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A History Lesson - CEMCUI

A History Lesson

The word "Molcajete" comes from the Nahuatl Mollicaxtli, which means concave stone for sauce. These instruments originated in Mesoamerica approximately 8000 years ago, and some consider their invention to be the reason for the increase in the consumption of seeds, and therefore the domestication of maize.

Traditionally carved from a single block of vesicular basalt, molcajete bowls are typically round in shape and supported by three short legs. They are often decorated with the carved head of an animal on the outer rim of the bowl, giving the molcajete the appearance of a short, stout, three-legged animal. The pig is the most common animal head used for this type of decoration.

In the pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican period, the molcajete had a lid and it was believed that the set was used for the burial of high status members of society. In addition, throughout this period, they were decorated with various colors and designs, and orange-coloured wares were identified as the most common feature of the molcajete. The matching hand polishing tool known as the tejolote, derived from Nahuatl texolotl, is made of the same basalt material.

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