On the Creation of the Mexican Calendar
H. H. Bancroft
[Extracted from his The Native Races of the Pacific States of North America, vol. 3, pp. 251-73.]
Quetzalcoatl is further reported by Mendieta to have assisted in drawing up and
arranging the Mexican Calendar, a sacred book of thirteen tables, in which the
religious rites and ceremonies proper to each day were set forth, in connection
with the appropriate signs. It is said that the gods, having created mankind,
bethought themselves that it would be well if the people they had made had some
writings by which they might direct themselves. Now there were, in a certain
cave at Cuernavaca, two personages of the number of the gods, and they were man
and wife, he Oxomoco, and she Cipactonal; and they were consulting together. It
appeared good to the old woman that her descendant Quetzalcoatl should be
consulted. The Cholulan god thought the thing of the calendar to be good and
reasonable; so the three set to work. To the old woman was respect fully
allotted the privilege of choosing and writing the first sign; she painted a
kind of water-serpent called cipactli, and called the sign Ce Cipactli,
that is, a serpent. Oxomoco in his turn wrote two canes and then Quetzalcoatl
wrote three houses; and so they went on till the whole thirteen signs of each
table were written out in their order.
Let us now take up again the narrative of Sahagun, at the point where Quetzalcoatl, after drinking the potion prepared by Tezcatlipoca, prepares to set off upon his journey. Quetzalcoatl, very heavy in heart for all the misfortunes that this rival god was bringing upon the Toltecs, burned his beautiful houses of silver and of shell, and ordered other precious things to be buried in the mountains and ravines. He turned the cocoa-nut trees into a kind of trees that are called mizquitl; he commanded all the birds of rich plumage, the quetzal tototl, and the xiuhtotl, and the tlauquechol, to fly away and go into Andhuac, a hundred leagues distant. Then he himself set out upon his road from Tulla; he travelled on till he came to a place called Quauhtitlan, where was a great tree, high and very thick. Here the exile rested, and he asked his servants for a mirror, and looked at his own face. What thoughts soever were working in his heart, he only said, I am already old. Then he named that place Vevequauhtitlan, and he took up stones and stoned the great tree; and all the stones he threw sank into it, and were for a long time to be seen sticking there, from the ground even up to the topmost branches.
Continuing his journey, having flute-players playing before him, he came to a place on the road where he was weary, and sat down on a stone to rest. And looking toward Tulla, he wept bitterly. His tears marked and ate into the stone on which he sat, and the print of his hands, and of his back parts, was also found therein when he resumed his journey. He called that place Temacpalco. After that he reached a very great and wide river, and he commanded a stone bridge to be thrown across it; on that bridge he crossed the river, and he named the place Tepanoaya. Going on upon his way, Quetzalcoatl came to another place, where certain sorcerers met and tried to stop him, saying, Whither goest thou? why dost thou leave thy city? to whose care wilt thou commend it? who will do penance? Quetzalcoatl replied to the said sorcerers, Ye can in no wise hinder my going, for I must go. They asked him further, Whither goest thou? He said, To Tlapalla, They continued, But to what end goest thou? He said, I am called, and the sun calls me. So the sorcerers said, Go, then, but leave behind all the mechanical arts, the melting of silver, the working of precious stones and of masonry, the painting, feather-working, and other crafts. And of all these the sorcerers despoiled Quetzalcoatl. As for him, he cast into a fountain all the rich jewels that he had with him; and that fountain was called Cohcaapa, and it is so named to this day.
Quetzalcoatl continued his journey; and there came another sorcerer to meet him, saying, Whither goest thou? Quetzalcoatl said, To Tlapalla. The wizard said, Very well; but drink this wine that I have. The traveller answered, No: I cannot drink it; I cannot so much as taste it. Thou must drink, said the grim magician, were it but a drop; for to none of the living can I give it; it intoxicates all, so drink. Then Quetzalcoatl took the wine and drank it through a cane. Drinking, he made himself drunk; he slept upon the road; he began to snore; and when he awoke, he looked on one side and on the other, and tore his hair with his hands. And that place was called Cochtoca.
