Pre-Columbian, Gulf Coast Mexico, Vera Cruz culture, ca. 6th to 8th century CE. An undecorated, sanded yoke from the Mesoamerican ballgame, hand-carved from a mottled beige-hued stone with black and dark-green inclusions. The Mesoamerican ballgame was sponsored by elites who owned stone yokes similar to this example. The stone came from the Guatemalan highlands, and it would have been transported at enormous cost - imagine how difficult it was to move the boulders they were carved from! This yoke is far too cumbersome and heavy to have been used during active play; instead wooden yokes or belts comprised of basketry were probably worn as they were far more practical. Yokes like this example ended their lives buried with nobles and we know of them today from elite graves. Size: 12.625" W x 14" H (32.1 cm x 35.6 cm).The Pre-Columbian ballgame originated in the first millennium BCE, most likely in the Valley of Mexico, and was regarded as a ritual event of controlling or predicting the future, not just for entertainment (although it would have been that too!), and Veracruz was where it seems to have been most popular. Ancients of Mesoamerica played ballgames in a sacred ballcourt space, and Veracruz has the highest density of ballcourts of any Mesoamerican civilization. Even the smallest towns had a dedicated court, comprised of a rectangular area lined with sloping walls where spectators could sit.Stone yokes were not actually used to play the game, but instead for ritual processions where the elite sponsors of the game wore them to demonstrate their wealth - a little like seeing the owners of your local team out on the field after a championship win or on Opening Day. This yoke and others like it are stone representations of the leather and wicker belts worn by the ballgame players to protect themselves from the large, heavy rubber ball. None of those real belts have survived to the present day, so all we have to visualize them are early Spanish accounts and these stone representations. Provenance: private Lexington, Kentucky, USA collection All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back. A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids. We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience. #131051
Areas of surface wear from age and handling, with small chips and areas of roughness around edges, and small areas of discoloration, otherwise intact and excellent. Two old inventory stickers with "20" and "VT17 20" are on upper curve, and remnants of two old inventory stickers are on outer face of one end.