Zoomorphic effigy grinding stones such as this
magnificent stone feline metate were the most
important ritual objects of their time in Costa
Rica. Exquisitely carved from a single piece of
volcanic rock with only stone, wooden or other
perishable tools, plus abrasives, these metates
exhibit remarkably graceful lines and proportion.
Functioning as burial items for the wealthy,
high-status members of society, their presence
in the burial tomb insured the deceased of an
eventual rebirth, the beginning of a new life. The
metate symbolized this transformation because
of its every-day utilitarian function as a grinding
stone, transforming a seed or kernel into flour.
This particular metate exudes an aura of power
and dynamism. The sweeping upward curve of
the metate plate which serves as the feline's
body, coupled with the large and powerfully
extended head, makes one expect to see the
animal move forward, giving an attribute of life to
this stone feline. The magnificent artistry of the
region is attested to by the striking openwork
carving on the tripod legs and the feline's head,
with its long graceful neck and snarling visage.
A legacy of the stunning sculpture in the region.
The legacy of this work of art continues into the
present, for to behold this feline is to revere it,
just as it was revered so many centuries ago.