
followed other modern authors in calling this period a week, though it ap-
pears the Mayas gave it no name, nor in fact do they seem to have consid-
ered it a period, but simply a method of numbering the days and years.
As there were twenty names of days to be used, the introduction of this
system of thirteen numerals, as the one chiefly adopted in giving dates,
necessarily greatly complicated the calendar, and, together with the inter-
calation of the five days at the end of the year, produced some singular
To illustrate this I give first a list of days for one month (Table No. I)
numbered according to this system, following it with a table (No. II) num-
bered in the same way for an entire year-something after the manner of
our common counting-house calendar.



1. Kaun.
2. Chicehan.
3. Cimi.
4. Manik.
5. Lamat.

6. Muluc.
7. Oc.
S. Chuen.
9. Eb.
10. Ben.

11. Ix.
12. Men.
13. Cib.
1. Caban.
2. Ezanab.


It will be seen by examining this table, the
year in this case commences with Kan; the other
nineteen days following in regular order as here-
tofore given. They are numbered regularly

Cimi ...........
Lamat .........

from one until we reach thirteen, then we com-
mence again with one, the month ending with Akbal 7.

3. Cauac.
4. Ahau.
5. Ymix.
6. Ik.
7. Akbal.

Namesof the .
months. .a N C
P. N E-S E-4 ^ ^ Q o NO P

Numbers of
themonths 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 3

Names of the
Kan.....--.--.. 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 1
Chicchan... 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 2
Cimi -----....... 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 3
Manik...... 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 4
Lamat ..... 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 5
Muluc...... 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 6
Oc ......... 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 7
Chuen...... 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 8
Eb......... 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 9
Ben ......---.. 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 10
Ix ......... 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 11
Men........ 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 .10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 12
Cib ....-.... 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 13
Caban ..... 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 14
Ezanab .... 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 15
Cauac.. 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 16
Ahau...--....- 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 17
Ymix ...... 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 18
Ik ......... 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 19
Akbal...... 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 20


The second month-Uo-begins with 8 Kan; when we reach 13, which
is now Muluc, we must follow it with 1 Oc, and so on to the end of the
year. The last day of Cumhu in this case will be 9 Akbal and the last of
the five intercalated days 1 Lamat; it follows therefore that the first day of
the next year will be 2 Muluc. If we run through this second year in the
same way, commencing it with 2 Muluc followed by 3 Oc, 4 Chuen, and so
on, we shall find that the third year will. begin with 3 Ix; continuing this
process we ascertain that the fourth commences with 4 Cauac, the fifth with 5
Kan, the sixth with 6 Muluc, the seventh with 7 Ix, the eighth with 8 Cauac,
the ninth with 9 Kan, the tenth with 10 Muluc, the eleventh with 11 Ix, the
twelfth with 12 Cauac, the thirteenth with 13 Kan, the fourteenth with 1
Muluc, the fifteenth with 2 Ix, and so on. From this we see that no year,
after the first, commences with a day numbered 1 until thirteen have been
completed, thus forming a period of 13 years, or as it is designated, "A
week of years" or "Indication." By continuing the above process we shall
find that no year will again commence with 1 Kan until 52, (or 13X4,)-
are completed.

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3 13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 8 9 10 11
12 13 1* 2 12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1 11 12 13 1*
2 3 4 5 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 10 11 12 13


In order to make this as plain as possible I will give here a table of
years for one cycle of 52 years. As there is some doubt as to which of
the two years-1 Kan or 1 Cauac-the cycle began with, I give tables (Nos.
III and IV) for both.
By this time the reader is sufficiently conversant.with this system to
know that if the cycles commence with I Kan, as in the left-hand table
(No. III), the year following 13 Cauac would be 1 Kan and the commence-
ment of another cycle. If the true method were as given in the right-hand
table (No. IV), then 13 Ix would be followed by 1 Cauac, the first year of the
next cycle. This follows, as will readily be seen, from the fact that 52 is
the least common multiple of 4 and 13..
The importance of knowing which one of these arrangements was that
used by the Mayas will be apparent from the following illustration: A cer-
tain event is dated a particular day in the year 1 Ix; if the table we have
headed 1 Kan be correct it would then be in the 27th year of the cycle;
if the other be the true method it would then be in the 40th year of the
cycle, or thirteen years later. These years are marked with a star in Tables
III and IV.
As this system admits of fifty-two changes in the day on which the
year begins, it would require fifty-two differelit calendars to cover one
cycle, just as fourteen calendars are required to suit all the years of our
system, seven for the ordinary years and seven for the leap-years. As it
would require much time and space to write these out in full, I have adopted
the expedient shown in the following table (No. V), of abbreviating the
First we have at the left four columns, each containing the names of
the twenty days of the month. As I am inclined to believe that the author
of the manuscript adopted the system which had Cauac as the first day of
the cycle, the first or left-hand column commences with this day, the others,
Kan, Muluc, and Ix, following in the order in which they are found in the
list of days. The first column is therefore the one to be used for all the
Cauac years; the second for all the Kan years; the third for all the Muluc
years, and the fourth for all the Ix years. The reader must be careful to
remember, that when one day of the month is determined it determines all



the rest, and as a consequence all the rest of the year; therefore when we
find what the first day of the year is, we can easily determine any day of
any month. As each of the four leading days or "year-bearers," as they
were called by the Mayas, can have but thirteen different numbers it is
unnecessary to extend our columns of numbers further than thirteen.


Cauac Kan Muluc Ix 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Nos. of
column, column. column, column. 14 15 16 17 1 mthe

Days of
Cauac ...... Kan........ Muluc...... Ix .......... 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1
Ahau ....... Chicchan... Oc ......... Men........ 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2
Ymix....... Cimi....... Chuen...... Cib ......... 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3
Ik .......... Manik ..... Eb ......... Caban...... 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4
Akbal ...... Lamat...... Ben ........ Ezanab..... 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5
Kan ........ Muluc...... Ix.......... Cauac...... 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6
Chicchan ... Oc .......... Men........ Ahau ....... 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7
Cimi........ Chuen...... Cib......... Ymix ...... 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8
Manik ...... Eb ......... Caban ...... Ik .......... 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9
Lamat...... Ben........ Ezanab..... Akbal...... 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10
Muluo...... Ix.......... Cauac...... Kan........ 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11
Oc .......... Men........ Ahau ....... Chicchan... 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12
Chuen ...... Cib......... Ymix ...... Cimi ....... 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13
Eb....... .. Caban...... Ik.......... Manik...... 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 14
Ben......... Ezanab..... Akbal ..... Lamat...... 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 15
Ix .......... Canac ...... Kan........ Muluc...... 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 16
Men........ Ahan ...... Chicchan.. Oo .......... 4 11 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 17
Cib ......... Ymix ...... Cimi ....... Chuen...... 5 12 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 18
Caban ...... Ik.......... Manik ..... Eb ......... 6 13 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 19
Ezanab..... Akbal...... Lamat...... Ben ........ 7 1 8 2 9 3 10 4 11 5 12 6 13 20

By referring to the table No. II of days and months we observe that
when we have completed the thirteenth column, or the column of the
thirteenth month, the next, or fourteenth month, commences with 1; just as
the first month; the fifteenth with 8, as the second; the sixteenth with 2, as
the third; the seventeenth with 9, as the fourth; and the eighteenth with
3, as the fifth. Instead therefore of having eighteen columns in our table,
we need extend it only so as to include the thirteenth, as we can use the
first, second, third, fourth, and fifth for the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth,
seventeenth, and eighteenth months respectively, as indicated by the num-
bers of the months which we have placed above the table over the figure


columns. The reader must bear in mind that, although we have numbered
the months as commencing with the left-hand column, which has 1 for its
upper figure, yet this only holds good when the year is 1 Cauac, 1 Kan, 1
Muluc, or 1 Ix, and for none of the other years. The first month of the
year may be any one of the thirteen columns, thus: 8 Cauac, 8 Kan, 8
Muluc, and 8 Ix have the second column, which has 8 for its upper figure,
as their first month; then the one commencing with 2 will be the second
month column, that with 9 the third, with 3 the fourth, with 10 the fifth,
with 4 the sixth, with 11 the seventh, with 5 the eighth, with 12 the
ninth, with 6 the tenth, with 13 the eleventh, the last or one commencing
with 7 the twelfth. Now we go back to the first-commencing with 1-
which will be the thirteenth, with 8 the fourteenth, with 2 the fifteenth,
with 9 the sixteenth, with 3 the seventeenth, with 10 the eighteenth.. Thus
we count through and go back to the left, and so continue until we reach
the number of the month desired. We will now illustrate the use of this
table by some examples, but first we must warn the reader not to confuse
the day of the month with the day of the week; the numbers of the days of the
month are given in the extreme right-hand column of the table, which is
not counted as one of the thirteen; the days of the week, as heretofore
stated, are always given thus: 3 Ymix, 12 Caban, 7 Oc, &c.
Now, to illustrate the method of using the table, let us find in what
months and on what days of the months in the years 11 Cauac, 11 Kan,
11 Muluc, and 11 Ix, the day 8 Ahau will fall. For the year 11 Cauac
we must look to the Cauac column. We find here that Ahau is the second
day of the month; running our eyes along the second transverse line,
we find the figure 8 in the thirteenth column, which has 7 as the top num-
ber; going back to the column which has 11 as the upper or top number
and counting the columns up to this (that has 7 as the top number), we find
it to be the sixth month. We thus ascertain that 8 Ahau of the year 11
Cauac is the second day of the sixth month. To find where it falls in 11
Kan we must first find Ahau in the Kan column. By running our eyes
down this column we see that it is the 17th day of the month; then, by
looking along the 17th transverse line we find the figure 8 to be in the col-
unm which has 5 at the top, which is the second or fifteenth from that with



11 at the top. Therefore 8 Ahau of the year 11 Kan is the 17th day of the
second and also of fifteenth month.'
In the same way we ascertain that 8 Ahau of the year 11 Muluc is the
twelfth day of the twelfth month, but in this case we have to count the
columns from the one commencing with 11 (always inclusive) to the right,
through to the thirteenth (the one with 7 at the top), and go back to the
first and count up to the one in which we find the figure 8 in the twelfth
transverse line. We also find that 8 Ahau of the year 11 Ix is the seventh
day of the ninth month.
If I have succeeded in making this complicated system thus far intel-
ligible to the reader, I may hope to succeed in conveying a correct idea of
what is to follow.
Now let us test our arrangement by a historical example. In the Perez
manuscript translated by Stephens and published in his "Yucatan," Vol. II,
it is stated that one Ajpula died in the year 4 Kan, the 18th day of the
month Zip, on 9 Ymix.
The year 4 Kan commences with the column of our table which has
4 for the top figure: The third month (Zip) will then be the column with
5 at the top; running down this to the eighteenth transverse line we find
the figure 9; we also observe that the 18th day in the Kan column of the
names of days is Ymix, agreeing exactly with the date given.
In the manuscript Troano there is another method of giving dates
which is very common throughout the work. Thus:
which, according to my interpretation, the reasons for Red.2
which will be hereafter given, signifies 13 Ahau of the *
thirteenth m onth. IBlack
As neither the year nor the day of the month is Black.
given, it is evident that we may find more than one day
answering to this date, but let us hunt them out and see FIG. 4.
where they fall. Referring to our table we will first take the Ahau
of the Cauac column, which is in the second transverse line; the 13 in
1 The reader can readily see from the table why any day found in the first, second, third, fourth, or
fifth month will be found twice in the year.
'As colors cannot be introduced into these figures, the red numerals will be represented in out-



this line we observe is in the tenth column (12 at top); counting back
thirteen months (always including the one from which we start), we find
that the first month of the year is the column having 6 at the top. The
backward counting is exactly the reverse of the forward method heretofore
explained; count to the left until the first column is reached, then go back
to the thirteenth.
We thus ascertain that 13 Ahau of the 13th month falls on the second
day of the month in the year 6 Cauac. Proceeding in the same way with
the Ahau in the Kan, Muluc, and Ix columns, we obtain the seventeenth day
of the month in the year 4 Kan, twelfth in 9 Muluc, and seventh in 1 Ix.
We thus ascertain that the years are 6 Cauac, 4 Kan, 9 Muluc, and 1 Ix.
If we examine Table III, showing the years of the cycle, we shall find
as a matter of course that these years occur but once in the entire period.
In order apparently to further complicate this calendar, which was
undoubtedly devised by the priests, as Landa says, "to deceive that simple
people," another period called the Ahau or Katun was introduced. This
period, according to most authorities, consisted of twenty years, but accord-
ing to Perez of twenty-four. It is in reference to this period that we find
the chief difference between authorities, because upon the proper determina-
tion of its length, and the numbering, depends the possibility of identifying
dates of the Maya calendar with corresponding ones of the Christian era.
In order to settle these points it is necessary not only to determine the length
of the Ahau or Katun, but also the number of Katunes contained in the great
cycle, the method in which they were numbered, and the proper position of
these numbers in this long period. Up to the present time these are the
rocks on which all the calculations have been wrecked. My chief object,
therefore, so far as the calendar is concerned, will be to -settle if-possible
these disputed points; but will defer the discussion of these questions to a
subsequent part of this paper, -remarking only for the present that, accord-
ing to all authorities, these Katunes were numbered as follows, and in the
order here given: 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2; this number com-
pleting the great cycle or Ahau-Katun,' which consisted of 260 years if the
1I use this compound term for the grand cycle only. Katun and Ahau are used separately as
equivalents and as applying only to the period of 20 or 24 years; Cycle for the period of 52 years.


