Mythical sex, eroticism and fertility in the Mochica worldview

Between 9 March and 23 May this year, an important collection of 134 sexual Mochica ceramics Larco Museum in Lima, were exhibited under the context of the exhibition: “Sex, death and sacrifice in the Moche religion” at the Museum of Quai Brandly in Paris. The importance and significance of the exhibit is amazing and the interpretations assigned to the sample, based on a book published by the Canadian archaeologist Steve Bourget, who is also curator of the exhibition, are very interesting but express a clear ideological bias.

Despite the powerful sexuality of the pieces, it was clarified that the works have no erotic charge and that the figures do not reflect pleasure. “Their role is purely religious,” “Not erotic scenes such as the Kamasutra or the temples of Khajuraho, India, which is a total celebration of the sexual pleasure,” said Anne Christine Taylor, an expert from the Museum of Quai Branly “These scenes are associated with burial rites, the world of the dead, all the exhibits were found in graves here,” insists the French expert, in reality it is a religious imagery with a function that uses ritual to symbolize sexuality abstract cosmological operations.

“It is the sexuality of fertility, sexuality associated with power, the reproduction of elites and the relationship between life and death,” said Steve Bourget, who found similarities between this association of sex and death among the Mochica and Bible. Bourget focuses sexual Mochica ceramics  on two major forms of sexuality: one represented by sexual acts not directed to procreation (sodomy, masturbation, fellatio) between a living human (usually a woman) and be dead or skeleton, which he refers to an inverted sexuality can not lead to procreation, typical of the inhabitants of the underworld. The other, addressed to the reproductive intercourse between a higher deity and a human woman or between animals that symbolize important elements of fertility (frogs and rodents).

According to the curator of the exhibition, these representations, therefore, there is nothing erotic and naturalism is only superficial, as they represent essentially supernatural beings or processes that mix things normally separate: undead, animals with human attributes, the gods destructive and regenerative time. Sexual acts are linked to a reversal of natural order that occurs during the sacrifices or rituals associated with the transition to another world. Although not known with precision the place of women in this civilization, is likely to occupy a symbolic role similar to that granted in the Bible, which he plays playback while death or sin, says Bourget.

In Moche pottery is certainly a lot mythography and certainly the interpretation of Canadian archaeologist to be successful in their meaning, but you can not ignore or avoid interpreting the representations of everyday life in which human sexuality sublimated eroticism.

Sexual practices rated as “not aimed at procreation,” are aimed at the pursuit of pleasure and are not necessarily mutually exclusive reproductive sex. Moche pottery is very sexually explicit and in most cases no way to doubt that this is voluntary and consensual sexual behavior that reflects a highly erotic content; even more so when the iconography large assigned to the genitals, which disproportion suggests a magnified importance of specific function.

Sex intercourse with mythical or supernatural beings is perfectly appropriate within the worldview of the universe dual Mochica. Indeed, pre-Columbian peoples believed eroticism and sexuality as experiences related to spirituality.

Breaking the link between eroticism, sexuality and spirituality in American culture is for the sex phobia of European Christianity, which in principle, corrupted the contexts of sexuality and eroticism, interpreting them in absurd stereotyping, biased and repressive, incomprehensible to the indigenous worldview sinful and even criminal for the new spirituality that is imposed subject to the opinions of the court of the Inquisition. During this “evangelization” in no time respect the indigenous spiritual vision and even less of course, customs and sexual practices, which very easily and lightness were considered “demonic and unnatural”.

Demonizing the eroticism is to eliminate desire and passion own sexuality. This leads to modesty, inhibitions and fears that lead to a denial of sexuality.

Pre-Columbian sexuality was never based on the incoherent conceptual breakthrough. Rather, it is celebrated as an innate force, powerful and sacred that favored the development of the community through fertility in touch with spirituality.




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