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The ancient Mayan ballgame Pok ta’pok | LDS Tours Cancun

If you have ever been on a tour to Chichen Itza with Alma’s LDS Tours, surely you remember the ball-court where the Mayan used to play Pok ta’pok, the Mayan ballgame. 

The Mayan ballgame or better known as Pok ta’pok was an ancient sport played since the Pre-Columbian time. The game had an important ritual significance, as the Mayan culture would play it to promote the movements of stars, but also represented some other aspects related to astronomy, war, or even fertility. 

The rules of the game remain uncertain, but the prevailing theory indicates that players struck the ball with their hips aiming to keep the ball in motion. There is a lot to know about the history of Pok ta’pok, but today we want to share some interesting facts that will help you learn more about the Mayan culture and this ancient ballgame. 

1.- The ball: Mayan depictions show that the balls used to play the game were made of rubber. The size of the ball was approximately 20-25 inches and weighed 3-6 lbs. According to the legends, the ball represented the sun. 

2.-The ball court: Represents a place of transition between life and death. Although, there is evidence these courts were used for social events, performances, as well as human sacrifices, too. 

3.- The players: Two teams would participate during the game. Each one of them with four to seven players. Games were brutal; players suffered severe injuries during the match, even death. 

The legend of the Hero Twins

According to the book Popol Vuh, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, the Hero twins, were two brothers and great Pok ta’pok players. One day the lords of the Xibalba, annoyed by the noise they made while playing, summoned them to the underworld. The lords of Xibalba tried to trick them, but the twins successfully passed every test and danger found in the underworld. Eventually, the Hero twins overcome the Xibalba, establishing the supremacy of the living things over the hell as the sky Gods then turned them into the Sun and the Moon. 

The Pok ta’pok could be played just for fun, but it also held deep religious meaning for the Mayan culture, who saw it as the eternal confrontation between good versus evil.

Alma’s LDS Tours offers a great variety of tours where you can keep learning more about the history of this and more Mayan culture.
Here is a list of our most popular tours:

“Maya Hero Twins” History on the Net
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November 20, 2019 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/maya-hero-twins>