The ancestor of the Moche
He wears a crown with a jaguar head and bird plumes. These symbolize his male ancestry related to the external world, to the upper world, to the Sun. He wears ear-ornaments and a belt with snake heads that symbolize his female ancestry related to the inner world, to the subterranean world, to the Mother Earth (Pachamama). He travels through the different worlds, fighting with creatures of the seas and of the darkness... He obtains new powers to get through and to be able to go where no other human being can go.
Our HERO is in the land of the ancestors: the inner world. He finds the Goddess of the Earth (Pachamama) and fertilizes her.
Our hero returns to the earth, already golden, warm, radiant and solar. Ai Apaec is portrayed as corn, which boiled and fermented becomes the “chicha”, the ceremonial drink. He also manifests himself as chili pepper or “uchu”, fruit that heats and cures at the same time. Plenty of power, he starts his heroic journey through the worlds again.
With the power of the sun, Ai Apaec will travel through the mountains, to the valleys, and to the litoral. He will then enter the humid and dark world of the ocean where dangers and confrontations await for him.
His dog helps him through the transits, to cross borders, to cross every threshold, announcing the forthcoming dangers. He is always a loyal and smart companion.
And Ai Apaec begins his journey through the sea. He arrives to the shore invested with his feline and bird powers, and confronts the Sea Urchin who guards the entrance to the sea, and defeats him. Then Ai Apaec fights with the Blowfish to get the crown with the powers of the Owl, which will give him the power to see in the darkness of the depths.
In the deep waters, Ai Apaec with his knives and spears fights against the Strombus, a sea spiral-shaped monster, which resembles the cycle of water. Ai Apaec captures him…
…and then arrives to the islands. The crab helps him climb the rocks and he enters the tectonic realm.
Ai Apaec offers the precious Strombus shells that he has captured in the deep waters to the God of the Inner and Dark World who sits in his temple, dressed with the crown of the Owl. This Nocturnal God guards the vital liquid and assures our hero that the waters will come in time.
Now that Ai Apaec has entered the deepest and darkest world he confronts the Decapitator God of Darkness, a creature that is a mixture of sea lion, ray and shark. It is a powerful being. They fight against each other.
Ai Apec has been weakened by the fighting, and is assisted by the booby and the vulture. They help him pass to the inner world of the dead.
Ai Apaec has lost his crown... but he keeps his snake ear ornaments, which enables him to enter the world of the ancestors, the world of the dead.
In the world of the ancestors, our HERO will be healed by the Owl-Shaman and therefore regains its solar, fertilizing and male power. He finds the Goddess of the Earth and fecundates her. From this encounter the tree of life is born, with its male and female fruits. Life is assured in our land.
Script — Ulla Holmquist, Curator Museo Larco
Photography — Museo Larco Archives
References — Rafael Larco Hoyle, 1942. Los Mochicas.
References — Juergen Golte, 2009. Moche, Cosmología y Sociedad.
— This is an interpretive exhibition aimed to reveal the relation of Moche ceramics with ancestral Andean mythology.