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Flying Panel Metate

Date:
1st–5th century
Geography:
Costa Rica
Culture:
Atlantic Watershed
Medium:
Stone
Dimensions:
H.10 x W. 15 x D. 24 in. (25.4 x 38.1 x 61 cm)
Classification:
Stone-Implements
Credit Line:
Gift of Fine Art of Ancient Lands Inc., in memory of John R. Ogle, 1986
Accession Number:
1986.200
  • Description

    Metates, tablelike objects of stone used in ancient Mesoamerica for the grinding of foodstuffs such as corn, underwent particular elaboration in Central America, where they took on special meanings as well as unusual sculptural forms. These new meanings are thought to be based on the original function of the metate as a tool: like the transformation of the workaday celt into a special ornament, the grinding table became a ritual object. In the Atlantic Watershed region, the source of the present example, the metate's three supporting legs were embellished with complex carvings of a wide range of imagery. On the underside of this metate, which is carved entirely from one piece of volcanic stone, five beady-eyed and snarling felines are worked into the legs. A tour de force of stone carving, metates of this type—called "flying-panel metates"—have been discovered in burials associated with jade objects.

  • Provenance

    Spencer Throckmorton, New York, until 1988

  • See also
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
314952

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