Basalt Metate in the Form of a Jaguar

SKU PF.2289
Circa

100 AD to 500 AD

Dimensions

6.375″ (16.2cm) high x 9.5″ (24.1cm) wide

Medium

Basalt

Origin

Costa Rica

Gallery Location

S Korea


 

This exquisite ceremonial metate was the most important ritual object of its time. Serving as a special purpose, high-status grave offering, its function as a metate was secondary to its form. There is no evidence of its use as a grinding surface, for the rough interior area of the stone bowl has not been smoothed by the use of a mano. In fact, this powerful object, when placed in a tomb, represented both elite control over food production and the promise of rebirth and new life. The jaguar form of the metate is almost modern in its dynamism. Its head and tail are incised with a geometric pattern, perhaps representing the animal's spots. The long tail, which curves to the side and attaches itself to the back leg, gives an appearance of swift side- to- side movement. The fierce looking N- shaped incisors and teeth, coupled with the curved shape of the legs makes one expect to see the animal move forward, adding an attribute of life to this stone feline. The creative artistry evidenced in this piece and other ceremonial metates of its time contributed to the creation of the first freestanding sculpture in the region. The legacy of this jaguar continues into the present for its power and beauty is still a joy to behold.

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