Pre-Columbian, Costa Rica, Atlantic Watershed, ca. 800 to 1200 CE. A jaguar effigy metate depicting the wild feline standing on all fours with a broad, slightly convex back/table forming the grinding surface, and a large hole drilled through the center, presumably for funneling its contents, expertly carved from one piece of volcanic stone with refined dimensions and skillfully incised details. What's more, the sculptor of this piece successfully created an expressive countenance; just look at those bulging eyes, gnashing teeth/fangs, alert ears, and snarling snout as he stands proudly. In addition to this fabulous iconography, the piece is decorated with attractive striated bands around the periphery of the table. A very special example! Size: 21.5" L x 10.75" W x 7.25" H (54.6 cm x 27.3 cm x 18.4 cm)
Metate technology developed initially for the utilitarian purpose of grinding corn; however, the objects evolved into meaningful ritual objects, replete with strong iconography and intriguing sculptural forms. Examples with elaborate 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: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-Mary K. F. Leong collection, Washington, USA, 1980-1990
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