The Moche culture flourished between the years 100 and 800. It was a pre-Inca civilization. Many of their descendants still live in the area of northern Peru. Today the Aboriginal people of this region speak Quechua, an indigenous language spoken by about 9.5 million people in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile, and northwest Argentina.
Moche pottery depicted scenes from everyday life. There’s a strong possibility that this vessel (container) is a portrait of a real person from the Moche culture.
By looking at the statue above, we can tell that this person was a musician. If you look closely you can see that he’s playing the flute. The music of the Moche acted as a bridge to the dead. A musician could be a kind of shaman or someone skilled in traditional medicine. Music may have been used to communicate with the dead and to protect the living. For the Moche, music was a language – ideas were represented by sounds, not words.
Some Moche flutes were made from human bones, and so the connection between the living and dead occurred as the music was played on these instruments. Music continues to play an important role in Peru. Modern shamans use the different notes played on the flute to communicate with the spirits that are thought to inhabit the region. Many of the instruments and techniques from ancient times are still used today. This Moche vessel represents a rich, ancient past – part of that history and tradition is still alive.
In terms of a major contribution to humanity, the indigenous people of the Americas were the first to domesticate potatoes and maize (corn). These crops now feed billions of people all over the world.
Thousands of immigrants have come to Canada from Peru and all across Central and South America since the 1970s. Some trace their roots back to a number of indigenous cultures. Knowing their historical past allows us to appreciate the cultural wealth and traditions that new immigrants bring to Canada. __________________________
Royal Ontario Museum