Mexico Returns Aztec Ballgame After 500 Years

Published September 4th, 2019 - 06:34 GMT

Ballgames, which date back thousands of years, were once played across a broad swathe of the Americas by civilizations including the Mayas, Incas and Aztecs. Today, they  being revived in Mexico and the surrounding region.

Recently, a group of young players have decided to bring the game back to life in Mexico City at the site of an old garbage dump.

"The game had been forgotten," says Emmanuel Kakalotl, who coaches players at the cultural center where the new ulama court was built.

 

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A man plays a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, during a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP

A man plays a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, during a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP

Dancers and players perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP

Dancers and players perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP

Master Emmanuel Galicia (L) and dancer Beatriz Campos (R) perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP

Master Emmanuel Galicia (L) and dancer Beatriz Campos (R) perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP

The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP

The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP

Mexican dancer Jorge de Jesus Trujillo, who represents "Mictlantecuhtli" (deity of the dead in the Mexica mythology) in a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language-, poses for a photograph during a photo session at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar TORRES / AFP

Mexican dancer Jorge de Jesus Trujillo, who represents "Mictlantecuhtli" (deity of the dead in the Mexica mythology) in a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language-, poses for a photograph during a photo session at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar TORRES / AFP

The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. Omar TORRES / AFP

The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. Omar TORRES / AFP

The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP

The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP

Mexican Beatriz Campos, player of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- performs the "Copal" ceremony ahead of a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP

Mexican Beatriz Campos, player of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- performs the "Copal" ceremony ahead of a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP

A man plays a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, during a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
Dancers and players perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
Master Emmanuel Galicia (L) and dancer Beatriz Campos (R) perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP
The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
Mexican dancer Jorge de Jesus Trujillo, who represents "Mictlantecuhtli" (deity of the dead in the Mexica mythology) in a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language-, poses for a photograph during a photo session at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar TORRES / AFP
The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. Omar TORRES / AFP
The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
Mexican Beatriz Campos, player of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- performs the "Copal" ceremony ahead of a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP
A man plays a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, during a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
A man plays a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, during a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
Dancers and players perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
Dancers and players perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
Master Emmanuel Galicia (L) and dancer Beatriz Campos (R) perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP
Master Emmanuel Galicia (L) and dancer Beatriz Campos (R) perform ahead of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- which rule is to hit a "Ulamaloni" (solid rubber ball) with the hip or shoulder, at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP
The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
Mexican dancer Jorge de Jesus Trujillo, who represents "Mictlantecuhtli" (deity of the dead in the Mexica mythology) in a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language-, poses for a photograph during a photo session at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar TORRES / AFP
Mexican dancer Jorge de Jesus Trujillo, who represents "Mictlantecuhtli" (deity of the dead in the Mexica mythology) in a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language-, poses for a photograph during a photo session at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar TORRES / AFP
The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. Omar TORRES / AFP
The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. Omar TORRES / AFP
The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
The sport, which dates back 3,500 years and was played by the Mayas (600 BC) and Aztecs (1400 BC) with ludic and ceremonial purposes, is back to Mexico City after 500 years. ROCIO VAZQUEZ / AFP
Mexican Beatriz Campos, player of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- performs the "Copal" ceremony ahead of a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP
Mexican Beatriz Campos, player of a pre-Columbian ballgame called "Ulama" -in Nahuatl indigenous language- performs the "Copal" ceremony ahead of a match at the FARO Poniente cultural center in Mexico City on August 21, 2019. Omar Torres / AFP