Ballgame Yoke

Veracruz culture
Classic Period

Object Place: El Tajin, Veracruz, Mexico


Overall: 13 x 37.5 x 41.6 cm (5 1/8 x 14 3/4 x 16 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Carved stone

On View

Ancient Central America Gallery (Gallery LG32)




Ritual objects

U-shaped yokes, worn around the waists of ballplayers, were used to strike the solid, rubber ball. This stone yoke is too heavy to be worn during a game; the actual equipment was made of wood and leather. This yoke’s carved image of a bearded person-perhaps the mythical hero Quetzalcóatl-suggests that the yoke was a prized possession or a trophy and likely was placed in a tomb as a funerary offering.


By 1959, Jay C. Leff (b. 1925 - d. 2000), Uniontown, PA [see note 1]; May 23, 1970, Leff sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, lot 113. 1970, private American collection [see note 2]; December 10, 2003, anonymous ("Grand Amateur d'outre Atlantique") sale, Christie's, Paris, lot 496, to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 21, 2004)

NOTE: [1] Included in the exhibition "Exotic Art from Ancient and Primitive Civilizations: Collection of Jay C. Leff" (Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, October 15, 1959 - January 3, 1960), cat. no. 548. [2] According to the Christie's, Paris catalogue.

Credit Line

Gift of Lavinia and Landon T. Clay