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Ball Game, Pre-Columbian


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Postby Faerisar В» 06.03.2020

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Pre-Columbian Ball Game, also known as ulama or tlachtli , a very complex game played with a rubber ball by the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica Mexico, Guatemala, and adjacent territories. Rubber, native to the New World, was unknown in Europe until Columbus brought back a solid rubber ball. The pre-Columbian game was played a bit like soccer, except that the feet were not employed to advance the ball.

Players could strike it with hips, legs, or elbows. The fifteen-pound rubber ball was deflected from a U-shaped yoke worn over the hips. Protective padding was worn around the waist and on the arms and knees, and gloves protected the hands. There were probably training games. Official games were performed within stonemasonry ball courts with side enclosures and end zones.

The ball was deflected back and forth into the narrow court from sloping benches and vertical walls that sometimes held stone rings for scoring. A point was lost if the ball touched the paved court. This ball game was played in all regions of Mesoamerica, with variations, for 3, years bce— ce. It still survives in Sinaloa, Mexico. In the Classic Period, prior to Aztec times, the game was more of a religious ritual than a team sport.

It also had political and military overtones. However, its fundamental symbolism reflected Mesoamerican philosophy pertaining to the maintenance of agricultural fertility and the cosmos itself. The rubber ball, ideally kept constantly in motion, represented the sun, the moon, or Venus.

At the conclusion of a ritual game the loser or perhaps the winner was decapitated. This sacrifice was believed to aid the sun on its journey from day to night and its reappearance at dawn, after having defeated the lords of the underworld.

Like the sun, the chosen ball player was metaphorically transformed and reborn. The symbolism of the ball game was characteristically dualistic: dry season -rainy season, sky-underworld, day-night, sun-moon, and death-rebirth.

Spanish chroniclers recorded eyewitness accounts of the Aztec game, and archaeology provides us with narrative carved stone sculpture and ceramics depicting the pre-Columbian cult and its meanings.

Among the finest surviving portable stone objects from Mesoamerica are the decorated hip yokes and associated paraphernalia. These were probably ceremonial replicas of the wood or leather equipment used in the game. Leyenaar, eds. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

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