Sacred Texts  Earth Mysteries  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Pale Ink, by Henriette Mertz, [1953], at

p. 79


A Matter of Words

RECENTLY, while reading a book of legends concerning ancient Mexico, I came across one originating in Wicam Switch, Sonora. I had never heard of Wicam Switch. Sounding the name of the town, phonetically, in Spanish, it came out "Whee sham." "Whee sham"—Hwui Sham. It seemed incredible—yet there it was.

If Hwui Shan came into Mexico from California or Arizona, he would have travelled through Sonora. A name like that in that specific territory, may probably have been the merest coincidence, yet, there was no alternative but to examine it more thoroughly. If there were any others of a similar sound in that general territory, then this one was not coincidence—if there were none, then it was purely accidental. If Hwui Shan passed that way, and the people wished to perpetuate his memory, this would have been an appropriate way in which to have done it and it would, in all probability, have been done more than once.

On the chance that there were similarly related names close by, I checked the map to see and I found so many that the matter could no longer be in doubt. For a time, it seemed like the power of suggestion must have gotten the better of my reason. It looked like one was hiding back of every tree. Names that had no significance to one group were found neatly lodged in another and unrelated group—and with no apparent reason, meaning or significance there. Why would the Maya of Yucatan use a word with a root identical to the Huichol of the Mexican west coast—a people they never heard of? Their basic languages were different. They had no connection.

I decided to trace what I could and chose three words arbitrarily—"Hwui Shan," the name of the stranger within their gates; "Pi-k’iu," for he was a mendicant Buddhist priest; and "Saka-muni" whose religion he was teaching.

Using the same sound to the ear, and taking a choice of a dozen or more spellings, here is a small sample of what I found:

p. 80




Whee sham


Whee tam/o


Whee chol


Whee tzon/tla


Whee pac


Key han/o


Key(a) beeku(peekshu)


Whee tzo(n)


Tla/ whee


Whee la


Whee /tepec


Whee man/guillo


(A)Whee tzo(n)/la


Whay nam/ota


Peek a/sho


Pee tshu/calco


Pee ca/ho


Pee tshu













These towns are strung out from central Arizona to Yucatan. The cultures that they represent have no linguistic affinity for each other. In none of the cultures is there a meaning for any one of the three base words.

Sacaton, as pointed out earlier, was the situs of the effigy of Ha-ak and the giant horse. A shrine had been erected there to her memory. If Hwui Shan had visited that shrine, what more appropriate name could he have given it than the "place of Saka?" The location was a sacred place to the Indian—sacred spots are sacred to the Saka-muni, the holy man of Saka. Would that not be a logical name for another sacred spot?

Cuilapan, State of Oaxaca, famous for its cochineal and nopal cactus, was another name that appeared to be related phonetically to Hwui. "Cui" and "Hwui" sound very little different

p. 81

and "la" and "sha" are not too far distant. Taking into account the 1000 year lapse when the sound was transmitted orally, we can recognize that "Cui-la" probably started out as "Whee-sha"—the "pan" is a contraction of ichpan, meaning "within the enclosure." Hwui Shan would have been in that area.

"Hue nem" and "Hwui Shan" are too close to be overlooked. Point Hueneme, California, is the spot where I indicated earlier that I believed that Hwui Shan landed. The reason for so believing, is due to the highly significant name, coupled with the fact that names were given in association with some important occurrence. Point Hueneme is well within the general area where Hwui Shan would in all probability have landed and, therefore, I believe that this marks the actual spot.

Naming cities or villages after a person, or a home town, is an old and honored custom. We have Washington, D.C.; Washington State; Washington, Pennsylvania; Washington, Illinois; Washington, Iowa, plus one for most other states (places George never saw)—New York; Boston; Chester; Pittsburgh; Jamestown and hundreds of others. That the custom was in vogue in 500 A.D., in Yucatan, has foundation in the following account quoted from Bishop Landa:

"This Kukulcan established another city after arranging with the native lords of the country that he and they should live there and that all their affairs and business should be brought there; and for this purpose they chose a very good situation, eight leagues further in the interior than Merida is now, and fifteen or sixteen leagues from the sea. They surrounded it with a very broad stone wall, laid dry, of about an eighth of a league, leaving in it only two narrow gates. The wall was not very high and in the midst of this enclosure they built their temples, and the largest, which is like that of Chichen Itza, they called Kukulcan, and they built another building of a round form, with four doors, entirely different from all the others in that land, as well as a great number of others round about joined together. In this enclosure they built houses for the lords only, dividing all the land among them, giving towns to each one, according

p. 82

to the antiquity of his lineage and his personal value. And Kukulcan gave a name to this city—not his own as the Ah Itzas had done at Chichen Itza, which means the well of the Ah Itzas, but he called it Mayapan, which means the 'standard of the Maya,' because they called the language of the country Maya, and the Indians (say) 'Ichpa' which means 'within the enclosure.' This Kukulcan lived with the lords of that city for several years; and leaving them in great peace and friendship, he returned by the same way to Mexico, and on the way he stopped at Champoton, and, in memory of him and of his departure, he erected a fine building in the sea like that at Chichen Itza, a long stone's throw from the shore. And then Kukulcan left a perpetual remembrance in Yucatan."

The Ah Itzas named Chichen Itza after themselves—but Kukulcan did not, he called his city "Mayapan." Yet he left a building near Champoton in memory of himself. The custom was recognized. The Ah Itzas did it. Important personages perpetuated their own names in that day as well as this. Since "Kukulcan" did not wish to have the city named for himself, as the Ah Itzas did, either because he thought that there were already too many so named, or he wished to honor the name of some other, he named the city "Mayapan." He chose the name "Maya." Was there some good reason? Maya, it will be remembered, was the name of the mother of the Buddha. It would be a logical choice, would it not, for any Buddhist priest wishing to perpetuate the name of the mother of his saint, to name a city for her? "Mayapan" the city was named—within the enclosure of Maya.

If that one seems fantastic, its close neighbor is even more so. Back of the next tree, the most amazing one of all, to me at least, is Guatemala—the place of Gautama!

Both words—"Maya" and "Guatemala"—have bothered students of language for years. No root or meaning has so far been found for either of them. Perhaps this is the answer.

Recalling the story in the Mani Chronicle, of the "Tutul Xiu," who came to Yucatan from Mexico in company with Holon Chan Tepeuh, we noted the comparison of the noble-

p. 83

man called, in Chinese, "Tui-lu," with the "Tutul Xiu" of the Maya. It was pointed out that the Maya stated that the Mexican "Tutul Xiu" arrived in Yucatan accompanied by a stranger named "Holon Chan Tepeuh" and his subjects or followers. If the "Tutul Xiu" of the Maya were one and the same as the "Tui-lu" of the Chinese, then was not the Maya, in his hieroglyphics, trying to identify for us "Holon Chan Tepeuh" as "Hwui Shan, Pi-k’iu"? It can be no other than the Chinese name with a transmigration through Mayan hieroglyphics that has emerged. Holon Chan Tepeuh was of sufficient importance to have had his name remembered although the Tutul Xiu was not. Holon Chan was then more important than the lord with whom he came. He must, likewise, have made converts, since he was said to have been accompanied by his "subjects or followers." The Tutul Xiu was a dignitary—he was acting as a guide for a more important person, a stranger.

Insofar as the Mani Chronicle itself is concerned—was the name "Mani" originally "Muni"? What about "Champoton" the city by the sea that Kukulcan built as a final tribute? Was it a carry-over from the name of the great Buddhist stronghold in Cambodia, Champa? According to Fa-hien, the Buddha walked in Champa during one of his periods of meditation.

One final word needed looking into. The dance of the "Chinelos" was stated to have been called "Zinelohque" in Nahuatl, according to Dr. Redfield. The word, Zinelohque, itself suggested the present-day sound of Sinaloa, the area in which the dance was supposed to have originated.

If the ancient Nahuatl used a word "Zinelohque," and gave it a meaning of "Chinese" or "foreign," would it not be fair to assume that, if the Chinese were in that section, that they themselves named the area "Sin-lo"? "Sin-lo" was the ancient Chinese name for Korea. (Fa-hien spelled it SINHALA). Korea may have been the last place the Chinese had sight of land when leaving their homes, or the coast of Mexico reminded them of the coast of Korea—whatever the reason—the Chinese no doubt did the naming. Further, was it the Nahuatl who shortened the word, as they had a habit of shortening words,

p. 84

and called the foreigners "Sino"? Then did the early Spaniards set the sound down as "Chino"? Perhaps a study could be made in the pueblecito of Chinoaqui, Sinaloa.

Sin-loa, Sinaloa and Zinelohque, are not words that would crash into a language unintroduced. They were brought there.

Next: Chapter X. Hwui Shan, Traveller par Excellence