Katun included only 20 years, but of 312 if it contained 24 years, as main-
tained by Perez.
We are now prepared to discuss the question presented as to whether
the numerals and day characters found so frequently in connection with
each other are simply dates, somewhat as we find them in our ordinary
calendars, or not. The first point to be determined is whether these day
characters are used simply to denote days, or because of the signification
of the words, as Brasseur supposed. This, as will be readily perceived, also
involves the important question as to whether Landa was correct in his
statement, that they were the symbols or characters used to denote days.
The argument must therefore be somewhat in a circle; hence the evi-
dence adduced must be strong to support the position assumed, and must
agree in the essential points with the Maya calendar so far as positively
In order to decide this point we now turn to the manuscript itself.
Referring to Plate X we find that the left-hand column of the middle
division (always reading from the top downwards) is composed of the char-
acters representing the following Maya days, in the order here given: Oc,
Cib, Ik, Lamat, Ix. If we turn to Table V, containing the list of days, and
count on either of the four columns of names, from one of these names to
the next, we shall find in each case an interval of just six days; from Oc to
Cib six days; from Cib to Ik six days, and so on. The other column, same
plate and division, is composed of the characters for Ahau, Cimi, Eb, Eza-
nab, and Kan, with an interval of six days between each two. Turning
now to Plate VI, middle division, we find the days in the left-hand column
to be Caban, Ik, Manik, Eb, and Caban, with an interval of just five days
between each two. In the upper division of Plate XVII the interval is
twelve days; and the same is true in reference to the other columns on this
plate. In the left-hand column of the third division of Plate XXXI the
interval is sixteen days.
Although the interval is generally the same throughout a column, yet
there are occasional departures from this rule; for example, on Plate XIII,
the left-hand column of the upper division is composed of the characters for



the following days: Kan, Oc, Cib, Ahau, and Ik. From Kan to Oc is an
interval of six days; from Oc to Cib six; from Cib to Ahau four; from
Ahau to Ik two
Here we may be allowed to digress for a moment from the direct line
of our argument in order to show how the discovery of this fact may enable
us to determine an uncertain or obliterated character.1 The right-hand
column of the middle division of this plate (XIII) contains an unusual
character bearing little if any resemblance to any of Landa's day characters.
The days of this column, in the order they stand, are as follows: Oc, Ik,

Ix, and Ezanab. From Oc to Ik is an interval of twelve days; from

Ik to Ix twelve days; from Ix to ? (Cimi) twelve days, and from Cimi to
Ezanab twelve days. We may therefore feel pretty well assured that this
unusual character is a variant of Cimi' and not of Ahau, as Brasseur
The right-hand column of the lower division of the same plate contains
the same unusual character which, if counted as Cimi, gives an interval of
six days between each two.
This regularity in the order of the days is sufficient to prove, beyond
any reasonable doubt, that they were not used on account of the significa-
tion of the words. In some cases the combination, if interpreted according
to the usual meaning of the words, may, by a somewhat strained interpre-
tation, be formed into a sentence, but such cases are exceedingly rare, only
one having, so far, been observed, and here it is purely accidental.
The agreement between the characters found in the Manuscript and
the order of the days as found in the Maya calendar is also a strong proof
that Landa was correct in the characters assigned and in the order of the
days as he has given them. It would be impossible to find such a large
number of agreements-more than 200 columns and over 1,000 days-if
Landa were wrong in either respect, or if we were wrong in our interpre-
1 This was written before I had seen Charency's papers on this subject.
2In a plate of the "Book of Chilan Balam of Kgua," copied by Dr. Brinton in his article on the
Books of Chilan Balam, presented to the Numis. and Antiq. Soc. of Phila., Jan., 1882, p. 16, one character
for Lamat differs from this only in the middle stroke sloping to the left instead of to the right as this
does. Leon de Rosny (Essay Dechiff. Ecrit. Hierat., 1st Livr., 17) interprets it as I do.
3Nor of Caban as interpreted by Charency (Dechif. des Ecrit. Calcul, Mayas, &c., 1879, p. 26).



station. 1 shall therefore consider the following points settled, and shall
henceforth proceed upon that basis:
1st. That the Manuscript is a Maya document.
2d. That Landa has given the order of the days and their symbols
3d. That the day characters in these columns are used simply to indi-
cate the days they represent, and not the signification of the words.
It is now generally conceded by all who have studied these hiero-
glyphics that the Maya method of designating numbers was by the use of
lines and dots, thus: one dot signifying 1, two dots 2, and so on up to 4;
that five was represented by a single short straight line; ten by two lines,
and so on. According to this system, a straight line and a dot, thus -
would signify 6; two straight lines and two dots, thus ,..., would stand
for 12.
As heretofore remarked, these numeral characters are found on every
page of the manuscript, and if we judge by the color, some being red and
others black, they belong to two different classes, or at least are used for
two different purposes. As they are generally associated with the day
characters, the latter in fact never being without them, the natural inference
is that they are used to denote dates.
As there are two classes, it is not probable that more than one of these
is used to number the days.
If we examine the red numerals on all the plates of the manuscript,
we shall find that-except on the title-page, which is evidently peculiar-
they never indicate a greater number than 13 (there is one apparent ex-
ception where the number appears to be fourteen, but the additional dot is
imperfect, and is either a blotch or evident mistake). In some places we
0 0
find such red numerals as this apparently denoting 14, but a more

careful study of the plates on which these are found satisfies me that there
are two numbers here, 13 and 1. From this fact I infer that the red
numerals are used here to designate the days or years of the Maya week,
which, as I have shown, consisted of thirteen days or years, especially in
the computation of time in reference to religious feasts and ceremonies.


But there is still stronger evidence on this point, which I will now

For this purpose I will have to


1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3, 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11^ 12 13
2 t:1 I:




12 13 1
3 4 5
7 8 9
11 12 13

shall be able to explain this mystery.

ask the reader to observe carefully
our colored Plates I, II, III, and
IV, which are exact copies of XX-
XXIII of the Manuscript. He will
notice that the extreme left-hand
column of Plate IV (Man. XXIII)
contains only the character for
Cauac, which is repeated thirteen
times, and that over each is a red
numeral. Near the top are certain
other characters with which we
have nothing to do at present.
Commencing with the upper
Cauac and moving down the col-
umn we find the numbers over
them, so far as they can be made
out, as follows: 10, 1, 5, 9, 13, 4, 8,
12, (?), 7, (?), 2, 6. If these num-
bers relate here to the days of
the week, why this peculiar order?
If we refer to Table II of the days
of the months and year, and run
our eyes along the transverse line
opposite Cauac, we shall find the
order to be as follows: 1, 8, 2, 9,
3, 10, 4, 11, 5, 12, 6, 13, 7, wholly
different from what we see here. If
we construct a table of years simi-
lar to those already. given (III and
IV), but extended over two com-
plete cycles of 52 years each, we
We give here, for the reasons here-


tofore stated, two tables, one with (Cauac as the initial day (VI) and the
other with Kan (VII). Running our eyes down the Cauac column of either
table to 10, we find thirteen numbers from this downwards, as follows, and
in the order here given: 10, 1, 5, 9, 13, 4, 8, 12, 3, 7, 11, 2, 6, precisely as
they are on the plate of the manuscript.
On Plate XXII (our Plate III) the repeated character of the left-hand
column is Kan, the numerals over which (reading from the top downwards)
are as follows: 11, 2, 6, 10, 1, 5, 9, (?), 4, 8, 12, 3, 7, 11, precisely the same
and in the same order as we find them in the Kan column of our tables;
the obliterated one being, as we see from this, 13. On Plate XX (our
Plate I) the repeated character of the left-hand column is Ix. The num-
bers here, so far as they can be made out, are 13, (?), 8, 12, 3, 7, 11, 2, 6,
10, 1, 5, 9, precisely the same and in the same order as in the Ix column
of our tables.
The repeated character on Plate XXI (our Plate II) is Muluc; the
numbers are 12, 3, 6, 10, 1, 5, 9, 13, 4, 8, 2, 7, 3. If we compare these with
the Muluc column of our tables, we find that after the first two numbers
there is a skip of three numbers before we reach the 6 which should follow
according to the plate. But what appears here as a contradiction of my
supposition is, as I believe, the strongest evidence of its correctness. If we
examine the tables carefully we will observe that after reaching the second
figure,-3,-in the Muluc column, the next figure in the adjoining column
is 6, and from thence to 8 the same as on the plate. From this I am led to
believe the writer had before him a table similar to those I have given, except
that it was .written in their numeral characters, and that, by mistake in
copying, his eye fell on the wrong column. That such tables were used
by them is rendered probable by the following quotation which Perez makes
from an ancient manuscript in his possession: "They had another number
which they called Ua Katun, which served them as a key to find the Katunes
and according to the order of their march, it falls on the two days of the
Uayebhaab and revolves to the end of certain years: Katunes 13, 9, 5, 1,
10, 6, 2, 11, 7, 3, 12, 8, 4." By commencing at the bottom of the right-
hand column of either table of years and running up we find precisely these
numbers and in the order given. It is scarcely possible these could have
been obtained except by a table similar to those I have given.



We know that tables of days of this form are to be found in some two
or three of the Mexican Codices; something similar is also to be found in
the Dresden Codex, and by placing the columns of these four plates of the
Manuscript side by side we will have just such a table.1
But be this as it may, the exact agreement in the other three columns,
and the fact that the years named and numbered appear to belong to one
continuous period of time-an all-important point in this connection-show,
as we think, conclusively that our explanation of these numerals and the
day characters, and of the use here made of them, is correct. If so, then
the red numerals are used to number the days and years of the week, or,
in other words, to number the days and years exactly as the various writers
have stated was the usual custom. We have marked this period on the
tables of years with waved lines so as to be seen at a glance, as we shall
have occasion hereafter to refer to it.
As further proof that these red numerals are limited to the thirteen
series, I now call attention to certain short columns found in the middle
division of Plates VII*-X*. These consist of three days each-Cib, Caban,
and Ezanab-and each day has a numeral over it, as follows (I give here
the exact order in which.they stand on the plates, although I have doubts
as to the correctness of Brasseur's paging):

6. 13. 4. 11. 5. 12. 2.
Cib. Cib. Cib. Cib. Cib. Cib. Cib.
7. 1. 5. 12. 6. 13. 3.
Caban. Caban. Caban. Caban. Caban. Caban. Caban.
8. 2. 6. 13. 7. 1. 4.
Ezanab. Ezanab. Ezanab. Ezanab. Ezanab. Ezanab. Ezanab.
1 Since the above was written, I have been so fortunate as to procure a copy of Leon Do Rosny's
Essai sur le Dclhiffrement de L'Ecriture fHieratique de L'Amerique Centrale, in which I find a copy of a
plate of the CODEX CORTESIANUS, and also of one plate of the CODEX PERESIANUS. In the former is
part of a table of days arranged precisely as in my table, except that they are placed horizontally, as
here shown, instead of in columns:
Mulnc. < c. Chuen. Eb. Been. Ix. Men. Cib. Caban.
Ix. Men. Cib. Caban. Ezanab. Cauac. Ahan. Imix. Ik.
Cauac. Ahau. Ymix. 1k. Akbal. Kan. Chicchan. Cimi. Mabili
Kan. Chicchan. Cimi. Manik. Lamat. Muluc. Oc. Chuen. Eb.
Whether or not this fragment contains the commencement, I am unable to say; that it does 1.ou
contain the conclusion, I am satisfied. We have here proof that the order when in lines is from the
left to the right. The other plate (from the Codex Peresianus) contains a column similar to those in
the four plates of the Manuscript Troano, but here the repeated day (Been) is the last of one of the years
as in the Dresden Codex.



