Anonymous: Maya Vase K1209 (A.D. 600-900)

(Chrysler Museum. Norfolk, Norfolk, USA)

A vase by an unknown Maya artist. Almost inseparable connected with the cultures of mesoamerica (central Mexico to northern Costa Rica) is the ballgame known as 'ōllamaliztli' or pitz. The game was played with 2 teams of 1 to 4 players each and a solid rubber ball of 2-4 kg. The objective of the game was to keep the ball in play by striking it with the hips. Points were scored when one team failed to return the ball, the ball leaves the court or the ball is passed through a stone ring. This vase shows a ballgame between two players, in this case the Maya Hero Twins Hunahpú and Xbalanqué. These twins are the central figures of ancient story called the Popol Vuh. In this story, the father of the Hero Twins and his brother are invited to the Mayan Underworld, Xibalba, to play a ballgame with the lords of Xibalba. The father and his brother are tricked by the Xibalban lords and killed. The Hero Twins Hunahpú and Xblanaqué are able to return to Xibalba where they avenge their father and uncle by defeating the Xibalban lords. Hunahpú and Xblanaqué later went to the sky, where Hunahpú became the Sun and Xblanaqué the Moon. The round orange/ red flag on the right of the vase is a battle standard. Vase from A.D. 600-900.