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13-05-2015, 14:35


Of the other branch of the civilized tribes we know but very little. The historical picture writings of the Mendoza collection, a collection compiled, remember, after the conquest, and, therefore, representing the traditions then current among the Mexicans, takes us back to 1325, A.D., to the first settlement in the Pueblo of Mexico. Sahagun, a Franciscan monk, who went to Mexico as early as the year 1529, and remained there until his death in 1590, wrote a very voluminous account of the Mexicans, their customs and history, and as he was in Mexico at the time when their traditions were still fresh in the minds of the natives, his account is probably as good as any. He obtained his information in a very credible manner. He gathered together some old Indians, well acquainted with the traditional history of their country. They are supposed to have "refreshed" their memory by inspecting a number of picture writings, which have since disappeared.

It is manifest that this history is valuable, just in proportion as the traditions are valuable. He makes one statement that Prof. Valentine has dwelt upon with great ability. He states that numberless years ago the first settlers came in ships and landed at a northern port, which, from that cause, was called Pauntla. This is supposed to be the Panuco River. After they had settled here, a large part of them, including their leaders and the priests, went off south; Sahagun says as far as Guatemala. The party left behind organized themselves into an independent body. They reconstructed from memory the calendar; they increased and became powerful, until pushing over the mountain, they built the pyramid of Cholula, and finally reached the city of Teotihuacan, where they built a central sanctuary. For some reason they abandoned their homes, all except the Otomies, and wandered off across the plains, and high, cold, desert places, that they might discover new lands.93

No dates are mentioned for these occurrences, and we are not aware that this tradition is mentioned by other writers. We recall that from the mouth of the Panuco River southward, we found evidence of considerable population in olden times. We also recall that in this section are the ruined pyramids of Tuzpan and Papantla. Prof. Valentine is inclined to think that this date is referred to on the calendar stone; that is, 231 A.D. Just twenty-four cycles elapsed from this time to the date of the dedication of the calendar stone in 1479.

He also thinks that the Maya traditions refer to this same occurrence. One more reference to this same mysterious date is contained in the traditions of the Tezcucan tribe. According to the traditions, the beginning of things were in the year 245 A.D. According to this view, then, the ancestors of both Nahua and Maya people appeared on the gulf coast about 231 A.D.; in the same place where a Maya-speaking tribe are found to-day. From here those who developed the Maya culture went to the south and south-west; those who developed the Nahua went to the west and north-west.

We do not profess to be a judge as to the value of this tradition. Our scholars will, probably, at no distant day, come to more definite conclusions in the matter. Prof. Short thinks the strangers who at this early time made their appearance on the gulf shore were colonies of Mound Builders from the Mississippi Valley.94 We think it best to be very cautious about coming to any such conclusions. We must not forget that back of the twelfth century is nothing but vague traditions. Mr. Bandelier tells us that "nothing positive can be gathered, except that even during the earliest times Mexico was settled or overrun by sedentary, as well as by nomadic tribes that both acknowledged a common origin."95 The savage tribes have the general name of Chichimecas, but by right this term ought to be applied to the sedentary tribes as well; however, the word Toltec stands for these sedentary tribes. We have all read about the great Toltec Empire in Mexico. This is a ridiculous use of words. There was no tribe or nation of people of the name of Toltecs.96 All these prehistoric aborigines were probably Chichimecas; but by Toltecs we refer to the sedentary tribes, the skillful workers among them. If we are to judge any thing of traditions, the original home of these people were somewhere to the north of Mexico.

There was doubtless the usual state of inter-tribal warfare, but after a prolonged period the sedentary tribes—the Toltecs—were exterminated or expelled. Their successors were utter savages, coming from the north also. We doubt very much whether any date can be given for this event, but traditions assign it to about the year 1064. Prof. Valentine thinks he finds a reference to it in the calendar of stone. If we will notice, in the outer band near the top are four little bundles, or knots, in all, eight. We are told that each of these bundles refers to a cycle of fifty-two years, or in all four hundred and sixteen years. The date of the inauguration of the stone is 1479. If we subtract the number of years just mentioned, we have the date 1063. Whether this is simply a coincidence, or was really intended to refer to that event, we can not say.

