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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Basalt Jaguar Metates : Atlantic Watershed Basalt Metate in the Form of a Double-Headed Jaguar
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Atlantic Watershed Basalt Metate in the Form of a Double-Headed Jaguar - PF.4736
Origin: Eastern Coast of Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD

Collection: Precolumbian
Medium: Basalt

Location: Great Britain
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The metates of the Atlantic Watershed region have a plate that is horizontally flat and rimmed. As with those from other areas their manufacture suggests the beginnings of differentiated social status and wealth. As a symbol, the metate graphically illustrated the correlation between food production and warrior-chiefs who protected the land and fought for further acquisitions. Used for grinding corn or earth pigments metates were tangible proof of a wealthy class who could afford skilled sculptors who labored to produce an object that may only have been intended as part of funerary accoutrements. Though once considered to be many things-- luxury item, utilitarian object and symbol of power; today a metate, such as this attractive example, is a true sculpture and work of art. The jaguar heads are delicately carved and very expressive despite their characteristic abstract quality. Graceful and highly refined this metate was carved from a large block of difficult volcanic stone, fashioned into an object of elegant simplicity. Jaguars were themselves a potent symbol of strength and courage. It is this noble and proud animal the warriors of Ancient Costa Rica would have wished to be identified with--both in this world and the world of the spirit. d - (PF.4736)


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