Maya, one of the civilised peoples of the New World, whose chief seat was in Yucatan, from them often called Mayapan; but the Maya race and culture were spread far beyond this region as far north as Tamaulipas and throughout Guatemala, southwards to Honduras. In the 16th century the chief divisions were: - The Yncatecs or Mayas proper (Cocomes. Tutul-Xuis, Itzas, Cheles) of Yucatan; the Ch iapanecs, Lacandons, Tzendals, and Quelemes in Chiapas; the Quiches dominant in the interior of Guatemala; the Mams, Pokoinans, and Cakchiquels in south and south-east Guatemala and north Honduras; the Huastecs of Vera Cruz and Tamaulipas. These constitute the Maya-Quiche family, all of whom spoke closely allied clialects of the primitive Maya stock language, and most of whom still survive; for of all native races none have shown more vigour and tenacity than the Mayas in preserving their national characteristics, usages, traditions, and languages. In Yucatan they still form compact masses, little affected by Spanish influences, and on the east coast have to this day even succeeded in maintaining their political independence in a strip of territory extending from Cape Catoche to British Honduras. In the interior many of the whites have forgotten their mother-tongue, and even in the capital (Merida) Maya is universally spoken. Physically the Mayas are a fine race with thickset, bony frames, of mean height, light brown complexion, almost regular features, delicate hands and feet, round head, and remarkably intelligent expression. Their monuments are covered with inscriptions in a writing system, which was evidently greatly in advance of the Aztec, and which, although still undeciphered, seems to contain numerous purely.
phonetic characters. The monuments themselves such as the temples, palaces, pyramids of Palenque, Uxmal, Chichen-Itza - and the lately-discovered "Lorillard City," present many curious architectural features, and are specially remarkable for their elaborate carvings, vast size, and massive character. Over sixty groups of ruins have already been surveyed, and many more undoubtedly lie still buried in the recesses of the forests, especially about the Guatemala and Chiapas frontiers. The great age formerly assigned to these ruins has not been confirmed by the observations of recent archaeologists, and it now seems probable that most of the structures cannot have been erected many centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards. (Stephens, Catherwood, Charnay.)