Quetzalcoatl going on upon his way and passing between the sierra of the volcano and the snowy sierra, all his servants, being hump-backed and dwarfs, died of cold in the pass between the said mountains. And Quetzalcoatl bewailed their death bitterly, and sang with weeping and sighing. Then he saw the other snowy sierra, which is called Poyauhtecatl and is near Tecamachalco; and so he passed by all the cities and places, leaving many signs, it is said, in all the mountains and roads. It is said further that he had a way of crossing the sierras whereby he amused and rested himself at the same time: when he came to the top of a mountain he used to sit down, and so seated, let himself slide down the mountain-side to the bottom. In one place he built a court for ball-play, all of squared stone, and here he used to play the game called tlachtli.
Through the midst of this court he drew a line called the telcotl; and where that line was made the mountain is now opened with a deep gash. In another place he cast a dart at a great tree called a pochutl, piercing it through with the dart in such wise that the tree looked like a cross; for the dart he threw was itself a tree of the same kind. Some say that Quetzalcoatl built certain subterranean houses, called micllancalco; and further, that he set up and balanced a great stone, so that one could move it with one s little finger, yet a multitude could not displace it. Many other notable things remain that Quetzalcoatl did among many peoples; he it was that named all the places and woods and mountains. Travelling ever onward, he came at last to the sea-shore, and there commanded a raft to be made of the snakes called coatlapechtli. Having seated himself on this raft as in a canoe, he put out to sea, and no man knows how he got to Tlapallan.
Torquemada gives a long and valuable account of Quetzalcoatl, gathered from many sources, which can not be overlooked. It runs much as follows: The name Quetzalcoatl means Snake-plumage, or Snake that has plumage and the kind of snake referred to in this name is found in the province of Xicalanco, which is on the frontier of the kingdom of Yucatan as one goes thence to Tabasco. This god Quetzalcoatl was very celebrated among the people of the city of Cholula, and held in that place for the greatest of all.
He was, according to credible histories, high-priest in the city of Tulla. From that place he went to Cholula, and not, as Bishop Bartolome de las Casas says in his Apologia, to Yucatan; though he went to Yucatan afterward, as we shall see. It is said of Quetzalcoatl that he was a white man, large-bodied, broad-browed, great-eyed, with long black hair, and a beard heavy and rounded. He was a great artificer, and very ingenious. He taught many mechanical arts, especially the art of working the precious stones called chalchiuites, which are a kind of green stone highly valued, and the art of casting silver and gold. The people, seeing him so inventive, held him in great estimation, and reverenced him as king in that city; and so it came about that though in temporal things the ruler of Tulla was a lord named Huemac, yet in all spiritual and ecclesiastical matters Quetzalcoatl was supreme, and as it were chief pontiff.
It is feigned by those that seek to make much of their god that he had certain palaces made of green stone like emeralds, others made of silver, others of shells, red and white, others of all kinds of wood, others of turquoise, and others of precious feathers. He is said to have been very rich, and in need of nothing. His vassals were very obedient to him, and very light of foot; they were called tlanquacemilhuique. When they wished to publish any command of Quetzalcoatl, they sent a crier up upon a high mountain called Tzatzitepec, where with a loud voice he proclaimed the order; and the voice of this crier was heard for a hundred leagues distance, and farther, even to the coasts of the sea: all this is affirmed for true. The fruits of the earth and the trees flourished there in an extraordinary degree, and sweet-singing birds were abundant. The great pontiff inaugurated a system of penance, pricking his legs, and drawing blood, and staining therewith maguey thorns. He washed also at midnight in a fountain called Xiuhpacoya. From all this, it is said, the idolatrous priests of Mexico adopted their similar custom.
