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mould / games/sporting equipment / yoke

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Greenstone yoke mould with relief carving in the form of a toad. Used to shape the protective leather belts worn by players of the Mesoamerican ballgame.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 300 - 1200
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 12 centimetres
    • Width: 39.5 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Slip "St.398".Text from McEwan, C. Ancient American Art in Detail. The British Museum Press, 2009, p.111:

    "Sculptures like this were once erroneously interpreted as 'yokes' worn when playing the Mesoamerican ballgame. In fact they were used as moulds for shaping the protective leather belts secured to the waists of players to cushion the impact of the heavy rubber ball. The ball court itself was a carefully circumscribed sacred space and a symbolic entrance to the Underworld for the losers in what was a life-and-death contest. The toad lives at the threshold between the earthly and subterranean worlds."


  • Bibliography

    • MacGregor 2010 38 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 2009 p. 111 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 1994 p. 28 (Includes line drawing) bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2014 April-June, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, "History of the World" PROMISED

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    10 March 1994

    Treatment proposal

    Light clean.


    Surface dirt from storeage/handeling.

    Treatment details

    Cleaned with distilled water and Synperonic N (non ionic detergent,nonylphenol ethylene oxide condensate).

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Am186?C5.398 (old CDMS no.)


If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

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Object reference number: ESA2440

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