contains the cosmogonical concepts and ancient traditions of this aboriginal American people, the history of their origin, and the chronology of their kings down to the year 1550.

The name of its author and the fate of his original manuscript, which remained hidden for more than 150 years, are unknown. Father Ximénez, who found it in his parish at Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, transcribed the original Quiché text and translated it into Spanish under the title Historias del origen de los Indios de esta Provincia de Guatemala. This transcription, in the handwriting of this priest-historian, is still preserved; but no information has survived concerning the original document written in the Quiché tongue, and it is possible that after Father Ximénez had finished copying it, it was returned to its Indian owners and to the obscurity in which it had remained up to then.

Ximénez says in the foreword to his second translation of the manuscript that the lack of information about the ancient history of the Indians is due to the fact that they hid their books in which it was written, and if some of them had been found in some places, it was impossible to read or to understand them. For this reason—says the historian—"much has been imagined about these various peoples and their origin." And he adds: "And so I determined to transcribe, word for word, all of their tales and translated them into our Spanish language from the Quiché language in which I found they had been written, from the time of the Conquest, when (as they say there) they changed their way of writing to ours....

In the Relación of Fray Alonso Ponce's expedition it is said that one of the three things for which the Maya of Yucatan (whom he visited in 1586) were most praised is that "they had characters and letters, with which they wrote their histories and ceremonies and the order of the sacrifices to their idols and their calendar in books made of the bark of a certain tree, which were some very long strips of a quarter or a third [of a Spanish vara] in width which they folded and brought together and in this way it had the form of a bound book in quarto, more or less. Only the priests of the idols (who in that language are called 'ahkines') and some principal Indians understood these letters and characters."

The Indians of Mexico and Guatemala also preserved their histories and other writings by means of paintings on cloths, some of which were saved from the general destruction in which the books and Indian documents disappeared. The Bishop of Chiapas, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, who, from the beginning of the Conquest, gathered extensive information about the life and customs of the Indians, says, in an oft-quoted passage, that among them were chroniclers and historians who knew the origin of everything pertaining to their religion, the founding of villages and cities, how the kings and lords carried out their memorable deeds, how they governed, and how they elected their successors; they knew about their great men and their courageous captains, of their wars, their ancient customs, and all that belonged to their history. And, he adds: "These chroniclers kept account of the days, months, and years [and] although they did not have writing such as ours, they had, nevertheless, their figures and characters," with which they could represent all that they wanted to and with them they formed "their large books With such keen and subtle skill that we might say our writings were not an improvement over theirs. Some of these books were seen by our clergy, and even I saw part of those which were burned by the monks, apparently because they thought [these books] might harm the Indians in matters concerning religion, since at that time they were at the beginning of their conversion."

The historians Acosta, Clavijero, and Ixtlilxóchitl say that the Indians learned to recite the most notable speeches of their ancestors and the songs of their poets, and that one or another of them taught these to the youths in schools which were connected with the temples, and in this way they were handed down from generation to generation.

In another passage of the Apologética, Bishop Las Casas reports that the Mexican Indians had five books of figures and characters. The first book contained the history and the computation of their time; the second had the days of ceremony and the feast days of each year; the third dealt with dreams, auguries, and superstitions; the fourth with the way in which children were named; and the fifth contained their marriage rites and ceremonies. He adds that besides computing the

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