While Quetzalcoatl was enjoying this good fortune with pomp and majesty, we are told that a great magician called Titlacahua (Tezcatlipoca), another of the gods, arrived at Tulla. He took the form of an old man, and went in to see Quetzalcoatl, saying to him, My lord, inasmuch as I know thine intent, and how much thou desirest to set out for certain distant lands; also, because I know from thy servants that thou art unwell, I have brought thee a certain beverage, by drinking which thou shalt attain thine end. Thou shalt so make thy way to the country thou desirest, having perfect health to make the journey; neither shalt thou remember at all the fatigues and toils of life, nor how thou art mortal. Seeing all his projects thus discovered by the pretended old man, Quetzalcoatl questioned him, Where have I to go? Tezcatlipoca answered, That it was already determined with the supreme gods that he had to go to Tlapalla, and that the thing was inevitable, because there was another old man waiting for him at his destination. As Quetzalcoatl heard this, he said that it was true, and that he desired it much; and he took the vessel and drank the liquor it contained. Quetzalcoatl was thus easily persuaded to what Tezcatlipoca desired, because he wished to make himself immortal and to enjoy perpetual life. Having swallowed the draught, he became beside himself, and out of his mind, weeping sadly and bitterly. He determined to go to Tlapalla. He destroyed or buried all his plate and other property, and set out. First he arrived at the place Quauhtitlan, where the great tree was, and where he, borrowing a mirror from his servants, found himself "already old." The name of this place was changed by him to Huehuequauhtitlan, that is to say, "near the old tree, or the tree of the old man;" and the trunk of the tree was filled with stones that he cast at it. After that he journeyed on, his people playing flutes and other instruments, till he came to a mountain near the city of Tlalnepantla, two leagues from the city of Mexico, where he sat down on a stone and put his hands on it, leaving marks embedded therein that may be seen to this day. The truth of this thing is strongly corroborated by the inhabitants of that district; I myself have questioned them upon the subject, and it has been certified to me. Further more, we have it written down accurately by many worthy authors; and the name of the locality is now Temacpalco, that is to say, in the palm of the hand. Journeying on to the coast and to the kingdom of Tlapalla, Quetzalcoatl was met by the three sorcerers, Tezcatlipoca and other two with him, who had already brought so much destruction upon Tulla. These tried to stop or hinder him in his journey, questioning him, Whither goest thou? He answered, To Tlapalla. To whom, they inquired, hast thou given the charge of thy kingdom of Tulla, and who will do penance there? But he said that that was no longer any affair of his, and that he must pursue his road. And being further questioned as to the object of his journey, he said that he was called by the lord of the land to which he was going, who was the sun. The three wizards, seeing then the determination of Quetzalcoatl, made no further attempt to dissuade him from his purpose, but contented themselves with taking from him all his instruments and his mechanical arts, so that though he departed, those things should not be wanting to the state. It was here that Quetzalcoatl threw into a fountain all the rich jewels that he carried with him; for which thing the fountain was called from that time Cozcaapan, that is to say, the water of the strings or chains of jewels/ The same place is now called Coaapan, that is to say, in the snake- water, and very properly, because the word Quetzalcoatl means feathered snake. In this way he journeyed on, suffering various molestations from those sorcerers, his enemies, till he arrived at Cholula, where he was received (as we in another part say), and afterward adored as god. Having lived twenty years in that city, he was expelled by Tezcatlipoca. He set out for the kingdom of Tlapalla, accompanied by four virtuous disciples of noble birth, and in Goatzacoalco, a province distant from Cholula toward the sea a hundred and fifty leagues, he embarked for his destination. Parting with his disciples, he told them that there should surely come to them in after times, by way of the sea where the sun rises, certain white men with white beards like him, and that these would be his brothers and would rule that land.
After that the four disciples returned to Cholula, and told all that their master and god had prophesied when departing. Then the Cholulans divided their province into four principalities, and gave the government to those four, and some four of their descendants always ruled in like manner over these tetrarchies till the Spaniard came; being, however, subordinate to a central power.
This Quetzalcoatl was god of the air, and as such had his temple, of a round shape and very magnificent. He was made god of the air for the mildness and gentleness of all his ways, not liking the sharp and harsh measures to which the other gods were so strongly inclined. It is to be said further that his life on earth was marked by intensely religious characteristics; not only was he devoted to the careful observance of all the old customary forms of worship, but he himself ordained and appointed many new rites, ceremonies, and festivals for the adoration of the gods; and it is held for certain that he made the calendar. He had priests who were called quequetzalcohua, that is to say, priests of the order of Quetzalcoatl. The memory of him was engraved deeply upon the minds of the people, and it is said that when barren women prayed and made sacrifices to him, children were given them. He was, as we have said, god of the winds, and the power of causing them to blow was attributed to him as well as the power of calming or causing their fury to cease. It was said further that he swept the road, so that the gods called Tlaloques could rain; this the people imagined because ordinarily a month or more before the rains began there blew strong winds throughout all New Spain. Quetzalcoatl is described as having worn during life, for the sake of modesty, garments that reached down to the feet, with a blanket over all, sown with red crosses. The Cholulans preserved certain green stones that had belonged to him, regarding them with great veneration and esteeming them as relics. Upon one of these was carved a monkey's head, very natural. In the city of Cholula, there was to be found dedicated to him a great and magnificent temple, with many steps, but each step so narrow that there was not room for a foot on it. His image had a very ugly face, with a large and heavily bearded head. It was not set on its feet, but lying down, and covered with blankets. This, it is said, was done as a memorial that he would one day return to reign. For reverence of his great majesty, his image was kept covered, and to signify his absence it was kept lying down, as one that sleeps, as one that lies down to sleep. In awaking from that sleep, he was to rise up and reign. The people also of Yucatan reverenced this god Quetzalcoatl, calling him Kukulcan, and saying that he came to them from the west, that is, from New Spain, for Yucatan is eastward therefrom. From him it is said the kings of Yucatan are descended, who call themselves Cocomes, that is to say, judges or hearers.
