America: Mexico

The Ballgame

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Maya
 

The ballgame, in Maya Pok ta Pok, was remarkable rite practiced in several parts of Mesoamerica, and there were courts for it in almost all Maya cities.

Their ground plan was I shaped, bounded by either sloping or vertical walls, with targets on them and an area for spectators on top.

Courts were built in ceremonial centers and walls were carved with relieves alluding to mythological and religious significance of the game, since it was associated with myth and universe.

Ball reproduced the movement of stars in the sky and two opposing teams often symbolized the struggle between day and night or between gods and the Underworld and those of Sky.

The game was often accomplished by ritual beheading to ensure the earth's fertility. Some experts say that captain of winning team was executed, others that this was the fate of losers, and yet others that prisoners of war were the ones sacrificed.

However, the game was also entertainment that showed off player's skill: The solid rubber ball was propelled with the hip from one side of court to the other to score.

At the same time the object was to shoot it through one of the stone hoops jutting from the side walls of the court. Because this was extremely difficult and only managed very occasionally it brought the team immediate victory.

The spectators would bet on their favorite team, showing that the game also had its non-religious side.

 

 

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