Two of the most common recurring themes on Moche/Mochica culture pottery are depictions of anthropomorphic birds, animals and lima beans. These themes played prominent roles in ceremonies and everyday life. Birds were precious resources in the economy of Andean societies. Merchants traded brilliantly colored parrot and macaw feathers in long-distance networks connecting the Amazonian rainforest, the Cordillera, and the remote Pacific coast, where they decorated garments of rulers and kings. Coastal agriculturalists used guano to enrich their fields. Sailors collected the valuable fertilizer offshore on sacred islands, where they left prestigious offerings. On the coast, domesticated muscovy ducks may have been part of the subsistence. One of the frequently recurring themes in Moche art is the race between human beings with the features of animals, carrying bags with lima beans and sticks in their hands. In this race the runners participated wearing their finest clothing and elaborate headdresses, one of the most characteristic of which was the circular frontal headdress.
“Throughout history, clothing has not only protected us from the natural elements, it has also enabled us to demonstrate who we are. Our clothing and adornments indicate our gender and social position, as well as our origins and what we do. In all ancient societies, the elite employed ways of defining themselves. In ancient Peru leaders would dress and adorn themselves with articles exclusive to their social rank. They would preside over the principal ceremonies wearing garments and ornaments which not only denoted the function they performed, but which also displayed the religious codes of their society and the emblems of power and privileged status. Their social position and identity were defined by their dress, crowns and many items of jewelry. When they died they took with them into the afterlife objects which expressed their way of seeing the world. They were interred with the ritual attire which had identified their rank during life, and which had marked them out as the descendants of the gods. Their identity transcended their earthly existence and accompanied them into the next world. After death, these rulers would be transformed into ancestors who would share a place in the celestial world with the gods.” Larco Museum
When getting to know the capital city of Peru, head straight to the neighborhood of Miraflores for a scenic introduction to Lima’s charms. Taking cues from its name, Miraflores is peppered with flowerbeds and grassy parks, just calling for you to enjoy it’s lush greenery. From jagged cliffs overlooking the Pacific and the centrally located Kennedy Park, to some dazzling gems in Peruvian cuisine, Miraflores offers the perfect beginning to your Limanian adventure. It is a lot like Palisades Park in Santa Monica, only bigger and with better views.
At the Larco museum they had a section devoted to Moche warfare and ceremonial human sacrifice. Flourishing on the north coast of Peru between 100 and 800 CE, the Moche created ceramic vessels richly decorated with detailed, fineline paintings that relate complex tales. The surviving ceramics provide a wealth of information about Moche society and iconography. Moche artists frequently depicted warriors and warrior activities, and hundreds of these depictions can be found in museums and private collections today. The combat they depict appears to be ceremonial rather than militaristic. There are no depictions of warriors attacking castles or fortified settlements, or killing, capturing, or mistreating women or children. Moreover, there is no portrayal of equipment or tactics that involved teams of warriors acting in close coordination. We see no regular formations of troops like Greek phalanxes, or siege instruments whose operation would have involved trained squads of individuals. Although there are a few depictions of two warriors fighting a single opponent, the essence of Moche combat appears to have been the expression of individual valor, in which the warriors engage in one-on-one combat. Only rarely were combatants killed; the goal appears to have been to capture the opponent for ritual sacrifice.
Since we dined on the beach in Miraflores, we decided on dinner on top of the cliffs in Tanta restaurant located in the very modern Larcomar shopping center. The Miraflores “malecón” or boardwalk is possibly the most emblematic attraction in Miraflores. This six mile stretch of board walk starts with Malecón de la Marina in the north, then becomes Malecón Cisneros, and ends as Malecón de la Reserva in the south. This stunning cliff-top walk offers fabulous views of the Pacific Coast and is a great place for people watching. Although Lima is almost always cloudy, this Boardwalk down the coast where Lima sits is a beautiful walk. You will often see surfers and swimmers in the water and even paragliders overhead in the sky. It is also an amazing location to view a sunset although the overcast sky makes for an unusual sunset. Larcomar shopping center is a stunning feat of architecture located on the boardwalk in front of the JW Marriott Hotel. You can’t see this multi-level food, entertainment and shopping complex from street level as it is tucked away in the cliff face boasting stunning views of the Pacific Coast. You will find a lot of big brand stores here like North Face, Adidas and Banana Republic but you will also find Peruvian stores like Ilaria Jewelery, Kuna Alpaca as well as the great gift store Dedalo.
