Object: Ball

Tarahumara: Ball
Central America
20th Century
Materials: wood

This wooden ball facilitates a game of endurance running for the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. The wooden ball is used in a game called rarajipari or “foot throwing.” The ball is kicked in relays for up to days at a time, depending on whether it is an impromptu game or one planned well in advance. In games that are planned, bets are often taken by spectators. Referring to themselves as Raramuri, meaning “foot runner,” “running foot,” or “light foot,” their daily activities consist of long distance running and traveling in high altitudes and hot, rough terrain. There is somewhat of a cult following from the runners of ultra marathons, who admire the endurance and bare-footed or Huarache-wearing running style of the Raramuri.

Residing in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, and mostly in harsh environments of heat and high altitude, many Raramuri are far from what many perceive as “modern” civilization. Many still live in cliffs, caves and stone houses. Their economic system is based on bartering and trade, rather than the national currency.

This YouTube video is a short documentary of the lives of the Raramuri. At the five minute mark, they address the kickball game and history of running in this culture.

[Stephanie Adams]

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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