Answer to Question #162180 in History for Feby Abraham

Question #162180

 The Mayan ball game. The first comes from Antonio de Herrera y Tordesilla and the second from the Mayan legend, the Popul Vuh. Based on these sources, why do you think the ball game and ritualistic bloodletting became so important to ancient Mayan society? Your response should measure about 200-250 words. 

Expert's answer

The Mayan ball game was a type of Mesoamerican ball game played throughout the Maya civilization era. The Maya civilization lived in most parts of Central America and the games dates back to 3500 years ago. It was the first organized sporting event. The game was played using large stone courts and the ball court was symbolic to the Maya society as it represented the city's wealth and power.

The ballgame and the ritualistic bloodletting were not just athletic, they held an important part in the ancient Mayan society and were integral to their continued existence in terms of religion and culture. It was a religious event that depicted the Mayans' devotion to their gods by playing the game and was therefore a matter of life and death as well as a good reason for human sacrifice. The games also symbolized regeneration of life by acting as a reminder of the Hero twins who overcame death.

According to the Popol Vuh, the Maya ball game held an important position in the Mayan culture. Playing the game described and enacted a conflict between the forces of light and darkness. As part of the culture, twin brothers Xbalanque and Hun Hunaphu spent their time on earth playing ball and amidst the noise of the game, the anger of Vucub Came, the underworld master, was aroused. a fight would ensue due to the anger arousal and result in the formation of a game. When the game ended, the losing brother would be beheaded and his head used as the game ball. Blood escaped from the decapitated trunk in the form of snakes to symbolize fertility. this blood scene is portrayed in reliefs on game courts' walls. The games were also played to resolve disputes between rival cities. 

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