Clavigero's account is characteristically clear and comprehensible. It may be summed up as follows: Among the Mexicans and other nations of Anahuac, Quetzalcoatl was accounted god of the air. He is said to have been some time high-priest of Tulla. He is described as having been white a large, broad-browed, great-eyed man, with long black hair and thick beard. His life was rigidly temperate and exemplary, and his industry was directed by the profoundest wisdom. He amassed great treasure, and his was the invention of gem-cutting and of metal-casting. All things prospered in his time. One ear of corn was a man's load; and the gourds, or pump kins, of the day were as tall as one's body. No one dyed cotton then, for it grew of all colors; and all other things in like manner were perfect and abundant. The very birds in the trees sang such songs as have never since been heard, and. flashed such marvellous beauties in the sun as no plumage of later times could rival. Quetzalcoatl had his laws proclaimed from the top of the hill Tzatzitepec (mountain of outcry), near Tulla, by a crier whose voice was audible for three hundred miles.
All this, however, was put an end to, as far as Tulla was concerned, by Tezcatlipoca, who, moved perhaps by jealousy, determined to remove Quetzalcoatl. So the god appeared to the great teacher in the guise of an old man, telling him it was the will of the gods that he betake himself to Tlapalla, and administering at the same time a potion, the effect of which was to cause an intense longing for the said journey. Quetzalcoatl set out, and having performed many marvels on the way, arrived in Cholula. Here the inhabitants would not suffer him to go farther, but persuaded him to accept the government of their city; and he remained with them, teaching many useful arts, customs, and ceremonies, and preaching against war and all other forms of cruelty. According to some, he at this time arranged the divisions of the seasons and the calendar.
Having lived twenty years in Cholula, lie left, still impelled by the subtle draught, to seek this imaginary city of Tlapalla. He was no more seen of men, some said one thing and some another; but, however he might have disappeared, he was apotheosized by the Toltecs of Cholula, who raised him a great mound and built a sanctuary upon it. A similar structure was erected to his honor at Tulla. From Cholula his worship as god of the air spread over all the country; in Yucatan the nobles claimed descent from him.
The ideas of Brasseur with regard to Quetzalcoatl have their roots in and must be traced back to the very first appearing of the Mexican religion, or of the religion or religions by which it was preceded; so that to arrive at those ideas I must give a summary of the abbe's whole theory of the origin of that creed. He believes that in the seething and thundering of volcanoes a conception of divinity and of supernatural powers first sprang up in the mind of the ancestors of the Mexicans. The volcanoes were afterwards identified with the stars, and the most terrific of all, Nanahuatl, or Nanahuatzin, received the honors of apotheosis in the sun. Issued from the earth of the Crescent (Brasseur's sunken island or continent in the Atlantic), personified in the antique Quetzalcoatl, prototype of priests and of sacerdotal continence, he is thus his son and identifies himself with him; he (the divinity, Tylor's Great Somebody ) is the model of sages under the name of Hueman, and the prototype of kings under that of Topiltzin. Strange thing to find united in one being personalities so diverse! King, philosopher, priest par excellence, whose virtues serve as a rule to all the priests of the pagan antiquity, and side by side with all that, incontinence and passion deified in this invalid, whose name even, the syphilitic, is the expression of the abuse he has made of the sex, appear to have sprung up, or rather two manners of judging the same events. There was first a struggle, and then a separation; under the banner-names of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca the rival schools fought for the most part of course there were divers minor factions; but the foregoing were the principal and most important. There is every reason to believe that the religion that took Quetzalcoatl for symbol was but a reformation upon another more ancient, that had the moon for its object. It is the moon, male and female, Luna, Lunus, personified in the earth of the Crescent, ingulfed in the abyss, that I believe (it is always the abbé that speaks) I see at the commencement of the amalgam of rites and symbols of every kind, religion of enjoyments and material pleasures, born of the promiscuity of the men and women, taken refuge in the lesser Antilles after the cataclysm.
