Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Gold and the Incas

One particularly hot day last week we took a break from domestic duties and went on an outing.

We went to our National Gallery, which has another block buster exhibition 'Gold and the Incas Lost Worlds of Peru'.


His high and skinniness irritated me all the way there by reminding me that he has been to Peru, seen Machu Pichu, walked the Inca Trail (also known as the Inca Trial) and generally knew all about it.

How wrong he was.  The exhibition was an education and a delight for us both.

Its title was a bit of a misnomer.  The Inca Empire only lasted a hundred years (but goodness what they achieved in that time).  The Inca State of at least 12 million people fell very rapidly, due to superior European military technology, civil war and new diseases, especially smallpox.  It has been estimated that perhaps 90 per cent of the native population (more than 10 million people) were killed or died of disease and famine after the conquest.

Most of the exhibition was devoted to other, earlier cultures.  Cultures about which neither of us knew anything much at all.

For more than 2500 years before the Spanish conquered Peru, great cultures flourished, were conquered by others or absorbed into them.  Almost every artifact which survives was buried with its owners.

Gold there was in plenty.  Masks, crowns, earrings (and they make the plugs of today look positively tame), and knives.  Silver and copper work was there too.  And platinum which surprised me.

However it was the ceramics and the textiles which blew me(us) away.   Exquisite work, beautifully preserved.  I lusted after rather a lot of it.  Sadly, there are no post cards of the textiles.  Which is very sad.  The colours and the designs were incredible.  There were some shawls? woven by the Chimu people (who were conquered by 1470) which were very, very beautiful.  Open work, with fishes and big cats woven in.  How they did it I have no idea - but I was not surprised to read that the textile makers were highly regarded.  Other cultures also produced textiles, mantles, headdresses, and tunics made from alpaca and llama wool.



The Moche Culture (100-800AD) had a ribald streak.  Rather a lot of sexually explicit ceramics have been found.  And these mice on the vessel made me smile.  Wine vessel?  Water?  Oil?  I don't know, but the fact that they were buried with their owners says that they were valued.


This owl bead is also from the Moche culture - and is made from gold and turquoise.  A lovely thing isn't it?


The llama vessel is another ceramic.  This time from the Huari Culture (600-1000AD).  It was quite large too (67.0 cm x 54 cm)  And in astonishingly good condition.


Another ceramic.  This time from the Chimu Culture (1100-1470AD).  And apparently hairless dogs in Mexico are still known as Inca (or perhaps it was Peruvian) dogs.

There were more than 200 works of art in the exhibition and we spent several hours wandering from piece to piece.  In awe.

Sadly, photos are forbidden, so the images in this post are from post cards I purchased.  The first image of the post is a fridge magnet to add to our collection.
I am happy to post the cards to anyone who says they would like one.  There are only four though so it is definitely first in, best dressed.  Leave a comment if you would like one - specifying which you would like (or loathe).  And I would be happy to post them in an envelope so you can send them on - or not, as you choose.

I can see that, for a change, I am going to have to do some reading and educate myself a bit more about these cultures.  




94 comments:

  1. I'm lovin' the little owl. Amazing how this stuff has survived virtually intact throughout the ages.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Delores: Lots of the gold was apparently melted down, but to find textiles and ceramics over a thousand years old in such good condition is amazing.
      Would you like the owl?

      Delete
    2. That's very kind of you, but, no thank you. It would just get lost in this horrific mess on my desk lol.

      Delete
    3. Delores: I hear you on the horrid desk top mess.

      Delete
  2. The mice! I'll bet the original owner bought this because it made him/her smile too. And the painted decoration is wonderfully energetic -a life-affirming jug.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lynners: Aren't they great? How could you not smile. Practical, beautiful and fun. If you send me your address I will gladly post it to you.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, I would like that, I'm a big fan of ceramics. I am:
      Lynne James,
      6 Reeves Road
      Opawa
      Christchurch 8023
      New Zealand

      Delete
    3. Iynners: I will get put it in the post in the next day or so.

      Delete
  3. What a fantastic show! Of course I'd love a postcard, but,as I have several books on The Americas, I'll let others have a chance.
    Great post,EC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dinahmow: It was one of the best exhibits we have seen at the Gallery in years. Wonderful things...

      Delete
  4. oh I would love to see that exhibit, it is amazing what art was done so long ago by ancient peoples. I had heard of the Moche culture but never knew they has such sexually explicit art objects, so interesting, who doesn't think a mouse is cute.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda Starr: I thought of you when I saw the ceramics. So very beautiful. So very old...

