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This article is more than 3 year old.

Peru’s sex pots

Mini

In Lima, step into Larco Museum for a look at the world’s largest collection of erotic pottery.

Peru’s sex pots

At the iron gate of Lima’s Rafael Larco Herrera Museum, leave behind all puritanical notions. Stop being  schoolmarmish about sex. Shed any Victorian notions of morality. There’s no room for coyness in the Museum’s Erotic Pottery Gallery. Housed in an 18th century viceroyalty-era mansion, the Gallery has several sex-themed pottery that were found during excavations of burial and religious sites of the Moche, a highly organized, class-based society that dominated Peru’s northern coast for 800 years until about 800 AD. Dating to pre-Columbian times, it is the world’s largest collection of erotic pottery.

The Erotic Pottery Gallery displays a huge selection of archaeological objects. Almost all of them were recovered from significant archaeological sites, such as Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon), Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun), and Sipán, as well as from Moche burial sites scattered across the northern coast of Peru.
In his book Checan, Rafael Larco Hoyle offers a succinct overview of the historical, environmental, and ideological context in which these erotic, artistic traditions flourished. The Moche art style is one of the most representational, non-abstract styles of art in the ancient Andes. In the ceramics, the Moche people used fine-line painting, naturalistic figures, and stirrup spouts, to represent social activities and sex.
Erotic vessels were not used as decorative pieces. Instead, the sexually explicit imagery were typically rendered as free-standing three-dimensional figures on top, or as part of, the vessel; commonly, in the form of a phallus, for pouring liquid.
The most frequently depicted sexual act in the ceramics is anal sex, while, surprisingly, vaginal sex is almost non-existent.
A jaguar hunched over a naked man. There are several artifacts depicting sex between men and animals and sexual intercourse between female and mythical animals. In Moche culture, bats and the jaguars had special religious connotations.
Paul Mathieu, in his book Sex Pots: Eroticism in Ceramics reports that “a wide variety of sexual acts are represented: female to male fellatio is quite common; kissing and fondling; male masturbation (but never female masturbation); intercourse between heterosexual couples, in various positions”.
In his dissertation, Sex, Myth, and Metaphor in Moche Pottery, A Turner describes Moche erotic vessels as a representational catalog of the sexual practices of the Moche people. The objects are intended to demonstrate methods of contraception, conveyors of moralising content, reflections of Moche humour, or as portrayals of ritual or ceremonial acts.
In his dissertation, Sex, Myth, and Metaphor in Moche Pottery, A Turner describes Moche erotic vessels as a representational catalog of the sexual practices of the Moche people. The objects are intended to demonstrate methods of contraception, conveyors of moralising content, reflections of Moche humour, or as portrayals of ritual or ceremonial acts.
Archaeologists and anthropologists have been intrigued by a few features of the Moche erotic pottery, specially depictions of a couple having sex while the woman is breastfeeding an infant.
Copulating men is a common motif. Others include copulating frogs, mice, llamas and monkeys, at times on corn or other food crops.
Preeti Verma Lal is a Goa-based freelance writer/photographer. 
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