The Mesoamerican Ballgame-Ulama-
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Ulama Book By Roberto Rochin


Ulama, 3500 years old and still alive!
The first reports to reach Europe about a game played in the "New World" with a solid rubber ball, which astonished the Spanish Conquistadores was Ullamalitztli. This was the ballgame played by the Aztecs and other Nahuatl-speaking peoples in Mexico. The name is a combination of two words: ullama, which means the playing of a game with a ball, and ulli, rubber. The Colonial sources document that at the time of the arrival of the Spanish in Central Mexico in the 16th century, indigenous peoples played a type of ballgame in which the players deflected the ball with their hips and buttocks. The essential garment for these hip players consisted of a maxtlatl (loincloth), leather hipguards, and wide leather bands around the buttocks. The game could, however, also be played using the arms and elbows to deflect the ball, with a stick, or with a manopla ( a handstone) used to bat the ball

Above: Ballcourt, Codex Magliabechi, Early Colonial
Below: Ulama player near Mazatlan, Mexico, Summer 2015

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