I come now to the contents of these curious works. What they contain may conveniently be classified under four headings:

Astrological and prophetic matters;

Ancient chronology and history;

Medical recipes and directions;

Later history and Christian teachings.

The last-mentioned consist of translations of the "Doctrina," Bible stories, narratives of events after the Conquest, etc., which I shall dismiss as of least interest.

The astrology appears partly to be reminiscences of that of their ancient heathendom, partly that borrowed from the European almanacs of the century 1550–1650. These, as is well known, were crammed with predictions and divinations. A careful analysis, based on a comparison with the Spanish almanacs of that time would doubtless reveal how much was taken from them, and it would be fair to presume that the remainder was a survival of ancient native theories.

But there are not wanting actual prophecies of a much more striking character. These were attributed to the ancient priests and to a date long preceding the advent of Christianity. Some of them have been printed in translations in the "Historias" of Lizana and Cogolludo, and of some the originals were published by the late Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, in the second volume of the reports of the "Mission Scientifique au Mexique et dans l' Amérique Centrale." Their authenticity has been met with considerable skepticism by Waitz and others, particularly as they seem to predict the arrival of the Christians from the East and the introduction of the worship of the cross.

It appears to me that this incredulity is uncalled for. It is known that at the close of each of their larger divisions of time (the so-called "katuns,") a "chilan," or inspired diviner, uttered a prediction of the character of the year or epoch which was about to begin. Like other would-be prophets, he had doubtless learned that it is wiser to predict evil than good, inasmuch as the probabilities of evil in this worried world of ours outweigh those of good; and when the evil comes his words are remembered to his credit, while, if, perchance, his gloomy forecasts are not realized, no one will bear him a grudge that he has been at fault. The temper of this people was, moreover, gloomy, and it suited them to hear of threatened danger and destruction by foreign foes. But, alas! for them. The worst that the boding words of the oracle foretold was as nothing to the dire event which overtook them,—the destruction of their nation, their temples and their freedom, 'neath the iron heel of the Spanish conqueror. As the wise Goethe says:

"Seltsam ist Prophetenlied,

Doch mehr seltsam was geschieht."

As to the supposed reference to the cross and its worship, it may be remarked that the native word translated "cross," by the missionaries, simply means "a piece of wood set upright," and may well have had a different and special signification in the old days.

By way of a specimen of these prophecies, I quote one from "The Book of Chilan Balam of Chumayel," saying at once that for the translation I have depended upon a comparison of the Spanish version of Lizana, who was blindly prejudiced, and that in French of the Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg, who knew next to nothing about Maya, with the original. It will be easily understood, therefore, that it is rather a paraphrase than a literal rendering. The original is in short, aphoristic sentences, and was, no doubt, chanted with a rude rhythm:

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