      Delete
  5. What an outstanding exhibit. That's the kind of stuff people have to just about drag me away from, but it isn't just the beauty of the items, it's how OLD they are. It's the history behind them, the stories they could tell. Fascinating.

    I'm so jealous of your hubby for being to Machu Pichu, although we've watched enough documentaries about it, it almost feels as though we could find our way around there. Oh, by the way, one of the books I won through Goodreads recently is about Antarctica! I thought about your gorgeous pictures when I entered, and I can hardly wait to get it! (Next best thing to going there...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan: It was an incredible exhibition. And, like you, it was the glimpses into other lives which moved me most. History as it should be taught.
      I am jealous of his Machu Pichu trip too. And a few of the others. I hope you love your Antarctica book and it lives up to expectations.

      Delete
  6. Years ago in Peru (not even sure where) I visited the Gold Museum and was blown away by the beautiful gold garments. Hammered into leaves and made into garments. I also was forbidden from taking pictures. It was so beautiful, though, and I learned that most of the gold had been melted into blocks and taken out of Peru. :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DJan: Making garments from gold seems incredible doesn't it? Probably not nearly as comfortable as the alpaca/vicuna/llama products though.

      Delete
  7. What a fascinating, awesome, wonderful exhibition this must be! I envy you.

    The Inca, Aztec, Mayan and Olmec civilizations are so, so interesting - intriguing.

    If we didn't know that they actually did exist, albeit briefly in the whole scheme of things and life, we'd think that they were a fabrication of someone's vivid, active imagination.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee: And we still with our superior technology don't know (and couldn't replicate) how they built some of their monuments. Similarly in Egypt, and India and rather a lot of other places.

      Delete
  8. I too would find this exhibition fascinating and I would want to learn all about these peoples.
    It is a dreadful thing that the white man destroyed their culture and brought desperate diseases with him to wipe them out to boot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Friko: It was an incredible exhibition. And ten million dead because of gold lust is staggering. We really aren't a nice species.

      Delete
  9. Hmmm ... I can see I need to get my arse down to see this (if it's still on of course) ... I have a tendency to miss these blockbusters :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Geoff: You have until early April. And I really did think it was one of the better exhibits. Right up there with the Chihuly glass of some years ago.

      Delete
  10. Those are BEAUTIFUL!! I doubt there's anything now (except for landfills and coke cans) that would stand the test of time like that did. And the colors blew me away.

    I LOVE museums, but there are none down here.

    I don't like being stuck in the same car with another person who knows it all. Maybe you could shove him in the trunk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lotta joy: And the colours in the textiles were incredible too. Over a thousand years old, and still vivid, still beautiful. We are lucky. We have a number of museums, galleries, libraries.
      And there are two other exhibitions running at the moment I also want to see - ancient maps at the National Library and a bark painting exhibit at the National Museum.
      And yes, his 'I've been everywhere attitude' got right up my nose. Since he is the driver I can't consign him to the boot though. Perhaps he would get the hint if I said I wanted to travel in it...

      Delete
  11. Hi Sue,

    What a wonderful experience, my friend. I love this sort of thing and you described it so vividly. 'Gold and the Incas Lost Worlds of Peru'. So fascinating. I have seen actual Mayan ruins in a place named Tulum, Mexico. It was a most spiritual place to be.

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. klahanie: I have no doubt that the Mayn ruins were incredible - and very moving. And this exhibit was such a gem. I am glad to hear that I have conveyed some of the magic.

      Delete
  12. I am so very envious of SP and the fact that he has been to Peru, and, to magical Machu Pichu!
    Yet, there was still much to learn about the history and culture of its lost inhabitants from the exhibition. That's fabulous.

    As with many ancient cultures, fertility rites would have been an integral part of their lives, I imagine. To be virile and fertile was very important.
    The mice are a wonderful depiction of that.

    I am totally entranced by the clay pieces - of course. So beautifully decorated and textured and, intact, even after all this time.
    Wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vicki: There are rather a lot of places he has been that have me thinking jealous thoughts. Machu Pichu is definitely one of them.
      The fertility rites were definitely an integral part of the culture - but I loved the charm in the depiction. There were some human fertility symbols too, but they didn't have a fraction of the appeal (for me).
      Amazing that the ceramics survived so well isn't it? And they are beautiful.

      Delete
  13. The llama seems to have a little chimney. Very interesting and I am sure well worth seeing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew: The llama's chimney was the spout for the jug. I really don't know what they stored in them though. And yes, it was an exhibition I was very glad to see.

