Model of a Ballgame with Spectators Artist: Unknown

100 B.C.–A.D. 250

Art of the Ancient Americas

On view, 1st floor, Art of the Ancient Americas

Villagers crowd around the edge of a ball court to watch the game within. Men wearing breechcloths and belts and women in skirts, wrap their arm around children and each other. Many huddle in blankets or hold pots. This model was placed inside a tomb, perhaps to commemorate a ballgame in which the deceased took part. Six of the viewers - the four located at one end of the court (to the right) as well as the man climbing the staircase and his companion seated atop it - are modern restorations.


Ceramic with pigment


5 7/8 × 10 1/4 × 17 3/4 in. (15 × 26 × 45.1 cm)

Credit Line

Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903, Fund

Accession Number



Protoclassic Period


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 records is ongoing.



Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1973 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Mary E. Miller, The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec, 5th edition (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012), 67, fig. 55
  • Mary E. Miller, The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec, 5th ed. (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012), 67, fig. 55
  • Ronald J. Meyers, "Literature and Sport as Ritual and Fantasy," Papers on Language and Literature 37, no. 4 (2001), Cover image
  • Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 167–68, fig. 166
  • Richard F. Townsend, ed., Ancient West Mexico: Art and Archaeology of the Unknown Past, exh. cat. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), 162–63, fig. 21
  • Helen Pollard, "Recent Research in West Mexican Archaeology," Journal of Archeological Research 5 (1997), 345–84
  • Mary E. Miller and Karl Taube, An Illustrated Dictionary of The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1993), 42–44
  • Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 314, ill
  • Vernon L. Scarborough and David R. Wilcox, eds., The Mesoamerican Ballgame (Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, 1991),
  • Michael Kan, Clement W. Meighan, and Henry B. Nicholson, Sculpture of Ancient West Mexico: Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, 2, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989),
  • Ted J. Leyenaar and Lee Allen Parsons, Ulama: Het Balspel Bij de Maya's en Azteken, 2000 v. Chr.–000 n. Chr.: Van Mensenoffer Tot Sport (The Ballgame of the Mayas and Aztecs, 2000 B.C.–2000 A.D.: From Human Sacrifice to Sport)

    (Leiden, Netherlands: Spruyt, Van Mantgem, & De Does, 1988),
  • George A. Kubler, ed., Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 30, 183–84, 357, no. 409, Color pl. 11, fig. 240
  • Jacki Gallagher, Companions of the Dead: Tomb Sculpture from Ancient West Mexico, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Fowler Museum at UCLA, 1983),
  • Betty Bell, ed., The Archaeology of West Mexico (Ajijic, Mexico: West Mexican Society for Advanced Study, 1974),
  • "Acquisitions, 1973," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 35, no. 1 (Summer 1974), 77, ill
  • Peter T. Furst, West Mexican Art: Secular or Sacred? The Iconography of Middle American Sculpture (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973), 98–133
  • Hasso Von Winning and Olga Hammer, Ancecdotal Sculpture of Ancient West Mexico, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Ethnic Arts Council of Los Angeles, 1972),
  • "New Acquisitions Issue," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 24, no. 1 (April 1958), 16, ill
  • Salvador Toscano and Federico Canessi, Arte Precolombino del Occidente de Mexico (Mexico City: Dirección General de Educación Extra-Escolar y Estética, 1946),
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

figures (representations), funerary art

Technical metadata and APIs


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