Ceramic Sculpture: Mesoamerican Ball Player (Back)

Ceramic Sculpture: Mesoamerican Ball Player (Back)

Ceramic Sculpture of a Mesoamerican Ball Player

Ceramic Sculpture of a Mesoamerican Ball Player

license: public domain
source: Wikimedia Commons
author: LACMA

A photograph shows the back of a ceramic figurine of a Mesoamerican ball game player in full ceremonial costume. A large leather belt sometimes worn to protect the players’ hips can be seen depicted here, among many other ornate pieces of the costume.


Artifact: 550–850 AD

Photo: May 2012


This Mayan ceramic figurine, discovered in Guatemala, depicts a Mesoamerican ball game player. This sport was played by the Olmec and other Mesoamerican nations as early as 1600 BC, with many different variants among these cultures – sometimes even featuring ritualistic human sacrifice. The game primarily involved striking a ball back and forth volleyball-style using the hips. The player here can be seen wearing a large leather belt, worn sometimes to protect the hips.

At the time of photograph, this figurine was housed at the Las Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Mesoamerican Ball Game | History of Ball Sports

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Whittington, E. M. (2001). The sport of life and death: The Mesoamerican ballgame. New York: Thames & Hudson.

Cornell, T., & Allen, T. B. (2002). War and games. San Marino, R.S.M.: Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Social Stress.

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