El Tajín: South Ballcourt--page 2 (of seven pages)

300-600 C.E.

See map.

The obsession with the ball game is seen in the large number of ballcourts at the site. Some are almost 200 feet long, formed by two facing walls in stone, battered or vertical. The playing of this game as a ritual event served also as a controlled reenactment of war.

Relief panel

Six relief panels form a kind of narrative on the interior wall of the ballcourt. The first depicts a ballplayer readying himself for the ritual game. The end, seen below, depicts the finish of the game when one player drives a knife into the chest of the other. I would welcome contributions of the other reliefs in the series to include on this page.

Relief panel (northeast corner) depicting the end of the game

One player is held while another drives a knife into his chest. The Tajín rain god is on the right while a death god descends from the border above to receive the offering.

Left: the rain god looks on; center: a companion holds the sacrificial victim while a god descends to take the heart (?)

In this relief the ball players wear the common paraphernalia--yokes fitted around the waist and palmas inserted into the yokes at the waist and extending upwards.

Center:another skeletal death god rising up;
right: the insertion of the knife

Continue to page 3.

Works consulted or quoted:
Andrew Coe. Archaeological Mexico. Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2001.
Michael D. Coe and Rex Koontz. Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs. Fifth Edition. London: Thames & Hudson, 2002.
Mary Ellen Miller. The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec. Third Edition. London: Thames and Hudson, 2001.

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© 2009 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.