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Home > Auctions > 7th September 2021 > Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican Ballgame Belt

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LOT 0635

Estimate
GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 9,400 - 11,750
USD ($) 11,150 - 13,940

Opening Bid
£7,200 (EUR 8,462; USD 10,034) (+bp*)

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Bid History: 0

Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican Ballgame Belt

1st millennium AD

A U-shaped yugo (mould) carved in siliceous sedimentary breccia with inclusions; the shiny surface with low-relief guilloche detailing, the finials with stylised alligator heads; mounted on a custom-made stand. 20.5 kg total, 40cm including stand (15 3/4"). Fine condition.

Provenance
From an important English collection; formerly with Throck-Moroton Antiques, 1990s; accompanied by a geological scholarly report no.TL5379 by Dr Ronald Bonewitz; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no. 10760-177454.

Literature
Cf. similar in the British Museum, London, under accession no. Am,St.398; for a range of Yugo examples see Leyenaar, T., Ulama, Ballgame, from the Olmecs to the Aztecs, Musee Olympique Lausanne, Lausanne, 1997; for equivalent examples of reptilian design from the Veracruz, see Parsons, L., Pre-Columbian Art, The Morton D.May and The Saint Louis Art Museum Collections, Harper and Row, New York, 1980.

Footnotes
Ancient players of the Mesoamerican ballgame wore a wide, padded, belt-like yoke of wood, rubber or leather to prevent injury from the heavy rubber ball. The game is still played among indigenous peoples in Mexico, the object being to keep the ball in the air by striking it with any part of the body except the hands.
Heavy stone yokes may have been ceremonial items, sometimes even found in burials that bestowed status on their owners, but it is more likely that they were used as moulds over which wet leather or hide was formed to create a padded yoke to protect the hips.