Skip to Content
Closed now, next open tomorrow. Closed now, next open tomorrow.

Ceremonial Grinding Table (Metate) in the Form of a Feline

A work made of volcanic stone.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of volcanic stone.




Nicoya, Guanacaste province, Costa Rica

About this artwork

In Central America, Mexico, and the southwestern United States, flat stone grinders (metates) were used to prepare cornmeal and corn dough for cooking. Sculptors in ancient Costa Rica developed elaborate metate forms as symbols of sustenance; large, finely carved examples often feature effigies as emblems of a ruler or religious official. Metates have been discovered in burials, where they served as biers for deceased leaders, but they were probably primarily intended as throne-like seats for chieftains, thereby linking rulers’ political power to their obligation to ensure abundant harvests to sustain their communities.


On View, Gallery 136


Arts of the Americas




Ceremonial Grinding Table (Metate) in the Form of a Feline


Nicoya (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

500 CE–1000


Volcanic stone


41.3 × 34.9 × 86.4 cm (16 1/4 × 13 3/4 × 34 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Richard J. Faletti, the Faletti Family Collection

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions