< Back to Permanent Exhibition

Cultures of Ancient Peru

Rooms 2, 3, 4

Ancient Peruvians honored their gods with offerings and ceremonies and paid homage to their dead. The works of art that we see in museums were not usually objects intended for daily use. Although some of their apparently utilitarian forms may suggest such usages, their real function was to serve as spiritual rather than earthly objects.

As westernized people of the 21st century we no longer organize our societies in relation to life after death. It might be said that we pay homage to life itself, to our existence in the here and now. This way of thinking can make it difficult for us to understand ancient cultures like those which existed in Peru. These societies practiced the cult of the dead, and this enabled their people to make contact with other worlds: the underworld, inhabited by the dead, and the world above, which was where the gods dwelled.

In order to gain favor with the gods, people were obliged to perform ceremonies, leave offerings and make sacrifices. The population was also obliged to build tombs and perform elaborate funerary rites so that after their death their leaders would be transformed into ancestors. It was believed that the ancestors of the community had the power to ensure that society and the universe as a whole would continue to exist. In the chiefdoms, states and empires of ancient Peru, the death of leaders (chieftains, lords, priests, priestesses or emperors) was a crucial event.

Ceramics have always been seen by researchers as a rich source of information regarding diverse aspects of the societies that produced them. Pre-Columbian cultures have been defined to a great degree by the stylistic and iconographic characteristics of their ceramics. Because ceramics vary over time and space they also serve to establish local and regional cultural chronologies.

Room 2, Vitrine 3

Room 2, Vitrine 4

Pacopampa Stone Mortars
Room 2, Vitrine 5

Room 2, Vitrine 6

Room 2, Vitrine 9

Room 2, Vitrine 13

Room 2, Vitrine 14

Mochica Sculptural Ceramics
Room 2, Vitrine 15

Mochica Fine Line Pottery
Room 2, Vitrine 16

Owl God
Room 2, Vitrine 17

The Journeys of Ai Apaec
Room 2, Vitrine 18

Mochica Phases
Room 3, Vitrine 19

Mochica Portrait Vessels
Room 3, Vitrine 20

Pottery Technology
Room 3, Vitrine 21

Northern Huari
Room 3, Vitrine 22

Room 3, Vitrine 23

Room 3, Vitrine 24

Room 3, Vitrine 25

Chimú Inca
Room 3, Vitrine 26

Chimú Idol
Room 3, Vitrine 27

Colonial Pottery
Room 3, Vitrine 28

Room 3, Vitrine 29

Central Huari
Room 3, Vitrine 30

Room 3, Vitrine 31

Room 3, Vitrine 32

Paracas Pottery
Room 4, Vitrine 33

Nasca Culture
Room 4, Vitrine 34

Nasca Drum
Room 4, Vitrine 35

Nasca Pottery
Room 4, Vitrine 36

Southern Huari
Room 4, Vitrine 37

Room 4, Vitrine 38

Room 4, Vitrine 41

Inca Aryballos
Room 4, Vitrine 42

Room 4, Vitrine 43

Room 4, Vitrine 44

Room 4, Vitrine 45

Room 4, Vitrine 46