Nonwestern Art Essay, Research Paper
The fascinating Moche period was characterized by a number of developments. Ceramics, textiles and metalwork improved greatly, architectural skills allowed the construction of huge pyramids and other structures and there was enough leisure tune for art and a highly organized religion. The Moche culture, a culture that has left impressive archaeological sites and some of the most outstanding pottery to be seen in Peru’s museums, is named after the river which flows into the ocean just south of Trujillo. The Moche culture is especially known for its ceramics, such as “Vessel woth the stirrup-ring spout,” and the Moches handiwork is considered the most artistically sensitive and technically developed of any found in Peru. The thousands of Moche pots preserved in museums are so realistically decorated with figures and scenes that they give us a very descriptive look at life during the Moche period. Pots were molded into lifelike representations of people, crops, domestic or wild animals, marine life and houses. Other pots like “Vessel” were painted with scenes of both ceremonial and everyday life. From these pots, archaeologists know that Moche society was very class conscious. This particular ceramic is decorated in reddish brown over a white background with a Moche priest performing a ritual beneath a starry sky. Such a ceramic would have been actually used in a religious ceremony to store various sacred liquids needed for the completion of such an act.
The most important people, the priests and warriors, were members of the urban classes and lived closest to the large ceremonial pyramids and other temples. They were surrounded by a middle class of artisans and then, in descending order: farmers and fishermen, servants, slaves and beggars. The priests and warriors were both honored and obeyed. They are the people most frequently shown in ceramics, which depict them being carried in litters wearing particularly fine jewelry or clothing. The depiction of the priests caused the ceramics bearing their figures to be most revered and sacred. Their authority is evident from pots showing scenes of punishment, including the mutilation and death of those who dared to disobey. Clothing, musical instruments, tools and jewelry are all frequent subjects for ceramics. As there was no written language, most of what we know about the Moche comes from this wealth of pottery. The pottery crafted by the Moche opened a window to the life and times in which they lived, giving future generations accounts of everyday and spiritual life similar to that of Ancient Egypt?s wall illustrations.