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

A work made of volcanic stone.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of volcanic stone.

Date:

A.D. 500/1000

Artist:

Nicoya
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

Arts of the Americas, Gallery 136

Culture

Nicoya

Title

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

Origin

Nicoya

Date

500 CE–1000

Medium

Volcanic stone

Dimensions

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

1997.66

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.

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