9. 3. 10. 7. 1. 8.
Cib. Cib. Cib. Cib. Cib. Cib.
10. 4. 11. 8. 2. 9.
Caban. Caban. Caban. Caban. Caban. Caban.
11. 5. 12. 9. 3. 10.
Ezanab. Ezanab. Ezanab. Ezanab. Ezanab. Ezanab.
If we turn to our condensed calendar, Table V, we see that these three
days follow each other as shown here, and by examining the different
columns we can find all the numbers here given. This fact, together with
the method of numbering, is sufficient of itself to establish the correctness
of the opinion I have advanced in reference to these red numerals.
That they are here used to number the days is evident from the fact
that they are applied to those days which are never used to name the years.
From what has been shown in reference to Plates XX-XXIII (our Plates
I, II, III, and IV) we see that they are also used to denote the years of the
week or "Indication."
The next point to be determined is the use of the black numerals. Here
we shall find the task more difficult, but it is necessary to determine this
before we can proceed in our effort to fix the dates, which-are given in great
numbers in the Manuscript, and by means of which we hope to settle the
disputed points in regard to the calendar.
I shall at present omit any reference to the "title-page," which, as
I have said, is peculiar, and cannot therefore be used in the present inves-
tiga'tion. As we find repeatedly throughout the work black numeral char-
acters denoting 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18, it is evident they do not refer to the
days or years of the week. They must therefore be used to denote the
numbers of the months, or of the days of the months. That they are not
used to number the Ahaues or the years of these periods is evident from the
fact that these are always numbered by the thirteen series, or, in other
words, never have applied to them any number exceeding 13; the years
are also designated by the four days Cauac, Kan, Muluc, and Ix.
But in order that the reader may see clearly the difficulty of deciding
this point satisfactorily it will be necessary for me to illustrate it by exam-
ples from the Manuscript.
As before mentioned, the day characters are nearly always in columns-


usually of five characters each-at the left of the compartments or spaces,
each column usually with a red numeral over it. For exam-
ple, in the lowest division of V* the column consists of five
Acharacters, as shown here (Fig. 5), which denote the days
(reading from the top downward) Oc, Ik, Ix, Cimi, and
O- Ezanab. The red numeral at the top is 9. The black nu-
meral at the side in the space is three lines or 15. (In this
case there is but one of these black numerals in the space
or compartment, but usually there are several, and also
several red ones.) Now, I take for granted that placing the
red numeral at the top of the column is equivalent to apply-
Q ing it to each day in the column, thus: 9. Oc, 9 Ik, 9 Ix,
9 Cimi, and 9. Ezanab. There is also one red numeral-
FIG. 5. 13-in the space, as shown in the annexed cut.
Leaving this last out of consideration for the present, let us proceed
upon the supposition that the black numeral signifies the day of the month.
Examining our condensed calendar (Table V), we see that of the five days
Ezanab is the only one that ever falls on the 15th of the month. As this
will be found true of at least two columns out of every three throughout
the Manuscript it is apparent that these numerals are not used here for this
purpose; but even could all be found on the proper day of the month we
would still be without any fixed date. Take, for instance, Ezanab in this
case, which does fall on the 15th day of the month in the years commenc-
ing with Kan; the figure 9 in the fifteenth transverse line is found in the
second column. What month? In the year I Kan it is in the second
month, in the year 8 Kan it is in the first month, in the year 2 Kan it is in
the thirteenth month, and so on throughout the thirteen Kan years. Some
may contend that it was not the intention to fix the years, as this is possi-
bly the date of some feast or religious ceremony to be observed each year.
I answer that, laying aside the insuperable objection already given, even
this supposition would be erroneous-first, because in the case before us
Ezanab falls on the 15th day of the month only once every four years, and
with each year the 'month is changed. But it is unnecessary to discuss this


supposition further, as not one day out of three ever falls on the day given
if these black numerals denote the days of the month.
We will next proceed on the supposition that these indicate the months.
In that case the dates given in the present example will be 9 Oc, 9 Ik, 9 Ix,
9 Cimi, and 9 Ezanab of the 15th month (Muan). In this the feast, relig-
ious ceremony, or whatever the date refers to, occurs always in the same
month, and so far agrees with what is left on record in reference to religious
ceremonies and observances. As only the day and month are given, it is
possible, as heretofore stated, to find four dates to each day. Now, let us
hunt out, by the use of our condensed calendar, the years on which these
several dates fall. Commencing with 9 Oc, we look first for this day in the
Cauac column; having found it to be the twelfth day of the month, we run
our eyes along the twelfth transverse line of figures until we reach the
figure 9, which we find to be in the eighth column (the one with 11 at the
top); counting back fifteen months (including the one 9 is in) we reach the
column with 4 at the top The year is therefore 4 Canac. We next find
Oc in the Kan column; it is here the seventh day of the month, and 9 is in
the fifth column (the one with 3 at the top); counting back fifteen months
(going towards the left until we reach the first column, and then to the thir-
teenth, and moving back toward the left), we reach the fourth column (with
9 at the top). The year is therefore 9 Kan. We next find Oc in the Muluc
column, and by the same process obtain the year 1 Muluc. Next we find
Oc in the Ix column, and by the same process ascertain the year to be 12 Ix.
Pursuing the same method with the other days, we obtain the following
9 Oc. 9 Ik. 9 Ix. 9 Cinmi. 9 Ezanab.
Years.... 4 Canac. 12 Cauac. 13 Cauac. 8 Cauac. 9 Cauac.
Years .... 9 Kan. 10 Kan. 5 Kan. 13 Kan. 1 Kan.
Years .... 1 Muluc. 2 Mulue. 10 Muluc. 11 Muluc. 6 Mulue.
Years.... 12 Ix. 7 Ix. 2 Ix. 3 Ix. 11 Ix.
Now, let us construct a table (No. VIII) of years for one cycle, as this
includes all possible variations in the numbers and names of the years, and
see where those obtained will fall. Marking each of the years with a star,
we find that they belong to one continuous period. So far the result is
favorable, and what will probably attract the attention of those who have



devoted some time to the study of this subject is the fact that the period
embraced is precisely that which is supposed by most authorities to con-
stitute one Ahau. But let me here warn such reader against a too hasty
Supposing we are so far correct, what use are we to make of the red
numeral-13-in the space? Let us suppose that it is also to be applied to
the days as the other red numeral, using the same month. This gives us
the following years:
13 Oc. 13 Ik. 13 Ix. 13 Cimi. 13 Ezanab.
Years.... 8 Cauac. 3 Cauac. 4 Cauac. 12 Cauac. 13 Cauac.
Years .... 13 Kan. 1 Kan. 9 Kan. 4 Kan. 5 Kau.
Years.... 5 Muluc. 6 Muluc. 1 Muluc. 2 Muluc. 10 Muluc.
Years. ... 3 Ix. 11 Ix. 6 Ix. 7 Ix. 2 Ix.
If we attempt to locate these in the same cycle as the preceding period,


6 0

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9* 10* II* 12*(
13* 1* 2* 3*
4* 5* 6* 7*
8* 9* 10* 11*
12* 13* 1* 2*
3 4 5 6
7 -8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 18 9
10 11 12 13

we fshall find that the two clash with each other-that
is, that some of the years of the first are the same as
some of the second; but it is evident they may be located
in another cycle.
Before proceeding further with the discussion of
this difficult question, we must remind the reader of
what possibly he has already inferred-that in our
allusion to the "intervals" between the days of the col-
umns, our object then was simply to show a regularity
not consistent with the idea that they were used on
account of the signification of the words, and not to
lead him to suppose that the real interval intended was
only the number of days mentioned. We also wish to
call his attention to another fact which is becoming more
and more apparent as we proceed-that the regularity
of the intervals which seems apparent, whatever may
be our final conclusion as to what the black numerals
refer to, and the great number of dates as compared with

the text, preclude the supposition that the work is historical. I shall there-
fore proceed upon the theory that it is, to a large extent at least, a kind of
religious calendar-not with any particular desire to maintain this opinion,


but simply because I find the evidence pointing in this direction, and also
that it is next to impossible to advance farther without having some theory.


0 z

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 I1 2* 3*1
4* 5* 6* 7*1
8* 9* 10* 11*1
12* 13* 1* 2*"
3* 4* 5*1 6*
7*j' 8 9 | 10
11 12* 13* 1
2*j 3* 4 5*
6* 7* 8* 9*
10* 11* 12* 13*
1P 2* 3* 4*
5* 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11

From what has been shown it is apparent that the
interpretation I have given is a possible one, the chief
objections to which are, first, the large number of dates
in the Manuscript that this plan would give us, which,
according to a rough calculation I have made, would
amount to something like ten thousand; second, the ex-
tent of time these dates must necessarily cover, which
cannot be less than one great cycle of 312 years.
The Dresden Codex, which is evidently similar in
character to the Manuscript Troano, presents, if possi-
ble, still greater difficulties to the settlement of this ques-
tion, as here we find the black numeral for 19 frequently
connected directly with the red ones. But so far as I
have examined dates of this kind they do not appear to
be necessarily associated with the day characters on the
same page. In this codex the dates are also much more
numerous than in the Tro. Ms., a number of pages being
filled almost exclusively with numerals and day charac-
ters. Month characters are also introduced; hence it is
probable the day of the month is often given.
On page II (Tro. Ms.), in the left column, middle
division (see fig. 99), the days (counting from the top
downwards) are Manik, Cauac,' Chuen, Akbal, Men,

the red numeral over the column 1. In the space are three black nume-
rals 6, 11, and 9, also two red ones 10 and 3. Using the red 1 and the
black 6, as heretofore, we find the years to be as follows:
1 Manik. 1 Caac. 1 Chucn. 1 Akbal. 1 Men.
Years.... 10 Cauac. 5 Cauac. 6 Cauac. 1 Canac. 2 Cauac.
Years.... 2 Kan. 3 Kan. 11 Kan. 12 Kan. 7 Kan.
Years.... 13 Muluc. 8 MuluC. 3 Mulue. 4 Muluc. 12 Muluc.
Years.... 5 Ix. 13 Ix. 1 Ix. 9 Ix. 4 Ix.
The period is found to be continuous, and is surrounded on the annexed
table (No. IX) by a continuous dark line. In this case it commences with
I Cauac is represented here by an unusual character.


Kan. If we use the red 3 and the black 6 the result will be as shown in
the group surrounded on the table by the dotted line. As the reader is
perhaps by this time aware, it might be located below the first by extending
the table, but still would give us no clue to the proper position of. the
There are two other possible suppositions, .to wit: that the red numeral
over the column refers to the number of the Ahau, and that in the space to
the number of the days; and, second, just the reverse of this, that the red
number in the space refers to the Ahau and that over the column to the
number of the days, the black one in each case denoting the number of the
As it will be impossible for us to decide in reference to these supposi-
tions until we can locate the Ahaues and determine their numbers, I will
postpone further discussion of the point for the present, proceeding for the
time being upon the only plan so far found consistent with what is known
of the Maya calendar.
As heretofore stated, the greater number of the day columns contain
just five characters. Why this number? If we use the numerals as shown
by the above examples, this will give us for each red numeral, twenty years,
agreeing with the number counted to the Ahau, whether we follow most
authorities or Perez; for, according to the latter, who holds that there are
twenty-four years in this period, only twenty are usually "counted"; four
being generally omitted as unlucky, or for some other reason. That some-
thing of this kind, arising from the system itself, was the cause of placing
five days in so many columns is more than probable. If I am correct in
this supposition, it not only agrees with the method of using the numerals
above suggested, but it will also determine the years that form the different
Following up this suggestion, let us see if it is possible to determine
from the Manuscript the length of the Ahau as understood by the author.
As the most likely method of deciding this question, I will select a
number of the day columns, find from them the years indicated according to
the plan heretofore given, and locate them in tables of years. We can then
see what relation they bear to each other.


The first I select is found in the lower division of Plate XXVI. The
column is as here shown-Fig. 6-the days are Ahau, Eb, Kan, Cib, Lamat.
000 In addition to these red numerals, we find in the space occu-
c==:5 pied by the figures five black and five red numer-
rals, each thirteen. Why there should be five TABLE X.
pairs of numerals, each denoting the same num c 3
ber, I confess myself unable to decide; I shall Z 3 .
0 therefore leave this question to be discussed here- -
after, if I find any reasonable explanation. Ac- 10 11 12* 13*
cording to the interpretation already given, the
Sred numerals indicate the days, the black the .1.* 2* 3* 4*"
months. Hunting out the years as in the pre- 5* 6* 7* 8*
ceding example we find them to be as follows: 9*10* 11* 12*
113* 1* 2* 3*1
13 Ahau. 13 Eb. 13 Ean. 13 Gib. 13 Lamat. .. ....... ...
Years..6 Canac. 7 Cauac. 2 Cauac. 3 Canac. 11 Cauac. .. ..." 10 I 71
Years..4 Kan. 12 Kan. 7 Kan. 8 Kan. 3 Kan. 8 9 10 1
Years..9Muluc. 4Muluc. 5Muluc. 13Muluc. 1Mulne. 12 13 1* 2*
7 Years..1 Ix. 2 Ix.. 10 Ix. 5 Ix. 6 Ix. 3* 4* 5* 6*
FIG. 6. These years are marked with a star and the 7* 8* 9* 10*
group surrounded by a continuous dark line on the an-
nexed table of years, No. X. For reasons hereafter given 26*1 7- 5
I adopt the system which commences the cycle with 1 1.. ..
S 10 1; 12* 13*:

As Plate XXVII relates obviously to the same gen-
eral subject, I select the left-hand day column of its upper
division as our next example. The days are Ahau, Eb,
Kan, Cib, and Lamat, the same as in the preceding exam-
ple, the red or day numeral 11, the black or month nu-
meral 13.
These give us the following years:
Days .... 11 Alau. 11 Eb. 11 Kan. 11 0Cb.
Years.... 4 Cauac. 5 Cauac. 13 Cauac. 1 Cauac.
Years.... 2 Kan. 10 Kan. 5 Kan. 6 Kan.
Years.... 7 Mulue. 2 Muluc. 3 Muluc. 11 .Mulue.
Years....12 Ix. 13 Ix. 8 Ix. 3 Ix.

