The pestle took upon itself as many shapes and designs as the mortar, and like relation of the latter to the metate, it was first cousin to the muller, both of which had their origin in the rough, unworked stone used by primitive man to pound or crush his food, and other objects. Some pestles were heavy and several feet long; others were short instruments which could be used with one hand. Metates and mortars were of many shapes, sizes and designs, and their uses were almost as varied as their forms.
Uses of Mortars.— Indians, throughout the buffalo country, put the buffalo meat into a rawhide bag which they placed in a hole in the earth with the open mouth upward. While here they pounded the meat into shape for pemmican. Some Indians placed their shallow mortars in closely-woven baskets considerably larger than the mortars so that the grain that fell from the latter, in the process of grinding or pulverizing, might be saved. Others of the Pueblo Indians placed a basket-shaped hopper in the mouth of the mortar to prevent the pounded grain from hopping out. It is probable that very large 'mortar holes° found in rock were also used as boiling pots, in which the heated water was obtained by dropping superheated stones into the hole. The large wooden portable mortars of the forest-region Indians were generally set on the ground so as to make them firm and steady. The ordinary metate of Mexico and Central America has generally four legs upon which it stands steadily. In many cases these give it an artistic appearance. Most of these metates are made of lava rock, especially in the districts where lava is plentiful. Metates are made of rocks of different grades of coarse ness. Thus it is possible, by passing ground
grain from one metate to another, to finally obtain a flour as fine as the finest turned out by the best modern mill machinery. Fine metates and mortars are also made from granite, limestone, sandstone and other rocky material. Perhaps the most artistic develop ment of the mortar is to be found among the Haida Indians of Alaska, who probably learned their art from Asiatic tribes. Not only are mortars of a great variety of forms and designs but they are also of many sizes, ranging from tiny little vessels to huge excavations. The rea son is that they were put to a variety of uses. The smaller mortars were employed as recep tacles in which to grind paints, medicines, shells, tobacco and other substances used in medicine, personal decoration, ceremonies, incantations and dances. All the grinding of corn and other food products was almost universally done among the American Indians by women; but in the case of the ceremonial substances, especially those considered of a sacred nature, where the efficacy of the charm, ceremonial use or medi cine depended upon the manner in which the grinding was done, this work was generally left to the medicine men, who were learned in all the ceremonial forms and traditions of the tribe.
Bibliography.—Hodge, 'Handbook of Amer ican Indians) ; Morehead, 'Prehistoric Imple ments' ; 'The American Indian in the United States' ; Morgan, 'League of the Nordenskj51d, 'Cliff Dwellers of the Mesa Verda); Schoolcraft, 'The Indian Tribes of the United ; Thurston, (Antiquities of Tennessee)