Mayan Ball Game

Running head: MAYAN BALL GAME 1
Mayan Ball Game
Mayan Ball Game
The Mayan people competed against each other by playing the Ball Game. The ball game
was believed to exist in two versions; one was played as a sport while the other had some betting
involved in it. The paper discusses the opinions of Montaigne about the Mayan ball game.
Montaigne viewed the ball game as one, which is associated with a spiritual story of the
Gods from Maize, and the Hero twins from the book known as Popol Vuh. The story is told that
the Maize Gods were eager about players of the ball game who were buried on the play-field by
the Lords from Underworld. The Underworld killed the players as they were distracting them
with noise from the game. When one of the Maize gods underwent hunging, he spit on the palm
of a daughter and impregnated her and the lady later gave birth to twin sons, The Hero Twins are
the only ones who endured the suffering that was imposed on the people by the gods. Montaigne
thus acknowledged it was vital to play the ball game for their existence.
Montaigne also viewed ball game as one that was conducted for political reasons.
Whenever, the ball game was held, there was a belief that the losing side would realize the fall of
their Kingdom. For instance, the ball game that was held at the capital of Tenochtitlan between
the Aztec king and the king of Texcoco was used to predict the fall of the kingdom of the Aztec
king. The ball game was used to determine the truth of the prediction that had been made earlier.
When the ball game was played, the truth was confirmed as Aztec king, lost his kingdom as
predicted earlier. The ball game played a significant role in confirming the prediction.
Montaigne also viewed the ball game as one that was used to reveal the suffering the
Hero Twins went through. When the ball game was held at the court, there had to be a loser and
a winner. The winning team was awarded with trophies like hachas and palmas which
represented the human head. The winners were awarded because it was a belief that they had
fought a great war against the Maize gods who were so humiliating and therefore they needed to
be appreciated. On the other hand, the losers were humiliated by being captured and tied up and
then using them as the ball by rolling them down a series of stairs. The humiliation symbolized
the ordeal the Hero Twins went through during the reign of the Maize gods.
Montaigne viewed the ball game as a ceremonial event. The awards that were presented
to the winning team like the hachas was considered as a piece of ceremonial equipment in the
court. A palma, on the other hand, was a ceremonial costume that was put on by the ball players
and are represented in stone and mostly take the form of arms. The event was full of happiness,
especially at the point of giving rewards to the winning team as they were celebrating hard times
that the Hero Twins overcame as a result of the wrath of the Maize gods. The ceremony was
deemed religious in one way or another, as the losing team were sacrificed to the gods so that
they would also celebrate together with the living.
Joyce, R. A., & Meskell, L. M. (2014). Embodied Lives:: Figuring Ancient Maya and Egyptian
Experience. Routledge.

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