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Archaeological InterpretationsSymbolic Meaning within Andes Prehistory$
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Peter Eeckhout

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066448

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066448.001.0001

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The Meaning within Moche Masks

The Meaning within Moche Masks

(p.180) 7 The Meaning within Moche Masks
Archaeological Interpretations
Edward Swenson
University Press of Florida

In this chapter, the author examines the remains of broken ceramic masks recovered in feasting middens at the Moche ceremonial center of Huaca Colorada (AD 650–900) in the southern Jequetepeque Valley of the North Coast of Peru. One objective of the chapter is to demonstrate that Moche masking traditions varied in terms of the rites and social context in which they were employed. The ceramic masks depicting Moche powerful beings became deeply meaningful and engines of semiosis in their own right within specific frames of ritual action. Those masks shed light on Moche theories of being and the workings of the world (i.e., “ontology”). Their iconography suggests they were worn by officiants who reenacted heroic myths and stories of creation in rites that promoted agricultural bounty, life, and fertility.

Keywords:   Jequetepeque Valley, iconography, Moche, ontology

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