THE land west of the Indus, known to us at the present day under the names of Avghanistan and Beloochistan, was converted, shortly after the death of the Indian reformer Buddha, to his doctrine, which spread the system of castes, and was founded upon the principle of universal love.
It bears in the reports of the Chinese Buddhists the name Kipin, which appears in the different forma of Kaphen, Kaphes, and Kaphante, in the description of rivers and cities in Gedrosia and Arachosia by several of the older writers. 1 Here the third leader of the religion of the King's Son of Kapilapura had chosen his seat, 2 and here his disciples flourished in great power, as their numerous monuments and ruins indicate, until the seventh and eighth centuries, when the fanatic Moslem promulgated the doctrines of their own prophet with fire and sword.
[paragraph continues] To its holy city came many of the monks of Middle Asia and China, and from Kophene again the religion extended itself to many parts of the world, even to North America and Mexico.
How these American lands were named by their inhabitants we know not, as seems indeed to be generally the case with most new discoveries of this nature. We know only that they received the name Fusang, which was that of a tree common to these countries and Eastern Asia, or, it would more probably appear, that of an Asiatic tree resembling it in one or more particulars; for it seems to be a natural and usual circumstance to name a newly-discovered land after some striking peculiarity of the kind. The Norsemen, who landed in America five hundred years after these Buddhist priests, named it in a similar manner Winaland--Wine or Vine land--from the number of wild grapes which grew there. On account of the great distance of the land Fusang, no missionaries went there afterwards. And yet the story of this land, so full of marvels, has not yet disappeared from the memories of Chinese and Buddhist inquirers into the wonders of the olden time. Many of them have frequently mentioned it in their works, and have even drawn maps of it, 1 and taken the pains, in their thoughtless, unreflecting manner, to collect all the accounts which we have here given. Also, at a later period, their mythical geographers and poets often availed themselves of this piece of knowledge, and,
as was the case in the West 1 with the land of Prester John, spun it out into all manner of strange tales. But these beautiful and romantic fancies about the land and tree Fusang can have no more weight with the impartial seeker into the truth of historical tradition than the legends of Alexander and of Charlemagne with the student of Arrian and Eginhard. 2
The distance of the land from Tahan or Aliaska, which extends, according to the estimate before given, from the fifty-seventh to the fifty-eighth degree, leads us necessarily to the north-west coast of Mexico, and the vicinity of San Blas. Not less decisively do the Buddhist-Chinese reports indicate this part of the world. But before we can avail ourselves of these later accounts of the Aztecs, a difficulty must be removed, which would otherwise annihilate the complete mass of proofs.
The information given by our Buddhist travellers goes back into times long anterior to the most remote periods alluded to in the obscure legends of the
[paragraph continues] Aztecs, resting upon uncertain interpretations of hieroglyphics. One fact is, however, deeply rooted in this trembling soil of Old America: the races of barbarians which successively followed each other from the north to the south always murdered, hunted down, and subdued the previous inhabitants, and formed in course of time a new social and political life upon the ruins of the old system, to be again destroyed and renewed in a few centuries, by a new invasion of barbarians. The later native conquerors in the New World can, of course, no more be considered in the light of original inhabitants than the present races of men in the Old World.
The ruins named after the adjacent places, Mitla and Palenque, situated in the province Zzendales, near the limits of the municipality of Cuidad Real and Yucatan, have been supposed by enthusiastic scholars to possess an antiquity anterior, by thousands of years, to the coming of our Lord. Prejudiced and ignorant visionaries have imagined this to be the home of all spiritual cultivation, and even to have discovered here traces of Buddhism. The Tolteks--a word signifying architects
[paragraph continues] --appeared about the middle of the seventh century, and one of their literary productions, known as "The Divine Book," existed, according to an unauthenticated legend, until the time of the Spaniards. The Aztecs, on the contrary, came to Anahuac, or "The Land near the Water," during the reign of Frederick the Second. 1 The savage invaders evinced at first the greatest hostility to the religion and social institutions of the conquered race, but feeling ultimately themselves the want of a regular system, they erected a new edifice upon the old ruins. This may prove advantageous in an intellectual or intelligent (subjectiv), as well as a material point of view, since we can thus avail ourselves of a knowledge of the laws, manners, and customs of the Aztecs, in order to obtain a clearer conception of the condition of the earlier races who inhabited this land. 2 The most learned historian of New Spain has already recognised in every particular, and in connection with the results of the most recent inquiries, the original affinity of the numerous Mexican languages.
