Sex, death, and sacrifice

in Moche religion


The Mochica civilization (1st-8th century) is ranked, along with the Inca empire, amongst the greatest indigenous cultures of the Peruvian Andes. This is illustrated by the imposing funeral sites of the "Lord of Sipan" exhumed in 1987, the immense pyramid shaped ceremonial sites (the huacas) adorned with wall paintings and, in a less monumental tone, the ceramic productions whose technical virtuosity, abundance, realism and iconography do not cease to astonish us.

A large part of these represent sacrificial acts, predominantly of a sexual nature between animals and / or anthropomorphous figures. This sexual imagery is unique in Precolumbian art. Steve Bourget has applied himself to deciphering this extraordinary iconography. It vehicles a complex ideology linked to the organization of the cosmos and based on two major forms of sexuality: one involving non-procreative sexual acts, mostly between a human being and a dead being, and the other involving procreative copulation between animals or between a god and a woman.

It is a wholly unexpected visual voyage, the content of which is, paradoxically, exclusively religious in nature.


104 pages • 18,5 x 26,5 cm • 18,50 €
Co-published by musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac / Somogy 2010
ISBN: 9782357440241