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p. 113


The historian of the Indies, to whom much is due for his labor and the light he gave, in speaking of the things of Yucatan, says that they used slings in war, and spears hardened by fire; I have told in chapter 101 of the things they used in war, and I am not surprised that Francisco Hernández de Cordova and Juan de Grijalva thought that the stones thrown at them by the Indians at Champotón were discharged from slings, since they retreated. But they neither throw from a sling nor knew them, though they throw a stone very sure and hard, aiming when they throw with the left arm and index finger as they do it.

He also says that the Indians are circumcised, and how this is will be found in chapter 49. He says that there are hares, and about that you will find in the fifteenth paragraph of the last chapter. He says that there are partridges, and of what kinds, and about that you will find in the thirteenth paragraph of the last chapter.

Our historian further says that at Cape Cotoch they found crosses among the dead and the idols, and he does not believe it, because if they were spoil taken from the Spaniards who perished, they would perforce have been found elsewhere first, in many places. This reasoning does not convince me, because no other places are known where it could have happened, where they could have come before they did to Yucatan, whether they did arrive or not, nor as in these parts of Yucatan. Why I do not believe it, is because when Francisco Hernández and Grijalva arrived at Cotoch, they did not go about digging up dead people, but hunting gold among the living. I also believe so much in the virtue of the cross and the malice of the evil one, that he could not endure seeing a cross amongst the idols, because of the fear that some day miraculously its virtue would break them, and confound him as the ark of the covenant did with Dagon, although not sanctified by the blood of the son of God and dignified by his divine members, as was the holy cross.

Besides all this, I will say what was told me by a lord among the Indians, a man of fine understanding and much reputation among them. Talking with him on this matter one day, and having asked of him whether he had at any time heard reports of Christ our Lord, or of the Cross, he answered that he had never heard from his ancestors anything about either Christ or the Cross, except that once while tearing down a small building on a certain part of the coast, they had found in some graves, on the bodies and bones of the dead, some small metal crosses. That they had not seen anything of the cross until today when they became Christians and saw it venerated and worshipped; they believed it must have been those dead men that had been buried there. If that was so, it is possible that some small party had come from Spain and quickly disappeared, with no memory left.





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Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, by Diego de Landa, tr. William Gates, [1937]