II. MYTHOLOGICAL ANIMALS
Hieroglyph, Sign, Occurs, Head, Serpent, Figure
1. THE MOAN BIRD.
This bird belongs to the death-god as his symbol and attendant. Its hieroglyph () contains the numeral 13; other forms are c, 10a, 11a, 16c, 18b, and its hieroglyph without the picture is seen in Dr. 8b. A realistic representation of the whole figure of the moan as a bird, occurs on the head of the woman in 16c (1st figure) and 18b. God B sits on the head of the moan in Dr. 38c; the third hieroglyph of the accompanying text refers to this representation. Just as in Dr. 16 and 18, the moan bird appears in Tro. 18*c on the head of a woman. Its character as an attribute of the death-god is expressed by the Cimi-sign, which it wears upon its head (e. g., Dr. 10a), and also by the regular occurrence of symbols of the death-god in the written characters, which refer to the moan bird. In the same manner the sign of the owl, , also occurs frequently with it.
The moan confers name and symbol alike on one of the eighteen months of the Maya year, and thus, as Förstemann conjectures (Die Plejaden bei den Mayas, in Globus, 1894), has an astronomic bearing on the constellation of the Pleiades.
According to Brinton the moan is a member of the falcon family and its zoological name is Spizaetus tyrannus.
2. THE SERPENT.
This is one of the most common and most important mythological animals, and is closely related to different deities, as has already been more fully discussed in connection with the individual cases. Apparently it has no independent significance as a deity. Its most important personification is that in god B, Kukulcan, the feathered serpent. Hence a fixed hieroglyph designating the serpent as a deity, as a mythologic form, does not occur, though there are numerous hieroglyphs which refer to serpents or represent individual parts of the serpent, as its coils, its jaws, the rattles of the rattlesnake, etc. The serpent appears in the mythologic conceptions of the Mayas chiefly as the symbol of water and of time. In the great series of numbers of the Dresden manuscript, certain numbers occur which are introduced in the coils of a large serpent (compare in regard to this, Förstemann, Zur Entzifferung der Mayahandschriften, II, Dresden, 1891). The serpent is very frequently represented in all the manuscripts, sometimes realistically and sometimes with the head of a god, etc. In the Dresden manuscript it occurs in the following places: 1a, 26, 27, 28c, 35b, 36a, 36b, 37b, 42a, 61, 62, 65ca and 69. It is prominent also in the Madrid manuscript, occurring for example in Cort. 4-6, 12-18, Tro. 25, 26, 27 and elsewhere.
3. THE DOG.
is its hieroglyph. It is the symbol of the death-god and the bearer of the lightning. The latter follows quite clearly from the picture in Dr. 40b where the god is distinguished by its hieroglyph. This animal is again represented in Dr. 7a, 13c on the right, 21b with its hieroglyph, 29a, 30a (forming a part of 31a, where god B holds the bound dog by the tail), and 39a without the hieroglyph, 47 (bottom) with a variant of the hieroglyph.
a the dog bears the Akbal-sign on its forehead. The writing above it contains a variant of the hieroglyph for the dog; this is the third of the rubric. It shows (somewhat difficult of recognition) the Akbal-sign on the forehead of the dog’s head occurring in it, and on the back of the head the Kin-sign, as symbols of the alternation of day and night. The same sign occurs again with adjuncts in Dr. 74 (last line, 2nd sign) and once with the death-goda. The dog as lightning-beast occurs with the Akbal-sign in the eye instead of on the forehead in Codex Tro. 23*a; here again its hieroglyph is an entirely different one (the third of the rubric).
That the dog belongs to the death-god is proved beyond a doubt by the regular recurrence in the writing belonging to the dog, of the hieroglyphs, which relate to this deity, especially of . According to Förstemann his day is Oc.
