Tripod grinding stone with curved, slightly concave surface, and bird head; tripod legs pierced through with carved motifs of upside-down birds. Geometric carving on edges of grinding surface, and on bird's head.

Ceremonial Bird Effigy Grinding Stone (metate)

Guanacaste-Nicoya Zone, Pacific Coast, Pre-Columbian

300 - 700 (Period IV - V)

A sculptor made this tripod metate from a single piece of extremely brittle volcanic stone. The legs, pierced through and adorned with interlocking geometric motifs, each show an inverted bird whose head touches the ground. Women used functional metates to grind corn; however ritual objects like this one, placed in burial sites, would have served the deceased in the afterlife. The upside-down birds may refer to the use of the object in the underworld.