Pre-Columbian, Costa Rica, Atlantic Watershed, ca. 800 to 1200 CE. A jaguar metate, expertly carved from one piece of volcanic stone with refined dimensions and intricately incised details. Note the details on the head - those gnashing teeth, alert ears, and snarling snout - the wonderful stylized weaving pattern on the head, body surrounding the grinding bowl, and the curling tail. A piece like this would have been used to grind hallucinogenic substances, medicines, etc. for ceremonial rituals. Size: 11.875" L x 5.375" W x 5.125" H (30.2 cm x 13.7 cm x 13 cm)
Metates were initially created to grind foods such as corn, certainly a utilitarian purpose; however, they evolved into meaningful ritual objects, replete with strong iconography and intriguing sculptural forms have transformed these objects into much more than a tool. Examples of a larger scale but similar degree of decorative carving and iconographic symbolism were sometimes used to seat a departed lord on his journey to the afterlife. Jaguar imagery symbolized power and might throughout the Pre-Columbian world; hence, warriors, rulers, hunters, and shamans alike associated themselves with this king of beasts, the largest and most powerful feline in the New World.
Provenance: Ex-private E. Vaught collection, Atlanta, GA
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