The religion that had taken the moon for point of departure, and in which women seem to have played the principal role, as priestesses, attacked formally, by this very fact, a more antique religion, a pre-diluvian religion that appears to have been Sabaism, entirely exempt from idolatry, and in which the sun received the chief homage. In the new religion, on the contrary, it was not the moon as a star, which was the real object of worship, it was the moon-land (lune-terre), it was the region of the Crescent, shrouded under the waves, whose death was wept and whose resurrection was afterward celebrated in the appearance of the isles refuge of the shipwrecked of the grand catastrophe of the Lesser Antilles; to the number of seven principal islands, sung, in all American legends, as the Seven Grottos, cradle of nations.
This is the myth of Quetzalcoatl, who dies or disappears, and whose personality is represented at the outset in the isles, then successively, in all the countries whither the civilization was carried of which he was the flag. So far as I can judge at present, the priest who placed himself under the aegis of this grand name labored solely to reform what there was of odious and barbarous in the cult of which the women had the chief direction, and under whose regime human blood flowed in waves. After the triumph of Quetzalcoatl, the men who bore his name took the direction of religion and society, which then made considerable progress in their hands.
But if we are to believe the same traditions, their A preponderance had not a very long duration. The most restless and the most audacious among the partisans of the ancient order of things raised the flag of revolt: they became the chiefs of a warlike faction, rival of the sacerdotal a conquering faction, source of veritable royal dynasties and of the religion of the sun living and victorious, in opposition to the god entombed in the abyss. Quetzalcoatl, vanquished by Tezcatlipoca, then retired before a too powerful enemy, and the Toltecs were dispersed among all nations. Those of them that remained coalesced with the victors, and from the accord of the aforementioned three cults, there sprang that monstrous amalgam of so many different ideas and symbols, such as is found to-day in what remains to us of the Mexican religion, For me (and it is always the Abbé that speaks), I believe I perceive the origin of the struggle, not alone in the diversity of races, but principally in the existence of two currents of contrary ideas, having had the same point of departure in the events of the great cataclysm of the Crescent Land, above referred to. Different manners of looking at these events, and of commemorating them, seem to me to have marked from the beginning the starting-point of two religions that lived, perhaps, side by side for centuries without the explosion of their disagreements, other wise than by insignificant agitations. Before these two could take, with regard to each other, the proportions of a schism or a heresy, it was necessary that all the materials of which these religions are constituted had had time to elaborate themselves, and that the hieroglyphics which represented their origin had become sufficiently obscure for the priesthood to keep the vulgar from understanding them. For if schism has brought on the struggle between, and afterward the violent separation of families, this separation cannot have taken place till after the entire creation of myths, the entire construction of these divine genealogies, of these poetic traditions, that are found scattered among all the peoples of the earth, but of which the complete whole does not exist, save in the history and religion of Mexico.
