Pok-A-Tok was an ancient Maya ball game that was played in the region that is now the Cancun and Riviera Maya area well over a thousand years ago. In addition, there is evidence that both the Toltecs and the Aztecs played variants of the game, as there are stadiums (for want of a better description) located all across Mexico.
The ball court was one of the first things to be constructed whenever the Aztecs moved into a new territory, which is why it was considered to be the most significant of the old Aztec sports. It was a very challenging game that was played with a big rubber ball (the name of the game comes from the word ulli, or rubber).
The name ‘llamalitzli, which may also be spelt ‘ullamaliztli,’ refers to the Aztec version of the game of ball and is derived from the word ‘lli,’ which means ‘rubber,’ and the verb ‘llama,’ which means ‘to play ball.’ The actual ball was known as llamaloni, and the field where it was played was referred to as a tlachtli.
The ancient Mesoamerican ballgame was played by a huge number of people, including the Mayans, and the Aztecs developed their own variation of the game. The game had two teams that competed against each other and were forced to do so on the court. The challenge consisted of getting a tough ball made of rubber through a hoop made of stone.
Pitz, an ancient Maya ballgame, played an important role in Maya society, including their politics, religion, and social life. To win the game, which was played with a rubber ball varying in size from that of a softball to that of a soccer ball, participants had to attempt to pass the ball through stone hoops that were affixed to the sides of the ball court without using their hands.
During the time of the Aztecs, ollama was a game reserved for nobles and was frequently accompanied by extensive wagering. Several different tales discuss the game of baseball, often framing it as a competition between day and night deities. In certain remote areas, the game is still sometimes played. The Nahuatl language gave us the phrases tlachtli and ollama.
Its name varied—ullamaliztli in Aztec, pok-ta-pok or pitz in Maya—and so were its rules, which featured actions such as keeping the ball in play by bumping it with body parts or using racquets or bats. The game was also known by a variety of other names.
Religious importance In Mesoamerican culture, the game of ball also carried a significant religious connotation. For instance, in Aztec civilization, the game was intended to symbolize the battle that took place every day on the ″ball court″ in the underworld, where the sun struggled with the darkness to get through.
Historians are still unclear on many aspects of the game, but one thing is confirmed: players could only use their hips, forearms, and knees to play the nine-pound rubber ball. This is the only component of the game that is known for certain. The players’ goal was to get the absurdly heavy ball through the hoop that was set before them.
The Aztecs carried on this proud tradition of the loser losing all, as evidenced by the fact that several vases and sculptures illustrate the inevitability of beheading the losing team. Even some images of people playing ball with the skulls of the people who lost serving as a substitute for a ball may be found.
The consequence for losing a game may be as severe as one’s own life in extreme cases. It was common practice to take the life of the team captain of the losing side. This was consistent with the Mayan worldview, which held that the continuous prosperity of the people’s agriculture, commerce, and health depended on the performance of ritualized human sacrifices.
One of these games is known as Pok-A-Tok, and there is evidence that it was performed as part of a ceremonial by the Maya around 1,400 years BC. When you think of a game that was played so many years ago, you could imagine that the activity has been done away with for a very long time. This traditional Maya ball game has been kept alive in recent years by a group of young men from Belize.
There is evidence that shows that ancient civilizations including the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas played ball games similar to what we know today as football. These games might have been the ancestors of modern football.
How does one go about playing Pok-A-Tok?