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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Basalt Jaguar Metates : Basalt Metate in the Form of a Jaguar with Human Figure Seated in Between the Legs
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Basalt Metate in the Form of a Jaguar with Human Figure Seated in Between the Legs - PF.2504
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 700 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 8.25" (21.0cm) high x 37.375" (94.9cm) depth
Catalogue: V8
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Basalt

Location: United States
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Ingeniously carved from a single piece of volcanic rock with only stone and wood tools plus abrasives, this engaging ceremonial metate is a brilliant example of the ancient Pre-Columbian sculptural artistry of the Atlantic Watershed zone of Costa Rica. Serving as a very special burial object for high status members of society, the metate symbolized a transformation for the deceased, a rebirth, the beginning of new life. The transformational qualities of this metate echo the altering aspects of the everyday utilitarian metate that transformed seeds and kernels into flour. Another important symbol that is manifested in this extraordinary metate is that of the jaguar. The Costa Ricans regarded jaguars as the most powerful animal in the world; to be honored and revered they even had certain divine characteristics. In Ancient Costa Rican mythology, the most important God Maira, was the sun during the day, making the journey from east to west over 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. The jaguar image that forms this metate most certainly exudes a spirited power that befits his divine qualities. While the jaguar forms the central component of this ceremonial metate, monkey figures perch beneath the jaguar, adding an element of dramatic excitement to this sculpted masterpiece. Clearly, the ancient artist who created this carved stone metate was an exceptional sculptor and had an astute awareness of the natural world surrounding him. How fortunate we are today to be able to experience his vibrant and spirited creation. HT. - (PF.2504)


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