One of the most important and valuable traditions in Mexico is doubtless the “ULAMA” ballgame. Now days is only played in very few places in the country, but Sinaloa is one of them. According to the Historians this game is a heritage form the Aztecs and its name in Aztec is Ullamaliztli. Arqueological items found in the Olmeca zone (Mexican gulf) tell us that this game exists since 1400 years before Christianity. But lately other probes have been found and show Ulama fields form 1,200 years before Christ. Its practice was related with spirituality and a warrior status.
Ulama game, was considered as the fight between two forces where only one of them will prevail, Day and Night, Courage and Cowardice, Life and Death.
The Spanish colonizers and priests considered this pagan game as brutal, savage, even diabolic; so in 1585 it was forbidden to play it again.
The game fields were known as “Tachtlis” but now they are called “Taste”. There are different type of game disciplines, with the forearm, with a mallet and the most spectacular with the hip; this last one is more popular because it was consider tougher but also more esthetic. The size of the “Taste” in Sinaloa is of 65 meters (213.25 feet) long and 4 meters (13.12 feet) wide and the ball weights 4 Kilograms (8.81 pounds) and has a diameter of 8 inches, the process of fabrication has keep a touch of mystery.
The main purpose of the game, is to keep the ball inside the field with out touching it with hands, only with the hip; and send it to the other side of the field to score. The hips are protected by dressing, leather and a belt known as “Chimalo”.
The south of Sinaloa is part of the border of what it was Mesoamérica and Aridoamérica, archeological items have been discovered in this area, that make us think that the groups that lived during the prehispanic era were nomads. The Ulama game that is played in the area now days it is the one played with the hip.
El Quelite, La Palma, Puerto de Canoas, El Chilillo, Siqueiros, El Vainillo, y Villa Unión, have their own team, and during holidays have competitions between them, this towns are just a few minutes from Mazatlan.
The Game in other areas of Mexico
The field was called by the Aztecs, Teotihuacanos and Toltecas Tlachtli, by the Mayans and Taladazi Pokyab or Pok-ta-pok in Zapoteca language; this game constitutes one of the most important elements of the religious and social structure in the prehispanic culture.
The very first descriptions from the game we have are from Bernal Dias del Castillo and the Franciscano priest Bernardino de Sahagún in chronicles of the conquest.
The size of the field was different, depending of the area where it was played; its rage was between 30 and 60 meters long and 9 to 14 meters wide, except for the one founded in Chichen Itza in Yucatán, that it happen to be the largest in MesoAmerica with 168 meters long and 70 meters wide. The field settings were between two walls and could be vertical or horizontal depending of the game or importance of the field.
Sinaloa is one of the very few States where Ulama is played, and proudly has shared it with the rest of the world.
Locals and Tourist can enjoy this game and be part of experience to travel in time to the past, only to witness the strength of the Aztecs, to see thru the game a culture that no longer exists but its foundation was solid enough to make a new civilization and kept important aspects of the pass.
No wonder why Mazatlan has become the favorite tourist destination for foreign and Mexicans, not only that, but also the favorite as Mazatlan Real Estate as the one with the best value. In Mazatlan Real Estate you find the best Marina Condos project and residences.