550–750 CE
more object details

General Description

Besides the yoke and palma, another commonly portrayed element of ballgame attire is the hacha. Worn atop the yoke, hachas protruded from a padded waist belt and were part of the ballgame gear for deflecting the heavy rubber ball. During the Classic period, city centers created ball courts, their replica of Creation Mountain. They put their ball court at the base of the mountain, as the clefted abyss was at the base of the first true Creation Mountain. There they played ritual ballgames with their sacrificial victims, highborn lords who were taken in battle. From the Early Classic period (200–600 CE) onward, the lowland Maya borrowed regalia and conventions of ball playing from the Gulf Coast peoples.

Probably a ceremonial replica of a wooden original, this stone hacha, made in central Veracruz and thus attributed to the Classic Veracruz style, depicts an animal face, possibly a frog, toad, or serpent. Hachas frequently depict a human or animal head and are often pointed and flattened in shape, which is why they were originally referred to as hacha, or "ax" in Spanish. Many replicas of such ballgame accoutrements are commonly found throughout the Gulf Coast region and the Maya area.

Drawn from

  • Carol Robbins, Label text [1973.35], A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2010.

  • "Hand Hacha (1979.206.1042)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–.http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1979.206.1042/. (August 2009).

  • "Fish Hacha (1978.412.151)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–.http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1978.412.151/. (August 2009).

Web Resources

Khan Academy
Watch a video about the Mesoamerican Ballgame and a Classic Veracruz yoke, with Dr. Rex Koontz and Dr. Steven Zucker.