1* 2* 3* 4*
5* 6* 7* 8*|
9* 10* 11* 12*|
13* 1* 2* 3*:
4* 5* 6 7
8 9 10 11

11 Lamat.
9 Canac.
1 Kan.
12 Mulue.
4 Ix.

These are also marked on the annexed table with a star, but the group
is surrounded by a dotted line. In order to enable the reader to understand


what I mean by "properly locating" these periods, I have extended the
table so as to include one complete cycle, the close of another, and the com-
mencement of another. I have also located this last period-as a matter of
course according to the years obtained-in the only two possible positions
in the table; surrounding each by a dotted line. If the table had been
extended it could of course have been located in other cycles. I call atten--
tion to the fact that both these periods commence with a Muluc year, which
would render it impossible for the commencement or ending of an Ahau, if
these are Ahaues, to coincide with the commencement or ending of a cycle
or grand cycle. If we suppose the Ahau to contain twenty-four years, and
the periods marked on Table X to omit two years at the commencement
and two at the close; in other words, extend the upper and lower lines
bounding the groups, across the table, we will then have no difficulty in
making all the periods agree with each other and with the cycles. After
all, we are not yet authorized to say positively that these periods are Ahaues,
or that they are even embraced in or coincide with them; still, the oft-
repeated five-character day columns, and the resulting groups of years,
justify us in assuming that they do at least coincide with them.
Before proceeding further in our discussion of the Manuscript it will
be necessary for us to decide in reference to the following points relating
to the calendar upon which we have incidentally touched:
First. The number of years contained in an Ahau.
Second. The -position of these periods in the grand cycle or Ahau-
Third. The respective numbers of these periods as thus fixed in the
Fourth. With which one of the four days (year bearers) the grand
cycle begins.
That the older authorities, so far as we are aware, without exception,
give 20 years as the length of an Ahau, is admitted. Landa, for example,
says (in XLI), "The Indians had not only the computation of the year
and the months, but they had also a certain manner of computing the times
and events by ages. This they did by 20 and 20 years, computing 13
twenties with one of the twenty letters of their month called Ahau, but


without order, and alternate only as on the boundary of the wheel afore-
Cogolludo (Hist. de Yucathan, Lib. IV, Cap. 5) says:
'' They compute their eras and ages, which they write down in their
books, by 20 and 20 years and by lustres of 4 and 4. They fix the first
year at the east, to which they give the name Cuch-haab. The second, at
the west, is called Jiix; the third, at the south, is named Cauac, and the
fourth, Muluc, at the north. Five of these lustres being completed, make
twenty years; this is what they call a Katun. They place a sculptured
stone upon another stone, equally sculptured, fixed with lime and sand in
the walls of the temples." 0
The Perez manuscript, as is well known, counts twenty years to an
Ahau. Most of the recent writers have also decided in favor of the same
number. Two or three of the most recent authorities, as Dr. Brinton,
Charency, and Rosny, are disposed to follow the opinion of Perez, that it
contained twenty-four years. I am satisfied that the opinion which holds
twenty-four years to be the number is the correct one, and will now pro-
ceed to give the proof I have been able to obtain bearing upon this point.
First. If I am correct in my interpretation of the numerals, then the
groups of years obtained by using these, as heretofore shown, will necessa-
rily require twenty-four years to the Ahau, no matter with which of the
four year-bearing days we begin the cycle; for, although these groups con-
tain but twenty years there is an interval of four years between each two
that is not counted.
Second. The method of numbering these periods cannot, as I believe,
be accounted for on any other supposition. According to all authorities
who have mentioned the subject they were numbered, as I have already
stated, thus: 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, the number 13 being
the first, 11 the next, and so on. It is not reasonable to suppose that this
singular series was wholly an arbitrary selection; on the contrary, it is
more than probable that it was obtained in some way through the use of
the "13 series." If we examine the table of years, No. XVII, we will see
that, commence where we may, and divide it into periods of twenty-four
years by transverse lines, the first years of these periods taken in the order
they come will accord exactly with this series. Take for example the



Ahaues as there given: the first commences with the year 1 Cauac, the
second with 12 Cauac, the third with 10 Cauac, and so on. As the great
cycle contains thirteen of these periods, it follows that we shall find all these
numbers in it by thus dividing it. It is true this does not prove that the
first period was numbered 13; moreover it is possible (though I do not
think probable) that the number was not taken from that of the first day of
the year, but from the second, as suggested by Perez. According to the
theory advanced by this author these periods were numbered from the sec-
ond day of the Cauac years, which would necessarily be Ahau, because,
as he supposes, some notable event in their history occurred on that day.
Even on this supposition the series could not commence with the first period
of the grand cycle, as this would be Ahau No. 2, but would begin with the
second, which would be Ahau No. 13.
It may not be improper to call attention at this point to a remark made
by Dr. Valentini in his article on the Perez manuscript (Proc. Am. Ant. Soc.
No. 74): "Nor do we understand the reason why, just here, the topic of
the succession of the numbers 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, was
introduced. Could it have been with the intention of showing that this
singular enumeration of alternating Ahaues, which we shall hereafter speak
of, occurred only in cycles of twenty-four years, and that therefrom a proof
might be derived for establishing the pretended cycle of twenty-four and
three hundred and twelve years? Evidence of this should have been given
by a table showing the series, and by still another table in which should
be shown that such an alternating succession did not occur in cycles com-
posed of twenty years. Not one single fact can be detected in Seiior Perez's
text by which the long established assumption of a twenty years' cycle has
been disproved."
The object Senor Perez had in view in introducing this series at this
point was for the very purpose of showing that this "singular enumeration"
could be obtained only by dividing the series into periods of twenty-four
years. As he was not fortunate enough to hit upon the plan of a table that
would bring this clearly before the eye, I call attention to Table XVII,
which meets precisely the requirements of Dr. Valentini. Dividing it into
periods of twenty-four years will give this singular enumeration, while
dividing it into periods of twenty years will not.


Third. Additional proof to the same effect I think is also to be derived
from a symbolical figure in the Manuscript itself The most notable figure
in the upper compartment of Plate XXIII (our Plate IV) is the blue one in
the upper left-hand corner on a black background surrounded by a white
border, the latter crossed by dotted rays, each ray terminating wit1? a little
ring; a dagger is piercing the eye of the blue sitting figure. If we count
these clubbed rays we shall find there are twenty-three of them, but exactly
where the dagger crosses the border there is room for one more According
to my interpretation the whole of this figure taken together is a symbol of
the Katun or Ahau, the inner blue figure probably denoting the year.' If
I am correct in this interpretation, then we have here positive evidence that
Perez was right in holding that the Ahau consisted of twenty-four years.
The whole figure is therefore intended to indicate the close of an Ahau;-
when one more year has expired the light of another Ahau will be forever
extinguished and the new one will begin its course.
We find, as I think, something similar to this method of marking the
missing year on Plates 75 and 76 of the Borgian Codex. These two plates,
which are evidently parts of one picture, 76 being the upper and 75 the
lower part, are symbolic representations of periods of time. The figures
around the central circle of 76 are probably intended to represent the
marching years. There are only twelve of them, but in the pathway at the
bottom we see the footsteps of one that has passed on. At the four corners
outside the circle we see the four "year-bearers."2
On Plate 75 the chief figure is that of Kingsborough's supposed cruci-
fied Quetzalcoatl; on. the body is a large sun or circular disk with seven
points, but in the lower margin, where there is the proper space for another,
the circle is pierced by the obsidian knife of the priest who holds the with-
drawn heart in his hand. Around the figure are similar but smaller disks;
counting these we find there are eight, the exact number of points required
to complete the central disk, and the number of periods (Indications) in an
age. Possibly other periods are intended, as I have not studied the Mexican
Calendar with sufficient care to express any decided opinion on this point;
IFoitunately, the correctness of this supposition, which I mentioned in an article in the Ameri-
can Naturalist for August, 1881, has since been verified by Dr. D. G. Brinton-" The Books of Chilau
Balam," p. 15.
2 Not those usually given, but those evidently used for this purpose in this and other codices.



my only object in referring to these plates being to illustrate the idea ad-
vanced in regard to the meaning of the dagger piercing the eye of the blue
figure on Plate XXIII of the Manuscript Troano.
The next point to be determined is the position of the several Ahaues
in the grand cycle. This larger group, as admitted by all authorities, con-
sisted of thirteen Ahaues; as 24 X 13 =312, it follows that, assuming the
Ahau to be a period of 24 years, this longer period would consist of 312
years. If the first year of the grand cycle coincided with the first year
of an Ahau, the position of these latter groups would be determined by
simply dividing the former into groups of 24 years, as shown in Table No.
XVI, where the dark transverse lines mark the divisions between the Ahaues
as thus obtained. This conclusion is so natural that it would seem to follow
as a matter of course from the numbers used, and from the fact that the
number of years in a grand cycle is an exact multiple of the number of
years in an Ahau.
But as Senor Perez, who is our chief authority for what pertains to the
Maya calendar, has advanced a different opinion, and as his suggestion
affords a means of escape from a very serious difficulty, I will call attention
to it before deciding as to which I believe to be the true method of locating
these periods. But in order that his theory may be clearly understood it is
necessary for us first to determine the dominical day with which the first
years of the Ahaues commenced; for it is evident, whether we count twenty
or twenty-four years to these periods-a.s each is a multiple of 4-that if
they followed each other in regular order the first year of each would begin
with the same dominical day though not the same number. In other words,
if one of the series began with a Kan year all the rest would begin with a
Kan year. If the first year of a cycle were also the first year of an Ahau,
as we would naturally presume, then determining the first year of any one
will determine all the others.
In the manuscript discovered by Perez and translated into English by
Stephens fromm the Spanish translation of the discoverer), we find the fol-
lowing statement: "In the 13th Ahau Chief Ajpula died. Six years were
wanting to complete the 13th Ahau. This year was counted toward the east
of the wheel and began on the 4th Kan. Ajpula died on the 18th day of
the month Zip on the 9th Ymix." Taking for granted that the day, the


number of the day, and the month as given here are correct, it is easy to
determine from our condensed calendar that the year must necessarily have
been 4 Kan. As there were twenty-four years in an Ahau, and six were
yet wanting to complete that referred to in the quotation, it follows of neces-
sity this 4 Kan was the 18th and that this Ahau must have commenced with
the year 13 Cauac and ended with 10 Ix. This will be seen by making a
list of the years in regular succession, so that 4 Kan shall be the 18th. We
give such a list here (Table No. XI), marking in italics the 4 Kan.


1-13 Cauac.
2- 1 Kan.
3- 2 Mulue.
4- 3 Ix.
5- 4 Cauac.
6- 5 Kan.
7- 6 Muluc.
8- 7 Ix.
9- 8 Cauac.
10- 9 Kan.
11-10 Muluc.
12-11 Ix.
13-12 Cauac.
14-13 Kan.
15- 1 Muluc.
16- 2 Ix.
17- 3 Cauac.
18- 4 Kan.
19- 5 Muluc.
20- 6 Ix.
21- 7 Cauac.
22- 8 Kan.
23- 9 Muluc.
24-10 Ix.

