Posted by: jimndianne | November 21, 2009

The Ballcourt at Chichen Itza

22 November 2009 Mexico

One of the structures we saw at Chichen Itza was a Mayan Ballcourt. It comprised two long and high parallel continuous stone walls with a raised temple area at each end. The court was 545 feet long and 225 feet wide with a stone hoop set on its side 20 File:Chichen itza ballcourt.jpg

feet up halfway along each wall. The temple area was for the Mayan King and his cohorts.

The walls were constructed so accurately that a whisper from one end of the court to the other end could be heard clearly through the length and breadth of the court. In 1931 Leopold Stokowski spent 4 days at the site to determine the acoustic principles that could be applied to an open-air concert theatre he was designing. Stokowski failed to learn the secret. To this day it has not been explained.

Now the game comprised two teams each of six players and a latex ball about 30cms in diameter and weighing some 2.5 – 3 kgs! The object of the game was to get the ball through the vertical hoops and there was very little clearance between the ball and the hoop, believe me. Initially, the ball could only be hit with the hips or shoulders but in later years a rudimentary narrow bat was used.

The real kicker in this game was that the captain of the winning team had to offer his head to the opposing captain who had the honour of the decapitation. Not a great incentive to win the game, eh!. The reason behind this, as the story goes, is that this would give the winning captain a direct ticket to heaven without having to go through the 13 steps that the Mayans believed they would normally have to achieve to get to heaven.


  1. Wow – wow – wow –> that is insane!!!! I can’t believe that was a game, and the winner gets be-headed! Hah.. but I guess that’s just the physical way of looking at it, I’m not taking in to account the supreme spiritual benefits! A very interesting post sir 🙂

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