Craftsmen from Sinaloa share their heritage

Preserving the culture of the Mesoamerican people

17 traditional balls are elaborated for the Mayan ball game

Artisans of Sinaloa made the official presentation of 17 balls traditionally made for the Mayan ball game played in Xcaret, ceremony led by Maestro Andres Campos, Director of Dance, choreography and traditional games. By passing on their knowledge of the production, the Sinaloa community is aiding in rescuing a tradition that goes back more than a thousand years.

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The Sinaloa craftsmen worked in Xcaret for 3 months to unveil the process in July and make the official release of this heritage of the ancient ball game at Xcaret’s court, a replicate found in Copan, Honduras.

 

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The importance of this project is to continue the ancient tradition and conservation of the rubber ball production. The artisans hope that once all the materials and tools are gathered, the tradition will be inherited by the younger generations that will continue the tradition or start practicing it again. Raymundo Guaira and his wife Ruth, from the Escuinapa, Sinaloa community, have worked in the elaboration of the traditional ball for more than 15 years. “The hardest part is to find the materials,” says Raymundo.

 

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The main materials used for the manufacturing of the ball are the machacuana, which is similar to the root of the cassava and rubber used to curdle, another material that is needed. The molds are done to give shape to the balls and they can last up to two years. The technique was taught to Raymundo by a traditional community that passed their knowledge from person to person. “With time, one gathers the experience needed to create the balls,” said Raymundo.

 

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In some parts of Sinaloa, the communities continue to play the ball game with Ulama balls made by artisans who taught Raymundo. The Ulama is a style used mainly in Sinaloa. Xcaret uses a variation of this style combined with the traditional Mayan ball game. The samples to recreate the game in Xcaret come from vessels and other instruments found in different archaeological sites. In Xcaret, visitors can observe a representation of the Pok Ta Pok ball game as it is known today mixed with the heritage of the West tradition. The ball game spread throughout all Mesoamerica by the legacy of the Olmec culture.