The Moche
January 25, 2006 11:40 AM   Subscribe

The images on the ceramics were thought to be mythical narratives, imagery the priestly class used to underscore its coercive power. Without proper archaeological evidence, the representations were too horrific to take literally. They depicted gruesome scenes of torture: captives skinned alive, drained of blood (which was drunk by priests in front of them), throats slit, bodies decapitated and left to the vultures, bones meticulously defleshed and hung from ropes.

Unfortunately for the victims, these bloody rites actually happened. They took place in an otherwise vibrant and highly advanced culture, a culture renowned for its artists and builders. These were a people who developed advanced agricultural knowledge, extremely sophisticated metallurgy, and built the largest pre-Columbian adobe structure in the Americas. Because they had no written language, though, it is by their ceramics that we know them best.

The Moche.
posted by crumbly (27 comments total)

 
They are an ingenious people, wonderfully sensitive artists, with a magnificent feel for nature and materials. On the other hand, I'm really glad they're dead.
posted by Faze at 12:00 PM on January 25, 2006


skinned alive, drained of blood (which was drunk by priests in front of them), throats slit, bodies decapitated and left to the vultures, bones meticulously defleshed and hung from ropes.

They invented MetaTalk?!?!?!?!
posted by keswick at 12:09 PM on January 25, 2006


MetaTalk: At least it's not as bad as The Moche.
posted by Plutor at 12:16 PM on January 25, 2006


Boy, you make it sound like it's an unusual combination....
posted by jefgodesky at 12:26 PM on January 25, 2006


If our artifacts include snuff films, horror movies or Abu Ghraib photos, will we be remembered any differently 500 years from now?
posted by smrtsch at 12:31 PM on January 25, 2006


Our artifacts also include Hello Kitty. So there.
posted by storybored at 12:32 PM on January 25, 2006


This is a terrific post. Thanks!
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:41 PM on January 25, 2006


Abu Ghraib photos & Hello Kitty. What a contrast. Yet, both make me shudder.
posted by raedyn at 12:45 PM on January 25, 2006


Hello Kitty hug you and make you all safe!
posted by storybored at 1:11 PM on January 25, 2006


Moche pottery porn!


I went to this museum in Lima - it was great. Amazing private collection of pots from chimu, moche, chavin, mochica etc. dynasties. This guy, larco, basically dug tens of thousands of these pots up from different parts of the country, and made a collection.

I was shown round by this cuuuute well spoken peruvian graduate student who wore a conspicuous cross around her beutiful neck. After the 'historical' pottery tour, she pointed to the room where the 'erotic' pottery was kept. I asked if she'd give me a tour: I've never seen a peruvian blush so furiously.

posted by lalochezia at 1:15 PM on January 25, 2006


PS Great post!
posted by lalochezia at 1:17 PM on January 25, 2006


This is a great post, thanks!

keswick wins; but I'm calling him out over it.
posted by OmieWise at 1:27 PM on January 25, 2006


They also played good music (no, they didn't make CD's, but recovered instruments and current indigenous music gives us an idea of what it sounded like).
posted by kozad at 1:36 PM on January 25, 2006


Man, I love mochi. I had no idea those little squishy treats were bloodthirsty killers!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:40 PM on January 25, 2006


They took place in an otherwise vibrant and highly advanced culture

See also: Medieval Inquisition, Spanish Inquisition. Then again, these historical periods were much later than the Moche. During the early Middle Ages torture techniques throughout Europe and Asia were cruder and less refined, but probably no less prevalent. They approached a peak of sophistication by the 17th century, but then experienced a rapid decline in popularity as other, more effective methods of social control emerged.
posted by meehawl at 2:24 PM on January 25, 2006


p.s. I just got back from Peru. The pottery is brilliant.
posted by meehawl at 2:24 PM on January 25, 2006


My kinda folks. Excellent post.

I wonder if the lack of written language spurred the blood thirstyness.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:05 PM on January 25, 2006


"these bloody rites actually happened. They took place in an otherwise vibrant and highly advanced culture"

I have problems parsing this. What would be the definition of a "vibrant and highly advanced culture?"
posted by semmi at 4:13 PM on January 25, 2006


Great post.
posted by catachresoid at 4:32 PM on January 25, 2006


Awesome. This kind of post is why I love Metafilter. Deep content, lots of juicy links in the FPP to explore, plus blood, torture and ceramics. If there was a current event tie-in, I'd call it a perfect post!

Question: how do you pronounce "Moche"?
posted by JParker at 5:56 PM on January 25, 2006


So, if they had a hole where they tortured you, would that be a "moche pit"? :)
posted by unreason at 6:15 PM on January 25, 2006


unreason: a "moche pit" is what you spit out after you eat a moche.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:22 PM on January 25, 2006


JParker, it's pronounced like this.
posted by crumbly at 6:25 PM on January 25, 2006


I would just like to announce that I'm flagging this post as fantastic, and every body else better do the same if they know what's good for them. Hot damn do I love this post.
posted by shmegegge at 7:07 PM on January 25, 2006


Yes, this is a tasty post.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:43 PM on January 25, 2006


Hello Kitty's not so thrilled with all this talk about torture.
Hugs for everyone!
posted by storybored at 7:54 PM on January 25, 2006


JParker, it's pronounced like this.

Thanks!
(and I'm glad I asked, because I wouldn't have guessed correctly.)
posted by JParker at 11:50 PM on January 25, 2006


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