domingo, 28 de noviembre de 2010

Mesoamerica The Ball Game


Compartimos un ensayo elaborado con fines académicos. A parte de este fin, al analizar su contenido pudimos observar el interés e involucramiento de una nueva generación de salvadoreños nacidos en el extranjero por conocer algo de sus raíces.

Ver con beneplácito que en el seno de algunas familias, primeras generaciones se preocupan de heredar la cultura y raíces, apegados a su convicción e interés por preservarla. Vayan nuestras felicitaciones para aquellos que aparte de sentirse orgullosos de sus críos contribuyen a mantener vivas nuestra cultura y raíces, esperando que otros retomen y asuma como ejemplo a seguir, quizá con ello comencemos a forjar un mejor futuro y contribuyamos a mitigar algunos problemas sociales en torno a la niñez y juventud que nos azotan hoy en día.
Nuestros saludos y felicitaciones por la labor hecha.

Mesoamerica The Ball Game

Enrique Cortez
Cal State Northridge
KIN 305 

The purpose of the paper is to discuss the origins of the ball game played and the significant role it played in Mesoamerica. The importance of this topic is that playing games were in important part in the everyday lives with all Mesoamerica cultures as entertainment or religion. Since the introduction of the ball game all the cultures in Mesoamerica have been competing for their gods or as an individual either for power or pride. The ball game was a crucial part of the everyday lives for a number of civilizations. The paper will also discuss and analysis the ballgame as it was depicted In the Popol Vuh book, or better known as the council book written by the Quiche Mayan people of Guatemala. The Quiche people Mayans people used the constellations to tell the story of how earth was created and the evolution of man.

Mesoamerica is a topical region, which is located between North and South America and is comprised of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The oldest civilizations in Mesoamerica were the Olmec people who are the first civilization to introduce the first organized team sport. The Mesoamerica ball game is an organized team sport played by humans called the game of Life and Death. The game was played by two teams on court fields with firm rubber balls. The world’s first bouncing balls were made form rubber tapped from the tropical Castilla elastic tree found in the Olmec region, and the Olmecs exported these ball, and, probably, a religious ceremony that was performed with them in a specially constructed court. The ballgame played a crucial role in the everyday lives of all the civilizations in Mesoamerica. The courts used for the ballgames were constructed on clear fields which were then enclosed with walls. On top of these walls stone circles where place on all sides of the court. These stone circles were used during game play the players had to pass the rubber ball through the stone circles in order to score a point. Archaeologist discovered one of the largest courts in Mesoamerica which is located Chichen Itza. The Chichen Itza court is an intermediate court, which consists of two main mounds parallel to each other, with low walls enclosing the end courts. The one civilization which illustrated the ballgame was the Quiche Mayan people who depicted their stories in Popol Vuh book.

The Quiche Mayan used Venus and the Sun to tell a story about where life came from. It was also used to pass down the knowledge of their culture to future generations. The Quiche Mayan cultures tell the story of a ballgame that has a mythological meaning that is played by the gods, and inform used as a ritual by the people. The ballgame has many interpretations a mythical one and the ritual one here is an example of the ritual one. From the hieroglyphics depicted on the side of the pyramid people came to a conclusion that the mortal game was played on a paved court that was closed off on two sides. The ritual ballgame was played for the lords and gods of the village at the conclusion of the game a team would be sacrified to the gods. Furthermore there is still no proven fact of which team the lords would sacrified at the end or if it was just played for fun and entertainment.

The Popol Vuh tells describes the two hero twins and of their fathers/uncle and the ballgame they played on earth which is on the path to Xibalba which is the underworld. The description of the ballgame which is played by the twin hero’s is a mythical story. The mythical belief is that the constellations depicted the twin heroes bouncing the sun back and forth to each other. The ballgame is used to illustrate the movement of the earth around the sun and distance of the planets in the solar system. The ballgame that Hunahpu and Xbalanque are playing represents the orbit of the earth around the sun how the sun raises and set. When the hero twins get summoned to Xibalba to play with the lords of the underworld a connection with the cosmos and earth can be perceived as the ball court being the solar system. Similarly in the movie Popol Vuh Hunahpu and Xbalanque are bouncing a ball over to each other using the equipment of their fathers/uncle. This equipment is located on the side of their hips. The bouncing of the ball back and forth to each other resembles the movement of the sun how it raises in the east and sets on earth west. The Quiche Mayan culture was able to construct two precise calendars due to this mythical experience and using the constellations as guides to keep track of days and time.

The ballgame was introduced by the Olmec who are known to be the founding fathers of Mesoamerica. With this introduction the game was able to spread throughout Mesoamerica and into other civilizations like the Mayans, Toltecs and Aztecs. Each culture used the game in different ways either as entertainment for their people or as rituals for their gods. In addition many courts have been found in Mesoamerica and with every civilization the rules of the ballgame changed, however the ideas and rituals were almost similar throughout. With the discoveries of these ball courts archeologists are able to understand the true meaning on how the game was played and what religious connections it shared with the people of Mesoamerica.

CLUNE, FRANCIS JOSEPH, JR. (1963). A FUNCTIONAL AND HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF THE BALLGAME OF MESOAMERICA. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, United States -- California. Retrieved November 27, 2010, from Dissertations & Theses: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection.(Publication No. AAT 6404426).
Foster, Lynn V. A Brief History of Central America. New York: Facts on File, 2007. Print.
Whittington, E. Michael. The Sport of Life and Death: the Mesoamerican Ballgame. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2001. Print.

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