Close up to art #3: the Mayan yokes
To the different types of ball games, there are different outfits corresponding: knee guards, arm guards, chest guards, hip/thigh/hamstring guards, and sometimes a combination of several items when specific parts of the body were stressed during the game. 
The most famous pieces are the yoke, the axe, and the palm. 
Yokes are stone representations of yoke-like leather belts worn at hip level to protect the player against the brutal impacts of the hard rubber ball. Although there are plain ones, yokes are most often carved with relief motifs related to fertility, such as the toad, a Mesoamerican symbol related to ceremonial ball playing. In addition to toad-type yokes, we also find the jaguar, a symbol of rain and fertility, sometimes depicted in association with the toad. Carved parts of the jaguar, such as the paw or jaws with drooping joints, typical of the Olmec style (1800 B.C. to 150 A.D.), are associated with other elements belonging to the toad. 
One of the remarkable aspects of these relief carvings on yokes is that they are an integral part of the object, in other words, they participate in the very form of the yoke. The reliefs never form an independent element of the yoke. Stone yokes, weighing between 20 and 30 kilograms, were never worn during the game, as they were too heavy for a game that required much agility. Nevertheless, it is possible that, during ceremonies, an important player would wear the stone yoke around his waist.
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