Pre-Columbian, Costa Rica, Atlantic Watershed, ca. 800 to 1200 CE. A very nice example of a jaguar effigy metate depicting the wild feline standing on all fours with a broad, slightly convex back/table forming the grinding surface, expertly carved from one piece of volcanic stone with refined dimensions and skillfully incised details. 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. This is a particularly handsome example of this form. Size: 15" L x 7.75" W x 5.5" H (38.1 cm x 19.7 cm x 14 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 southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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