Art of the Ancient Americas
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Unknown


A.D. 600–900

Ceramic with pigment

18.7 x 9.5 x 9 cm (7 3/8 x 3 3/4 x 3 9/16 in.)
Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903, Fund
This small clay figurine represents a Maya ballplayer. He wears a loincloth over his midsection and a U-shaped yoke (protective belt) around his waist. The yoke is open at one side, with a large, bird-shaped hacha (belt ornament) projecting from the front. A bulky stuffed turban cushions his head from blows inflicted by the heavy rubber ball as well as by his opponent. Despite the physical activity in which he is either currently or soon to be engaged, he wears several pieces of heavy jewelry—ear spools, bracelets, and a double-strand necklace. The skulls incorporated into the design of necklace allude to the sometimes deadly nature of the Mesoamerican ballgame, which, in addition to being an athletic event, was an important religious activity.
Mexico, probably Campeche, Jaina Island, Maya
Late Classic Period
On view

Ex-Collection: Fred Olsen
Reciept from Alfred Stendahl, June 27, 1956:
#3584 Standing Mayan clay figure with yoke and Hacha, Jaina 750

Valuation from Alfred Stendahl, No date:
#3584- Standing Priest in vestments and wearing Yoke with attached bird form Hacha or Palma, painted clay-Mayan from isla de Jaina, Mexico-7 1/2" high---1500.00
Valuation from Alfred Stendahl, June 1956:
#3584-Standing Mayan figure with yoke and hacha--Jaina 2000


“Acquisitions, 1973,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 35, no. 1 (Summer 1974): 76, ill.

George A. Kubler, ed., Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 134, 292, no. 297, fig. 147.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.