If we place these years in tabular form, as heretofore given, the Ahau
will be in the form shown in the annexed table (XII). Here, then, we



have positive evidence, if to be relied on, that this Ahau at least commenced
with a Cauac year (whether the Ahau contained 24 or 20 years), and, if so,
all the others of the series.
A somewhat careful examination of Senor Perez's Cronologia Antigua
TABLE XII. satisfies me that his whole scheme was based upon what
he believed to be two established facts: first, that the
Ahaues commenced with a Cauac year; and, second, that
Q M they were numbered from the second day of these years.
I am pretty well satisfied from some things observ-
13 1 2 3
able in the Manuscript Troano that it recognizes Cauac
8 9 10 11 as the dominical day of the first year of the Ahaues.
12 13 1 2 First. The order of the four plates XX-XXIII, which
3 4* 5 6 refer exclusively to the four dominical days. That Bras-
7 8 9 10 seur has paged these plates in exactly the reverse order
to what they should be, I think is evident from the fol-
lowing facts: As now paged they bring these days in the following order:
Ix, Muluc, Kan, Cauac, exactly the reverse of that in which they come
in the calendar. This alone is sufficient to cause us to suspect a reversal.
But it is not the only reason for believing this. If we follow the order of
the plates in marking the years, we obtain no continuous period, as is evi-
dent from the annexed Table XIII.
Second. The numeral (1), over the second Cauac character on Plate
XXIII (our Plate IV) and also that over the fifth Muluc character on Plate
XXI (our Plate II) is surrounded in each case with a circle of minute
dots. Although there are other numeral characters on these four plates
denoting one, none except these two are thus distinguished. What is this
intended to signify? My answer is, it signifies that those two years are
the first of important periods that are included in, or at least begin in,
the time embraced by these four plates. Now let us test this by giving two
tables embracing the period covered by them, marking the Ahaues on one
according to the plan I have given, and on the other according to Senor
Perez's method.
Table XIV commences with a Cauac year, and is of the usual form,
as heretofore given. Table XV begins with a Kan year, and is made in


accordance with the theory advanced by Perez, who holds that the cycle
began. with a Kan year, although contending that the Ahaues commenced






7 8 9 o10
11 "2 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6
7 8 9. 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

0 6

1 2 3
5 6 7
9 10 11
13 1 2
4 5 6
8 9 10
12 13 1
3 4 |5.
7 8 9
11 12 13
2 3 4
6 7 8


10 11 12 13


( 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11

3 4 .5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11j 12 13


6 C

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 4 5"6

11 12 1 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13


5 6 7 8
S9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1

3 4 .5 6

7 8 9 0
11 12 13 1

66 7 8



with a Canac year. On each, the divisions between the Ahaues are marked
by solid, heavy, black lines; the usually counted twenty years of each are
surrounded by a single dotted line, and the period covered by the four
plates by a continuous waved line. The point at which the grand cycle
begins is marked thus: :o:---. If we examine Table XIV we see that
1 Cauac is the first year of a cycle, and 1 Muluc the first of the usually
"counted years" of an Ahau, and that both are within the period covered
by the four plates; each is surrounded by a ring in order to designate it.
As a matter of course, each is the first year of an "Indication" or week of
years; so are 1 Kan and 1 Ix in the same period, yet neither of these is
thus distinguished.
If we turn now to Table XV, in which the cycle begins with a Kan
year, we can see no reason why either the 1 Cauac or the 1 Muluc in the
period embraced by the waved line should have any special mark of dis-
It is proper to state here that unit numerals surrounded in a similar
manner by a circle of dots, are to be found on other plates where it is diffi-
cult to apply the theory here advanced.
Another difficulty which arises, if we adopt Perez's theory, is that the
last Ahau of a grand cycle does not close with the end of that period, but
includes one or more years of the following, according to the place the
division begins.
Taking all these facts into consideration, it appears that the calendar
system followed by the author of the Troano Manuscript commenced the
cycles and the Ahaues with a Cauac year. I think, therefore, the evidence
that the Ahaues at least began with a Cauac year is too strong to leave any
doubt on this point.
As bearing upon, and, as I believe, tending strongly to confirm this
conclusion, I will introduce here some examples from the Manuscript.
In the second division of Plates XXX and XXXI, commencing on the
left half of the former and continuing through the latter, we observe a series
of figures all similar to each other, except the one to the right on Plate
XXX, which is the long-nosed god.
Over each figure, except one, there is a red numeral, but these differ


from each other in the numbers indicated. In front of each face is the
black numeral character for 11. The red numerals are (?), 9, 7, 5, 3. The
first is obliterated, but if we judge by the space it would be 1, if by the
order, 11; but since the result will be the same, except as to the position
of the period obtained by this one in the table of years, it makes no par-
ticular difference for the present purpose which we assume is correct.
Assuming 11 to be the missing one, the numbers of the days will then be
11, 9, 7, 5, 3.
The days in the column at the left of the compartment on Plate XXXI
are Kan, Cib, Lamat, Ahau, and Eb. Hunting out the years in the manner
heretofore described, we find them to be as follows:
11 Kan. 11 Cib. 11 Lamat. 11 Ahau. 11 Eb.
Years .... 1 Cauac. 2 Canac. 10 Canac. 5 Cauac. 6 Cauac.
j Years .... 6 Kan. 7 Kan. 2 Kan. 3 Kan. 11 Kan.
(11) Years .... 4 Muluc. 12 Muluc. 13 Muluc. 8 Muluc. 3 Muluc.
[Years .... 9 Ix. 4 Ix. 5 Ix. 13 Ix. 1 Ix.
9 Kan. 9 Cib. 9 Lamat. 9 Ahau. 9 Eb.
C Years .... 12 Cauac. 13 Cauac. 8 Cauac. 3 Cauac. 4 Canac.
Years .... 4 Kan. 5 Kan. 13 Kan. 1 Kan. 9 Kan.
(9) Years .... 2 Muluc. 10 Muluc. 11 Muluc. 6 Muluc. 1 Muluc.
LYears - - 7 Ix. 2 Ix. 3 Ix. 11 Ix. 12 Ix.
7 Kan. 7 Cib. 7 Lamat. 7 Ahau. 7 Eb.
C Years ... .10 Cauac. 11 Cauac. 6 Cauac. 1 Cauac. 2 Cauac.
Years .... 2 Kan. 3 Kan. 11 Kan. 12 Kan. 7 Kan.
(7) Years .. 13 Muluc. 8 Muluc. 9 Muluc. 4 Muluc. 12 Muluc.
[Years.... 5 Ix. 13 Ix. 1 Ix. 9 Ix. 10 Ix.
5 Kan. 5 Cib. 5 Lamat. 5 Ahau. 5 Eb.
Years .... 8 Cauac. 9 Cauac. 4 Cauac. 12 Canac. 13 Cauac.
j Years .... 13 Kan. 1 Kan. 9 Kan. 10 Kan. 5 Kan.
(5) Years .... 11 Muluc. 6 Muluc. 7 Muluc. 2 Muluc. 10 Muluc.
Years .... 3 lx. 11 Ix. 12 Ix. 7 Ix. 8 Ix.
3 Kan. 3 Cib. 3 Lamat. 3 Ahau. 3 Eb.
( Years .... 6 Cauac. 7 Cauac. 2 Cauac. 10 Cauac. 11 Cauac.
j Years ... .11 Kan. 12 Kan. 7 Kan. 8 Kan. 3 Kan.
(3) Years .... 9 Muluc. 4 Muluc. 5 Muluc. 13 Muluc. 8 Muluc.
[Years.... 1 Ix. 9 Ix. 10 Ix. 5 Ix. 6 Ix.
In order to show the position of these groups in the series of years,
and how they stand in reference to each other, I give here a table (XVI)
covering one entire grand cycle, and including the last cycle of the pre-




6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 ~J 1.1"
12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6.
7 8 9 10|

11 12 13 .1
2 3 4 1 5

10 11 12 13:|

S5 6 7 8|:
9 10 1 12
::13 1 |2 3

1 1 'I 7
S 0 1.I 11
-12 13 1 2|
3 4 5 6|
7 8 9 10|:
11 12 i13| 1

2 3 I4 5

10 11 12 13

6 6

5 6 7 8i!
9 10 11 1 12

13 1 :2 3
..4 5. 6 7'

8 9 10 ll:
12 13 1 2|
3 4 5 6:
7 8 9 10

11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

1 2 3 4
5 6 71 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

1 2 |31 4
5 6j 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 1 4j 5 6
7 8 9 10

11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 F2 13



ceding and the first cycle of the following grand cycles. As I have as-
sumed that the cycle (and hence the great cycle) commenced with the
year I Cauac, it follows that, in carrying out the above supposition, the
first Ahau of the series must also begin with this year. The divisions be-
tween the Ahaues are marked on the table by transverse solid black lines.
The point at which the first great cycle ends and the next (which is given
complete) begins is marked thus: :o:- I next locate the fore-
going groups of years so as, if possible, not to clash with each other, and
also in such a manner-that the period represented by a group shall fall
within one of the Ahaues marked off on the table.
Each group is surrounded by a continuous dark line, so as to be easily
distinguished from other periods marked on the same table; they are also
numbered at the sides thus: (11), (9), (7), (5), (3), these numbers corre-
sponding with the day numbers by which the different groups were
These groups, each consisting of twenty years, not only fall within the
lines marking the Katunes, but come in regular succession, leaving four
uncounted years between each two periods-two belonging to one and two
to that which follows. In other words, while the Katun or Ahau as a whole,
according to the theory upon which I am now proceeding, always com-
menced with a Cauac year, the twenty "counted years" in the present
example begin with a Muluc year. But, as appears from what has already
been shown, this is not always true in regard to these periods, yet it is gen-
erally the case.
If we observe carefully the five figures in the first or uppermost division
of the plates under consideration, we see that they correspond in character
to those in the second division to which we have just alluded, and that the
black numeral is also the same, (11). The only red numerals recognizable
are the 13 over the long-nosed god on Plate XXX, the 8 facing the left-
hand figure on Plate XXXI, and the 2 over the left-hand figure on Plate
XXX. According to the arrangement of the numbers in the second divis-
ion, those in this division would be 8, 6, 4, 2, 13, reading from left to right.
If we assume these numbers to be correct, and the days to be Eb, Kan,



Cib, Lamat, and Ahau, as shown by those not obliterated, the years would
be as follows:
13 Eb. 13 Kan. 13 Cib. 13 Lamat. 13 Ahau.
( Years .... 8 Canac. 3 Cauac. 4 Cauac. 12 Cauac. 7 Cauac.
1 Years.... 13 Kan. 8 Kan. 9 Kan. 4 Kan. 5 Kan.
13 Years.... 5 Muluc. 6 Muluc. 1 Muluc. 2 Muluc. 10 Muluc.
i Years.... 3 Ix. 11 Ix. 6 Ix. 7 Ix. 2 Ix.

8 Eb. 8 Kan. 8 Cib. 8 Lamat. 8 Ahau.
( Years.... 3 Canac. 11 Canae. 12 Cauac. 7 Cauac. 2 Cauac.
I Years.... 8 Kan. 3 Kan. 4 Kan. 12 Kan. 13 Kan.
Years.. -.13 Muluc. 1 Muluc. 9 Mulue. 10 Mulue. 5 Muluc.
SYears.... 11 Ix. 6 Ix. 1 Ix. 2 Ix. 10 Ix.

6 Eb. 6 Kan. 6 Cib. 6 Lamat. 6 Ahau.
Years.... 1 Cauac. 9 Cauac. 10 Cauac. 5 Cauac. 13 Cauac.
6 Years.... 6 Kan. 1 Kan. 2 Kan. 10 Kan. 11 Kan.
Years .... 11 Muluc. 12 Mulue. 7 Mulue. 8 Mulue. 3 Muluc.
SYears ... 9 Ix. 4 Ix. 12 Ix. 13 Ix. 8 Ix.
4 Eb. 4 Kan. 4 Cib. 4 Lamat. 4 Ahau.
Years.... 12 Cauac. 7 Cauac. 8 Cauac. 3 Cauac. 11 Cauac.
J Years.... 4 Kan. 12 Kan. 13 Kan. 8 Kan. 9 Kan.
Years.... 9 Muluc. 10 Muluc. 5 -Muluc. 6 Muluc. 1 Mulue.
SYears.... 7 Ix. 2 Ix. 10 Ix. 11 Ix. 6 Ix.
2 Eb. 2 Kan. 2 Cib. 2 Lamat. 2 Ahau.
( Years .... 10 Canac. 5 Cauac. 6 Cauac. 1 Cauac. 9 Cauac.
Years.... 2 Kan. 10 Kan. 11 Kan. 6 Kan. 7 Kan.
2j Years.... 7 Mulue. 8 Muluc. 3 Muluc. 4 Muluc. 12 Muluc.
Years.... 5 Ix. 13 Ix. 8 Ix. 9 Ix. 4 Ix.

Locating these on the same table (XVI) as shown by the groups sur-
rounded by dotted lines, we find that they follow each other in precisely the
same order as the other groups. As these groups all fit into the Ahaues as
I have divided them off, we have in this fact a strong presumption that our
division is correct; still, it is proper to state here, as will be shown here-
after, that all these periods will also fit into the Ahaues if the grand cycle
is divided according to the theory advanced by Senor Perez. Yet, even on
this plan, these periods begin with Cauac years and have the same num-
bers; the only difference between the plans, so far as this matter is con-
cerned, is that equivalents do not occupy precisely the same position in the
grand cycle, but overlap each other three years.


