The Moche (or Mochica) culture and Ai Apaec

February 12, 2017

The Moche or Mochica culture appears and develops between the I and VII centuries a.C. within the narrow desert fringe at the north of Peru, where the ruins of their pyramidal temples, palaces, fortress, irrigation works and cemeteries that gives testimony of the high degree of artistic and technological development and complex organisation can be found. The Moches are powerful and warriors. It is the most known and admired culture in Peru, and one of the most representatives of the ancient Peru in his artistic expression.
Different cultures in the area were merged to give form to the Moche culture in his origins. After this long process, it appeared like an autonomous regional synthesis with more technological and ideological content than any other Andean or North Cost culture.
The better known Moche cultural legacy is the pottery, in general given as precious offer to the dead. Men, divinities, animals, plants and complex scenes were represented by the artists in shapes of sculptures or vases decorated by brush.

The Moche culture legacy includes multiple archaeological sites. They are monumental architectonic campuses that had religious or administrative functions and are built by various staggered terraces symmetrical around wide ramps from the top to the floor level on patios or arenas.
One of the most important is the campus called "Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna" (Huacas of the Sun and the Moon) placed in the north coast of Peru, considered as a Moche sanctuary formed by a group of buildings 5Km south of Trujillo. This archaeological place was the capital city of the Moche culture since I until IX century a.C. It is believed that "Huaca del Sol" was the administrative center and "Huaca de la Luna" was the religious place.
It is thought that Huaca del Sol contained the administrative buildings and Huaca de la Luna was the religious centre. Huaca de la Luna keeps interesting mural reliefs and paintings in 5 colours: white, black, red, blue and yellow -which were obtained from minerals- where the Moche deity Ai Apaec can be seen.
Ai Apaec is the main deity of the Moche culture, one of the punisher gods, the most fearful and adored, also called the "head cutter". Ai Apaec was adored like the creator, protective of the Mochicas, water and food supplier, and facilitator of the military success. Actually Ai Apaec in Mochica language means "maker". Ai Apaec was represented in many ways, changing with the times and the space, and with the craftsmanship tendencies in which he was represented.
The most common and better known depiction of Ai Apaec, is what can be seen in the murals of "La Huaca de la Luna" (La Huaca of the Moon), where it shows an anthropomorphic face with feline fangs, and sea waves around.

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