Pre-Incan Bling from 400 AD

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moche earspools

While doing research for a novel I’m writing, I ran across the incredible art of the Moche (MOE-chay) civilization of northern Peru, which predated the Incas by at least a thousand years. The Moche were the finest metalwork artists of all the prehistoric American civilizations. The earspools above required large holes in the ear lobes and were worn by the Moche royalty. We know this because they were found in royal tombs, along with fabric and ceramic artifacts. The Moche loved body ornaments. The elaborate circular plugs and earspools were made of gold with mosaic inlays of turquoise, lapis lazuli, and shell in designs featuring feline motifs and winged hawk messengers. For the nose, crescent-shaped, beaten gold ornaments with pelicans, owls, serpents, and snails. For the throat, they made hollow gold and silver peanut necklaces, as well as others of smaller round beads with standing figures of men surrounded by snakes, bird priest gilded copper necklaces, and delicate shell necklaces. For more information on the Moche culture, go here.

peanut necklace

This Moche gold and silver peanut necklace features hollow peanuts twice the size of real ones, with the gold representing sunlight and the silver representing moonlight.  Peanuts were an important food of the Moche. The necklace was found in the tomb of the Lord of Sipan.