Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, Volume 2

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Harper & Brothers, 1871 - Central America
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John Stephens was an American diplomat sent by the U.S. government in the 1840s to establish contact with the people of Central America and Southern Mexico, and in many cases was the first white ... Read full review

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Page 190 - Indians of Chajul is, that no white man has ever reached this city ; that the inhabitants speak the Maya language, are aware that a race of strangers has conquered the whole country around, and murder any white man who attempts to enter their territory. They have no coin or other circulating medium ; no horses, cattle, mules, or other domestic animals except fowls, and the cocks they keep under ground to prevent their crowing being heard.
Page 348 - Here were the remains of a cultivated, polished, and peculiar people, who had passed through all the stages incident to the rise and fall of nations ; reached their golden age, and perished, entirely unknown. The links which connected them with the human family were severed and lost, and these were the only memorials of their footsteps upon earth.
Page 313 - The whole courtyard was overgrown with trees, and it was encumbered with ruins several feet high, so that the exact architectural arrangements could not be seen. Having our beds in the corridor adjoining, when we woke in the morning, and when we had finished the work of the day, we had it under our eyes. Every time we descended the steps the grim and mysterious figures stared us in the face, and it became to us one of the most interesting parts of the ruins.
Page 190 - ... another person who had climbed to the top of the sierra, but, on account of the dense cloud resting upon it, had been unable to see anything. At all events, the belief at the village of Chajul is general, and a curiosity is roused that burns to be satisfied.
Page 189 - with much labour climbed to the naked summit of the " Sierra, from which, at a height of ten or twelve thousand " feet, he looked over an immense plain, extending to " Yucatan and the Gulf of Mexico, and saw at a distance a " large city spread over a great space, and with turrets white
Page 307 - He holds in his hand a staff or sceptre, and opposite his hands are the marks of three hieroglyphics, which have decayed or been broken off. At his feet are two naked figures seated cross-legged, and apparently suppliants. A fertile imagination might find many explanations for these strange figures, but no satisfactory interpretation presents itself to my mind. The hieroglyphics doubtless tell its history. The stucco is of admirable consistency, and hard as stone. It was painted, and in different...
Page 410 - The designs were strange and incomprehensible, very elaborate, sometimes grotesque, but often simple, tasteful, and beautiful. Among the intelligible subjects are squares and diamonds, with busts of human beings, heads of leopards, and compositions of leaves and flowers, and the ornaments known everywhere as grecques. The ornaments, which succeed each other, are all different; the whole form an extraordinary mass of richness and complexity, and the effect is both grand and curious. And the construction...
Page 285 - We tied our mules to the trees, and ascended a flight of stone steps, forced apart, and thrown down by trees, and entered the Palace, ranged for a few moments along the corridor, and into the courtyard / and after the first gaze of eager curiosity was over, went back to the entrance, and standing in the doorway, fired a...
Page 268 - We had brought the silla with us merely as a measure of precaution, with much expectation of being obliged to use it ; but at a steep pitch, which made my head almost burst to think of climbing, I resorted to it for the first time. It was a large, clumsy armchair, put together with wooden pins and bark strings. The Indian who was to carry me, like all the others, was small, not more than five feet seven, very thin, but symmetrically formed. A bark strap was tied to the arms of the chair, and, sitting...
Page 409 - Perhaps the high ruined structures at Palenque, which we have called pyramidal, and which were so ruined that we could not make them out exactly, were originally of the same shape. On the east side of the structure is a broad range of stone steps between eight and nine inches high, and so steep that great care is necessary in ascending and descending ; of these we counted a hundred and one in their places.

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