GUANACASTE - NICOYA - Costa Rica
300 - 700 A.D.
- Height : 40.6 cm
- Width : 39.2 cm
- Length : 91 cm
Volcanic rock, doleretic basalt with a brown patina.
Zoomorphic sculpture representing a ceremonial metate shaped as a jaguar. The three angular legs are decorated with engraved motifs with symbolic connotations and lined on the inner part with openwork interlacing. The stylized body of the animal, with its quadrangular and concave shape, was used as a plate. The edges are adorned with engravings, as well as the transversal part – close to the head – which is fitted with a band of inserted chevrons. The neck of the feline is framed with two monkeys leaning on its front legs and holding on to its ears. Their tail curls up and rests on the back. The ears of the jaguar, as well as the motifs on the neck and the head, are all decorated with an openwork design. The mouth is wide open and shows the fangs. The flat nose is ornamented with chevrons. A band underlines the rim and outlines the almond-shaped eyes. The top of the head is decorated with tangled and openwork squares.
The metate was a ceremonial altar where corns, plants and hallucinogenic herbs were ground during shamanic rituals. Those tripod metates mainly represent animals and are in line with the notion of fertility, essential element for the farming populations. This one is exceptional due to the fineness of its decoration and its perfect state of preservation. The quality of this sculpture with its openwork designs gives lightness to the whole set. We can recognize the subject of the jaguar, symbolic animal in the pre-Columbian civilizations. It is extremely rare to see the jaguar associated with the monkey in this kind of works. Those two monkeys holding on to its neck seem to be riding with it and liven up the composition.
An inclusion of harder stone is visible in the middle of the plate.