Pok -A- Tok is like a cross between soccer and basketball—except much, much more difficult to play . The object of the game was for the two opposing side to try and hit the hard rubber ball into a stone hoop placed at both ends of the playing field. You could only pass and shoot the ball using your thighs and hips.
The game was invented sometime in the Preclassical Period (2500-100 BCE), probably by the Olmec, and became a common Mesoamerican-wide feature of the urban landscape by the Classical Period (300-900 CE). Eventually, the game was even exported to other cultures in North America and the Caribbean.
n. Definition : A ritual ball game of the Maya, versions of which are found throughout Mesoamerica. Played with a solid rubber ball, and heavy pads, the object of the game was to knock the ball with any part of the body except the hands through a stone scoring ring.
The penalty for losing a game was sometimes unusually harsh: death. The leader of the team who lost the game was sometimes killed. This fit in with the Mayan belief that human sacrifice was necessary for the continued success of the peoples’ agriculture, trade, and overall health.
The winner (yes, winner !) of the game was sacrificed, which was then the highest honor bestowed on a Mayan player. Pok – Ta – Pok ball courts, which must have been inspiration for Harry Potter’s Quidditch, can still be found at Mayan archeological sites, such as Chichen Itza, and Uxmal.
Humans and the lords of the underworld battled it out by playing the game , according to the creation story the known as the Popol Vuh. In this way, the ball court was a portal to Xibalba — the Mayan underworld. There are even some depictions of ball players playing with the heads of the losers in place of a ball.
Although much of the Maya life was spent doing hard work, they did enjoy entertainment as well. A lot of their entertainment was centered around religious ceremonies. They played music, danced, and played games such as the Maya ball game.
Interesting Facts about Maya Pyramids and Architecture Many times new pyramids were built on top of old pyramids . Archeologists have found several more pyramids inside and under existing pyramids .
According to the rules, you could only touch the ball with your elbows, hips and knees! You weren’t allowed to use your hands at all. We did what we could to recreate the game in the hall. Pok-ta-pok was a really significant part of Maya culture and was often shown in paintings and sculptures.
A point was scored for one team when the opposing team failed to return the ball before it bounced a second time, or when the ball reached the opposing end zone (or when thrown through one of the two stone rings, a later addition).
Pok Ta Pok is one of the variations of the Mesoamerican ball game also known to the Aztecs as Tlachtli, as Pitz to the Classic Maya, and still played in parts of Mexico as Ulama. And, with over 1,300 ball courts having been identified, the popularity of Mesoamerican ball games would have put the NFL to shame.
Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice .
Scholars have suggested a number of potential reasons for the downfall of Maya civilization in the southern lowlands, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, warfare, shifting trade routes and extended drought. It’s likely that a complex combination of factors was behind the collapse.
Mysterious Decline of the Maya One by one, the Classic cities in the southern lowlands were abandoned, and by A.D. 900, Maya civilization in that region had collapsed. The reason for this mysterious decline is unknown, though scholars have developed several competing theories.