      Delete
  14. I love exhibits like this. I am so glad you were able to get out to see it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birdie: We are so lucky to have the opportunity to see wonders like this. I am very, very grateful.

      Delete
  15. Marvelous post! Enjoyed all the postcards. It is a fascinating culture. My sister-in-law will be visiting South America with her students soon and Machu Pichu is one of the places they will be going to. Lucky ducks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DeniseinVA: Thank you. I hope your sister-in-law loves it as much as my smaller portion did.

      Delete
  16. Isn't it wonderful to be able to see such ancient items? I'm always amazed, too, when I watch documentaries about how OLD structures were built (or at least how the "experts think" they were built!) such as the pyramids. I'm so glad you are interested in these types of exhibits and invite us over after you're home, for your slide show! :) I'll pass on the postcards, because it would cost a fortune to send me one...and that would just be silly! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BECKY: I am fascinated by these exhibits. And wish that history had been taught as more than dates of battles while I was at school.

      Delete
  17. I'm hoping that exhibition comes to Adelaide! I'd love to see these things. It's been years since I saw any Inca work, plenty of Egyptian stuff, but the Incas and Aztecs made such beautiful things. I'll google the title and see if there are plans for Adelaide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River: I didn't notice whether it was going to be a travelling exhibit. I hope so - it was incredible.

      Delete
    2. I've checked the website, it is a Canberra only exhibition. :(

      Delete
    3. River: I am so sorry. I am sure that you would have loved it too.

      Delete
  18. All things looks unique and different. Love to see them real.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Weekend-Windup: Welcome - it was such a treat to see them.

      Delete
  19. such a pure and beautiful and noble civilization. And spiritual too. They were so much more evolved than us in so many ways :(.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. petronela: I am amazed at what all of these cultures were able to build and make - but could do without the gods which required human (and animal) sacrifice.

      Delete
  20. Thank you so much for sharing your visit to this exhibition. I remember seeing a documentary on the Incas and previous civilisations of Peru several years ago and was truly amazed by it. I had no idea of all that had occurred over the centuries.
    You are so fortunate to have seen these items first hand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mimsie: It was a treat. We both feel very lucky and privileged to have seen it.

      Delete
  21. My son was in Machu Picchu last year and he was stunned and humbled by what he learned there. There is so much that we don't know about these amazing civilizations and thanks to the greed and savagery of the colonising conquistadors it will sadly remain unknown.

    How exciting to see such an exhibition. I remember when those "Terracotta Warriors and Horses" from China's Qin Dynasty were exhibited years ago in Adelaide and how blown away we were by the artistry of a civilisation that we knew little about. I've not seen anything since that has captured me in quite the same way.

    I love the mice (no surprise there!) but that owl mask is really something very special. I have a soft spot for owls and was only remarking yesterday that I've seen signs of our local Eurasian Eagle-Owls (Bubo bubo) beginning to collect nesting materials in the woods near our summer cottage. That mask reminds me a lot of our Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) - and the workmanship is exquisite. That was certainly a labour of love and you wonder what was the story behind it all.

    I'm amazed that the textiles survived all these years. The Mayan and Aztecs had fantastic textiles and I remember buying and admiring textiles when we visited Guatemala City several years ago. I can see you camping out in the Ixchel Museum of traditional costumes :-)

    But seeing I own a dog from a hairless breed (Miss Sophie is a chinese crested, although she didn't get the memo about being hairless...), I think that the xoloitzcuintle ceramic postcard needs to be mine :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marie: I cannot imagine any of our 'modern' building surviving for a fraction of the time that Machu Pichu, the pyramids, the Tah Mahal have - to name just a few.
      And there is so much we have lost.
      I too love owls, and don't think we have any very close to us. Which I regret.
      And the hairless dog is yours.

      Delete
  22. Now, that is the benefit of living in our national capital. Today, we will go on a little outing ~ yes, I could have some of that please.

    I was expecting all your postcards would be taken by now ~ so I would gladly find a home for one in my postcard collection if one still needs a home. Thank you Sue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol in Cairns: Sadly we don't take us much advantage of the things around us as we should. Some things we visit reasonably regularly and it can be years between visits to other places. More commitment required. And yes, there is a card left. I will get your address and send it.

      Delete
  23. That would definitely be on my list of shows to see. How lucky you were to have that opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: Oh yes, we were very lucky. And it wasn't crowded on the day we went either - another bonus.

      Delete
  24. And now I want a humping-mice vessel. :-)

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  25. Either you have more interesting things to see in your neck of the woods than we do, or else you have the ability to find the appeal in whatever you have - I suspect a mixture of the two :) Thank you for letting us see these things through your appreciative eyes.

