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Mexico> Yucatan Penninsula> Chichén Itzá> Juego de Pelota

Mexico - Yucatan Penninsula

Juego de Pelota

( Sightseeing / Archaeological Sites )

A Karen Brown Recommendation
Chichén Itzá


Juego de Pelota (Great Ball Court): This dramatic ball court is the largest in Mesoamerica and while there are 12 other ball courts at Chichén Itzá, this one is spectacular. The game was played as a ritual performance, as well as a sport, and is one of the hallmarks of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican culture. At the end of the ball game, the captain who lost was often sacrificed to the gods. This sacrificial scene is realistically carved in a long frieze along both side walls of the court. Look carefully and you will see two rows of ball players standing behind each captain. At the center, these captains face each other across a large rubber ball enclosing a skeletal head. One of the captains stands holding a knife in one hand and a severed head in the other; his opponent kneels and from his headless neck issue seven streams of blood. This graphic scene speaks clearly to the practice of human sacrifice and the offering of human blood to the gods to ensure fertility of crops and the continuity of life.

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