Ball court or field used for the ritual ball game ollama, played throughout pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.Some myths mention the game as a symbolic contest between day and night deities. The object of the game, played in teams, was to use elbows, knees, and hips to drive the ball through the opponent's goal. The game was accompanied by heavy betting. It was extremely violent, and severe injuries were frequent, despite the players' protective clothing. Losing players were apparently sometimes sacrificed, and the ball may sometimes have consisted of a human head wrapped in latex.
* * *▪ Aztec sporting fieldthe ball court, or field, used for the ritual ball game (ollama) played throughout pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Possibly originating among the Olmecs (La Venta culture, c. 800–c. 400 BC) or even earlier, the game spread to subsequent cultures, among them those of Monte Albán and El Tajín; the Maya (as pok-ta-pok); and the Toltec, Mixtec, and Aztec. In Aztec times, ollama was a nobles' game and was often accompanied by heavy betting. Various myths mention the ball game, sometimes as a contest between day and night deities. It is still played in isolated regions. “Tlachtli” and “ollama” are Nahuatl words.The ball court, shaped like a capital I with serifs and oriented north–south or east–west, represented the heavens. Players, wearing heavy padding, used elbows, knees, and hips to knock a solid rubber ball into the opponent's end of the court; in post-Classic times (after c. AD 900), the object was to hit the ball through one of two vertical stone rings (placed on each side of the court). The ball represented the sun (or moon or stars), and the rings represented the sunrise and sunset or the equinoxes. Extremely violent, the game often caused serious injury and, occasionally, death.
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