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Moche pottery depicting copulation. Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

The Moche Uncensored! 15 Surprising Erotic Ceramics of Peru

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The Moche were a mysterious civilization who ruled the northern coast of Peru beginning 2,000 years ago. Little was known about the  Moche civilization  until the 1980s when archaeologists began uncovering monuments and tombs containing detailed murals, and incredible ceramics that depicted detailed scenes of hunting, fighting, sacrifice, ceremonies, and  explicit sexual encounters . The erotic pottery left behind by the Moche represent one of the most detailed accounts of sexual customs ever left by ancient people.

Of the thousands of ceramic vessels that have been recovered from  Moche tombs , at least 500 of them display sexually explicit imagery, typically rendered as free-standing three-dimensional figures on top, or as part of, a vessel.  As well as being works of art, the sex-themed vessels are also functional clay pots, with hollow chambers for holding liquid and a spout, typically  in the form of a phallus , for pouring. Many of the pottery bottles thus symbolized the emission of sexual fluids and would probably have been used in ceremonies and rituals.

The Larco Museum ( Museo Larco ) in Lima, Peru, displays the largest collection of pre-Columbian erotic pottery. According to the Museum, it presents “a conception of sexuality and eroticism inextricably linked to an integrated understanding of the world and its animating vital forces… In the Andean worldview, life is made possible through a generative encounter ( tinkuy) between opposite complementary forces ( yanantin). Female and male bodies are an expression of this duality.” The images below all come from their collection.

A Moche vessel with the female genitalia functioning as a spout. saiko3p / Adobe Stock

A Moche vessel with the female genitalia functioning as a spout.  saiko3p / Adobe Stock

A Moche vessel with the male genitalia functioning as a spout. saiko3p / Adobe Stock

A Moche vessel with the male genitalia functioning as a spout.  saiko3p / Adobe Stock

A Moche ceramic in the shape of a phallus. Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

A Moche ceramic in the shape of a phallus.  Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

A Moche ceramic displaying the female genitalia. Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

A Moche ceramic displaying the female genitalia.  Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Moche pottery depicting copulation. Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Moche pottery depicting copulation.  Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Moche pottery depicting copulation. Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Moche pottery depicting copulation.  Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Moche pottery depicting copulation with the female taking an active role. Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Moche pottery depicting copulation with the female taking an active role.  Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Moche ceramic displaying sexual touching. Pfrishauf / CC by SA 3.0

Moche ceramic displaying sexual touching.  Pfrishauf / CC by SA 3.0

Moche pottery depicting copulation. Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Moche pottery depicting copulation.  Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Moche ceramic depicting copulation. Thomas Quine / CC by SA 2.0

Moche ceramic depicting copulation.  Thomas Quine / CC by SA 2.0

Moche ceramic depicting copulation. Thomas Quine / CC by SA 2.0

Moche ceramic depicting copulation.  Thomas Quine / CC by SA 2.0

Moche vessel depicting fellatio.  Martin Sharman / CC by SA 2.0

Moche vessel with a man displaying his genitals. Richard Mortel / CC by SA 2.0

Moche vessel with a man displaying his genitals.  Richard Mortel / CC by SA 2.0

Moche ceramic showing a couple having sex in bed.  Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Sexual touching between three people. Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Sexual touching between three people.  Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

Read more:  Sex Pottery of Peru: Moche Ceramics Shed Light on Ancient Sexuality

Top image:  Moche pottery depicting copulation.  Museo Larco – Lima, Perú

By Joanna Gillan

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