Metate - HO136_5



Geography: Central Highlands or Atlantic Watershed, Costa Rica
Date: 1000 BC-500 AD
11.6 × 35.5 × 24.5 cm
Object number: HO136
Not on view

Dating to Period IV in Costa Rica’s chronological sequence, this elaborately decorated metate, or grinding stone, was used to prepare food or hallucinogenic substances.  The elaboration of metates corresponds to the introduction of maize into the region, a crop that appears to have been linked to elite prerogative. Grinding stones are often adorned with images of predatory animals, zoomorphic beings, or creatures believed to possess the ability to traverse between the human and spirit world. This metate appears to depict a monkey on both ends. Monkeys were particularly important in Central American mythology due to their close resemblance to humans and for their ability to dwell both on ground and on trees, thereby linking the earth and sky. They were also believed to bestow agility and strength to children.

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