**Originally Listed At $3000**
Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Veracruz culture, ca. 6th to 8th century CE. An undecorated, sanded grey-green stone yoke from the Mesoamerican ballgame. A defining characteristic of the Veracruz culture was the ballgame, sponsored by elites, who owned stone yokes like this one. The greenstone 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! Yokes like these ended their useful lives buried with nobles and we know of them today from elite graves. Size: 15" L x 11.25" W x 4.4" H (38.1 cm x 28.6 cm x 11.2 cm)
The Mesoamerican ballgame was a ritual event, not just for entertainment (although it would have been that too!), and Veracruz was where it seems to have been most popular. Veracruz has the highest density of ballcourts of any Mesoamerican civilization, with even the smallest towns having a dedicated court, 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 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA collection acquired before 1995
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Some light surface scoring and patina from age and handling.