isis unveiled: chapter xiv (ancient mysteries)

“When Stephens asked the native Indians “Who built Copan? What nation traced the hieroglyphic designs, sculptured these elegant figures and carvings, these emblematical designs?” The dull answer he received was “Quien sabe?” – who knows! “All is mystery; dark, impenetrable mystery”, writes Stephens. “In Egypt, the colossal skeletons of gigantic temples stand in all the nakedness of desolation. Here, an immense forest shrouded the ruins, hiding them from sight.”

But there are perhaps many circumstances, trifling from archeologists unacquainted with the “idle and fanciful” legends of old, hence overlooked; otherwise, the discovery might have sent them on a new train of thought. One is the invariable presence in the Egyptian, Mexican, and Siamese ruined temples, of the monkey.

The Egyptian cynocephalus assumes the same postures as the Hindu and Siamese Hanouma; and among the sculptured fragments of Copan, Stephens found the remains of colossal apes and baboons, “strongly resembling in outline and appearance the four monstrous animals which once stood in front, attached to the base of the obelisk of Luxor, now in Paris, and which, under the name of the cynocephali, were worshipped at Thebes.”

In almost every Buddhist temple there are idols of huge monkeys kept, and some people have in their houses white monkeys on purpose “to keep bad spirits away.” “Was civilization”, writes Louis de Carne, “in the complex meaning we give that word, in keeping among the ancient Cambodians with what such prodigies of architecture seem to indicate?

The age of Pheidias was that of Sophocles, Socrates, and Plato: Michael Angelo and Raphael succeeded Dante. There are luminous epochs during which the human mind, developing itself in every direction, triumphs in all, and creates masterpieces which spring from the same inspiration.” “Nagkon-Wat”, concludes Vincent, “must be ascribed to other than ancient Cambodians. But to whom? There exist no credible traditions; all is absurd fable or legend.” The latter sentence has become of late a sort of cant phrase in the mouths of travelers and archeologists.

H. P. Blavatsky

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