Two orders of gods the one order fallen from heaven into the abyss, becoming there the judges of the dead, and being personified in one of their number, who came to life again, symbolizing thus life and death; the other order surviving the cataclysm and symbolizing thus an imperishable life; such, at its origin, is the double character of the myth of Quetzalcoatl. But in reality, this god he is the earth, he is the region swallowed up by the waters, he is the vanquished stifled under the weight of his adversary, under the force of the victorious wave; which adversary, which power in opposition to the first, joining itself to the fire on the blazing pile of Nanahuatl, is Tezcatlipoca, is Hercules, conqueror of enemies, is the foci whose struggle is eternal as that of the ocean eating the shore, is he in whom the light becomes afterward personified, and who becomes thus the battle-flag of the opponents of Quetzalcoatl. To the dead god a victim is necessary, one that like him descends into the abyss. This victim was a young girl, chosen among those that were consecrated at the foot of the pyramid, and drowned a custom long found as well in Egypt as at Chichen-Itza, and in many other countries of the world. But to the god come to life again, to the god in whom fire was personified, and immortal life, to Quetzalcoatl when he became Huitzilopochtli, victims were sacrificed by tearing out the heart, symbol of the jet of flame issuing from the volcano, to offer it to the conquering sun, symbol of Tezcatlipoca, who first demanded holocausts of human blood. Mr Tylor declares Quetzalcoatl to have been the Sun. "We may even find him identified with the Sun by name, and his history is perhaps a more compact and perfect series of solar myths that hangs to the name of any single personage in our own Aryan mythology. His mother, the Dawn or the Night, gives birth to him, and dies. His father, Camaxtli, is the sun, and was worshipped with solar rites in Mexico, but he is the old Sun of yesterday. The clouds personified in the mythic race of the Mixcohuas, or Cloud-Snakes (the Nibelungs of the western hemisphere), bear down the old Sun and choke him, and bury him in their mountain. But the young Quetzalcoatl, the Sun of to-day, rushes up into the midst of them from below, and some he slays at the first onset, and some he leaves, rift with red wounds to die. We have the Sun boat of Helios, of the Egyptian Ha, of the Polynesian Maui. Quetzalcoatl, his bright career drawing toward its close, is chased into far lands by his kinsman, Tezcatlipoca, the young Sun of to-morrow. He, too, is well known as a sun-god in the Mexican theology. Wonderfully fitting with all this, one incident after another in the life of Quetzalcoatl falls into its place. The guardians of the sacred fire tend him, his funeral pile is on the top of Orizaba, he is the helper of travellers, the maker of the calendar, the source of astrology, the beginner of his tory, the bringer of wealth and happiness. He is the patron of the craftsmen, whom he lights to his labor; as it is written in an ancient Sanskrit hymn, He steps forth, the splendor of the sky, the wide-seeing, the far-aiming, the shining wanderer; surely enlivened by the sun, do men go to their tasks and do their work. Even his people, the Toltecs, catch from him solar qualities. Will it be even possible to grant to this famous race, in whose story the legend of Quetzalcoatl is the leading incident, anything more than a mythic existence?"
Dr Brinton is of opinion that "there were in truth many Quetzalcoatls, for his high-priest always bore his name, but he himself is a pure creation of the fancy, and all his alleged history is nothing but a myth. His emblematic name, the Bird-Serpent, and his rebus and cross at Palenque, I have already explained. Others of his titles were, Ehecatl, the air; Yolcuat, the rattlesnake; Tohil, the nimbler; Huemac, the strong hand; Xanihehecatl, lord of the four winds. The same dualism reappears in him that has been noted in his analogues elsewhere. He is both lord of the eastern light and the wind.
"As the former, he was born of a virgin in the land of Tula, or Tlapallan, in the distant Orient, and was high-priest of that happy realm. The morning star was his symbol, and the temple of Cholula was dedicated to him expressly as the author of light. As by days we measure time, he was the alleged inventor of the calendar. Like all the dawn-heroes, he too was represented as of white complexion, clothed in long white robes, and, as most of the Aztec gods, with a full and flowing beard. When his earthly work was done, he too returned to the east, assigning as a reason that the sun, the ruler of Tlapallan, demanded his presence. But the real motive was that he had been overcome by Tezcatlipoca, otherwise called Yoallichecatl, the wind or spirit of night, who had descended from heaven by a spider s web, and presented his rival with a draught pretended to confer immortality, but in fact, producing uncontrollable longing for home. For the wind and the light both depart when the gloaming draws near, or when the clouds spread their dark and shadowy webs along the mountains, and pour the vivifying rain upon the fields.
