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TRADITIONS OF THE FLOOD, AND THE POWER OF RELIGIOUS
FEELING WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR THEIR PRESERVATION.
In addition to those traditions of the Deluge, among nations who knew nothing of the Pentateuch ', which Faber has collected together, in his Origin of Pagan Idolatry, and which therefore, though I may have occasion hereafter to refer to some of them, it is needless to repeat here, there are others which have come to light since that time, and may be considered an appendix to the testimony of a universal cataclysm which his industry had accumulated. Of the Mexican tradition, he has furnished only a concise abridgment; but since Humboldt has added something to our knowledge upon that subject, it will be useful to give his statement at full length. He tells us, then, that “ of the different nations who inhabit Mexico, paintings, representing the deluge of Coxcoe, are found among the Aztecks, the Miztecks, the Zapotecks, the Tlascaltecks, and the Mechoachans. The Noah, Xisuthrus, or Menou of these nations, is called Coxcox, Teocipactli, or Tezpi. He saved himself and his wife Xochiquetzal in a bark, or according to other traditions, on a raft of Ahua. huete, (the Cupressus disticha); but according to the Mechoachans, he embarked in a spacious Acalli with his wife, his children, several animals, and grain, the preservation of which was of importance to mankind. When the Great Spirit, Tezcatlipoca, ordered the waters to withdraw, Tezpi sent out from his ship a vulture, the Zopilote; this bird, which feeds on dead flesh, did not return, on account of the great number of carcasses with which the earth recently dried up was strewed. Tezpi sent out other birds, one of which, the humming-bird, alone returned, holding in its beak a branch covered with leaves. Tezpi seeing that fresh verdure began to clothe the soil, quitted his bark near the mountain of Colhuacan.” ! In another part of the same country, the tradition extends over a greater space of Scriptural history, but the points at which it touches upon the true account are very different. . It states, that before the great inundation, which took place 4800 years after the creation of the world, the country of Anahuac was inhabited by giants; all those who did not perish were transformed into fishes, except seven, who fled into caverns. When the waters subsided, one of the giants, Xelhua, surnamed the Architect, went to Cholollan, where, as a memorial of the mountain, Tlaloc, which had served as an asylum to himself and his brethren, he built an artificial hill in form of a pyramid. The gods beheld with wrath this edifice, the top of which was to reach the clouds : irritated at the daring attempt of Xelhua, they hurled fire on the pyramid: numbers of the workmen perished : the work was discontinued, and the monument was afterwards dedicated to Quelzalcoatl, the god of the air.” When therefore, in the subsequent part of this work, evidence shall be produced to show that caverns were considered sacred, because they were images of the Ark, and that pyramids were intended to represent the diluvian mountain, let it not be deemed a fanciful and chimerical hypothesis ; for the Mexican tradition establishes the fact. But further, in this tradition we recognise not only the assertion of Scripture, that there were giants in those days?, and that soon after the flood a structure was raised in defiance of God, the top of which was to reach unto heaven 3; but also the very
1 Sir William Jones remarks upon the argument of Bryant in his analysis of ancient Mythology, that if the deluge really happened at the time recorded by Moses, those nations, whose monuments are preserved, or whose writings are accessible, must have retained memorials of an event so stupendous and comparatively so recent. This reasoning seems just, and the fact is true beyond controversy.Works, iii. 197.
form in which the remains of Babel are still supposed to exist. In the kingdom of Guatimala, the tradition proceeds a step further : for the Teochiapans say, that their ancestors, who came from the north, were led by a chief whose name was Votan or Vodan. He seems to be evidently the same as the Wodan or Odin, who reigned over the Scythians; and “we cannot doubt,” says Humboldt, “that Wod or Odin, whose religion, as the northern historians admit, was introduced into Scandinavia by a foreign race, was the same with Buddh, whose rites were probably imported into India nearly at the same time, though received much later by the Chinese, who soften his name into Fo.” 1 I shall endeavour hereafter to show that the Chinese retained the original pronunciation, which was hardened by the Hindoos, and softened by the Scandinavians and Chiapanese ; which, as far as the latter are concerned, will be better understood by following the thread of their tradition. According, then, to the account of the bishop Francis Nunnez de la Vega, who took great trouble in collecting these traditions, the Wodan of the Chiapanese was grandson of that illustrious old man, who, at the time of the great deluge, in which the greater part of the human race perished, was saved on a raft, together with his family. He co-operated in the construction of the great edifice, which had been undertaken by men to reach the skies ; but the execution of this rash project, was interrupted, and each family received from that time a different language. The impression of the same fact may be traced in another tradition, which says that the men born after the deluge were dumb, till a dove, represented in one of their paintings on the top of a tree, distributed tongues among them, under the form of small commas. Now Phut, who it will be shown was probably the Fo of the Chinese, was the grandson of Noah ; and might very well have co-operated with his nephew Nimrod, who is supposed to have been the builder of Babel. Even among the less civilised tribes of that continent, vestiges of the same tradition of a deluge have been found, though much disfigured by the ridicuJous puerilities which too often besmear the face of truth. “The Crees,” says Dr. Richardson, who accompanied Franklin in his journey to the shores of the Polar Sea, “all spoke of a universal deluge, caused by an attempt of the fish to drown Wæsachootchacht, a kind of demigod, with whom they had quarrelled. Having constructed a raft, he embarked with his family, and all kinds of birds and beasts. After the flood had continued some time, he ordered several water fowl to dive to the bottom; they were all drowned; but a musk rat having been despatched on the same errand, was more successful, and returned with a mouthful of mud.” The Choctaw Indians, who, before their intercourse with white men, used to assemble the youth of their villages from time to time, in order that the old men might rehearse to them the stories
| From a MS. of Pedro de los Rios, a Dominican monk, who in 1566 copied on the very spot all the hieroglyphical paintings of Mexico he could procure. It is confirmed by Humboldt. 2 Gen. vi. 4.
Ibid. xi. 4.
1 Humboldt's Researches, v. 1. 173.
2 “ These are traditions,” says Humboldt, “ of high and venerable antiquity, which are found both among the followers of Brahma, and among the Shamans of the eastern steppes of Tartary."—Humboldt's Researches, i. 199.