Jewelers routes

04 December 2015

Mochica jewelry at the Larco Museum

Founded in 1926, the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum belongs to the descendants of the founder, one of the fathers of Peruvian archaeology. On a very human scale, this building in the hacienda style and organized around a patio, has an outstanding permanent collection of ceremonial objects. Funeral ornamental dress, religious emblems and prestige are all gathered in the Gold and Jewelry gallery. Many come from the Moche or Mochica Culture (100-800 AD), which preceded the Incas, and is less known to the general public. In the darkness, these marvels installed on ultra-minimalist mannequin heads create a striking effect.

The pectoral-style pieces depict images of sacrificial rites. On earrings dangle snakes, while on the head ornamental pieces condors, dragons and other chimeras are represented. Nose ornaments evoke bird beaks and feline whiskers. Here and there appear hands holding severed heads… In this metaphorical iconography, the symbolic overlaps with the symbolism of gold and silver, respectively associated with the sun and the moon. In an attempt to translate their relationship with the stars, the Mochica chiselled, open worked and hammered each piece. Excellent goldsmiths, they patinated them, or lightened and darken the pieces with different alloys.

During the ceremonies, these extravagant adornments transformed leaders – warriors, priests or administrators – into supernatural beings before accompanying them unto their graves.

Most popular articles

5 reasons to go bargain-hunting at Les Merveilles de Babellou

Les Merveilles de Babellou is not the place for half-measures: extravagance and theatricality are the watchwords. A piece has to make a splash, it has to...

150 years ago, when the Vendôme column fell...

At that time, no jewelers were established in Place Vendôme – except Gabriel Lemonnier, official jeweler to Napoleon III.

Marc Deloche at The School of Jewelry Arts

“What probably intrigued me most in this world tour was the relative nature of preciousness in different cultures. Each one has a different take on what is...

My jewelry itinerary at the Paris Saint-Ouen Flea Market

I devised this itinerary for L’Hebdo des Puces ( Saint-Ouen). This flea Market, the world’s premier antique market has always been, for me, an infinite...

Marie Thevenon at The School of Jewelry Arts

“Léonard Pouy and Isabelle Delahaye (the art historian and gemologist) took me on a 3D journey through history, time and space. Those two hours – an...

The Amethyst Center in Auvergne

Not many people know this, but the subsoil of Auvergne is extremely rich in minerals and especially in amethyst, a quartz belonging to the vast category of...