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Moche Pottery 

The best known cultural heritage of the Moche or Mochica civilization of the northern Peruvian coast is their pottery.

Produced on the North Coast of Peru between A.D. 200 and 800, the artistic creativity and variety, from realistic to abstract, from ritualistic to practical, puts this Pre-Inca culture's pottery in a sophisticated class all its own!

What were the main features and artistic techniques?

The Moche ceramic pottery artifacts that you see on display in various museums of Peru and other countries were usually found buried along with a dead person as a valued possession.

See also:

Moche Civilization and Culture

Peru's Cultures and Timeline

Peru Museums

Best Places to See in Peru

Men, gods, animals, plant, and complex scenes were depicted by Moche or Mochica artists in the form of vessels decorated with sculptural images or brushwork.

Traditional North coast Peruvian ceramic art  uses a limited pallet relying primarily on red and white, fineline painting, fully modeled clay, veristic figures, and stirrup sprouts. Moche ceramics, created between 150-800 AD epitomize this style.

Moche Pottery in Peru
Moche Pottery Map
Moche Civlization - Pre-Inca

The pottery of the Moche civlilization is really amazing. Why?

Mochican ceramic pieces are striking not only for the realism in depicting individual features in portraits, but also the detail found in their mythical creatures and religious symbols.

These realistic pots were found not just at major North coast archeological sites like Huaca de la luna, Huaca del sol, and Sipan, but small villages and unknown burial sites as well.

Given the unusual emphasis on life-like depictions on the famous elite portrait vases, some have suggested that individuality was an important aspect of Moche political culture.

Mochica Pottery in Peru
Moche Pottery Face
Moche Pottery - Portrait

This variety, from realistic to mythological, allows for a wide range of creativity typical of much of the pottery of the Moche culture.

Included are portraits of real people as well as such figures as mythological beings, humanized animals, and men with zoomorphic parts or attributes of various animals.

Not limited to just portraits and mythical creatures, Moche pottery also displays life and movement in its complex scenes of ceremonies, war, household rituals, and likely scenes from myths.

Mochica Pottery in Peru
Moche Pottery the Decapitator
The Decapitator

Ceramic representations with sexual content may have been used for religious purposes in regards to fertility rituals.

Moche potters used a molding technique to manufacture stirrup spout bottles, handle bottles, whistling bottles, jars, and many other forms.

Most likely, the use of molds in some of Mochican pottery was a big aid in increasing production.

Moche Pottery in Peru
Moche Pottery Warrior Duck
Warrior Duck

Although very fine and complex features are found in much of Moche ceramics, their pottery for daily or household use and water vessels was functional, simple, and sparsely decorated.

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