What the Aztec Patolli Gambling Game Looks like Today| 20 July, 2021
Although Patolli is an ancient game, and archaeologists claim to have found the patolli boards from periods well before the Aztecs as for as away as Maya country. But interesting information is that traces of this game have again found in Mexico City in 1920. More pieces of evidence have shown that even in the 21st century, this game is still highly in demand in some areas of the world. So we can say that it is not confined to Tenochtitlan in the Aztec era. There are still some villages and towns where this game is immensely popular especially in towns and villages and Tenochtitlan is the place where it is more encouraged than other areas.
In other words, we can say that it was commonly played in ancient Rome and the same is the case today. In today’s Rome, it is also played and encouraged as a gambling game. However, it is still the question: What kind of gambling game is this? Basically, it is a race game that is appreciated in certain ethnicities, and sometimes it is related to precious stones as described by the Spanish conquistadors.
Now this game is played on a game board and considered one of the cross-shaped race games, most commonly observed in South America and Central America. The archaeological details of the early Spanish accounts also give some information about the Aztec empire from where this game has taken its roots.
Patolli In Today’s World
if you have ever met with the board game historian, you will come to know the importance of gambling games in history, the associated motion of nobles’ play, and their significance in today’s world. However, it has retained its uniqueness of being a Roman play. Although, there are certain differences that are observed because nowadays, it is not played as a test of fate, and is not observed to play a vital role in resolving some of the uncertainties of life as described by the social scientists. In other words, we can say that persistent gambling was the response to uncertainty and Aztecs thought that the causes are economic or sociological. But modern gamers do not believe in such superstitions.
Patolli is still played as the best game and bet blankets are also constantly in use. In fact, we can say that complete rules and regulations are according to the ancient era and all the game pieces work on the same principles. One of the many reasons why this game has not changed much can be that it is thought to be created by Aztec God including all of its playable rules.
So even if in today’s world people are caught playing this game along with other board games, we notice that there is a considerable difference between today’s Patolli and ancient Patolli. Previously, it was totally based on Aztec cultural material on the cross-shaped board and is quite different from the respective games.
If we look back in history, we come to know that this game was initially for everyone and it was considered a great thing. As it was introduced by Spanish priests and its use was spread after the Spanish arrival. However, now fewer people play Patolli than in the past. It is due to this reason the history of this game is more bright than its present. It’s at least a game much more interesting commonly found in casinos in Latin America, such as Chilean casinos.
Change in the original rules
There is no considerable change observed in the original rules and all the methods are still the same including the use of five beans and straw matt. Attacking the opponent’s store also follows the same set of rules and the players deal with Black beans, gold adornments, and gold beads on the Patolli board.
The use of straw mats is also the same and still preferred by the common people. In some parts of the world, it is still considered the god of games and covers triangular spaces. It would be right to say that this game kept evolving after the Spanish arrived in Europe and introduced more advanced measures to this game without changing the previous ones. The Spanish conquest has a very remarkable impact on this game it has a slight resemblance with other traditional gambling games.
Some people might wonder and want to ask why this game is still highly in practice in some areas of the world, especially when there are a lot of other games introduced and there is more variety than this historical game?
The answer to this question is very simple which is that it is appreciated by the Spanish priesthood and is played only in particular areas of the world. If the Patolli player is well-versed in high stakes he can enjoy a plausible reconstruction around the board. Just as past people enjoyed watching this game, the people of today’s world also prefer to play the role of the audience instead of becoming the Patolli players.
The detailed analysis of this game reveals that nowadays more innovations have been introduced to this game although the basic set of rules has not changed. For example, now it is not invited as something providing insight about fate. Moreover, it is not considered as a sign of the god of games’ favor. Certain changes are also made in the rules regarding casting the dice and improving one’s lot.
In the ancient era, this game was also associated with feelings about respect and the government tried to support that with rules on public behavior including patolli. However, this is not the case now people do play it but there is a strong discouragement about its association with luck. Thus, the removal of these games’ association with luck is good for the poor people who can hardly afford to gamble. Thus, we can assume that positive things are still adding to this game, and considering it as a sign of wealth was a great misconception. Now this misconception has greatly resolved and even been promoted as a false belief by the government authorities.
Its association with wealth has given rise to a lot of issues in the urban poor people who used to manage and gather some money by selling the precious items of their homes. That option ceased, of course, for most men, with the Spanish Conquest and destruction of Tenochtitlan in 1521. So we can say that the work of removing the negative things from this game started in the 1500s and the rulers also claimed to have stopped gambling because it negatively impacted the financial condition of the poor people and they wanted to play this game instead of looking for job opportunities.
The government is now probably more concerned to discourage the poor from imagining that they could gain fortune by luck rather than steady toil. It is, for this reason, the trend of this game is limiting in certain areas of the world. However, Patolli often becomes something more than a game, and various superstitious concepts are associated with this game.
By the way, have you ever thought or even heard of this game in 2021? What kind of feelings it has brought to you if you have ever considered it for betting purposes? Make a quick comment right now and share your thoughts with us.
Follow Sounds and Colours: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Mixcloud / Soundcloud / Bandcamp
Subscribe to the Sounds and Colours Newsletter for regular updates, news and competitions bringing the best of Latin American culture direct to your Inbox.