Huaco in the form of the head of a llama

This is a zoomorphic polychrome piece of pottery representing the head of a llama. The modeling is realistic with almond-shaped eyes, round ears and a prominent nose. The bichrome colouring used to indicate the details of the animal should be noted. The head has a red one and there are cream brush strokes to suggest the texture of the animal’s coat. A circular hole has been made in the parietal region of the cranium to allow for the circulation of oxygen during the firing of the piece so as to avoid cracking. This orifice also used for ritual libations.

The llama was an animal of great importance in the Moche culture as it was not only valued as a beast of burden but also as a foodstuff and for its wool used in the making of garments and cloth.

The best-known cultural legacy of the Moche people is their ceramic work which generally was to form part of offerings to the deceased. Men, divinities, animals, plants and complex scenes were represented by artists in the form of sculptural images of vessels decorated with brushwork.

Most of the Moche ceramic is in the form of a huaco, decorated in two colours (red on cream in most cases). A huaco is a closed vessel with a globe-shaped or sculptural form, a flat base, and a tubular spout in the form of a stirrup. These have been one of the fundamental ways we have been able to learn about the characteristics of this pre-Hispanic culture, about its society, the natural environment in which it developed and the different periods of its cultural evolution.

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