remain, however, either portions or descriptions of not less than sixteen of these curious records. They are known from the names of the villages respectively as the Book of Chilan Balam of Nabula, of Chumayel, of Káua, of Mani, of Oxkutzeab, of Ixil, of Tihosuco, of Tixcocob, etc., these being the names of various native towns in the peninsula.

When I add that not a single one of these has ever been printed, or even entirely translated into any European tongue, it will be evident to every archaeologist and linguist what a rich and unexplored mine of information about this interesting people they may present. It is my intention in this article merely to touch upon a few salient points to illustrate this, leaving a thorough discussion of their origin and contents to the future editor who will bring them to the knowledge of the learned world.

Turning first to the meaning of the name "Chilan Balam," it is not difficult to find it derivation. "Chilan," says Bishop Landa, the second bishop of Yucatan, whose description of the native customs is an invaluable source to us, "was the name of their priests, whose duty it was to teach the sciences, to appoint holy days, to treat the sick, to offer sacrifices, and especially to utter the oracles of the gods. They were so highly honored by the people that usually they were carried on litters on the shoulders of the devotees."[4] Strictly speaking, in Maya "chilian" means "interpreter," "mouth-piece," from "chij," "the mouth," and in this ordinary sense frequently occurs in other writings. The word, "balam"—literally, "tiger,"—was also applied to a class of priests, and is still in use among the natives of Yucatan as the designation of the protective spirits of fields and towns, as I have shown at length in a recent study of the word as it occurs in the native myths of Guatemala.[5] "Chilan Balam," therefore, is not a proper name, but a title, and in ancient times designated the priest who announced the will of the gods and explained the sacred oracles. This accounts for the universality of the name and the sacredness of its associations.

The dates of the books which have come down to us are various. One of them, "The Book of Chilan Balam of Mani," was undoubtedly composed not later than 1595, as is proved by internal evidence. Various passages in the works of Landa, Lizana, Sanchez Aguilar and Cogolludo—all early historians of Yucatan,—prove that many of these native manuscripts existed in the sixteenth century. Several rescripts date from the seventeenth century,—most from the latter half of the eighteenth.

The names of the writers are generally not given, probably because the books, as we have them, are all copies of older manuscripts, with merely the occasional addition of current items of note by the copyist; as, for instance, a malignant epidemic which prevailed in the peninsula in 1673 is mentioned as a present occurrence by the copyist of "The Book of Chilan Balam of Nabula."

[4] "Relation de las Cosas de Yucatan," page 160.

[5] "The Names of the Gods in the Kiche Myths of Central America." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. XIX., 1881. The terminal letter in both these words—"chilan," "balam,"—may be either "n" or "m," the change being one of dialect and local pronunciation. I have followed the older authorities in writing "Chilan Balam," the modem preferring "Chilam Balam." Señor Eligio Ancona, in his recently published "Historia de Yucatan," (Vol. I., page 240, note, Merida, 1878,) offers the absurd suggestion that the name "balam" was given to the native soothsayers by the early missionaries in ridicule, deriving it from the well-known personage in the Old Testament. It is surprising that Señor Ancona, writing in Merida, had never acquainted himself with the Perez manuscripts, nor with those in the possession of Canon Carrillo. Indeed, the most of his treatment of the ancient history of his country is disappointingly superficial.

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