I was at the Larco Museum in Lima, Peru and saw these beautiful ceramics and pots, which inspired me to research this interesting and influential culture. The Moche civilization (alternatively, the Mochica culture, Early Chimu, Pre-Chimu, Proto-Chimu, etc.) flourished in northern Peru with its capital near present-day Moche and Trujillo, from about 100 AD to 800 AD, during the Regional Development Epoch. While this issue is the subject of some debate, many scholars contend that the Moche were not politically organized as a monolithic empire or state. Rather, they were likely a group of autonomous polities that shared a common elite culture, as seen in the rich iconography and monumental architecture that survive today. Moche history may be broadly divided into three periods: the emergence of the Moche culture in Early Moche (100–300 AD), its expansion and florescence during Middle Moche (300–600 AD), and the urban nucleation and subsequent collapse in Late Moche (500–750 AD). Moche portrait vessels are ceramic vessels featuring highly individualized and naturalistic representations of human faces that are unique to the Moche culture of Peru. These portrait vessels are some of the few realistic portrayals of humans found in the Precolumbian Americas.
One of Lima’s best restaurants, La Rosa Nautica, is located just down from the cliffs of Miraflores. The restaurant is on a pier that is kind of on a desolated stretch of the highway, with nothing else around it, we had to take a cab to get there and get a cab back that was furnished by the restaurant. This emblematic Lima restaurant is located in an ancient wharf on the Costa Verde in Miraflores. Since its opening in 1983, some of the most important chefs of the country have cooked here. La Rosa Nautica serves up impeccable nouveau-Peruvian cuisine. But the real reason to dine here is the unparalleled charm of its location and architecture. Perched atop railway piles in the ocean, this rambling Victorian structure, reached via a boardwalk, features views that are intoxicating even before you’ve had your first pisco sour from its famous bar. Sunset is, as you would expect, La Rosa Nautica’s magic hour.
The Salinar culture (200 B.C.-200 A.D.) that reigned on the north coast of Peru meant a short transition period between the Cupisnique and the Moche cultures. Continuity can be seen in ceramics, especially. Socially, the Salinar period was unsettled. Old fields were abandoned, fortified refuges were built and the size of population centers was increased in the hope of security provided by mass power. It has been said that the reason for the unrest of the era was the end of easily-cultivated land, when a strife over land would have led to confrontation. The Salinar ceramics largely carries on the traditions of the Cupinisque ceramics. What is missing from the Salinar vessels, however, is the artistic elegance of the Cupinisque ceramics. It has been replaced by fresh directness. The sculptural decorative motifs of the Salinar ceramics were animals and people, and one of its new areas was erotic ceramics. In addition to sculptural vessels, also plainer paint-ornamented vessels were made within the culture. The typical ground color of the Salinar ceramics changes from orange to beige.
This Sculptural Virú Pitcher from the Peruvian Formative Period represents a creature with the body of a feline, the head of an owl and the tail of a snake. The Gallinazo culture that reigned on the north coast of Peru from about 200 B.C. to 300 A.D. was developed in the river valley of Virú. That is why it is sometimes also called the Virú culture. This North Coast culture was based in the Virú Valley and extended into the Moche and Santa Valleys as well. The Virú Valley is on a coastal landscape which consists of a narrow land strip boarded by the Andes Mountains to its east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The Gallinazo artefacts have been found from the area that extends from the river valley of Santa almost to the border of Ecuador. The Gallinazo culture is an important mark in the prehistory of the north coast, because the aristocratic administrative system that it developed and strengthened laid the foundation for the Moche culture.
Prior to the Chavín culture are cultures that are either synonymous with the Chavín or on the horizon of the Chavín culture. Pacopampa (Quechua: paqu pampa) is an archaeological site located in the northern highlands of Peru, in the department of Cajamarca. It presents the remains of a monumental ceremonial center, made with cut and polished stone. It belongs to the Formative period, dating from 1200 to 500 BC. In the 1930s Rafael Larco Hoyle visited the area where samples were collected from the lithosculpture that he then brought it to his museum in Chiclín (Trujillo) and today it is found in the Larco Museum in Lima. He was the first to report, though in a brief manner, on such findings on the site. Pacopampa was related to the Chavin culture when Julio César Tello, the father of Peruvian archeology, made his theory about the origins of the Peruvian culture. By analyzing pottery they created a stage prior to the Chavin influence Pacopampa-called Pacopampa (1200 BC), different from the one that follows, entitled Pacopampa-Chavin (700 BC). This stone mortar represents the fusion of three sacred animals of Peru, the bird, the feline and the serpent.