• Depicted in pre-Hispanic codexes in ceremonial and domestic scenes
  • Often used for wedding gifts and kept in the family for generations

A metate is a large, usually flat, volcanic stone that serves to grind cooking ingredients by applying pressure on them. It is used to grind the nixtamal for the day’s tortillas. It is also used to grind corn, beans, cacao, rice, and in some artisan’s workshops it is used to grind the earth for decorating clay jars.


It has a rectangular base that can rest on the ground or on a table. Grinding is done with a metlapil, a hand-held cylindrical stone.

Metates are produced almost everywhere in Mexico, especially in San Salvador el Seco in Puebla; Huejutla and Huichapan in Hidalgo; Guanajuato; and San Pedro de los Metates in the State of Mexico. In Michoacan a ritual dance with metates is done, asking for a girl’s hand in marriage.