Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mayan Ball Game

The day after the Mayan ceremonial dance, we were invited to attend a demonstration of the ancient Mayan Ball Game. In ancient times, this game was played in a ceremonial ball field typically adjacent to the temples and/or temple plaza. The losers of the game were often sacrificed.

The Shaman calls the game to begin, pomp and circumstance follow with a procession of the costumed dancers, copal incense galore, 2 teams of players all accompanied by ongoing drums, flutes and chanting. The softball sized rubber ball is batted around - reminiscent of volleyball warm-ups - for the first round. The Shaman then begins a new chant and the game begins. The ball is "served" after kneeling and then bounced off the arms of the players, back and forth until someone can score a "goal" by hitting the ball through the ring suspended on the side of the court. It was explained to us that the Mexican Mayans played without using their arms or hands - the ball was bounced off their hips, while the Guatemalan Mayans only used their arms and hands.

Unfortunately, the first game was played in darkness with vehicle headlights as lighting and therefore made it unable for us to photograph. Sorry!

We were then treated to yet another game--a ring on a stand was brought into the ball court, the female attendants lit the ring on fire, the players returned to the court and the ball itself was also lit on fire. The sides took turns serving the ball either to be volleyed or hit through the ring for a score.

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