Considerable speculations have been indulged in as to where the Toltecs went when driven out of Mexico. Some have supposed they went to Yucatan, and that to them we are to look for the builders of the ruined cities. This is the view of a very late explorer, M. Charney.97 Some have supposed we yet see certain traces of their presence in Guatemala, where they helped to build up a great Quexche "monarchy."98 But we know very little about it. It is not probable that more than a feeble remnant of them escaped with their lives.

From the same mysterious regions from where had issued the aboriginal Chichimecas and Toltec people, there subsequently came still other bands of sedentary Indians, who finally came to settle around the lakes of Anahuac. These settlers all spoke closely related dialects of the same language as their predecessors, the Toltecs. Finally the Aztecs appeared on the scene, coming from the same mysterious land of the "Seven Caves." According to their historical picture-writings, they founded the Pueblo of Mexico in 1325. It is somewhat singular that no record of this event appears on the calendar stone. If the artist was ingenious enough, as Prof. Valentine thinks he was, to represent the dispersion of the Toltecs in the eleventh century, he surely would have found some way to refer to such an important event as the founding of their Pueblo. From this date the Mexicans steadily rose in power, until they finally became the leading power of the valley.99


  1. The manuscript of this chapter was submitted to A. F.
    Bandelier for criticism. The part bearing on religion was
    subsequently rewritten. Absence from the country prevented his
    examining it.

  2. Mr. Bandelier is the author of three essays on the culture of
    the ancient Mexicans. These are published in Volume II of
    "Peabody Museum Reports." We wish to make a general reference to
    these essays. They are invaluable to the student. Every position
    is sustained by numerous quotations from the early writers. In
    order to save constant references to them, we will here state
    that, unless other authorities are given for striking statements
    as to the culture of the Mexicans, their social organizations,
    etc., it is understood that our authority is found in these

  3. In Mexican, "Tlaca-tecuhtli."

  4. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 572.

  5. "Contribution to North American Ethnology," Vol. IV, p.

  6. Morgan's "Contributions to N.A. Ethnology," p. 256.

  7. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 576.

  8. "Who over heard of an imperfectly developed race decorating
    so profusely and so delicately their ordinary abodes, in a manner
    usually reserved for temples and palaces?" S. F. Haven, in
    Proceedings of Am. Antiq. Society, April, 1880, p. 57.

  9. Morgan's "Contribution to N.A. Ethnology," Vol. IV, p.

  10. Cortez saw "trinkets made of gold and silver, of lead,
    bronze, copper, and tin." They were on the confines of a true
    Bronze Age. Proceedings of Am. Antiq. Society, April, 1879, p.

  11. "History of the Conquest of Mexico."

  12. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II.

  13. "History of America," 1818, Vol. III, book viii, p. 9.

  14. Wilson's "Conquest of Mexico."

  15. Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 91.

  16. But, on this point, see "Peabody Reports," Vol. II, p. 685
    —note, p. 282.

  17. Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 197.

  18. Ibid., p. 205.

  19. "Ancient Society," p. 118.

  20. Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 147.

  21. We refer again to Mr. Bandelier's articles. A careful reading
    of them will convince any one that the picture of Mexican
    Government as set forth in Mr. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol.
    II, is very erroneous. Mr. Bancroft's views are, however, those
    of many writers.

  22. "Ancient Society," p. 528.

  23. Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 537.

  24. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 435.

  25. It is needless to remark that these results are greatly at
    variance with those generally held, as will be seen by consulting
    Mr. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, Chap. xiv. Mr. Bancroft,
    however, simply gathers together what other writers have stated
    on this subject. We follow, in this matter, the conclusions of an
    acknowledged leader in this field, Mr. Bandelier, who has fully
    worked out Mr. Morgan's views, advanced in "Ancient

  26. Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 193.

