Posted by: Ali | August 29, 2009

Gold Museum

Today I went to visit the gold museum at Larcomar.  There are many gold museums in Lima, this particular one is awesome.  It’s called the Sala Museo Oro del Peru, and it is is very informative, and has the little headphone thingies for an audio tour in English as well as Spanish.

Most of the works in the museum were not actually Incan treasures but created by the Sican civilization which was around before the Incas, around 1000 AD.  However, I’m pretty sure there is a good mix in the museum of Sican, Inca, and some other cultures as well.  So, the things I am about to tell you might be a little mixed up, so if you’re an expert on Peruvian anthropological history, don’t correct me too loudly.  The museum displayed metalworking techniques, samples, clothing, religious items, funerals, and rituals.

One of the first things you come across in the museum is a “funeral mask.”  This mask was worn sometimes in life by important religious figures to commune with the ancestors and the spiritual world, and then when the individual dies, their funeral mask was buried with them.  Funerals were very important, often important people were buried with many possessions, often including wives or concubines (who would be sacrificed).  A person was always buried with a cup in their hand so that, upon meeting their ancestors in the next world, they could share a drink.  That is why there are so many cups amongst the pictures below.

As far as I could tell, there were four main gods: the earth goddess (Pachamama), the sea goddess (Mama Cocha or “Mother of all water”), the sun god (Inti), and the moon god (Mama Quilla).  Funny how three of the four are women.  Sacrifices were very important to ancient Andean cultures, because one must spill blood to worship the earth goddess, Pachamama.  I’m pretty sure also that women were considered closer to Pachamama because they bled once a month on their own, which was also connected to the moon, Mama Quilla.  Mama Quilla also controlled the tides of the ocean.  You can tell there’s a lot of girl power going on.  Anyways, there were three main spheres of gods anyways, the earth, the heavens, and the sea.  You worshiped the earth by consuming Chicha, an alcohol that comes from corn, and by spilling blood.  You worshiped the heavens by playing music and dancing, and you worshiped the seas by sacrificing seashells, which were considered sacred and symbols of fertility (more girl power!).  You can see how seashells appear frequently in the images above: on many of the cups and on one of the Tumbis.


  1. […] Visiting Larcomar’s Museo Sala de Oro […]


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