Tlachtemalácatl (Mesoamerican Ballgame Stone Ring) – Mexico City, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Tlachtemalácatl (Mesoamerican Ballgame Stone Ring)

This ancient gaming tool was unearthed during the construction of this former town's central square. 


Coyoacán was once a town completely separate from Mexico City. As such, it needed its own central square, what is now the Plaza Hidalgo. When this plaza was being built, a large stone ring with a figure carved on it was unearthed. This was a tlachtemalácatl, the name in Náhuatl (the language of the Aztec/Mexica people) for the “goals” of the Mesoamerican Ballgame. Known as tlachtli, variants of this game were played by the Indigenous peoples of most of Mexico and Central America, almost always with ritualistic and symbolic purposes.

This particular malacatl of the tlachtli game was so well-carved that it was kept after being found, and eventually placed in a prominent position in the Jesús Reyes Heroles House of Culture, in what is now the Mexico City borough of Coyoacán. This cultural center was once an actual house, and its late 18th-century architecture shows it. It also functioned as a paper factory for some time, and in 1985, was established as a House of Culture.

Its namesake, Jesús Reyes Heroles, was a significant 20th-century intellectual who delved into law, politics, and history. Usually advocating in favor of democratic values and human rights, his legacy led to many institutions other than this center being named after him.

Know Before You Go

The tlachtemalácatl is located inside the House of Culture, so entry is required in order to see it. Open daily except holidays, from 9am to 3 pm and 4pm to 8pm, free entry.

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