Whether the Dresden Codex commences the series with the same year
as the Manuscript Troano is a point not yet decided; but from what is
shown on Plates 25-28, Kan does not appear to be the first. I think there
can be no doubt that these four plates represent the fetes and ceremonies of
the supplementary days described by Landa (Relac. de las cosas, XXXV-
XXXVIII). The reasons for this opinion will be given hereafter. It is
evident from the day-characters in the left-hand column that the plates are
numbered in the proper order. These days-of which there are but two
on a plate, though each is repeated thirteen times-are probably the last
two of the supplementary days of the year. As those on Plate 25 are Eb
and Been the year denoted must be Muluc or Ix; that is, the closing Mulue
year or commencing Ix year. It is quite plain that the year Kan is not
the one denoted. As I will refer more at length to these plates hereafter I
will not undertake to determine anything further concerning them here, my
only object at present being to show that neither Codex appears to com-
mence the series of years with Kan.
Before closing the discussion in reference to the dominical day of the
first year of the Ahau, it is proper to call attention to what Cogulludo says
on this point. According to his statement in a quotation from his work,
found elsewhere in this paper, the Indians fixed the first year of these
periods to the east, to which they gave the name Cuch-haab; the second,
called Hiix, they placed at the west; the third, named Cauac, at the south,
and the fourth, Muluc, at the north. It is evident that Cucb-haab here is
the equivalent of Kan, and if we take the numbers as this author gives
them, Kan would be the first, but the order in which the other three follow
each other would not agree with that found in the calendar. If we com-
mence with Kan and follow the order of these years as given in the calen-
dar, the order of the cardinal points would then be east, north, west, south.
It is apparent therefore that this statement throws but little if any light on
the subject. It is well known that the south, at which Cauac was placed,
was, to some of the Maya nations at least, the point of departure or chief
cardinal point. We have therefore as much authority for assuming it as the
first of these periods as the simple fact that Cogulludo gives Kan as the first,
especially as the number lie gives applied to the lusters.



Our next step is to determine the respective numbers of the Ahaues as
located in the grand cycle.
We start as a matter of course with the understanding that the num-
bers were as heretofore stated-13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2-and
'that they always followed each other in the order here given; that is to say,
1 always followed 3, 12 always followed 1, and so on.
On folios 71, 72, and 73 of the Dresden Codex we find the following
figures placed in one con-
tinuous line (Fig. 7); (a suf-
ficient number for illustra-
IG. 7. tion only are given):
Commencing with the left-hand figure and reading to the right, the
numbers given in them are 11, 13, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 1, 3, 5, 7; in the lower
right-hand corner of page 73 we find the missing 9. The fact that the order
is here reversed, if read from left to right, is no evidence that this is the
order in which the Ahaues (if these figures refer to these periods) followed
each other, as it is possible they should be read from right to left. But
the fact that we here find thirteen peculiar figures, with the knot de-
noting the tying of years or period of years, with numbers following each
other in the order, whether direct or reversed, of those used in numbering
the Ahaues, is sufficient to justify us in believing that they refer to these
periods. The only reason I see for any doubt as to the correctness of this
conclusion is that on pages 62 and 63 we find similar figures containing
numeral characters for 16, 15, 17, and 19, numbers that cannot refer to the
Ahaues. Possibly they may be used to designate the years of the Ahaues,
but be this as it may, a close inspection of the knots will show that they
are different from those on pages 71, 72, and 73.
Knowing the order in which they follow each other, it is evident that
if we can determine the number of any one in the series it is a very simple
matter to number all the rest.
As the possibility of our being able to compare dates of the Maya
system with those of the Christian era depends on the correct determination
of this point, I will give not only my own conclusion, illustrating it by
means of a table (XVII), but will also show the result of following out


Senor Perez's theory, the only other possible one, so far as I am able to
see, illustrating it also by tables (XVIII and XIX).
According to the statement in the Perez manuscript already quoted,
Chief Ajpula died in the 13th Ahau in the year 4 Kan, and there were
six years wanting to complete this Ahau. As it appears more than prob-
able, judging by the contents of the manuscript itself, that it was written
soon after the Spaniards came into possession of the peninsula, we may, I
think, rely upon this date as correctly given, although the manuscript is
evidently confused and, in some respects, inaccurate and even contradictory.
If the grand cycle was divided into Ahaues of twenty-four years each,
as heretofore suggested, and as shown in the annexed table (XVII), it
follows that the one in which this event occurred must necessarily have
been that which I have numbered XIII, as there is no other one in the
entire grand cycle that has six years remaining after the year 4 Kan.
Each of the tables (XVII, XVIII, XIX) includes one entire grand
cycle, also one cycle of .the preceding and one of the following grand
cycles. The commencement and ending of the grand cycles are marked
thus: :0:- ; the divisions between the Ahaues are marked by solid
black transverse lines, each group of the usually counted years is sur-
rounded by a single dotted line; the period embraced by Plates XX-XXIII
(our Plates I-IV) is surrounded by a single waved line; the Ahaues are
numbered with Roman numerals.
Table XVII begins with a Cauac year, and is made in accordance
with the theory I have advanced. Tables XVIII and XIX commence
with a Kan year, and are made in accordance with the theory advanced
by Perez; XIX, upon the assumption that the first Ahau commenced
with the fourth year of the grand cycle; XVIII, upon the theory that it
began with the last year of the preceding grand cycle, as one of these two
plans must be adopted to carry out his theory.




1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
'32' -------
3; 4 5 .6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5

6 7 8
9 10 11 12
s __ :o-- ---
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9; 10 11

2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 13

6 7:1 8 9

1 2 3
9 10 11
13 1 2
4 5:: 6

12 13 1
3 4 5
*7 8 9
11 12 13
2 3. 4
14q7- ------
6' 7! 8
10 11 12

1 2 3
5 6 7
9 10 11
|13 1 2
1471 5 6

8 9 10
12 13 1
3 4 5
7 8 9
11 121 13

6 7 8

10 11 12

Year 1435.








1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 101 11 112

13 1 | 2 3
4.""5 6 7

8 9 10 111
12 13 1 2;
3 4 5 6
7.8JJ 9 10
11 12 3 1

6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13
1 2 3 4

11 12 13 1
1 o ,2 i '3 42

4 5 6 7

v I

678 9
10 13 1 2 13

1591 ---------------

11 12 13 1:
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13::

t 1536, year Ajpula died.

9 10 11 12

13 1 2 3::
8 90 10 11
12 13 1 2
163U ----- -----
3 14 5 6:
7 8 9 10
1i 12 13 1

10 11 12 13



6 7 8
1 234

9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3

4: 5 6 17
8 9 10 11

12 13 1 2
3 41 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1_

.....6.... 7 8 9.

10 11 12 13
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3

8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 .13 4 5

6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

1 2 3 4

5 61 7 8
_9 10 11 128
13 | 2 3

4* 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6
8 ;1512

6 7 8 9

10 11 12 13
1 2 3 4|
5A:l 6 1 7 6

13 1 2 3

4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2

3 3 4 5 __
7 ..... ........ 10.

11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5i
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

1 2

( r3 - -- -

.... .. ........ .....

9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11

:12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6

7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
I in
2 3 4 5

10! 1112 3

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3

4 5 6 7
8 9 10 i_
12 13 1 2

3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10

11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

t 1541.

* 1493.




5 6 7 8

9 10 .11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6

11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13


516 7 8.:
.... ....... ......8
9 10 11 12:
13 1 12 3:
4 5 6 7:
8 9 10 11
8 .......9... ..... ...............

12. 13 1 [-2
3 4 5 6.
7 8 9 10:
11 12 113 1
2 3xl 4 5
6 7 8 9
11 12 1


2 3
6 7
10 11
1 2
5 6
9 10
........ .. .. .. .. .

13 1
4 5
8 9
12 13
3 4
7 8

2 3
6 7
10 11
1 2
5 6
9 10
13 1
4 5
8 9
12 13
3 141
11 12







1 2 3
5 6 7
9 10 11.
.............. ..........
13 1 2
41 5 6
8 9 10
12 13 1
3 5
7 4 9
11::; 12 113
i I............... .........
2: 3 4
6 7 8
10 11 12
1 2 3
5 6 i7

9j.10 i11
13; 1 2
4* 5 6
8 9 10
12 13 1
13 4 5
3 ....... -........

1 12 13
2 3x4
10 11 128
10 11 ]12

C3 6
0 o

1 2 3 4
...5i6 ............

9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
7:: 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

1[ 21 3 4'
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 4 .5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 71 8 9
10 111 12 1


If I am correct in the plan of the table given, and the division into
Ahaues, it follows that the rest of these periods in the grand cycle would
be numbered as shown by the Roman numerals on Table XVII." These
numbers agree precisely with the numbers of the first years of the respect-
ive Ahaues, and furnish, as heretofore suggested, an explanation of the
singular method of enumerating these periods. If we now turn to Table
XVI, showing the periods obtained from the dates on Plates XXX and
XXXI of the Manuscript, we will see that their position and numbers
agree exactly with those given in Table XVII.
As tending to confirm this conclusion, it will be necessary for me to
introduce here a comparison of Maya dates with those of the Christian era.
As the designated 4 Kan corresponds, according to the manuscript
quoted, with the year 1536, the last year of that Ahau (10 Ix) was 1542.
Taking this as a starting point, I have given on the table the year of our
era corresponding with the first year of each Ahau. Now let us test this
result by the two or three additional dates found on record, and which the
authorities have failed to make agree with any explanation of the Maya
calendar heretofore given.
Bishop Landa (Relacion de Cosas, 41) states that "the Indians say,
for example, that the Spaniards arrived in the City of Merida in the year
of the nativity of our Lord and Master, 1541, which was precisely the first
year of the 11th Ahau." We may assume, as certain that the Indians gave
the bishop no such date as 1541, or any other year of the Christian era or
Gregorian Calendar, as they were wholly unacquainted with that system;
the year given must have been according to their method of designating
dates, or.by counting back the years.
As he understood the twenty "counted years" to constitute an Ahau,
and supposed one of these periods to follow another without any interven-
ing years, he would probably take 9 Muluc of the 13th Ahau as the first of
the 11th, which, as will be seen by reference to the table, is 1541, exactly
the date required.
It is evident that either he or the author of the Perez manuscript was
mistaken, for according to the latter the 13th Ahau ended with the year



1542 (whether we count 20 or 24 years to the Ahau), while according to
Landa it closed with 1540.
He asserts, while writing his work in Spain in 1566, that: "It isenow
120 years since Mayapan was destroyed." As this number could have
been obtained only by counting Ahaues, it must have been understood by
him as covering just six of these periods, and hence the correct number
would be 144 years instead of 120. This number carries us back to the
year 1422 or 1423, the last of the Xth or first of the VIIIth Ahau. Co-
gulludo places the destruction of Mayapan about 1420 of the Christian era;
the Perez manuscript places it in the 8th Ahau. As the above calculation
places it in the last of the tenth or the first of the eighth, the discrepancy is
but slight, and the agreement as close as could be expected in an attempt
to reconcile such general statements.
Senor Perez seems to have taken as his chief authority, in comparing
dates of the two systems, the statements of certain writers to the effect that
the year 1392 of our era corresponded with the year 7 Cauac of the 8th
Ahau of the Maya system.1
Unfortunately he mentions but one of these authorities-Don Cosme
de Burgos-whose work he informs us "has been lost."
1 Serie do los afios corridos en dos Ahau Katun, tomando su principio en 1392 en que pas6 segun
los manuscritos el 8 Ahau en el aio 7 Canac:
1392 ....... 7 Cauac. 1398 .......13 Mulue. 1404 ....... 6 Cauac. 1410 .......12 Muluc.
1393 ....... 8 Kan. 1399 ....... 1 Hix. 1405 ....... 7 Kan. 1411 ......-13 Hix.
1394 ....... 9 Muluc. 1400 ....... 2 Cauac. 1406 ....... 8 Muluc. 1412 --....-... 1 Canac.
1395 .......10 Hix. 1401 ....... 3 Kan. 1407 ....... 9 Hix. 1413 ....... 2 Kan.
1396 .......11 Cauae. 1402 ....... 4 Muluc. 1408 .... ...10 Cauac. 1414 ....... 3 Muluc.
1397 .......12 Kan. 1403 ....... 5 Hix. 1409 .......11 Kan. 1415 ....... 4 Hix.
1416 ....... 5 Cauac. 1422 .......11 Muluc. 1428 ....... 4 Canac. 1434 ....... 10 Muluc.
1417 ....... 6 Kan. 1423 .......12 Hix. 1429 ....... 5 Kan. 1435 .......11 Hix.
1418 ....... 7 Muluc. 1424 .......13 Cauac. 1430 ....... 6 Muluc. 1436 ....... 12 Cauae.
1419 ....... 8 Hix. 1425 ....... 1 Kan. 1431 ....... 7 Hix. 1437 .......13 Kan.
1420 ....... 9 Cauac. 1426 ....... 2 Mulue. 1432 ....... 8 Cauac. 1438 ....... 1 Muluc.
1421 .......10 Kan. 1427 ....... 3 Hix. 1433 ....... 9 Kan. 1439 ....... 2 Hix.
"El punto do apoyo do quo se valen para acomodar los Ahau Katunes & los anos do la era Cristiana
y contar los periods y siglos que en ella han pasade, y entender y saber concordar los alos quo citan
los indios en sus histories con los que correspondent A los do dicha era, es el ano do 1392, el cual segun
todos los manuscritos, y algunos de ellos apoyandose en el testimonio de D. Cosme de Burgos escritor y
conquistador de esta peninsula cuyos escritos so han perdido, fud el referido afio, en el cual cay6 7 Cauac
y di6 principio en se segundu dia ol 8 Ahau; y de este como do un trunco so ordenan todos los quo
antecedieron y sucedieron segun el orden numerico que guardian y va espuesto: y como con este concuer-
dan todas las series que so hallan en los manuscritos, es necesario creerlo coino incontrovertible."


