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


From Mayapán these people retained the custom of punishing adulterers in the following manner. The investigation having been made and the man convicted of adultery, the leading men gathered at the chief's house and brought the adulterer tied to a piece of wood, delivering him to the husband

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of the woman. If he pardoned him he went free, if not, he killed him bf dropping a large stone on his head, from a height. For the woman a sufficient punishment was the infamy, which was great; and commonly for this he left her.

The penalty for homicide, even when involuntary, was death at the hands of the relatives, unless he paid himself off. A thief had to reimburse the value, and was besides enslaved, however small the theft, which was a reason why they had so many slaves, especially in times of hunger. Because of this the friars made special effort to baptise them, that they might be set at liberty. If the thief was one of the chiefs or leading men, they assembled and having seized him scarified both sides of his face from the beard to the forehead, which constitutes a major dishonor.

The young men respected the elders highly, and took their counsels and sought to pass as mature. The elders said to the younger ones that since they had witnessed more, what they said should be received with credit, so that the youths following this would gain the more respect themselves. So much was the respect given to the elder men that the youths did not mingle with them, except in cases of necessity, such as marriages. Also they visited little among the married people; so that it was the custom to have in each town a large building, whitewashed and open on all sides, where the young men gathered for their pastimes. They played ball, and a certain game with beans like dice, and many others. Here they nearly always slept, all together, until they were married.

And since I have heard it said that in other parts of the Indies they were guilty of unnatural offenses in these houses, I have not learned of their doing this in this country, nor do I believe they did so; this because they say that those addicted to this pestilential vice care nothing for women, as these people did. For it was their habit to bring to these places the public women and make use of them; and it is said that among them the poor creatures who took up this mode of life, although they were paid therein, were so beset by the number of the youths that they were harassed even to death.

They painted their bodies black before marriage, but were not tattooed until after, except slightly. As to other things they always accompanied their fathers, and so became as great idolaters as they; and they helped them much in their labors.

The Indian women raised their children both harshly and wholly naked. Four or five days after the child was born they laid it on a small cot made of rods, face down, with the head between two pieces of wood, one on the occiput and the other on the forehead, tying them tightly, and leaving it suffering for several days until the head, thus squeezed, became permanently flattened, as is their custom. This however caused so great distress and risk for the

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poor infants that they were at times in danger of death; and the author hereof saw one where the head was pressed back of the ears, which must have been happened to many.

They were brought up entirely naked, but at about four or five years of age they gave them a wrap for sleeping, and strips of cloth to cover themselves as their fathers did; the little girls also began to cover themselves from the girdle down. They suckled much, for the mothers never ceased to give them milk as long as they could, until three or four years old; from this there has resulted so many robust people in the country.

For the first two years they grew up marvelously pretty and fat; after that, due to the constant bathing by their mothers, and the heat of the sun, they became tanned. But during the whole of their childhood they were jolly and lively, always armed with bows and arrows, and playing with each other. Thus they grew up until they began to behave as youths, taking on more importance, and leaving children's things.

Next: XXXI. Clothing and Ornaments of the Indian Women