"In his other character, he was begot of the breath of Tonacateotl, god of our flesh or subsistence, or (according to Gomara) was the son of Iztac Mixcoatl, the white cloud-serpent, the spirit of the tornado. Messenger of Tlaloc, god of rain, he was figuratively said to sweep the road for him, since in that country violent winds are the precursors of the wet seasons. Wherever he went, all manner of singing birds bore him company, emblems of the whistling breezes. When he finally disappeared in the far east, he sent back four trusty youths who had ever shared his fortunes, in comparably swift and light of foot with directions to divide the earth between them and rule it till he should return and resume his power. When he would promulgate his decrees, his herald proclaimed them from Tzatzitepec, the hill of shouting, with such a mighty voice that it could be heard a hundred leagues around. The arrows which he shot transfixed great trees, the stones he threw levelled forests, and when he laid his hands on the rocks the mark was indelible. Yet, as thus emblematic of the thunder-storm, he possessed in full measure its better attributes. By shaking his sandals he gave fire to men; and peace, plenty, and riches blessed his subjects. Tradition says he built many temples to Mictlantecutli, the Aztec Pluto, and at the creation of the sun that he slew all the other gods, for the advancing dawn disperses the spectral shapes of night, and yet all its vivifying power does but result in increasing the number doomed to fall before the remorseless stroke of death.
"His symbols were the bird, the serpent, the cross, and the flint, representing the clouds, the lightning, the four winds, and the thunderbolt. Perhaps, as Huemac, the Strong Hand, he was god of the earth quakes. The Zapotecs worshipped such a deity under the image of this number carved from a precious stone, calling to mind the Kabul, the Working Hand, adored by the Mayas, and said to be one of the images of Zammi, their hero-god. The human hand, that divine tool, as it has been called, might well be regarded by the reflective mind as the teacher of the arts and the amulet whose magic power has won for man what vantage he has gained in his long combat with nature and his fellows."
Mr Helps sees in Quetzalcoatl the closest analogies with certain other great civilizers and teachers that made their appearance in various parts of the American continent: "One peculiar circumstance, as Humboldt remarks, is very much to be noted in the ancient records and traditions of the Indian nations. In no less than three remarkable instances has superior civilization been attributed to the sudden presence among them of persons differing from themselves in appearance and descent.
Bohica, a white man with a beard, appeared to the Mozca Indians in the plains of Bogota, taught them how to build and to sow, formed them into communities, gave an outlet to the waters of the great lake, and having settled the government, civil and ecclesiastical, retired into a monastic state of penitence for two thousand years.
In like manner, Manco Capac, accompanied by his sister, Mama Oello, descended amongst the Peruvians, gave them a code of admirable laws, reduced them into communities, and then ascended to his father, the Sun.
Amongst the Mexicans there suddenly appeared Quetzalcoatl (green-feathered snake), a white and bearded man, of broad brow, dressed in a strange dress; a legislator, who recommended severe penances, lacerating his own body with the prickles of the agave and the thorns of the cactus, but who dissuaded his followers from human sacrifice. While he remained in Anahuac, it was a Saturnian reign; but this great legislator, after moving on to the plains of Cholula, and governing the Cholulans with wisdom, passed away to a distant country, and was never heard of more. It is said briefly of him that he ordained sacrifices of flowers and fruits, and stopped his ears when he was spoken to of war.
The Abbé Domenech considers the tradition of the lives of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca to be a bit of simple and slightly veiled history, and also that there were several Quetzalcoatls. Let it be remembered in reading the abbe s version of this matter that the names of places, peoples, and the dates he gives are in great part mythical and conjectural. "After the enfranchise ment of the Olmecs, a man named Quetzalcoatl arrived in the country, whom Garcia, Torquemada, Sahagun, and other Spanish writers took to be Saint Thomas. It was also at that time that the third age ended, and that the fourth began, called Sun of the fire, because it was supposed that it was in this last stage that the world would be destroyed by fire. It is in this fourth period that the Mexican historian places the Toltecs arrival in New Spain, that is to say, about the third century before the Christian era. According to the Quiches traditions, the primitive portion of the Nahoas, or ancestors of the Toltecs, were in a distant East, beyond immense seas and lands. Amongst the families and tribes that bore with least patience this long repose and immobility, those of Canub and of Tlocab may be cited, for they were the first who determined to leave their country. The Nahoas sailed in seven barks or ships, which Sahagun calls Chicomoztoc, or the seven grottos. It is a fact worthy of note that in all ages the number seven was a sacred number among the American people, from one pole to the other. It was at Panuco, near Tampico, that those strangers disembarked; they established themselves at Paxil, with the Yotanites consent, and their state took the name of Huchuc-Tlopallan. It is not stated whence they came, but merely that they came out of the regions where the sun rises. The supreme command was in the hand of a chieftain whom history calls Quetzalcohuatl, that is to say, Lord par excellence. To his care was confided the holy envelope, which concealed the divinity from the human gaze, and he alone received from it the necessary instructions to guide his people s march. These kinds of divinities, thus enveloped, passed for being sure talismans, and were looked upon with the greatest respect and veneration. They consisted generally of a bit of wood, in which was inserted a little idol of green stone; this was covered with the skin of a serpent or of a tiger, after which it was rolled in numerous little bands of stuff, wherein it would remain wrapped for centuries together. Such is, perhaps, the origin of the medicine-bags made use of, even in the present day, by the Indians of the Great Desert, and of which we shall speak in the second volume of this work."