We are therefore left in doubt as to whether the calculation necessary
in comparing the date in one system with the same date in the other was
made by his authorities or was his own. "It is evident that it must have
been made by them or by him, as it could not have been given by the
Indians. Be this as it may, it is based upon the theory that the 7 Cauac

mentioned was the first year of the Ahau in which the event noted occurred,
a supposition by no means necessary.
Following out this supposition, he is compelled to place the death of
Ajpula in the year 1493, thus antedating this event by 43 years. It also

leads him into the absurdity of placing the first arrival of the Spaniards
on the coast of Yucatan-which occurred in the 2d Ahau-between the
years 1464 and 1488.
In order to make this plain, I refer to the Tables XVIII and XIX
constructed on his theory, and also to the continuous list of years covering
the 8th, 6th, 4th, 2d, and 13th Ahaues (Table XX). The year 1392 and
that in which he places the death of Ajpula (1493) are designated on the
tables and on the list by a star.

7 Cauac..................1392*
8 Kan ...................1393
9 Muluc..................1394
10 Ix .....................1395
11 Cauac.--.................1396
12 Kan................... 1397
13 Muluc ..................1398
1 Ix .....................1399
2 Cauac..................1400
3 Kan....................1401
4 Muluc..................1402
5 Ix .....................1403
6 Cauac..................1404
7 Kan....................1405
8 Muluc..................1406
9 Ix .....................1407
10 Cauac..................1408
11 Kan ..................1409
12 Muluc..................1410
13 Ix .....................1411
1 Caac.--.................1412
2 Kan....................1413
3 Muluc.................1414
4 Ix .....................1415
4 M T

5 Cauac.---...............1416
6 Kan..... .............1417
7 Muluc................. 1418
8 Ix ................... 1419
9 Canac .................1420
10 Kan.............--------.....--1421
11 Muluc................1422
12 Ix .................... 1423
13 Cauac ................1424
1 Kan................... 1425
2 Mulue.................1426
3 Ix .................... 1427
4 Cauac.................1428
5 Kan...................1429
6 Muluc--------------................1430
7 Ix .................... 1431
8 Cauac.................143"2
9 Kan -------....-------.............1433
10 Muluc.................1434
11 Ix ....................1435
12 Cauac.................1436
13 Kan...................1437
1 Muluc.................1438

3 Cauac ..................1440
4 Kan........----.........1441
5 Mulue................... 1442
6 Ix ......................1443
7 Cauac...................1444
8 Kan.....................1445
9 Mulue...................1446
10 Ix ......................1447
11 Canac-..................1448
12 Kan.....................1449
13 Mulue----..................1450
1 Ix ......................1451
2 Cauac...................1452
3 Kan.....................1453
4 Muluc ...................1454
5 Ix ..................... 1455
6 Cauac----..................1456
7 Kan..--..................1457
8 Muluc ...................1458
9 Ix ...................... 1559
10 Cauac...................1460
11 Kan.....................1461
12 Muluc ...................1462

2 Ix ....................1439 13 Ix ......................1463




1 Cauac ..................1464
2 Kan ...... .............1465
3 Mulue.................. 1466
4 Ix ............ .....-...1467
5 Cauac ..................1468
6 Kan....................1469
7 Muluc .................. 1470
8 Ix ...-...---....--......----------....1471
9 Canac ..................1472
10 Kan....................1473
11 Muluc ..................1474
12 Ix .... .................1475
13 Cauac .................. 1476
1 Kan ................... 1477
2 Muluc ................. 1478
3 Ix ..................... 1479
4 Cauac-.................--------------1480
5 Kan ...... ......-.......1481
6 Muluc .................1482
7 Ix ................-.....1483
8 Cauac..................1484
9 Kan ...... .............1485
10 Mulune .................. 1486
11 Ix .----.......-----------.--...........1487

12 Cauac.................1488
13 Kan ...... ............1489
1 Muluc ...... ..........1490
2 Ix ....................1491
3 Cauac.................149"2
4 Kan ..........---.......-----------*1493
5 Mulue--------.................1494
6 Ix .................... 1495
7 Cauac-----.................1496
8 Kan...................1497
9 Mulu--------------.................1498
10 Ix ...... ..............1499
11 Cauac---.......-...---...-....1500
12 Kan ...... ............1501
13 Mulue ................. 1502
1 Ix .................... 1503
2 Cauac................------------1504
3 Kan ........ ..........1505
4 Muluc .... ............1506
5 Ix .................... 1507
6 Cauac--.................1508
7 Kan...................1509
8 Muluc.................1510
9 Ix ....................3 511

8 Cauae................. 1536
9 Kan ...................1537
10 Muluc...... -------..........-1538
11 Ix .................... 1539
12 Cauac .................1540
13 Kan.--.-..---............----..-1541

10 Canae...................1512
11 Kan.....................1513
12 Mulue ...................1514
13 Ix ------...---......---....-.....--...1515
1 Cauac...-----------............--...---1516
2 Kan-.......--------.. --..........1517
3 Mulue---------...................---1518
4 Ix ...................... 1519
5 Cauac...................1520
6 Kan.....................1521
7 Mulue ...................1522
8 Ix ........ ..............1523
9 Cauac-----...................1524
10 Kan.....................1525
11 Mulue ----------.......-----............1526
12 Ix ......................1527
13 Canac...................1528
1 Kan ........ .............1529
2 Muluc----------.................---..1530
3 Ix .----........----------...........1531
4 Cauac..................----------------1532
5 Kan................----------------.....1533
6 Mulue...................1534
7 Ix ...... ................1535

Following out this theory we will have to place the taking of Merida

by the Spaniards (1541) in the sixth year of the IXth Ahau, instead of the

first of the XIth. As Landa went to Yucatan about the year 1549, we are

not warranted in supposing that he made an error of thirty years in refer-

ence to an event that occurred but a few years before his arrival.

It is apparent from these facts that, assuming, as Perez does, that the

year 1392 was the year 7 Cauac, and the first of an Ahau, conflicts with

,every other date left on record.

I think we may therefore take for granted that there was some error

in the calculation by which this author, or those from whom he quotes,

obtained this date. As this calculation antedates the death of Ajpula just

43 years, let us add that number to 1392: This gives us 1435. If we turn

now-to Table XVII, made according to my theory, we find that 7 Cauac


of the 8th Ahau is the year 1435, and that by adding the 43 years-the
number Perez has antedated the death of Ajpula-all the dates agree sub-
stantially, and also drop into their proper places in the Maya Calendar.
As the authorities to whom Perez refers obtained their information
from the Indians, the date was as a matter of course given according to the
Maya method of reckoning time; hence the "year 7 Cauac and 8th Ahau"
are most likely to be correct. It is very probable this was the date of some
notable event in the history of that people, and as it gives when corrected
the year 1435, I am of the opinion it relates to the destruction of Mayapan,
which, according to the manuscript translated by Stephens, occurred in the
8th Ahau.
Another error arising from this mistake on the part of Perez was that he
was forced to place the death of Ajpula in the 6th year of the 13th Ahau,
instead of in the 18th as given by his manuscript, in order to get it in 4 Kan.
An examination of Tables No. XVIII and XIX, which are constructed
according to his theory, will show that there is no Ahau but number I, in
which 4 Kan is the 18th year. This is true no matter where we com-
mence dividing the grand cycle, according to his idea.
As Table XVIII commences the division with the last year of a grand
cycle, I have given at the same place another (XIX) on his plan, commenc-
ing with the fourth year of this period, in order to illustrate the' above
Taking into consideration all the evidence I can obtain bearing upon
the points now under consideration I am forced to the following conclusions:
1st. That the series of years began with Cauac.
2d. That the first year of a grand cycle was also the first year of an
3d. That the thirteen Ahaues of a grand cycle were numbered as
shown in Table XVII.
4th. That they were numbered according to the number of their first
years respectively.
But it is best perhaps for me to call attention here to the following facts
in reference to the numbering of these periods.
First. That the division of the grand cycle according to the plan I



have adopted, which is repeated on the annexed Table XXI, does not
preclude us from accepting Perez's theory that they were numbered from
the second day of the first year, which, as the periods begin with Cauac,
would be Ahau. This would change the position of the Ahaues so far as
their numbers are concerned, and they would then stand as shown in this
table; that is, the first one in the grand cycle would be No. II, the next
XIII, and so on in the usual order. But one very serious objection to this
plan. of numbering is that 4 Kan of the XIIIth Ahau would be the sixth
instead of the eighteenth year.
I am of the opinion that the only foundation Perez had for thus num-
bering these periods is the fact that the name "Ahau" was applied to them.
It is probable that it was sometimes so applied on account of their impor-
tance, but a careful study of the language of Landa and Cogulludo lead
me to believe that Katun was the name by which they were usually desig-
nated. The latter author gives this term Qnly. Landa simply remarks that
"they counted 13 twenties with one of the twenty letters of their month
which is called Ahau, without order and alternate only as on the border of
the wheel above; they called these, in their language, Katunes."1
The most serious objection which, so far as I see, can be urged against
my theory is that the series of Ahaues does not. begin with XIII, or, in
other words, that the first of the grand cycle is not XIII. But this objec-
tion applies with equal force to Perez's scheme. If we adopt the division
shown in Table XVIII, and suppose the numbering to correspond with the
first year (Cauac) of each period, we would then commence the grand
cycle with the XIIIth Ahau. To illustrate this I give a table (XXII) sim-
ilar to XVIII so far as the division of the grand cycle is concerned, but
numbered as above suggested.
"No solo tenian los indios cuenta en el aiio y meses, como queda dicho, y seifllado atras pero
tenian cierto,modo do contar los tiempos y sus cosas por edades, las quales hazian do veynte en voynte
anios, contando XIJI veyntes con una de las XX letras do los meses que 1laman Ahau, sin ordon sino
retruecanados como pareceran en ]a signiente raya redonda; llaman.les a estos en su lengua Katune.3,
y con ellos tenian a maravilla cuenta con sus edades, y la fue assi facil al viejo do quien en el primero
capitulo dixe avia trescientos ahos accordarse dollos." (Landa, Relacion de las Cosas, XLI.)



2 3
6 7
10 11
1 2
5 6
9 10
13 1
4 5
8 9
12 13
3 4=
7 8
11 12


2 3
6 7
10 11
1 2
5 6
9 10
13 1
4 5
8 -9
12 13
3 4
7 8
S11 12

2 3
6 7
10 11
1 2
5 6
9 10
13 1
* 4 5
8 9
12 13
3 4
7 8
II 2
11 12

2 3
6 7
10 11
1 2
5 6
9 10
13 1
4 5
8 9
12 13
3 4
7 8

2 3
6 7
10 11
1 2
5 6
9 10
13 1
4 5
8 9
12 13
3 4
7 8
11 12

1 2
5 6
9 10
13 1
4 5
8 9
12 13
3 4
7 8
11 12
2 3
6 7
10 11



2 3
6 7
10 11
1 2
5 6
9 10
13_ 1
4 5
8 9
12 13
3 4
7 8
11 12



3 4
7 8
11 12
2 3
6 7
10 11
1 2
5 6
9 10
13 1
4 5
8 9
12 13


This plan has this fact in its favor: it not only throws the XIIIth Ahau
at the commencement of the grand cycle, but 4 Kan is also its 18th year.


1 2 3 4:
5 6 7 8.
9 10 11 12:
13 1 2 3;
4 5 76
8 ....... i lf
12 13 1 2

7 8 9 10:
11 12 13 1l
2 3 4 3 4
-^ -----------------
61 7 8 9
10 11 12 13:

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
4. 5 6 7:
8 9 10 11:
12 13 1 21
3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10l
:I11 12 13 .

6 7 8 91
10 11 12 13|

1 2 3 4
5 61 7 8
13 1 .- .2
4 5 .6 7
8 9 10 11
Xii ]
12 13 1 2|
3 4 5 6

.11 |~1 1--- -i
12 3 4 5

.8 9 10 110
11 12 13

1 2 3 4

9 110 I 2
13 1 2 3

8 9 10 91

11 12 13 1 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 1L 12 13

*1435. t1536.

------- --- ..
-.-5 ..... .-........

