An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum

An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum

Christophe Prosper Rammant
Christophe Prosper Rammant

Christophe is one of our founders and creative director. His passions are interiors, cooking, and traveling the globe for new inspiration.

The ceramic patterns spotted at the Museo Larco reveal a lot about the ancient Andean civilizations. The abundance of shapes, colors, and fine details showcase religious motifs while demonstrating impressive craftsmanship techniques. Museo Larco in Lima hosts an enormous ancient pottery collection, offering history insights and significant art inspiration. In addition, we share our overview of the ceramic patterns spotted at the museum. 

Museo Larco

Museo Larco dates back to 1926, showcasing the vital collection of ancient ceramic patterns. Rafael Larco Hoyle is the founder, having started his collection in 1923 when his father gave him the first collectible. His father, Rafael Larco, was an admirer of history, so the museum got his name. On his journeys through Peru, he gathered important artifacts that reflect the ancient civilization’s culture. His collection counts over 45,000 ancient artifacts, which reveal a lot about Peru’s history. He moved the museum to Lima so that everyone could admire his important collection and discover more about the ancient civilizations. Nowadays, the entire collection is available online through their digital catalog. Researchers can easily access the collection without having to go all the way to Lima. 

ceramic patterns, An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum ceramic patterns, An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum

Salinar ceramic patterns

The ancient Peruvian civilizations believed in many different gods. As seen on their authentic ceramic patterns, the religious motifs prevail. They expressed their deities as supernatural creatures, combining animal and human characteristics. 

The piece features a feline mouth, bird tail, human posture, and reptiles emerging from the body. The Salinas borrowed inspiration from the Cupisnique ceramics, interpreted in their way. Rafael was a prominent archaeologist who discovered the Salinar culture. This civilization has its recognizable ceramic patterns, created using a unique technique. They finished their ceramics in a special furnace, where the chemical process brought a nice red color. The Salinas drew white lines over the red clay, which is their signature pottery decorating technique.

ceramic patterns, An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum

Moche pottery

The Moche were an advanced civilization with an immense love for art. They were smart innovators, producing standard pottery shapes in special molds. The Andean cultures believe that the world is divided into three parts:

  • The world above where gods live.
  • The world on Earth is reserved for animals and humans.
  • The underworld where the deceased stay.

ceramic patterns, An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum

The Moche believed that they were responsible for connecting the world above and the underworld, performing various ceremonies to ensure the forces met. The skilled craftsmen created three-dimensional vessels with interesting shapes with simple drawings. In addition, they crafted simplistic ceramics with complex imagery. The finely decorated pieces were offerings for the burial process but also served as everyday household dishes. 

The piece features an owl with human characteristics dressed as a warrior. The warriors were an essential part of society back then, supporting the aristocracy and taking part in the frightful human sacrificing ceremonies. The Owl God is one of their many gods, which was connected with death and the occult. 

ceramic patterns, An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum ceramic patterns, An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum

Nazca pottery

The Nazca culture created exquisite pottery with recognizable characteristics. Their ceramic patterns showcase the broadest range of colors seen on South American pottery, which speaks enough of their skills. The ornate masterpieces were important for religious ceremonies, decorating homes, or as offerings for the deceased. 

During the A phase in the Apogee epoch, the Nazca pottery features simple shapes and naturalistic imagery. The Nazca craftsmen displayed images of flora and fauna with astonishing detailing and colors, showcasing the importance of agriculture in their life. However, they don’t exclude the religious context present in other cultures’ pottery. We can notice the anthropomorphic deities and decapitator deities. 

The Nazca B phase shifts the focus and excludes the natural elements, focusing only on humans, animals, and supernatural creatures with mixed characteristics. Some of the pieces include trophy heads because the Nazca took human heads as trophies from their battles.

ceramic patterns, An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum

Chancay pottery

The Chicha crafted beautiful ceramic bowls, taking inspiration from Wari art. They were known for being skilled weavers, so the pottery features geometric motifs resembling woven fabric texture. Other elements present are bird and fish figures, as the Chicha were mariners. 

ceramic patterns, An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum

If you enjoyed reading about the extraordinary ceramic patterns, don’t miss our other inspirational posts. We share an abundance of inspiration through our travels, so don’t mind checking the Travel Blog to keep updated!  

ceramic patterns, An overview of traditional Andean ceramic patterns at the Larco Museum