  27. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 95.

  28. Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 194.

  29. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 94.

  30. Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 195.

  31. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. I, p. 344.

  32. Valentine, in Proceedings of American Antiquarian Society,
    April, 1879.

  33. Gallatin: "American Ethnological Society's Transactions,"
    Vol. I, p. 119.

  34. Valentine: Proceedings American Antiq. Soc., October, 1880,
    p. 75.

  35. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 381. Proceedings
    American Antiquarian Society, April, 1879, p. 110.

  36. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 193.

  37. "Fifth Annual Report Archæological Institute of
    America," p. 83.

  38. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 389.

  39. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 325.

  40. Valentine: Proceedings Am. Antiq. Society, April, 1879, p.

  41. Ibid., p. 111.

  42. North American Review, Oct. 1880, p. 310.

  43. See "Copper Age in Wisconsin," in Proceedings American
    Antiquarian Society, No. 69, p. 57.

  44. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 483.

  45. Proceedings Am. Antiq. Society, Oct., 1881, P. 66.

  46. Proceedings Am. Antiq. Society, Oct., 1881, p. 66.

  47. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 489.

  48. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. III, pp. 182-199. In this
    connection, see also Bandolier: "An Archæological Tour in
    Mexico," p. 185, note 2. It seems that none of the early writers
    speak of such a belief. The idea of one single God is first found
    in the writings of Ixtilxochitl.

  49. Brinton's "Myths of the New World," p. 45.

  50. Tezcatlipoca, the tutelar deity of Tezcuco; Huitzilopochtli,
    the tutelar deity of Mexico; Camaxtli, the tutelar deity of
    Tlaxcala; Quetzalcohuatl, the tutelar deity of Cholula.

  51. Bandelier: "An Archæological Tour in Mexico," p.

  52. This subject is fully treated of in Brinton's "Myths of the
    New World."

  53. "Among the Indians it is very easy to become deified. The
    development of the Montezuma myth among the Pueblo Indians of New
    Mexico is an instance." (Bandelier.)

  54. Brinton's "Myths of the New World."

  55. Bandelier: "An Archæological Tour in Mexico." pp.

  56. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. III, p. 298, note 9.

  57. "American Antiquarian," January, 1883, p. 78.

  58. "An Archæological Tour in Mexico," p. 67.

  59. "Peabody Museum Reports," Vol. II, p. 600. Dr. Brinton in
    "Myths of the New World," p. 281, gives some instances that might
    be thought to show the contrary. But even in those extracts we
    notice the parties had to deserve the office, and that in no case
    was it confined to certain persons.

  60. Bancroft: "Native Races," Vol. III, p. 335.

  61. Bancroft: "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 500.

  62. Mr. Bandelier remarks that the numbers from five to ten
    should be macuil-pa-oc-ce, etc. We give the same table as both
    Mr. Gallatin and Mr Bancroft.

  63. For authorities on this subject see Gallatin in "American
    Ethnological Society's Transactions," Vol. I, p, 49; Bancroft's
    "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 497; Valentine, in Am. Antiq. Soc.
    Proceedings, Oct., 1880, p. 61.

  64. Perez "Chronology of Yucatan," in Stephens's "Yucatan," Vol.
    I, p. 435.

  65. See Valentine: "The Katunes of Maya History," in Proceedings
    Am. Antiq. Soc., October, 1879, p. 114.

  66. We refer to the division of five days, not to the thirteen
    day period, of which we will soon speak.

  67. Bandelier: "Peabody Museum Reports," Vol. II, p. 579. Note

  68. Mr. Bancroft, "Native Races," p. 508, gives a table showing
    the variation of authors in this respect. Gallatin "American
    Ethnological Society's Transactions," Vol. I, p. 66, says, "the
    published hieroglyphics are dissimilar in many respects."

