Home > Art > Teotihuacan Kneeling Ballplayer Figure Holding Head
About the Object
The Teotihuacan ceramic figure displayed here depicts a ballplayer and still retains traces of its original polychrome paint. The player is represented kneeling with a stylized hairstyle or head decoration and is wearing a necklace, hand bands, knee guards with faces carved into them, a yoke round the waist, and earplugs. Finally, the figure holds a head with a headdress. While this may represent a sacrificial human offering, this head more likely is a hacha, which was worn for protection, decoration, and perhaps to seek divine aid in order to be victorious in the ball game.
Archaeological evidence reveals that the Mesoamerican ball game was played across Central America and as far north as to what is today the southwestern United States. Scholars argue that the game was played to ensure supernatural support among these societies, with either the losing or winning team being sacrificed. This was believed to fulfill human obligations that would aid in maintaining what today we might call the cosmic or ecological order, so crops would grow, society would prosper, and life would continue to exist.
Meleko Mokgosi receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Fine Arts for paintings that rely on intensive research, reflection, and conversation in order to address widespread misrepresentation of Africa and Africans, and to accurately portray the continent’s complex social and political realities.
Join our Mailing List