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The Sport of Life and Death: The Mesoamerican Ballgame [Hardcover]

E.Michael Whittington
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

24 Sep 2001
Eleven essays by leading scholars discuss all aspects of the Mesoamerican ballgame, from the natural history of rubber, to the architecture and equipment of the ballcourts, and the religious symbolism of the games. These are followed by the catalogue: 138 objects, often of striking beauty and power - models of ballplayers, both male and female, and the array of strange equipment which provided physical protection from the rigours of the sport.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd; 1st Edition edition (24 Sep 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500051089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500051085
  • Product Dimensions: 30.5 x 2.5 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

E. Michael Whittington is Curator of Pre-Columbian and African Art at the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In case you don't know, ball-courts have been found in pretty well every pre-Columbian archaeological site of ancient Mesoamerica (southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize), whether Olmec, Maya, Aztec or whatever. These were generally in close proximity to high-status city-centre structures such as plazas, temple-pyramids and palaces. Here a game was played with a rubber ball. Sometimes it was between individuals, sometimes between teams. The ball was usually "batted" with the hips, although many variants of rules existed. The game was not merely a sport; it had religious and ceremonial functions as well. In fact, it probably linked to sacrifice, divination, decision-making and diplomacy also.

OK, this book was produced to accompany a traveling exhibition on the Mesoamerican ballgame. It is a coffee-table book: the ratio of pictures to text is high. The pictures represent a magnificent survey of the art depicting the ballgame throughout Mesoamerican history (or pre-history). It consists of two parts: 11 articles on the game by experts, followed by a pictorial catalogue of the exhibition. The text is highly informative. The book is large and quite heavy, and produced to a high standard; the pages are glossy.

The only disappointment for me is that the text is light on the conjectured political functions of the game, particularly the divination, decision-making and diplomacy I mentioned above.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An obscure subject comes to life 29 Jun 2006
By Will Writes - Published on Amazon.com
This is not a subject I would normally think of as intriguing enough for me to read a whole book about it. But I was wrong! Not only is this a fascinating story about Mesoamerican sport, but the writing makes the subject, the people, and the culture come alive. This is about real people playing a real game and living a real life. The book itself is beautifuly produced, full of photos and extremely well written and researched text. As odd as the subject might seem, I think anyone interested in ancient culture, Mesoamerican history, and a richer understanding of aspects of our neighbors to the south will find this book interesting. It would make a great, offbeat gift, too.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! 24 Nov 2011
By M. Salas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is amazing! It has cool pictures and information that you would normally find in various books all in one title. Definitely a must have for anyone interested in the Mesoamerican ball game.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Needed this for school! 11 Feb 2013
By Sunnydee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a required book for a college class, and the school bookstore couldn't get it. What to do??? So glad I found it online.
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