Sex, Death, and Sacrifice in Moche Religion and Visual Culture / Edition 1

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Overview

The Moche people who inhabited the north coast of Peru between approximately 100 and 800 AD were perhaps the first ancient Andean society to attain state-level social complexity. Although they had no written language, the Moche created the most elaborate system of iconographic representation of any ancient Peruvian culture. Amazingly realistic figures of humans, animals, and beings with supernatural attributes adorn Moche pottery, metal and wooden objects, textiles, and murals. These actors, which may have represented both living individuals and mythological beings, appear in scenes depicting ritual warfare, human sacrifice, the partaking of human blood, funerary rites, and explicit sexual activities.

In this pathfinding book, Steve Bourget raises the analysis of Moche iconography to a new level through an in-depth study of visual representations of rituals involving sex, death, and sacrifice. He begins by drawing connections between the scenes and individuals depicted on Moche pottery and other objects and the archaeological remains of human sacrifice and burial rituals. He then builds a convincing case for Moche iconography recording both actual ritual activities and Moche religious beliefs regarding the worlds of the living, the dead, and the afterlife. Offering a pioneering interpretation of the Moche worldview, Bourget argues that the use of symbolic dualities linking life and death, humans and beings with supernatural attributes, and fertility and social reproduction allowed the Moche to create a complex system of reciprocity between the world of the living and the afterworld. He concludes with an innovative model of how Moche cosmological beliefs played out in the realms of rulership and political authority.

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What People Are Saying

Christopher B. Donnan
Overall, I find this to be an extraordinary book, filled with excellent observations about Moche iconography and world view.... Bourget's arguments [are] extremely interesting, thought-provoking, and potentially of great importance. They will undoubtedly cause other researchers to look at the material in a new way and to test and refine the observations presented in this volume in the years ahead.
Christopher B. Donnan, UCLA, author of Moche Portraits from Ancient Peru
Christopher B. Donnan
Overall, I find this to be an extraordinary book, filled with excellent observations about Moche iconography and world view.... Bourget's arguments [are] extremely interesting, thought-provoking, and potentially of great importance. They will undoubtedly cause other researchers to look at the material in a new way and to test and refine the observations presented in this volume in the years ahead.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292712799
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Bourget is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Texas at Austin.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1: More Questions than Answers
Moche Visual Culture
Subjects, Themes, and Narratives
Iconography, Archaeology, and Identity
Presentation Theme
Wrinkle Face and Iguana
Ritual Runners
Ceremonial Badminton
Coca-Taking Ceremony
Prisoners and Portrait-Head Vessels
Copulation with Wrinkle Face
Summary
Context and Methodology
A Dualist System
A Tripartite Organization?
Chapter 2: Eros
Previous Contributions
Rafael Larco Hoyle
Anne Marie Hocquenghem
Susan Bergh
Diachronic versus Synchrony
Sodomy
Ritual Paraphernalia
Presence of Children in Scenes of Sodomy
Sodomy and Individual with Fangs
Masturbation
Fellatio
Sexual Depictions on Libation Vases
Skeletal Beings and Erections
Anthropomorphic Genitals
Women and Blood
Inverted Fertilities
Vaginal Copulation
Copulation between Animals
Copulation between Animals and Women
Copulation between Wrinkle Face and Women
Eventual Sacrificial Victims
Sacrificial Victims and Vaginal Copulation
Summary
Chapter 3: Eros and Thanatos
Chapter 4: Thanatos
Organization of the Narrative
The Awakening
The Exit
The Reinstatement
Sacrifice and Capture
Strombus Seashells
Archaeological Evidence of an Afterworld
Summary
Chapter 5: Dualities, Liminalities, and Rulership
Dualities
Sipán
Huacas de Moche Site and El Brujo Complex
Iconography
Asymmetry and Duality
Liminalities
On the Structure of Moche Rulership
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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