Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Batu is a Taino Ball Game

Did You Know: Batu is an ancient Taino ceremonial ball game, which has been regaining popularity in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico over recent decades. Similar to ball games played by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica, opposing teams use a rubber ball in ways reminiscent of volley ball but without a net or the use of their "hands." 15th century European colonizers marveled at the agility of Taino ball players, men and women, and the game's main piece of equipment - the rubber ball. Europeans had never before seen this Taino innovation. The Taino used the sap/latex from the kupei (cupey)", caucho, and other trees together with plant fibers to construct the ball. Batu was used for conflict resolution as well as for the fulfillment of certain spiritual and secular community needs. Besides oral tradition, the importance of Batu in ancient Taino society is affirmed by the number of ball courts or batei "uncovered" by archeologists through out the islands. The batei (batey) or ceremonial grounds were used not only for the game of Batu but for community ceremonies called "areito". The revival of Batu ball games have been documented in Puerto Rico (Jayuya) and the Dominican Republic (Azua) since the 1970s. The community members in the Dominican Republic currently maintain three Batu leagues each with their own leaders.- UCTP Taino News (c) 2007