One of Xcaret’s objectives is to disseminate the culture heritage of the Mexican people and the Mayan culture. At sunset, the Park is transformed with wonderful shows, including the pre-Hispanic ball game announced by the tankules (wooden drums) that resound through the afternoon silence.
Originating more than 3,500 years ago, the ball game was a political/religious activity widely played throughout Mesoamerica facing captured nobles against their conquerors. In this ritual game, considered a cosmic metaphor, the ball simulated the trajectory of the stars, and the players determined their path through the firmament. During the conquest, the Spanish forbade the game and nearly succeeded in eradicating it. However, it survived in some regions of Mexico under the name of Ulama.
Today, Xcaret presents a demonstration of this ancient game. The ball court new recreates the architectural style of Copan (in Honduras). The heavy rubber ball (weighing some 8.5 pounds) rolls and bounces against the sloped side walls. The objective is to pass the ball through the stone rings embedded high up on these walls, using only the hips.
Through this presentation, Xcaret has rescued and disseminated a millenary tradition. What was once only imagined from the archaeological remains of ball courts throughout Mesoamerica has come spectacularly to life at Xcaret.