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SIPAN LORD
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SIPAN LORD OF THE DESERT

Duality

On the breast were two rows of a total of 20 metal peanuts; ten on the right side were of gold, and the other half were of silver. This first sign of symbolic duality or bi-partition, turned out to be an important constant in the ritual objects of the burial; thus, a gold ingot rested on the right hand and another similar one, of copper, on the left hand. The right held, besides, the most valuable symbol of power andearthly hierarchy: a kind of scepter and knife crowned with a handsome inverted pyramid of gold with reliefs in which a richly attired warrior took a prisoner by the hair and with the other hand aimed a mace at his face. This representation refers to the capture, torture and sacrifice of the prisoners of Mochica warriors. In the left hand there was a silver knife with the same image in miniature sculpture.

Level with the neck was found a necklace with 71 gold spheres, and on the breast a knife, always of gold, towards the right and another of silver towards the left: duality and equilibrium that symbolized perhaps the west and the east, day and night, the pure and the impure, life and death, the Sun and the Moon, the positive and the negative, and everythingthat while being opposite turns out to be complementary. Beneath the body there appeared in all its splendor a great half-moon diadem of gold; a sheet 17 inches wide and 25 inches long that only appears in Mochica iconography and is related to personages of the highest investiture who garnered honors and offerings. Behind a wood board were deposited two semicircular rattles of gold, finely worked in relief with the figure of one of the most notable Mochica deities, The Alcapae or "beheader", bearing in his hands a knife and a human head.

As may be imagined, other objects were withdrawn from underneath the Lord who - it is speculated - died between 36 and 40 years of age. Surrounding the coffin were discovered the remains of two women under 20 years of age, probably the wives or favorites of their master. One of them wore a copper crown and her head pointed to the west while the other one was in a totally opposite position. Next to them were found the skeletons of two men facing upwards. A shield, copper headdress and a war mace showed one of them to be a warrior. The other was in inverted position, with a pectoral of shells and, beside his legs, the skeleton of a dog. Would it have been the Lord's hound? Finally, two llamas were the first sacrifices placed in the chamber.

On the three sides were found five niches with 212 clay vessels with food offerings, mostly carved jars representing seated personages and some warriors, in an ordered array suggesting a ritual setting.

For two years, Sipan has traveled to the principal North American museums. It has been seen by some four million people, has increased our knowledge of the aboriginal cultures of America and has triggered a revaluation of all that the indigenous world means. With Sipan, the Mochica culture has begun, for North Americans, to rank with the Incas, the Mayas and the Aztecs.

The Mochicas' pottery and gold work can be estimated as classic art. A Moche ceramic is a perfect work. The Mochica culture developed between the 1st and 4th centuries of our era along the entire Peruvian coast. It was a very vital culture, with an exquisite sensuality not observed in other cultures. This expressive force was nothing less than the reflection of the extraordinary vitality of the Mochica people.

Now, for the rest of the year, the Lord of Sipan is being exhibited in the Museo de la Nacion. Don't think twice about it; visit him and be dazzled.


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