Another fascinating episode from the BBC/British Museum History of the World in 100 Objects series today on WNYC radio: Moche Warrior Pot —fascinating being defined as connecting to the images and art that have informed my work.
The Moche were a large, complex civilization in Peru 100-800 ad (pre-Inca), which had established cities with architecture and facilities that the Romans would have been envious of (according to the radio episode). Hearing they’d be talking about a Moche object my ears perked up. Moche masks have inspired faces I paint, and their ceramic portrait vessels, with spouts coming out of the tops of people’s heads, were some of the first objects I imitated, way back in High School ceramics class. In the BBC episode they spoke to a contemporary potter who analyzed the warrior pot and said they made hundreds and hundreds of these types of vessels, combining the use of molds and hand-building to mass produce them but give them individual qualities.
And right there, on his chest and hat, this object, this Moche Warrior, has my favorite graphic element: the universal spiral. No wonder I love this little guy.
From the BBC site: “This pot was made in Peru by the Moche. It shows a kneeling Moche warrior holding a club in one hand and a shield in the other. Warfare, warriors and prisoners are a recurring theme in Moche art. They testify to the violent, inter-valley rivalries that frequently occurred over agricultural land. Skeletal evidence reveals injuries sustained by blows from clubs as part of active war service. The pots themselves seem to have served as symbolic tomb guardians, as they are frequently found in high-status burials”
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