Of apparently another Quetzalcoatl he writes: "The Toltecs became highly flourishing under the reign of Ceocatl Quetzalcohuatl, a Culhuacan prince, who preached a new religion, sanctioning auricular confession and the celibacy of the priests. He proscribed all kinds of warfare and human sacrifices. Tezcatlipoca put himself at the head of the dissatisfied party, and besieged Tollan, the residence of Ceocatl Quetzalcohuatl; but the latter refused to defend him self, in order to avoid the effusion of blood, which was prohibited by the laws of the religion he himself had established, and retired to Cholula, that had been constructed by his followers. From thence he went to Yucatan. Tezcatlipoca, his fortunate rival, after a long reign became in his turn the victim of the popular discontent, and fell in a battle that was given him by Ceocatl Quetzalcohuatl's relatives. Those two kings are elevated to the rank of gods, and their worship was a perpetual subject of discord and civil war in all Anahuac until the arrival of the Spaniards in the New World."
The interpreters of the different codices, or Mexican paintings represented in Kingsborough s great work, give, as is their wont in all matters, a confused, imperfect, and often erroneous account of Quetzalcoatl. "Quetzalcoatl is he who was born of the virgin called Chalchihuitztli, which means the precious stone of penance or of sacrifice. He was saved in the deluge, and was born in Zivenaritzcatl, where he resides. His fast was a kind of preparation for the arrival of the end of the world, which they said would happen on the day of Four Earthquakes, so that they were thus in daily expectation of that event. Quetzalcoatl was he who they say created the world, and they bestowed on him the appellation of lord of the wind, because they said that Tonacatecotli, when it appeared good to him, breathed and begat Quetzalcoatl. They erected round temples to him, without any corners. They said that it was he (who was also the lord of the thirteen signs which are here represented) who formed the first number alone, had a human body like that of men, the other gods were of an incorporeal nature."
"They declare that their supreme deity, or more properly speaking, demon Tonacatecotle, whom we have just mentioned, who by another name was called Citinatonali, .... begot Quetzalcoatl, not by connection with a woman, but by his breath alone, as we have observed above, when he sent his ambassador, as they say, to the virgin of Tulla. They believed him to be the god of the air, and he was the first to whom they built temples and churches, which they formed perfectly round, without any angles. They say it was he who effected the reformation of the world by penance, as we have already said; since, according to their account, his father had created the world, and men had given themselves up to vice, on which account it had been so frequently destroyed. Citinatonali sent this his son into the world to reform it. We certainly must deplore the blindness of these miserable people, on whom Saint Paul says the wrath of God has to be revealed, inasmuch as his eternal truth was so long kept back by the injustice of attributing to this demon that which belonged to Him; for He being the sole creator of the universe, and He who made the division of the waters, which these poor people just now attributed to the Devil, when it appeared good to Him, despatched the heavenly ambassador to announce to the virgin that she should be the mother of his eternal word; who, when He found the world corrupt, reformed it by doing penance and by dying upon the cross for our sins; and not the wretched Quetzalcoatl, to whom these miserable people attributed this work. They assigned to him the dominion over the other thirteen signs, which are here represented, in the same manner as they had assigned the preceding thirteen to his father. They celebrated a great festival on the arrival of his sign, as we shall see in the sign of Four Earthquakes, which is the fourth in order here, because they feared that the world would be destroyed in that sign, as he had foretold to them when he disappeared in the Red Sea; which event occurred on the same sign. As they considered him their advocate, they celebrated a solemn festival, and fasted during four signs."'