Wednesday, February 4, 2009


That’s all I can say about this. I made friends with a shopkeeper down our block and he invited me to come to visit his community this weekend because they were having a tournament of an “ancient game”. I asked around a bit and everyone assumed he meant soccer, no one had ever heard of any ancient sports or similar.

So I went. And, in fact, there in a wide place in the street, these folks were staging the first (it appears ever) tournament reviving this game which has been a traditional kids game for the natives for many years. I’ll tell you what; I just squinted my eyes a bit and pretended I was on the ancient Maya ball court at Chichen Itza (which I have seen in ruins). I think this is an ancient game that was played way the heck back when that has sort of survived and is now being resurrected. This was an amazing, holy, brilliant, community-organizing type moment. A group of folks is attempting to enhance their traditional culture by promoting/passing on this sport. Wonderful.

Several different matches of 7 on 7 were played of Jierbis (he UR bis). The game focuses on stacking 20 shards of a brick, like beefy poker chips. This must be accomplished while the “monkey in the middle” and “Dodge ball” components are being carried out all around you. The ball is foamy, like a soft softball, and you whing it at people to get them out, if they catch it you’re out, etc. It’s got lots of elements, including a cricket-like element of trying to knock over the towers. It was great.

Thanks to Julio of Aluman for the tour. P

1 comment:

John B. said...

Interesting descriptions of the games and how y'all have really inserted yourselves into the community.

tidbit: When I did a Google search of Jierbis, the first hit after the effort to correct my spelling was. . . this blog.

Best to all
John and cindy

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