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Decapitated ballplayer

Decapitated ballplayer statue from Veracruz

Decapitated ballplayer figure, stone tablet from Aparicio, Central Veracruz, c. 800-1200 CE, height 1.21 metres, Xalapa Museum of Anthropology, Mexico.

We see on this tablet a magnificently preserved relief. The sculpture presents a decapitated ball player. In spite of being dead, this individual is seated on the wall of the ball court and his body is erect, as if he were alive. From his neck, instead of blood spout seven serpents spurts, possibly alluding to Chicomecóatl, Seven Serpent, the deity of ripe corn, ready for cropping: its ear, which is like the man’s head, will fall off. The individual bears a yoke and a palm around his waist, and in his hands he holds a sort of ritual axe or gauntlet, also used in the sacred game. All these instruments identify him as a ball player.

From Xalapa Museum of Anthropology - a Guided Tour, text by Rubén Morante López, Gobierno del Estado de Veracruz/Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, 2004, p. 122.

Photo by Karel Baresh/Mexicolore.

Visit our ritual ballgame section