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Maya Ballgame Player & Eagle with Snake 20 Pesos Mexico Authentic Coin for Jewelry (Mesoamerican Ballgame) (Chinkultic Ballcourt Marker)

Maya Ballgame Player & Eagle with Snake 20 Pesos Mexico Authentic Coin for Jewelry (Mesoamerican Ballgame) (Chinkultic Ballcourt Marker)

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Maya Ballgame Player & Eagle with Snake 20 Pesos Mexico Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Mesoamerican Ballgame) (Chinkultic Ballcourt Marker)

Reverse: Jugador de Pelota (Maya Ballgame player). The image is based on the famous Ballcourt Marker artifact, found at the Maya site of Chinkultic, dated to 591, and now displayed at the National Museum of Anthropology, in Mexico City.
Translation: Maya Culture
20 Pesos

Obverse: "Estados Unidos Mexicanos" in a semicircle over the Mexican coat of arms (a Mexican golden eagle standing on a prickly pear cactus devouring a rattlesnake and a holm oak (Encino) branch on one side and a laurel branch on the other at the base of the cactus)
Translation: United Mexican States

Issuer Mexico
Period United Mexican States (1905-date)
Type Circulating commemorative coin
Years 1980-1984
Value 20 Pesos (20 MXP)
Currency Peso (1863-1992)
Composition Copper-nickel
Weight 15.2 g
Diameter 32.06 mm
Thickness 2.44 mm
Shape Round
Technique Milled
Orientation Coin alignment ↑↓
Demonetized 15 November 1995
Number N# 987
References KM# 486, Schön# 78

Maya Ballgame, which is a branch of the Mesoamerican Ballgame, is a sporting event that was played throughout the Mesoamerican era by the Maya civilization.


The rules seem to have changed over the centuries.

Certainly two teams played against each other. The number of players varied between 2 and 6 players per team. Sometimes, an additional person is seen in the illustrations, who is believed to be a referee. The game was played for 2 weeks.

A rubber ball was always used. Its size and weight varied over the centuries. Most historians assume a weight of 3–4 kg (7–9 lb) and a size of a skittle ball. The existence of a caoutchouc tree was necessary to produce the ball. These trees were found in the tropical regions in the Maya territories.

The ball was put in motion by action of the right hip, the right elbow and the right knee and was not permitted to touch the ground. It could be passed from person to person in each team by propulsion by one of the above body parts. The aim was to move the ball back to the opposite team, preferably through the ring. The goal of the opposition (what today might be termed ‘the defense’) was to force the offense to lose control and to allow the ball to touch the ground. The stone ring was an innovation of the late-classic and early post-classic periods, as seen in Chi.

The usual dress for players is known from iconographic and figural findings. These show leather protection mainly at the hips and the chest, but sometimes also at the knees and the arms, though very seldom at the feet. The clothing was used to protect against the impact of the ball. The protected parts of the body were used to strike the ball. Some players would wear head dresses (like deer heads) for ritual reasons.


In the highlands of Chiapas and of Guatemala alone, 300 courts have been found. Of these, 85% have been dated in the post-classic period. Only two early classic courts have been reported: Palenque and Copan.

The playing arena was in the shape of an I, heavily serifed.png. High platforms on either side of the court allowed for large numbers of spectators. Arenas were decorated with portable stone court markers known as hacha, usually depicting animals or skulls. The ball court was surrounded by painted murals that depicted Mayan mythology, warriors, captives, rulers, and ceremonies.


The Maya Twin myth of the Popol Vuh establishes the importance of the game (referred to in Classic Maya as pitz) as a symbol for warfare intimately connected to the themes of fertility and death. The story begins with the Hero Twins' father, Hun Hunahpu, and uncle, Vucub Hunahpu, playing ball near the underworld, Xibalba. The lords of the underworld became annoyed with the noise from the ball playing and so the primary lords of Xibalba, One Death and Seven Death, sent owls to lure the brothers to the ballcourt of Xibalba, situated on the western edge of the underworld. Despite the danger the brothers fall asleep and are captured and sacrificed by the lords of Xibalba and then buried in the ballcourt. Hun Hunahpu is decapitated and his head hung in a fruit tree, which bears the first calabash gourds. Hun Hunahpu's head spits into the hands of a passing goddess who conceives and bears the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque. The Hero Twins eventually find the ballgame equipment in their father’s house and start playing, again to the annoyance of the Lords of Xibalba, who summon the twins to play the ballgame amidst trials and dangers. In one notable episode, Hunahpu is decapitated by bats. His brother uses a squash as Hunahpu's substitute head until his real one, now used as a ball by the Lords, can be retrieved and placed back on Hunahpu's shoulders. The twins eventually go on to play the ballgame with the Lords of Xibalba, defeating them. However, the twins are unsuccessful in reviving their father, so they leave him buried in the ball court of Xibalba.


The Maya ballgame was more than just an athletic event: it was also a religious event of regeneration that was integral to their continued existence. The Maya showed devotion to their gods by playing the game and by sacrifices. Scholars debate about who was subject to ritual killing at ball games and how frequently. Opinions range from "The ballgame provided an opportunity to show devoutness to the gods by sacrificing captured kings and high lords, or the losing opponents of the game" to "the players were most likely not sacrificed.... sometimes a captive might be executed at the game, but [these sacrifices] weren't an integral part of the game. That person would have been expedited [executed] anyway."


The coat of arms of Mexico (Spanish: Escudo Nacional de México, literally "national shield of Mexico") depicts a Mexican (golden) eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus devouring a rattlesnake. The design is rooted in the legend that the Aztec people would know where to build their city once they saw an eagle eating a snake on top of a lake. The image has been an important symbol of Mexican politics and culture for centuries. To the people of Tenochtitlan, this symbol had strong religious connotations, and to the Europeans, it came to symbolize the triumph of good over evil (with the snake sometimes representative of the serpent in the Garden of Eden).

The Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem regulates the design and use of the arms. They feature in the centre of the flag of Mexico, are engraved on the obverse of Mexican peso coins, and are the basis of the Seal of the United Mexican States, the seal used on any official documents issued by the federal, state or municipal governmental authorities. The seal differs from the arms by the addition of the words Estados Unidos Mexicanos ("United Mexican States", the full official name of the country) in a semicircle around the upper half.

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