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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Basalt Metates and Altars : Atlantic Watershed Basalt Altar
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Atlantic Watershed Basalt Altar - PF.3236
Origin: Eastern Coast of Costa Rica
Circa: 700 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 14" (35.6cm) high x 14.5" (36.8cm) wide x 15.75" (40.0cm) depth
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Basalt

Location: United States
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This altarpiece is a fascinating example of the detailed and massive sculptural rendering of the Ancient Costa Ricans. Undoubtedly serving an important function in Ancient Costa Rican rituals, this altar may have been used as a platform, where revered animals representing deities were worshipped. Four male and female monkeys stand in a circle holding hands, supporting the circular plate of the altar. The round plate is carved in a slightly irregular manner, as if to follow the natural form of the basalt stone slate. The monkeys stand on a circular band that is decorated with incised patterns. Also, details of the figures, such as hair and facial features, are rendered in incision lines. Perhaps monkeys, symbols of intelligence, were one of the most revered animals in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican artists' complete mastery of the medium coupled with an aesthetic that was sensitive to the natural and supernatural world, resulted in this marvelous sculpted stone, ageless in its ability to stimulate our senses. - (PF.3236)


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