  69. Stephens's "Yucatan," Vol. I, p. 438.

  70. Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, p. 513, note 15.

  71. Proceedings Am. Antiq. Society, April, 1878, p. 99.

  72. Gallatin: "American Ethnological Soc. Trans.," Vol. I, p.

  73. See Valentine, in Proceedings American Antiq. Society, April,
    1878, p. 106. Gallatin, who is also good authority, gives the
    order different, viz., Tochtli, Acatl, Tecpatl, Calli.

  74. Valentine: Proceedings Am. Antiq. Soc., Oct., 1879, p. 84,
    et seq.

  75. Thomas: "A study of the Manuscript Troano," in "Contributions
    to North American Ethnology," Vol. V, p. 29.

  76. According to the teachings of the Mexican priests nine
    deities governed the days. They had painted lists of these weeks,
    and the deities governing each.

  77. Valentine: Proceedings Am. Antiq. Soc., Oct., 1879, p.

  78. In this table we have followed Mr. Gallatin. According to
    Prof. Valentine, the order of the years is different. This,
    however, is immaterial to an understanding of the system.

  79. Gallatin: "Am. Eth. Soc. Transactions," Vol. I, p. 94, et

  80. Thus says Prof. Valentine. The cast of this stone in the
    Smithsonian Institution gives the date eight, instead of seven

  81. For information on the Calendar Stone, consult, "American
    Ethnological Society's Transactions," Vol. I, p. 94, et
    Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. II, chap. xvi, and p.
    755, et seq.; Valentine: American Antiquarian Society's
    Proceedings, April, 1878, p. 92, et seq.; Short's "North
    Americans of Antiquity," p. 419, et seq.

  82. Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 143.

  83. Brinton: "Introduction to the Study of the Manuscript

  84. Valentine: Proceedings of American Antiquarian Society,
    April, 1880.

  85. Gallatin: "American Ethnological Society's Transactions,"
    Vol. I, p. 131.

  86. Valentine: Amer. Antiq. Society's Transactions, April, 1880,
    pp. 59-91.

  87. Brinton's "Introduction to Study of manuscript Troans," p.

  88. American Antiquarian Society, April, 1881, p. 294.

  89. "Myths of the New World." The doctor now thinks his statement
    just referred to, too strong. There is, indeed, a resemblance, as
    he pointed out; but it is not strong enough to found any theories

  90. Short's "North Americans of Antiquity," p. 474.

  91. Brinton's "Myths of the New World."

  92. This historical manuscript represents the traditions of the
    Maya people shortly after the conquest. It is very likely its
    author had before him picture records of what he wrote. Such
    records have since disappeared. The manuscript itself, the
    interpretation of it, and Perez's remarks are found in Stephen's
    "Yucatan," Vol. II, Appendix. The same in Bancroft's "Native
    Races," Vol. V, p. 628. The fullest and most complete discussion
    is by Prof. Valentine in Proceedings Am. Antiq. Soc., October,
    1879, p. 80, et seq. Whether there is any thing worthy of
    the name of history is doubtful.

  93. Proceedings Am. Antiq. Society, Oct., 1882.

  94. "North Americans of Antiquity," p. 578.

  95. "Peabody Museum Reports," Vol. II, p. 387.

  96. Valentine: Proceedings Am. Antiq. Society, October, 1882, p.

  97. North American Review, from Sept., 1880, to 1883.

  98. Short's "North Americans of Antiquity," p. 218.

  99. This historical notice is a mere outline. Such, however, is
    all we wished to give. Those who wish for more details can not do
    better than to refer to Mr. Bancroft's fifth volume on the
    "Native Races." We do not believe, however, that any thing
    definite is known of the early periods of which some writers give
    such glowing descriptions. When they talk about the doings of
    monarchs, the rise and fall of dynasties, and royal governors, we
    must remember the majority of the descriptive matter is mere
    nonsense, consequently our faith in the dates given can not be
    very great.