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Currently shown

Grinding Table (metate)

Location

COSTA RICA or NICARAGUA, WESTERN REGION

Era

Greater Nicoya, Bagaces or Sapoá Period (300-1350)

Culture

Greater Nicoya

Title

Grinding Table (metate)

Materials

Volcanic stone

Dimensions

22.9 x 50 x 25.1 cm

Credits

Gift of Leo Rosshandler in honour of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' 150th anniversary, inv. 2013.750

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Metates were used to grind various foodstuffs such as tubers and maize. Those adorned with geometric and zoomorphic designs likely had ceremonial functions. Traces of wear suggest that they were used as grinding tables, but perhaps only for preparing food or other substances for special events and/or rituals. Some ceramic depictions of people seem to indicate that certain large metates could also sometimes serve as seating for individuals of high rank. When they were not in use it is possible that they were arranged against a wall, which would explain the presence of geometric motifs on the underside of this metate. In addition to such hypotheses, their function as a funerary offering is best substantiated, as many of these objects have been found in tombs.

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