Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mayan Ball Game

Imagine playing a game that if you win or lose it might mean the end of your life!

Evidence of the Mayan Ball Game can still be seen in many ruins in the jungles of Mexico and Honduras as can be seen in this photograph I took at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan recently.

It is believed the game was played with a hard rubber ball that participants had to through the vertical ring located at the top of the wall in order to score. The ball was not allowed to touch the ground during the competition and had to be kept in motion by using various parts of the men’s bodies, with the exception of the hands. The thighs and upper torso were the main parts of contact with the ball, although the lower parts of the body were also used. Sometimes, a ‘yoke’ was placed around the waist of a player which helped him direct the ball towards the desired goal.

There do not seem to be any firm rules or regulations in regard to the actual size of the courts that have been found around the world, but the court at Chichen Itza measures 12 meters high by 166 meters long and 68 meters in width. Another interesting point at the site are the carvings on the walls. These carvings depict serpents that are intertwined -- one can only imagine their meaning.