Topic: Essays

Last updated: February 21, 2019

The Mayan ball game was called Pitz and it was a component of the Mayan’s political, religious, and social life. It was played with a rubber ball about the size of a soccer ball. The players had to bounce the ball with any part of their body, without utilizing their hands, through the stone hoops on the sides of the court. The ball court was a symbol of wealth and power. The ball game was a different way for resolving disputes rather than war.Only the greatest warriors could play in the game.

There were two teams, and they wore protective equipment. There were different reasons for the ritual, and one was to resolve disputes. The story, Popol Vuh, associated the ball game with the Maize Gods and the Hero Twins. The Mayans believed in a dark place called Xibalba, which means a place of fear. Brothers, Hunahpu and Xbalanque went to the underworld to fight against death and darkness. The Maize Gods were enthusiastic players who were killed by the underworld and buried on the ball court for being too noisey. “Place his head in the midst of the tree that is planted by the road” (Popol Vuh 114). The head of one of the gods hung from a tree.

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The head spits out into the daughter of the Lord of the Underworld’s hands and impregnates her. She had twin sons, the Hero Twins, who were named Hunahpu and Xbalanque. They get revenge for their father and uncle’s death by bringing them back on the court. They survive the trials of the underworld given to them by the Lords of Xibalba, while the Maize Gods remained on the court to be honored by humans. “They were sacrificed and transformed into the sun and the moon” (Lopez 2017). The Hero Twins could not resurrect their father, so they left him buried in the court. In “Of Cannibals,” Montaigne talks about a cannibalistic society, explaining that we are no better. He compares the society in Brazil to the Europeans.

The Mayans were like the Brazilian cannibals. I believe Montaigne would like to look at them and the Mayan ball game. In relation to their religious beliefs, Mayans performed sacrifices.

They believed human blood was what they could offer. They also believed the sacrifices kept the sun rising and setting each day.


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