COSTA RICA – Atlantic side

Transition period, phase La Selva to La Cabana, 400 – 600 A.D.

  • Height : 49.8 cm
  • Length : 77 cm
  • Depth : 68.5 cm

Grey-brown dolerite.

Sculpture representing a metate with three legs decorated with human heads, characters and jaguars. The concave top is rectangular, lined with a jagged frieze. The three legs which support it are ornamented with a jaguar and an ancestor’s head thrown forward. The jaguar is climbing up the leg with its tail turned in the opposite side, resting on the back. Its mouth is open, showing the fangs. A perforated panel, characteristic of the so called “Flying Panel” metates, is linked up to the side legs. The central bar is composed by a lying two-headed jaguar. The heads are facing the same side, the mouths open with the fangs visible.

A woman with long hair is standing on the jaguar’s back. A child is seated above each head. The three human figures are linked together by gestures. The child on the left is holding the woman’s shoulder whereas she puts her hand on the second child’s back. The child on the right supports the panel by throwing his arms up. The presence of a feminine figure can be interpreted as the incarnation of the Earth goddess who links up the land strength to the celestial ones. The jaguars, mythical animals of the Mesoamerican civilization, take part in this cosmological union. 

This metate was a ceremonial altar where corns, plants and hallucinogenic herbs were ground during shamanic rituals. This metate, specific to the culture of Costa Rica, realizes the apogee of the “Flying panel” with its iconographic richness that combines the human being and the animal, and with its technical mastery, it is a real ethereal work carved from a monolithic rock which has the appearance of lace.