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Friday, October 05, 2018

Visiting the Larco Museum in Lima, Peru, and the Ceramics of the Moche Culture

One of the things that I really wanted to do in Lima was to visit the Larco Museum in Lima, Peru and to see it artifacts dating back more than 2000 years. I was able to take a taxi from the hotel and it was safe although expensive. And when I arrived I went into the gated mansion that was converted and made into a museum and a lovely patio area with gardens and a delightful restaurant.

The entryway has a smooth flagstone surface, and the tall wall to the east is covered with climbing plants that are blooming with fuschia, dark red, and fiery orange blossoms. They look like azaleas but I suspect that they are not. Seated on a carved wooden bench with a back with evenly spaced posts is a man in a long-sleeved white shirt and jeans. His head is bowed and at first I think he is a bit dejected until I realize he is checking his cell phone. Scattered about are potted plants with succulents, including very robust jade plants and aloe vera.

Inside the Larco: 
I paid about three dollars to enter and was given a token with the number because I was not allowed to bring in my backpack. I could however take pictures, and that was a relief. So the museum was arranged in chronological order and it started with the history of people and civilizations in the area that is now Lima, Peru.

It was interesting to see the theory that everyone came from the Bering Strait to be still reinforced and perpetuated. Eventually, we may find that there are some other migration pathway or that people that is to say human beings originated in Latin America as well as in Africa and Asia Asia.

The earliest civilizations were very expert in leading and basket making and ceramics. Some of the ceramics were enormous and the pots were large enough to accommodate water storage. Even the most utilitarian of pots had whimsical or elegant shapes performs. I love that about them! It was surprising to see what a lovely finish the ceramics had and I don’t know if they used a glaze or if it was just some firing process but it was very impressive.

Then, there were many different exhibits that had to do with the headdresses and costumes of the different people in society ranging from the lowliest two the highest ranking priests and kings. It was interesting to see the different headdresses and the jewelry. The gods and the decorative elements were described and explained in the placards that were near each exhibit. It was very informative and clearly described not just the artifacts but also the milieu and the contexts. I think it would be fascinating to travel in time and to see what it would be like to live in that culture even if it’s only for an hour or so.

Actually, an hour or so of time travel would be most likely all I could stand because there’s no way that I would be able to understand what they were saying and there’s no way that I would be able to communicate that I’m not some evil creature sent from the underworld to taint their future. After going through the large exhibit that ended up with many different kinds of goals and silver and worked brass and ended with the descriptions of some of the ceremonies, and decided to walk around and explore the grounds. So I took pictures of some of the very beautiful flowering trees and thought I would check out the restaurant. I was distracted however by a sign that said this way to the erotic Museum.

I had to smile because the ceramics that the Indians made 2000 years ago were from the Moche and stay are well known for their ability to create smooth and an amazingly expressive ceramics. In the main museum there are many ceramics that had peoples has depicted and also useful vessels in the shape of animals such as armadillos and jaguars. I know from my reading about the artifacts of ancient Peru that the Moche ceramics had explored a number of different themes and topics.

Perhaps the one theme that everybody remembers is the theme of the human body. I don’t know why the Moche thought it was a good idea to create ceramics with the human body in various poses of copulation, but it certainly is memorable! They called the ceramics erotic, but they were really not erotic. Instead, they were funny and extremely explicit and thought-provoking. It surprised me to see the different acts and things that people were doing and I don’t know if the artists who fashioned the graphic poses did it because they sold well or if it was part of some kind of fertility ritual or if they had to because the king or queen wanted them to! It’s impossible for me to say.

But, there were a few times when I was looking at the out-sized male member that I almost laughed aloud and and I definitely blushed. It was interesting to see how many featured animals copulating and then also there was a very special one of the women giving birth I was surprised they did not sell illustrated books of the erotic and I use their term, erotic, but I would say explicit or graphic ceramics. I’m sure they would sell a lot! And I don’t know if they sold replicas of the most memorable ones to tourists who wanted a souvenir of the Moche culture and of the Larco Museum. 

I went to the gift store after and poked around to see what they sold. There was actually very little and it was quite expensive. So after spending a long time enjoying the exhibits, I asked about getting a taxi and he said it was definitely safer to do it through the museum.  They even offered to call a taxi. They had posted a list of taxi fares to different locations and they were a third of what I paid the hotel limo to get me to the museum. I understand when there are rather informal pricing product policies especially when there’s so much of an income gap and social inequality.

Overall Peru has at least some areas that seem to be booming.  The activities and facilities to attract tourists are from what I can see so far first rate, well-designed, attractive, and they are safe.

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