The Patolli 'splash' screen

Note: The images on this homepage and subsequent pages are copyrighted: copyright 1996 P.S. Neeley, all rights reserved.


Be indomitable, Oh my heart!

Love only the sunflower;

It is the flower of the Giver-of-Life!

What can my heart do?

Have we come, have we sojourned here on earth in vain?

As the flowers wither, I shall go.

Will there be nothing of my glory ever?

Will there be nothing of my fame on earth?

At most songs, at most flowers,

What can my heart do?

Have we come, have we sojourned on earth in vain?

(an ancient Aztec poem or 'Flower Song')

Aztec Patolli for Windows

Duran describes these Mexican gamesters walking about with a patolliztli mat rolled up under an arm and carrying a little basket containing colored stones used as markers. Before a game they called for a bowl of fire and threw incense into it, or sacrificed offerings of food to their dice and they would gamble with all the confidence in the world. The nobility played for high stakes in precious stones, gold beads, and very fine turquoises.The Mexican God of Sport and Gambling was Macuilxochitl, the God of Five Flowers, and as they played the gamblers invoked his aid by rubbing the five beans between their hands, and then, as they threw them on the mat, they shouted Macuilxochitl! and clapped their hands together, craning forward to see their score.

Patolli is an ancient Aztec board game that takes its name from the Aztec word for bean - patolli, meaning fava or kidney bean. The game is played on a curious diagonal cross-shaped board with red and blue markers and 5 beans (or sometimes four beans) as dice. It was played all over MesoAmerica: the Teotihuacanos (the builders of Teotihuacan, ca. 200 B.C. - 650 A.D.) played it as well as the Toltecs (ca. 750 - 1000 A.D.), the inhabitants of Chizen Itza (founded by refugee Toltec nobles, ca. 1100 - 1300 A.D. ), the Aztecs (who claimed Toltec descent, 1168 - 1521 A.D.), and all of the people they conquered (practically all of MesoAmerica, including the Zaptotecs and the Mixtecs). The ancient Mayans also played a version of Patolli. Patolli was very much a game of commoners and nobles alike and it was reported by the conquistadors that Montezuma often enjoyed watching his nobles play the game at court.

 Anciently, Patolli was associated with gambling and players often wagered vast treasures on its outcome. Even today versions of Patolli like games are still played by the peoples of MesoAmerica and although it is unclear just how these modern versions reflect the ancient methods of play, gambling is still very much associated with the game.

 Patolli was connected, in still little understood ways, with the famous ball game of MesoAmerica -- Tlachtli (which was also a great occasion for gambling). It was also probably used in a religious and ritualistic sense for divination -- the throw of the beans was thought to be able to tell the future.

 This version of Patolli is an attempt to present the game in its ancient form as closely as possible and although we have no ancient Aztec account of the game the Spanish Fathers recorded much we can rely on.

 Patolli was played in the Americas since at least 200 B.C. Now it is here again in the present, re-created through the magic of electrons and phosphorus, for you to play. Welcome to a game of the ancient Americans -- the Toltecs, the Aztecs, Montezuma, and now you!

The only remaining question: Are you player enough to prevent the Aztec god and demon Smoking Mirror from winning your library card?

Go to 'The Azteca Home Page' to download Patolli

or

Download it right from here (patolli.zip --731 Kb)

Interested in just the rules and history of the game?  Then download just the Windows Help file if you'd like.

Note: This program requires VBRUN300.DLL to exist on your system.

Looking for the Ancient Aztecs on the Web? Try Mexico's Index (Aztec World) You should definitely, definitely visit The Azteca Web Page.


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The Patolli playing board