Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  9 (1884–85), 372–86.

The New and Old in Yucatan

Alice D Le Plongeon


Essay, Travelogue


Human Species, Archaeology, Ethnography, Heterodoxy, Race, Mesmerism

    Describes the numerous 'crumbling palaces and temples of races long gone by' in the Yucatan region of Mexico, which make it a principal 'point of attraction for students of American archæology' (372). Reveals that many of these ancient ruins contain mysterious 'symbols pertaining to Masonic rites' (376), and these 'inscriptions that have puzzled the heads of more than one wise man, [...] now have a fair chance of being deciphered, thanks to the perseverance of Dr. Le Plongeon' (377). Notes frequently that the primitive rites and customs of the indigenous population of Yucatan resemble those found in many other parts of the world, and Egypt, Hindostan, and Central Africa in particular [cf. RR1/12/3/22]. The 'instrument called tunkul' used in 'sacred ceremonies', for instance, 'reminds us of the war drum used in Africa to call the tribes together, mentioned by both Du Chaillu and Stanley' (384–85), while the 'small three-tailed whip', a 'symbol of ancient freemasonry' held by dancers during a sacred Yucatan procession, 'call[s] to mind the Egyptian flagellum of Osiris' (384). Likewise, the 'natives of Yucatan always carry infants [...] astride their hip, as the people of Hindostan also do' (385). Suggests that 'By mural paintings found in the ruined cities we learn that anciently they practised what is to-day called mesmerism, and induced clairvoyance'. Now, however, 'all the scientific knowledge of their ancestors has, by slavery and oppression, been reduced to gross superstition and ignorance' (386).

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