9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9110 11
12| -13 1 ----
3 4 5 6
..... .....
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9


9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4t 5 6 7
8: 9 10 13
12 913 1 21
S3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
2 3 4 5
.:6. 7 1 8 1
101 11 12 13"
*-------- ,


Be this as it may, there is nothing in Maya history or the calendar
which makes it necessary that the grand cycle should commence with the
XIIIth Ahau. As suggested by Perez and Dr. Valentini, this number of
the series may have been selected as the one with which to begin their
count because of some notable event in their history occurring in it. The
serious objection to the plan of Table XXII is that it requires the XIIIth
Ahau to begin with the last year of a grand cycle, which, I think, is suffi-
cient to condemn it.
Perez's statement bearing on this subject is as follows:
"As the Indians considered the number 13 as the initial number, it is
probable that some remarkable event had happened in that year, because,
when the Spaniards arrived in the Peninsula, the Indians then counted the
8th as the 1st, that being the date at which their ancestors came to settle
there; and an Indian writer proposed that they should abandon that order
also, and begin counting from the 11th, solely because the conquest had
happened in that Ahau." (Cron. Antig., IX, Valentini's Trans.)1
I have already quoted from Perez, as pertaining to the calendar, the
statement in reference to what he believes to be another kind of cycle or
method of computation. I called attention to the fact that the numbers
given might be found by running up the columns of our table of years. I
will now explain what I believe to have been the object and use of these
"They had another number which they called Ua Katun, which served
them as a key by which to adjust and find the Katunes, and following the
order of their march, it falls on the two' days of Uayeb haab and revolves
to the end of certain years; Katunes 13, 9, 5, 1, 10, 6, 2, 11, 7, 3, 12, 8, 4."
Perez quotes this, as he states, in the exact words of his authority
(unfortunately not given). As Bancroft's translation omits the "two" be-
fore "days," I have given here a translation of the original as found in
Perez's Cronologie Antigua."
'As neither Valentini's nor Brasseurs' translation is literal, I will give the original:
"Es probable que principle en el numero 13 por haber acontecido en el algun suceso notable pues
despues se contaban por el 8; y acabada la conquista de esta peninsula propfiso un escritor indio comen-
zasen contar en lo sucesivo estas 6pocas por el 11 Ahau por que en el so verific6 aquella."
2Not the "'second day of Ithe Uayeb haab" as Perez seems, as appears from his comment, to have
understood the expression. It is strange that he should have so perversely misinterpreted his own.



We see by reference to the annexed table of years (XXIII), which
contains exactly one cycle, that by commencing at the bottom of the right-
hand or Ix column and running up, we find the numbers given in the quo-
tation and in precisely the same order. As these figures mark the terminal



1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
12 13 1 2
3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 1
.2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13

years of the Justres it is evident that the authority quoted
applied the name "Katun" to these periods, and that this
word is not used here as an equivalent of "Ahau."
If the series began with Cauac, as shown by this
table, these numbers would then denote Ix years; but
if it commenced with Kan they would then be Cauac
years. In either case it is evident that by remembering
these numbers and their order it would be an easy matter
to locate or give the number of any year in the cycle,
and in the grand cycle also, if they had any method of
numbering the cycles. But I am unable to see how
this could be of much service in counting the Ahaues,
and am therefore inclined to believe that this method of
counting back was chiefly in vogue among the common
people, they being unable to fully understand and use
the complicated calendar of the priests. Although Landa,
when speaking of the facility with which they counted

back the years, evidently alludes to the Ahaues, yet it is quite probable the
old Indian who traced back their history for three hundred years did so by
the use of this key, unless he was a priest.
It is difficult to understand what is meant by the expression "they fall
on the two days of Uayeb haab" intercalatedd days].
In the four plates of the Dresden Codex heretofore mentioned (25-28),
which certainly refer to the feasts of the intercalated days, we notice that
the left-hand column of each contains the characters of but two days-the
25th the days Eb and Ben, the last two of the intercalated days of the
Muluc years; the 26th, Caban and Ezanab, the last two of the Ix years,
and so on.
Although these, as here noted, may not have any reference to this


method of counting, their use in this manner shows that they were consid-
ered important. .
If the lustres ended with an Ix.year, as I have assumed, Ezanab would
be the last of the intercalated days. Now as will be seen by carefully
examining the calendar for one year as given in Table II, page 8, the num-
ber of the last intercalated day will always be the same as the first day of
the year. Having thus determined the name and number of the year, and
remembering the series as given in the quotation, it was an easy matter to
count back to any desired year. Let me illustrate this: Suppose that at
the close of an annual feast of Uayeb haab which has ended on Ezanab, an
Indian was desirous of determining what year of the cycle had just terni-
nated. Knowing the day to be 1 Ezanab, he knows by this that the year
was 1 Ix; remembering the numbers of thd key, he commences his count
with 1, and running back thus: 1, 10, 6, 2, 11, 7, 3, 12, 8, 4, ascertains that
the year is the 40th of the cycle (10x4).
A little careful study of this subject will suffice to convince any one at
all acquainted with this calendar that by simply knowing the number and
name of the last intercalated day of any year will be sufficient to enable"
him to determine what year of the cycle it is If he forgets the key he can
easily find it by the continued subtraction of 4, commencing with 1 3, adding
13 when the number to be subtracted from is 4 or less than 4. The only thing
necessary to be remembered is that the years Cauac, Kan, Muluc, Ix ter-
minate, respectively, with the days Akbal, Lamat, Ben, and Ezanab.
Suppose the last day of a certain year to be 9 Lamat, this gives 9 Kan
as the year; the next year would be 10 Muluc, the next 11 Ix, the last of
the lustre. If we remember the key, we count back the following num-
bers or lustres: 11, 7, 3, 12, 8, 4, showing that 11 Ix would be the 24th
year of the cycle and 9 Kan the 22d. These calculations are based upon
the supposition that Cauac was the first year of the cycle, but the same
rule will apply with Kan or any other as the first of the series.
I think it probable that this will furnish an explanation of the phrase
"they fall in the two days of Uayeb haab and return to the end of certain
years." The manuscript from which this statement was taken by Perez was
evidently written by one not thoroughly familiar with the system.



On the title-page and on Plates XX-XXIII (see Plates I-IV) are cer-

tain red semicircular or crescent-shaped figures like this which we

have good reasons for believing served as characters to denote one of the
Maya periods, either the Ahau, Cycle, Indication, or part of the grand cycle.
This is the proper place to discuss their signification; but as this can be done
more satisfactorily after we have learned what we can in reference to the
figures given on these plates and the subjects to which they relate, I will
now proceed to give such interpretations of the figures and characters on
them as I believe are waranted by the discoveries I have made.



As heretofore stated, the figures that occupy the spaces on Plates XX-
XXIII1 appear to relate, in part at least, to the close and commencement of
the more important periods of time. I have already given my reasons for
believing that the blue figure in the upper compartment of Plate XXIII
represents an Ahau, and that the piercing of the eye with the dagger sig-
nifies that the last year of the period has arrived and is about to close.
Referring to Landa's Relacion de Cosas XXXV-XXXVIII, I find the
following account of the religious festivals which occurred during the inter-
calated or closing days of the old and the commencement of the new year,
each of the four years, Kan, Muluc, Ix, and Cauac, having its own peculiar
As this is really the key to the explanation of the figures on the four
plates mentioned, I quote his statement in full, translated from Brasseur's
French, giving the original Spanish in Appendix No. 1.

"XXXV.-Fetes of supplemental days-Sacrifices of the commencement of the
new year of the sign Kan.

"It was the custom in all the cities of Yucatan that there should be at
each of the four entrances of the place-that is to say, the east, west, north,
and south-two heaps of stone facing each other, intended for the celebra-
tion of two feasts of unlucky days. These feasts took place in the following
'The reader is reminded again that Plates XX-XXIII of the Manuscript are the same as our
Plates I-IV, a fact which will not be repeated hereafter in the text.


"The year of which the dominical letter was Kan the omen was Hobnil,
and, according to the belief of the Yucatecs, they both reigned in the region
of the south. This year, therefore, they fabricated a hollow image or figure
of baked earth, of the idol which they called Kan-u- Uayeyab, and carried
it to the heap of dry stones which was on the south side. They elected a
chief from the citizens, at whose house they celebrated the feasts of these
days. At this ceremony they made also the statue of another god, named
Bolon-Zacab, which they placed in the house of the chief elect, in a spot
where every one could approach.
"This done, the nobles, the priest, and the citizens assembled together.
They returned, by a road swept and ornamented with arches and foliage, to
the two piles of stone, where they found the statue, around which they
gathered with much devotion. The priest then perfumed it with forty-
nine grains of bruised maize mixed with incense. The nobles placed their
incense together in the censer of the idol and perfumed it in their turn.
The maize mixed with the priest's incense is called zacah, and that which
the nobles present is called chahalte. Having incensed the image, they cut
off the head of a fowl and presented to it.
"When this was finished they placed the statue on a litter called
Kante, and on its shoulders an 'angel' as an omen of water and the good
year which they should have. As to these 'angels,' they were frightful in
"Then they carried the statue, dancing with much gaiety, to the house
of the chief, where he found the other statue of Bolon-Zacab. While they
were on the way one of them carried to the nobles and the priest a drink
composed of four hundred and twenty-five grains of burnt maize, which
they called Picula-Kakla, and all partook of it at the same time. Arrived
at the chief's house, they placed the image which they carried, face to face
with the statue which was already there, and made many offerings of drinks
and viands, of meat and fish. These offerings were afterwards divided among
the strangers who were present, and they gave the priest only a leg of
"Others drew blood from themselves by scarifying their ears, and
anointed .with it a stone which they had as an idol, called Kanal-Acantun.


They modeled a heart from the dough of their bread, and in the same way
another loaf, of gourd seeds, which they presented to the idol Kan-u- Uay-
eyab: It was thus that they guarded this statue and the other during the
unfavorable days, perfuming them with their incense and with incense mixed
with grains of bruised maize. They believed that if they neglected these
ceremonies they would be subject to the calamities which were the result of
this year. The unlucky days having passed, they carried the statue of the
god Bolon-Zacab to the temple, and the image of the other to the eastern
entrance of the city, in order to have it for the next year. They left it
there, and returning home each one occupied himself with preparations for
the celebration of the new year.
"As soon as the ceremonies were terminated and the evil spirit dis-
pelled, according to their mistaken idea, they believed this year to be fortu-
nate, because with the sign Kan reigns the Bacab-Hobnil, who, as they say,
has not sinned as his brothers, and for this reason no calamity befell them
in that year. But as it frequently happened that this occurred notwithstand-
ing, the demon was conciliated by establishing these ceremonies, so that in
case of misfortune they attributed the fault to their ceremonies and to those
who served in them, so that they remained always in error and blindness.
"At his instigation, then, they fabricated an idol called Yzamna-Cauil,
which they placed in his temple, and burnt before it in the court three pellets
of milk,' or resin, which they called kik; they sacrificed to it either a dog
or a man, which was done with the ceremony spoken of in chapter one
hundred on the subject of victims. There was, however, some difference
in the manner of offering this sacrifice; they put in the court of the temple
a large heap of stones, and the man or animal who was to be sacrificed was
fastened to a sort of elevated scaffold, from whence they hurled him onto
the heap of stones; the officers immediately seized him and tore out his
heart, which they carried to the new idol, offering it to him between two
plates. They made still other offerings of comestibles. At this feast the
old women, selected for this occasion, danced, clothed in peculiar garments.
They believed that an angel descended then and received the sacrifice.
'By the term "milk," as here used, is meant the milky juice of some plant.


"XXXVI.-Sacrifices of the new year at the sign of Muluc-Dancing on the
stilts-Dance of the old women with the dogs of baked earth.
"The year of which the dominical letter was Muluc had for the omen
Canzienal. When the time arrived, the nobles and the priest elected the chief
who should celebrate the feast. This done, they modeled, as in the pre-
ceding year, the image of the idol called Chac-u- Uayeyab, and carried it to
the heap of stones at the eastern, side, where they had left it the year before.
They made a statue of the god called Kinch-Ahau, which they placed in a
suitable spot in the house of the chief; then, from there, setting out by a
road neatly swept and ornamented, they returned together with their accus-
tomed devotion to the statue of Chac-u- Uayeyab.
"Having arrived here, the priest perfumed it with his incense and forty-
three grains of bruised corn, which they called zacah; he gave to the nobles
the incense called chahalte to put in the censer, after which they cut off the
head of a.fowl, as formerly. They raised up the statue on a litter called
Chactd and carried it with devotion, while the crowd executed around it cer-
tain war dances, called Holcan-Okot, Batel-Okot. They carried at the same
time, to the leaders and the principal citizens, their drink composed of three
hundred and twenty-four grains of burnt corn, as before.
"Arrived at the house of the chief they placed the statue facing that
of Kinch-Ahau, and presented to it the customary offerings, which they
divided afterwards as at the last time. They offered to him bread made in
the form of the yolk of an egg, and others like the hearts of deer, and another
composed with diluted-spice. There were, as ordinarily, good men who drew
blood from themselves by piercing their ears and anointing with it the stone
of the idol named Chacan-Oantun.1
"Here they took small boys and forcibly pierced their ears, making
incisions on them with knives. They guarded this statue until the end of
the evil days; meanwhile they burned before it their incense.
"When these days were passed they carried it to the north side, where
they were to receive it the next year, and deposited the other in his temple,
after which they returned home to prepare for the ceremonies of the new
year They believed that if they neglected to celebrate the aforesaid cere-
monies they would be exposed to great evils of the eyes.
I Doubtless intended for Chac-Acantun.

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