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Fragment of a Ceremonial Ballgame Yoke

A work made of stone.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of stone.




El Tajín and vicinity, northern Veracruz, Mexico

About this artwork

Played throughout Mesoamerica, the ceremonial ballgame was a sport as well as a ritual substitute for war in which sacrifice was often the final outcome. Players were required to propel a heavy rubber ball with their hips, thighs, shoulders, and lower arms. A yoke, made of padded leather or wood, was worn at mid-body to protect the torso and direct the ball. Carved stone yokes were intended as ceremonial emblems or trophies and were not used in actual play. At least eleven ballcourts have been discovered at El Tajín, suggesting that the city may have been a sort of Olympic center as well as a ruling capital.


On View, Gallery 136


Arts of the Americas


Veracruz, Classic


Fragment of a Ceremonial Ballgame Yoke


El Tajín (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

700 CE–800 CE




11.5 × 38.6 cm (4 1/2 × 15 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Ethel and Julian Goldsmith

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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