Tripod metate - ROM2019_17478_22


Tripod metate

Geography: Nicoya, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Date: AD 1 - 500
17.7 × 28.4 × 55.4 cm
Object number: 2018.11.14
Credit Line: Gift of Philip and Marian Brady
Not on view

Metates are grinding stones. In Costa Rica and other parts of lower Central America, metates are often associated with the rise of maize agriculture. Maize cultivation – and its associated tools – was elevated to high symbolic status, with metates becoming objects of considerable creative and symbolic elaboration. Some were buried with the ruling elites, placed as a bed upon which the deceased leader lied.  The metates are often carved with depictions of predatory animals and human sacrifices. These motifs highlighted why leaders were necessary and emphasizing the importance of sacrifice to sustain society. This metate lacks clear iconography but the nubs below the metate may symbolize the trophy heads given to maintain a good harvest.

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