The international cup of “Pok ta pok“, the ballgame of the ancient Maya, took place recently in Yucatán, an exact representation of this sacred game which origins date back to the year 1,400 BC.
The national teams from Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala and Mexico competed, countries where this game was developed and practiced by the ancient Maya in pre-Hispanic times.
The Mexican team won this international cup that is part of the celebrations of the Maya New Year, the 8th year of Baktún 14.
What is the 14th Baktun?
A baktun (b’ak’tun) – a term invented by scholars of Mayan culture – is 20 katun cycles of the ancient Maya Long Count Calendar. It contains 144,000 days, equivalent to 394.25 tropical years. The 13th baktun was completed on the day of the austral solstice on 188.8.131.52.0 (December 21, 2012 using the GMT correlation). This also marked the beginning of the 14th baktun.
The Mayan calendar system places its ‘zero’ day in 3114 BCE and repeats after 5125 years – in 2012. The completion of 13 Baktuns marks the Creation of the world of human beings according to the Maya. These cycles of creation and destruction can be thought of as stages, or harmonics, of evolution.
Giovanni, is a team member of the Mexican “Pok ta pok” national squad, champion of this first international edition.
“I feel very excited and I hope the team can repeat, because there will be another tournament. It is not easy to learn how to play this game, resist each blow of the ball, and hit it the right way, the players must be concentrated on the ball at all times, “said Giovanni Hernández. Member of the Mexican team.
The “Pok ta pok” had religious implications for the Maya, it was a path, a ceremony used to settle controversies between members of the society, and also as an offering to the gods.
“More than a simple game, it is considered a ritual, a sacred ceremony because in most of the ceremonial centers throughout the Maya zone, a ball game field can be found, where the ancient Maya offered sacrifices to the gods through the game”, explained José Manrique, president of the Central American Maya Ball Association.
In this event, the competitors dressed as “Warrior Players” and played according to the rules of that time, that is, using only the hips to return the ball to the opposing team.
The ball has a weight of 3 kilograms, it is made of a rubber resin and in the cosmogonic connotation of the Maya it meant the passage of the moon, when it passed through the ring (which resembles the game to basketball).
The players are aware that this is a cultural legacy from the ancient Maya. “We must rescue our roots, our culture, and share it with the rest of the world” said Gibran Sánchez, Mexican team member.
In the 5 countries that make up the Maya area, approximatelly 1,500 “Pok Ta pok” fields have been found, being the most representative sport in the ritual life of the Maya Mesoamerican peoples.
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