4. THE VULTURE.
a. It appears again, in feminine form, together with the dog, in Dr. 13ca. In the first passage, its hieroglyph is almost effaced; the hieroglyph is very striking and occurs nowhere else in the whole collection of manuscripts. The body of this animal-deity is striped black and white; in Dr. 38b it is almost entirely black. The same passage displays a second hieroglyph for this figure (); this hieroglyph also occurs with the numeral 4 in Dr. 56bb this bird of prey is pictured fighting with the serpent; its hieroglyph occurs in the second form; the serpent is designated by the Chuen, the gaping jaws of the serpent (first character of the rubric).
Finally it should be mentioned that the head of this bird occurs frequently as a head ornament, thus in Dr. 11a, 11b, 12bb. Mention should also be made of the realistic representations of the vulture, eating the eye of a human sacrifice (Dr. 3, Tro. 26*a and 27*a).
According to Förstemann his day is Cib.
5. The Jaguar.
The jaguar is likewise an animal with mythological significance. It is represented in Dr. 8a, where its hieroglyph is the third sign in the writing; it also occurs in Dr. 26 (at the top). It occurs in Tro. 17 (at the end) with a hieroglyph which represents the jaguar’s head and contains the numeral 4 (); again it appears without a hieroglyph on p. 20 (bottom) and on 21 and 22 (bottom).
Its day is Ix, and hence it also relates occasionally as year regent to the Ix years, for example in Dr. 26a.
6. The Tortoise.
This animal, like the dog, appears as a lightning-beast (see Dr. 40b, middle). Its hieroglyph is . This sign also is connected with the numeral 4, which occurs so often with animals (but not alone with quadrupeds) as to be worthy of attention. The sign of the tortoise without the numeral is seen in Cort. 17a, where the tortoise itself is also represented. It must have reference to the 17th month of the Maya year, for the month Kayab (and apparently also Pop) contains the head of the tortoise (compare ). It occurs several times in the Cortesianus, thus on pp. 13, 19, 37, 38; on p. 19 with the hieroglyph (on the top of the lower half of the page, 1st line and at the right of the margin). In Dr. 69 (at the top) we see the sign of the tortoise with the Kin-sign as its eye and the numeral 12; under this group B, with a black body, is seated on the serpent; on the same page the sign occurs again; each time, moreover, apparently as a month-hieroglyph.
According to Förstemann the tortoise is the symbol of the summer solstice, as the snail, which occurs only as a head ornament in the manuscripts and not independently, is the symbol of the winter solstice; both, as the animals of slowest motion, represent the apparent standstill of the sun at the periods specified. This explains why the month Kayab, in which the summer solstice falls, should be represented by the head of a tortoise, which has for its eye the sun-sign Kin (Förstemann, Zur Entzifferung der Mayahandschriften III, Schildkröte und Schnecke in der Mayaliteratur, Dresden 1892).
According to Förstemann its day is Cauac.
Finally the owl and the ape (or monkey) must be mentioned as animals of mythologic significance, of which we have already spoken in connection with gods A and C. The scorpion also seems to have an important mythologic significance, and appears in the manuscripts in connection with figures of gods, as, for example, in Cort. 7a and Tro. 31*a, 33*a, 34*a (god M with a scorpion’s tail). In addition to those discussed in this paper, there are a few animals in the manuscripts, which probably also have a partial mythologic significance, but which have been omitted because they are represented in a naturalistic manner, thus, for example, the deer on Tro. 8, et seq., while idealization (with human bodies, with torches, hieroglyphic character on the head, etc.) should be considered as an unmistakable sign of mythologic meaning.
A mythologic significance also seems to belong to the bee which plays so prominent a part of the Codex Troano. Probably the section in question of the Madrid manuscript (1* et seq.) treats of bee-keeping, but incidentally it certainly has to do also with the mythologic conceptions connected with the culture of bees.
The bat which is found as a mythological figure on pottery vessels and inscriptions from the Maya region (compare Seler, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1894, p. 577) does not occur in the manuscripts. It is true, however, that hieroglyphic signs, which seem to relate to the head of the bat, occur in isolated cases in the manuscripts.
|Written By Paul Schellhas|
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