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Mochica Ancestor

Erotic Room, vitrine E45

Northern coast of Peru
Florescent Epoch (1 AD – 800 AD)

The dead are depicted with cadaverous bodies, but at the same time with erections, indicating their ability to fertilize the world they inhabit; the underworld which is the realm of Pachamama, or Mother Earth.

  • After death, leaders’ mortal remains were subjected to meticulous funerary rites intended to ensure their safe passage to the underworld and transformation into ancestors; it was believed that in this way the wellbeing of their living relatives would be guaranteed.
  • This sculptural vessel depicts an ancestor as a cadaverous individual, a dweller of the underworld who is still sexually active.
  • The male sexual organ is disproportionately large, demonstrating the ability of this figure to produce semen, the fertilizing fluid that must be offered to the soil.
  • The ancestor’s main purpose is to make fertile the world he inhabits, the underworld.
  • In Mochica art, the dead are depicted as sexually active beings, involved in non-procreative sexual activities, such as masturbation.