The pyramidic-symbolic form of many of the Mexican monuments appears, indeed, to have a resemblance with the religious edifices of the Buddhists for places of interment; but neither their architecture nor ornaments, according to Castañeda's drawings of Mexican antiquities, indicate any East Indian symbol, unless we
are willing to admit their eight rings or stories as such. 1 According to a Buddhistic legend, the remains of Schakia were placed in eight metallic jars, and over these as many temples were erected. 2 But if Buddhism ever flourished in Central America, it certainly was not the pure religion of Schakia as it now exists in Nepaul, Thibet, and other parts of Asia, but a new religion, built upon its foundations. For the missionaries of Schakiamunis were in a manner Jesuits, who, the more readily to attain their aim, either based their doctrines upon, or intermixed them with, the existing manners and customs. The myth of the birth of the terrible Aztec god of war may possibly be a faded remain of the old Indian religion. Huitzilopotschli of Mexico was born in the same wonderful manner as Schakia of India; his mother saw a ball floating in the air, but one of shining feathers, placed it in her bosom, became pregnant, and gave birth to the terrible son, who came into the world with a spear in his right hand, a shield in his left, and a waving tuft of green feathers on his head. Juan de Grijalva, the nephew of Velasquez, was so much struck with the many instances of a high state of civilisation, and particularly with the magnificent buildings of Mexico, that he named the
peninsula New Spain, which term has since been extended to a much greater portion of the New World.
We know that the flora of the north-western part of America is closely allied to that of China, Japan, and other lands of Eastern Asia. 1 We may also assume that the Fusang-tree was formerly found in America, and afterwards, through neglect, became extinct. Tobacco and Indian-corn seen always to have been as natural to China as to the New World. 2 It is, however, much more probable that the traveller described a plant hitherto unknown to him, which supplies as many wants in Mexico as the original Fusang is said to do in Eastern Asia--I mean the great American aloe (Agave Americana), called by the Indians "Maguey," which is so remarkably abundant in the plains of New Spain. From the crushed leaves, even at the present day, a firm paper is prepared. Upon such paper those hieroglyphic manuscripts alluded to by the Buddhist missionary, and destroyed by the fanatic Spaniards, were written. From the sap an intoxicating drink is made. Its large stiff leaves serve to roof their low huts, and the fibres supply them with a variety of thread and ropes. From the boiled roots they prepare an agreeable food, and the thorns serve for pins and
needles. This wonderful plant, therefore, provides them with food, drink, clothing, and writing materials; being, in fact, so fully satisfactory to every want of the Mexicans, that many persons, well acquainted with the land and its inhabitants, have asserted that the maguey-plant must be exterminated ere sloth and idleness, the two great impediments which hinder them from attaining a higher social position, can be checked.
The use of iron, now found so plentifully in New Spain, was, as the Buddhist correctly remarked, unknown in Mexico. Copper and brass supplied its place, as was indeed the case at an early period in other countries. The natives prepared, according to Antonio de Herrera, two sorts of copper, a hard and a soft, the former of which was used to manufacture cutting tools and agricultural instruments, and the latter for pots and all manner of household implements. They understood the working of silver, tin, and lead mines; but neither the silver nor the gold which they picked up on the surface of the earth, or found in the beds of rivers, served as a circulating medium. These metals were not particularly prized in that land. Pieces of tin in the form of a common hammer, 1 and bundles of
cacao containing a determined number of seeds, were the usual money.
The laws of the Aztecs were very strict, yet in the few remaining fragments of their hieroglyphical pictures we find no trace of the regulations of the land "Fusang." There existed, however, in the days of Montezuma, an hereditary nobility, divided into several ranks, of which authors give contradictory statements. Zurita speaks of four orders of chiefs, who were exempted from the payment of taxes, and enjoyed other immunities. 1
Their method of marrying resembled that practised at the present day in Kamtschatka. We have no account of their mourning ceremonies, but know that the king had a particular palace in which he passed the time of mourning for his nearest relatives. 2 On the festivals of the gods they sounded horns and trumpets this may have been done by the companions of the king, as to a representative of the godhead. 3
The Aztecs reckoned according to a period of fifty-two years, and knew very exactly the time of the revolution of the earth about the ann. The ten-year cyclus spoken of in the Chinese report may have been a subdivision of the Aztec period, or have even been
used as an independent period, as was the case with the Chinese, who term their notations "stems." It is worthy of remark that among the Mongols and Mantchous these "stems" are named after colours, which perhaps have some relation to the several colours of the royal clothing in the cyclus of Fusang. 1 These Tartaric tribes term the first two years of the ten-year cyclus "green and greenish;" the two next "red and reddish," 2 and so, in continuation, yellow and yellowish, white and whitish, and finally black and blackish. It appears, however, impossible to bring this cyclus of the Aztecs into any relation with those of the Asiatics, who universally reckon by periods of sixty years.
The Aztecs had no beasts of draught or of burden. Horses were not found in the New World. The report of the Chinese missionary has, therefore, no connection with the later Mexican reigns. Two varieties of wild oxen with large horns ranged in herds on the plains of the Rio del Norte. 3 These might have been tamed by the earlier inhabitants, and used as domestic animals. Stag's horns have been found in the ruins of Mexican buildings; and Montezuma showed the Spaniards, as curiosities, immensely large horns of this description.
