100 BCE – 250 CE
Earthenware with pigments
11 x 8.5 x 4.5 inches
Private collection, Pennsylvania
The protective equipment made of leather, wood, and cloth worn by ball players is long gone, and representations of the game and its equipment are all that remain. These take the form of stone or ceramic facsimiles (yugitos and palmas), as well as figures, such as the one seen here. This ball player comes from the Ixtlan del Rio culture near Nayarit state in western Mexico. It depicts a seated figure and holding a ball, wearing the protective girdle, called a yoke, typically worn by the game’s players. The figure is adorned with jewelry and displays the facial and body tattooing frequently seen in Ixtlan del Rio figurative sculpture.