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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Basalt Jaguar Metates : Basalt Metate in the Form of a Jaguar
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Basalt Metate in the Form of a Jaguar - PF.2416
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 100 AD to 500 AD
Dimensions: 5.875" (14.9cm) high x 17.875" (45.4cm) depth
Catalogue: V11
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Basalt

Additional Information: Hong Kong

Location: UAE
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This unique type of ceremonial grinding stone was the most important ritual object of its time in Costa Rica, serving as a very special burial piece for high status members of society. The metate, as a utilitarian grinding stone in everyday life, had the power to transform seeds and kernels into flour. When placed in the tomb, this spirited metate assured for the deceased another type of transformational rebirth, the beginning of a new life. This striking metate, carved in the stylized shape of a jaguar, displays yet another symbol of extreme importance to the members of Costa Rican society. The jaguar was regarded as the most powerful animal in the world, to be honored and revered it even had certain divine characteristics. In ancient mythology, the most important God, Maira, was the sun during the day, making the journey from east to west across the land. At night, however, Maira assumed the form of a jaguar and stealthily made his way from the west back to the east, where in the morning he would rise once again in the form of the sun. These commanding attributes of transformation and power are portrayed dynamically in this stunning metate. A snarling outstretched feline head at once commands our attention, while bent, crouching legs assume a feral stalking pose. At the jaguars rear, his thick tail artistically splits in two, with each end curving to join the cat’s hind legs. Clearly, the reverence with which this ceremonial metate was afforded in antiquity extends into the present, the felines power and magnetism continuing to affect all who behold it. - (PF.2416)


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