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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Basalt Jaguar Metates : Atlantic Watershed Basalt Metate in the Form of a Jaguar
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Atlantic Watershed Basalt Metate in the Form of a Jaguar - PF.2370
Origin: Eastern Coast of Costa Rica
Circa: 700 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 8.5" (21.6cm) high x 21.625" (54.9cm) depth
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Basalt

Location: United States
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This unique type of zoomorphic-effigy grinding stone, carved from a single piece of volcanic stone, was the most important ritual object in Ancient Costa Rican culture. Like all mankind, the Costa Ricans sought to relieve the fears and uncertainties of death. A quest for immortality and a reverence for ancestors led to elaborate burial practices. The metate as a grinding stone in every-day life had transformative 'power' to change a seed or kernel into flour. Because of this power, the metate became a symbol of transformation in the human life cycle. When it was placed in a tomb it represented the human transformation of rebirth, the beginning of a new life cycle. This striking metate, carved in the stylized shape of a jaguar displays yet another symbol of extreme importance to Ancient Costa Rican society. The jaguar was regarded as the most powerful animal in the world, honored and revered for its ferocity as well as its divine characteristics. In mythology, the most important God, Maira, became the sun during the day, making the long journey from east to west over the lands. At night, however, Maira assumed the form of a jaguar and stealthily made his way from west to east, where in the morning he would rise again in the form of the sun. These commanding attributes of transformation and power are artistically portrayed in this stunning jaguar metate. The powerfully carved patterns, all combine to give this feline a timeless aura of respect and power, benefiting its ancient ceremonial function. As we experience this power today, we realize that ancient works of art such as this Costa Rican metate are timeless in their ability to evoke deep and sensitive emotions. HT. - (PF.2370)


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