[paragraph continues] It is possible that the stags formerly ranged from New California, and other regions of North America, where they are still found in great numbers, to the interior of Mexico. To a native of China it must have seemed remarkable that the Mexicans should have prepared butter from hind's milk, since such a thing has seldom been done in China, either in ancient or modern times. When the inhabitants of Chusan saw the English sailors milking she-goats, they could not retain their gravity. It is indeed possible that the Chinese have described an animal similar to the horse with the character Ma, or horse, for changes of this nature are of frequent occurrence. 1 In such a manner many names of animals in the Old World have been applied to others of an entirely different nature in the New. The eastern limits of the Asiatic Continent are also the limits of the native land of the horse, and it appears that it was first taken in the third century of our era from Korea into Japan. But let the error in regard to the American horses have come from what source it will, the unprejudiced, circumspect inquirer will not be
determined on account of it to declare the entire story of Fusang-Mexico an idle tale. It appears to me that this description of the western coast of America is at least as authentic as the discovery of the eastern coast, as narrated in Icelandic sagas.
31:1 Mannert: Geographie der Griechen and Römer, v., Abtheilung ii. 19, 20, 53, and 55.
31:2 Vide History of Buddhism, which bears the title Tschi-jue-la, i.e., the Indian Guide, iii. 5, v.
32:1 Fa-kiai-ngan-litu, i.e., More Certain Tables of Religion, i. 22.
33:1 Vide Relation des Mongols ou Tartares, by the priest Jean du Plan de Carpin, Légat du Saint Siége Apostolique, &c., during the years 1215-47, given in the notice published by the Société de Geographie, under the above-mentioned title; the travels of Sir John Mandeville, and Jacques de Vitry; the works of Matthew of Paris, Joinville, Marco Polo; and more particularly the old legend of Prestre Jehan, reprinted in "Le Monde Enchantée," par M. Ferdinand Denis, Paris, 1843, p. 184.--C. G. L.
33:2 Vide Turpin's Chronicle, Warton; "The Book of Legends," by O’Sullivan, Paris, 1842; also "The Romance of King Alisander," Weber's "Metrical Romances."--C. G. L.
34:1 Antiquités Mexicaines, ii. 73, and Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society, ii. On the subject of the early Mexicans, the reader may consult Prescott's "History of the Conquest of Mexico,"--a work as much distinguished by substantial erudition and critical tact, as by its simple, truly historical statements. (Ebenso ausgezeichnet durch gründliche Gelehrsamkeit and kritischen Tact, wie durch einfache ächt geschichtliche Darstellung.)--CARL F. NEUMANN.
35:1 The chronological accounts of the different authors contradict each other; those of the learned Clavigero always appear to be the most correct.--PRESCOTT, i. ii.
35:2 Clavigero, Storia Antica del Messico, i. 153.
36:1 These circles suggest the eight rings of Odin, preserved in the eight arches of Norse towers. The ring of Odin produced every eighth night eight similar rings. It may be worth remarking in this connection, that the small pot-bellied phallic images in gold found in the graves of Central America, bear an extraordinary resemblance to a similar figure found in Ireland, and depicted on Etruscan vases.--C. G. L.
36:2 Asiatic Researches, xvi. 316.
37:1 Prescott., i. 143.
37:2 A very doubtful assertion, as regards tobacco. Vide communications in "Notes and Queries for China."--C. G. L.
38:1 Do not these hammer-shaped Mexican coins bear a resemblance to the well-known shoe-shaped ingots of Sycee silver current in China? As regards the copper, recent discoveries indicate that it. was brought by the Mexicans from the shores of Lake Superior. The highest northern traces of Mexican art and influence are, I believe, to be found in Tennessee.--C. G. L.
39:1 Prescott, i. 18.
39:2 Mithridates, iii. 33.
39:3 Bernal Dias; Historia de le Conquista, pp. 152, 153. Prescott, iii. 87, 97.
40:1 Gaubil: Observations Mathématiques, Paris, 1732, ii. 135.
40:2 The second couple being termed red agrees with that of the Fusang cyclus.--C. G. L.
40:3 Humboldt: Neuhispanien, ii. 133.
41:1 It is usual for all ignorant or unscientific people to give to animals for which they have no name that of some other creature with which they are familiar. Thus the gipsies speak of a fox as a weshni juckal, or wood-dog; of an elephant as a boro nakkescro gry, or great-nosed horse; of a monkey as a bombaros, and a lion as a boro bombaros, or big monkey, from their connection in menageries. Professor Neumann was probably ignorant of the fact, to which I allude more fully in another place, that the fossil remains of many horses found in America are of so recent a period, according to Professor Leidy, that they were probably coeval with man.--C. G. L.