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The ANCIENT and MYSTERIOUS MAYAN BALLGAME, the Ultimate Sport for OVER 1500 Years
The BALLCOURT MARKER from Copan, in the jungles of Honduras


Enjoy the ultimate life-or-death sport! Imagine football, basketball, soccer, hockey all rolled into one extreme game. This exclusive disk is an accurate reproduction of the floor marker from an ancient ball court in the jungles of Honduras, placed there 1300 years ago by one of the greatest Mayan rulers,18-Rabbit. The stakes of this ball game were literally life and death. Although the exact rules are shrouded in mystery, people played it avidly in nearly every Central and Meso-American city for over 1500 years. The game appears to have been played with a hard rubber ball roughly the size of a grapefruit (~8" in diameter). The object of the game was apparently to score points by getting the ball through a hole in a vertical stone disc (such discs can be seen on the left and right sides of center court in picture below). It is believed that the rules prohibited actually touching the ball with the hand or having the ball hit the ground. The buttocks, thighs and upper torso were used to control the ball. A thick heavy deflector called a 'yoke' was often worn around the waist of a player to help direct the ball.

While the importance and appeal of this game throughout all of Mexico and Central America (and perhaps beyond) is obvious, there appears to no uniform standards as to the layout (width, length, position of scoring hoops, walls, etc.) of the court itself. Imagine having fixed rules but a variable court! Winning or losing The Ballgame the game has also been controversial. For many years it was believed that the winner may have been sacrificed to the gods as a 'the perfect' offering and that being such a god sacrifice was a great honor. Many now believe the loser was sacrificed. Perhaps no one was sacrificed! Truthfully we don't actually know. It does, however, give new meaning to the 'price of winning' or 'giving it your all'.

This marker was found in the floor of a Mayan ball court at Copan. It also actually shows a scene from the ballgame itself. The two columns or glyphs in the upper center of the marker identify the players and the time period. On the left is the King, 18-Rabbit wearing protective padding around chest, neck and shoulders (not unlike that worn in football or hockey). He also wears shorts with a large piece of knotted cloth protecting the groin area. He is squaring off against the great god of the number Zero, pictured on the right. This deity is frequently associated with the underworld and is known as the death god of sacrifice. The lower part of the jaw of this figure is actually a hand. This figure represents completion, or zero, in the Mayan counting system. In the god's hand is a human head. Both figures are kneeling ready to strike the ball which, according to the other markers, has just been dropped. Thus the game begins.

This exquisite, highly detailed work of art is full of story and symbolism. Every ornament and figure has meaning. Some we understand, some are mysteries. More information on this famous piece can be found in books on Mayan culture (e.g. The Blood of Kings, by Linda Schele and Mary Ellen Miller). This highly accurate recreation is the result of months of painstaking detailed work. The original marker, located at Copan in the jungles of Honduras, was carefully measured and photographed. Using this information, artists-archeologists in the United States then carefully carved all the intricate details onto a full-size master almost a foot and a half in diameter. Every effort was made to make the recreation as accurate as possible, including the look and feel of an ancient stone marker, and we are proud of the results. This work was performed in conjunction with Echoes In Time and is available nowhere else.

All written and pictorial material is protected by Echoes In Time Copyright 2001, 2002

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