The Art Of Moche Pottery Essay

1828 words - 7 pages

Pottery, not the first thing you think about when you want to jot something down. When one goes to write something, whether be it an idea or to record the daily events, one just needs to pick up a pen and write. However to the Mochica people, pottery is just that, both a writing utensil and a medium. Unlike our system of writing where we use symbols to form a meaning, the Mochica did not develop a writing system. "The closest the Mochica may have come to developing such a system were inscriptions painted on lima beans, believed by Rafael Larco Hoyle to have been a type of code or primitive scrip that permitted couriers to carry messages among tribal leaders" (Kirkpatrick 1992). Fortunately for us, the Mochica vividly captured their lives into the pottery that they made.

The coast of Peru is one of the driest deserts in the world (von Hagen 1964). A narrow strip of sand lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains (von Hagen 1964). The terrain between the coast and the mountain top is only a few miles (von Hagen 1964). Rain along the coast is rare, although every seven to twenty-five years there may be a flood caused by a shifting of the track of the Humboldt Current (von Hagen 1964). In spots, the coastal desert is crossed by rivers coming down from the mountains (Gillin 1947). Here water permits irrigation and cultivation. Since ancient times, these river valleys have been populated by successive group of people. The Mochica civilization came toward the middle of the whole development. The Mochica civilization first flourished in northern coastal Peru around the year 200 B.C. (Fagan 1995).

If one mentions pre-Columbian Peru, the most often response were the Inca. But the Inca were latecomers of a long history in Peru. For two and a half millenniums before the Inca, "people had been farming, weaving cloth, worshipping in impressive structures, making elaborate ceremonial pottery, and working metal" (Kirkpatrick 1992). Peru was the central hub for the Andean area. The common divisions of Peruvian archaeology are made between the highlands and the coastal lowlands, and these in turn are divided into northern, central, and southern areas. The most fascinating of the north-coast cultures in Peruvian prehistory is that of the Mochica or Moche. Historically, nothing is known of the Mochica, for several waves of conquest in the North separated them from the Inca, whose era has provided our only direct knowledge of pre-Spanish Peruvian peoples (Gillin 1947). What is known of the Mochica is the wealth of their decorated pottery, as well as other artifacts and architecture.

The Mochica culture of the north coast of Peru has long been defined by its best-known ceramic feature, pottery. Because of the lack of rainfall, the Mochica used these...

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