Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Peruvian -Mesoamerican Legend: Leaving Tulan Bountiful – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding a legend of Mesoamerica and to see how this ties into the legends of South America) 
    Ross T. Christensen continues his comments (“The Seven Lineages of Lehi,” The New Era, May 1975: p. 40): “The time range covers most of the 1,000 years of Nephite history, suggesting that the seven lineages were a stable feature among the posterity of Lehi. Notice also that the Lord still recognized their existence some 1,400 years later in the present dispensation” (D&C 3:17-18).
The problem with this statement is that the scripture Christensen is quoting does not say thatit says that the knowledge of the Nephites and Jacobites and Josephites and the Zoramites, through the testimony of their fathers..." i.e., meaning that the written words of these ancients in the form of the Book of Mormon, will come forth to the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, which is the verse following: "And this testimony shall come to the knowledge of the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the Ishmaelites..." (D&C 3:18). 
    Christensen go on to claim that this seven tribes concept stems from Lehi himself: “One of the many enduring legacies of Lehi’s last will and testament appears to be the organization of his descendants into seven tribes...Lehi spoke first to Zoram (2 Nephi 1:30-32), second to Jacob (2 Nephi 4:10), and seventh to Nephi and Sam together (2 Nephi 4:11)...the sevenfold division of the people was an important feature of Nephite civilization. It may even have set a pattern for other Nephite organizations.”
The blessing of children by a father, especially sons, by a father in Israel is an age old custom dating back to the beginning of time and recorded in several places in the scriptural record. It was not unique to Lehi and had nothing to do with organizing sons into tribes or divisions
 However, we do not find this occurring in the scriptural record for the purpose of organizing tribes. The area of Lehi speaking to his children, found in 2 Nephi 1:2 through 2 Nephi 4:12, beginning with his speaking to Zoram in 2 Nephi 1:28, and Jacob 2 Nephi 2:1, is not an organizing process, but one of a father, near death, leaving a blessing on his children. In fact, Lehi clarifies why he is speaking to his sons and the others: "I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning" (2 Nephi 2:14), and he is speaking to them collectively, "And now, my sons, I would that ye should look..." (2 Nephi 2:28), and also "I have spoken these few words unto you all, my sons, in the last days of my probation" and he does so for "the everlasting welfare of your souls" (2 Nephi 2:30). He then goes on to speak to Joseph, his last-born (2 Nephi 3:1) and ending his speaking to Joseph with "And now, blessed art thou, Joseph. Behold thou art little..." (2 Nephi 3:25). At this point, Nephi injects a short comment about Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, then Lehi continues with speaking to Laman and his sons and daughters (2 Nephi 4:3) for the purpose of "I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you" (2 Nephi 4:5); following this Lehi spoke to "the sons and daughters of Lemuel" (2 Nephi 4:8-9), followed with the sons of Ishmael and all his household (2 Nephi 4:10), then Sam, and Nephi then states: "After Lehi had spoken unto all his household...he died and was buried" (2 Nephi 4:12). None of this suggests that Lehi was organizing his posterity into seven tribes, but merely giving them a father's blessing before he died, as any parent might do, even today.
    The Mesoamericanist goes on to say: "After all, Alma established seven churches in the land of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 25:23), and traditions claim that ancient Mesoamericans sprang from seven ‘caves’ (houses) or lineages.” Christensen concludes by saying: “We don’t know exactly where the seven lineages are...but they exist somewhere because the Lord promised in 1828 to bring them to a knowledge of the Savior.” As stated above, those lineages making up the Nephites of old do not exist as far as we know, they were annihilated in 385 B.C. at Cumorahwe only know of three of those lineages, Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael, that made up the Lamanites overall. Again, Christensen injects his own opinions despite contrary information found in the scriptural record.
    Returning to the original concept of Tulan, there is additional corroborating data from another pre-conquest Quiche-Maya source that links the seven tribes and their landing site in Mesoamerica at Tulan: 
“...The Xahil family, one of the royal lines of the Quiches of the highlands of Guatemala, left an account in the Maya tongue entitled Annals of the Xahil, which according to ethnologist, Daniel G. Brinton, are better known by the Spanish titles Anales de los Xahil, Memorial de Tecpán-Atitlán or Memorial de Sololá, is a manuscript written in Kaqchikel by Francisco Hernández Arana Xajilá in 1571, and completed by his grandson, Francisco Rojas, in 1604 (The Annals of the Cakchiquels, Philadelphia, 2007, pp54-55,59, originally written in 1845)
    It is stated by Hunter and Ferguson:  “We were brought forth, coming we were begotten by our mothers and our fathers, as they say...They say that the seven tribes arrived first at Tullan, and we the warriors followed, having taken up the tributes of all the seven tribes when the gate of Tullan was opened,’” It is also observed by them that the Xahila record likewise indicates a departure from an old world “Tullan” (Bountiful) and the settlement of seven tribes in a principal homeland, “Tulan,” in the new world (p87). It should also be noted, as Edwin M. Woolley stated in “Tulan: Tulan Means Beautiful,” that it is common in the Maya language to find variant spellings of one word, thus Tulan sometimes appears as Tullan, with two l’s instead of one.
    Mesoamerican theorirst claims that there is a hint in this Xahil account that their landing site at Tullan was in the vicinity of Guatemala: “...It would be noted that the Xahila account indicates that the seven tribes, whose center was Tullan, were required to pay tribute to the Quiche warriors of the Guatemala highlands” (Bruce W. Warren, “Stela 5: Nephite or Lamanite?” The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, No. 1, Fall 1991, p12).
    Woolley also states: “In 1991, an interesting bit of archaeological evidence from the site of Bilbao, Guatemala (about 50 miles down the coast from Abaj Takalik and 85 miles from Izapa), appeared in this same article by Dr. Bruce W. Warren” (Bruce W. Warren, Stela 5: Nephite or Lamanite?” The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, No 1, Fall 1991, p12)
The bottom-right area of monument 21 portrays the “seven lineages” theme with a depiction of the birth or emergence of the seven tribes. The seven name-glyphs are inside the U-shaped element which, in Mesoamerican art, is considered the symbol of the womb (Diane E. Wirth, A Challenge to the Critics - Scholarly Evidences of the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City, Utah: Horizon Publishing, Salt Lake City, 1986, p127).
    In her article, she points out that “The central figure of this illustrated story in stone is, significantly, not of so-called Indian stock; his features are those of a Caucasian. 
Yellow Circle: Caucasian features: Blue Circle: Umbilical-type serpent rope

“Tied to his leg is an umbilical-type serpent rope which shows, in symbolic language, an ancestral tie-or bond—to the personage portrayed as a small head. This head which is one of seven, in a U-shaped enclosure that may represent a boat...water is seen spewing from a hole in the side of the vessel, almost certainly depicting the ancestral womb from whence these tribes emerge.”
    In addition, “In Mesoamerican art the U-shaped element is regarded as the symbol of the womb, and consequently represents not only birth but the place of emergence...the U-shaped element…containing the seven heads, has a spongy-looking texture composing the sides of this design and is representative of a mother’s womb...Four of the heads within the womb/boat enclosure are no doubt portrayed with symbols identifying their lineage."
(See the next post, "A Peruvian-Mesoamerican Legend: Leaving Tulan Bountiful - Part III," for more on this original legend and the tie-in to Peru)


  1. Thank you for "Peruvian - MesoAmerican Legend" series.

    This type of information is fascinating to me.

    This information is the type of things I looked for in libraries (long before the Internet, but libraries and books are still better in my opinion. )

    Thank you very much!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for the comment.