    Pearl's comment is making me smile!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. jenny_o: We are lucky. There are a lot of wonderful places to see in town and some of the exhibitions over the years have been magic. And my special talent (you know, the one we were told that everyone has) is as an appreciator. And Pearl often makes me smile.

      Delete
  26. What a wonderful exhibit! I always buy a fridge magnet when I go to special exhibits, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lynn: Fridge magnets are a wonderful souvenier aren't they?

      Delete
  27. Per usual my comment will be short and sweet.

    Fascinating. And thoroughly interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  28. How incredible.
    When we went to school we learned about the conquerors of the natives. How much has changed. As a weaver I was exposed to the magnificent textiles, then and now. Beyond my patience, and so beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joanne Noragon: I am pretty certain that I was only taught a very little about the Incas. And nothing about the earlier cultures...

      Delete
  29. What a wonderful exhibition you were able to visit. I am quite jealous! All the exhibits you showed us here are awesome - I especally love the mice and the owl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carola Bartz: It was a delight. We wandered around at our leisure, reading, absorbing, ogling. And were surprised when we emerged to discover that we had spent close to three hours in there.

      Delete
  30. I would totally love the last one! I owe you a postcard first.

    Amazing how these are intact.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Riot Kitty: Some of them showed signs of repair. But not many. I love that they outlasted their makers and the people that they were buried with and now delight people over a thousand years later. Sadly the hairless dog has been claimed.

      Delete
  31. I have never gone into a place where no photos or videos were allowed that someone wasn't taking pictures or filming. Did you encounter that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grannie Annie: They are serious about their security and there is a guard in every room. I have never seen anyone taking pictures - and only once seen someone try.

      Delete
  32. You sound as though you are smiling. How lovely to read your posts and to discover all the things you have been doing. Good luck with the driveway repair, etc. Now I am curious to know which and what sort of books you have decided to discard.
    and I think I should visit for the Peruvian gold exhibition. And I love the textiles, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. persiflage: Driveway repair dramas continue. And a few others have added their heads. Sigh.
      And yes, the exhibition DID make me smile. Rather a lot.
      I discarded books that I won't read again. Or some of them. And have already regretted (a bit) some of them.

      Delete
  33. Even if they're not actual photos, those images are stunning. I studied the Incas in school. Can't remember whether it was secondary or college and I was fascinated by that culture. The Aztecs were pretty good, too.

    Greetings from London.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Cuban in London: We did a little about the Incas while I was at school too, but I don't remember anything about the earlier cultures. At all.

      Delete
  34. Loving the randy mice. They should let YOU take photographs as yours would be better than their own. Sounds like a great exhibition, I really enjoy them when similar come our way, though I need to get out there more often I admit. Glad you two got to this one, a nice break indeed :D x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All Consuming: Snap on the 'really need to get out there more front'. Except it takes away from my reading time. Which takes away from the 'things I should be doing time'. And yes, the randy mice made me smile broadly. Can you imagine a main stream shop selling them today?

      Delete
    2. I'd like to see them selling them in the pound shop on the corner. It'd crack me up. Why mice? Hahahaha

      Delete
    3. All Consuming: Or Harrods? Or any 'up-market' store. There should be more fun in this world, not less. Fertility symbols were important to them, but mice surprised me. Surely you want your mice to be less fertile? While not denying them their fun.

      Delete
  35. Somehow, I missed your last post. Just read it. So glad you're back but sorry about your pinky toe and all the hassle you're going through, not to mention the health issues with Mr. Skinnyness. (Love your names for him.)
    Your trip to the museum sounds fascinating. So much to learn.
    Glad you're back. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Myrna R.: I am not certain that his high and skinniness always appreciates the names I give him. Tough.
      And the exhibition was a delight. I might even go back again.

      Delete
  36. What a great exhibition - I love culture!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ladyfi: It was great. I might even go back.

      Delete
  37. Hi EG. What a fascinating post. So much history. sorry to hear about both your health issues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margaret Adamson: It was an incredible exhibition. I learnt things and had rather a lot of eye candy as well. The skinny one and I will be fine - thank you.

      Delete
  38. Hi EC, came back to wish you A Happy Valentine's Day :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi EC, a couple of weeks ago I took my daughter and her partner to Canberra to see the ancient maps and Inca exhibitions. The map exhibition was amazing but the Inca artefacts touched and enriched my soul, I didn't want to leave. It loved reading your post, thank you for sharing so many thoughts and details.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim: Thank you. I am glad to hear that you loved this exhibition too. And thanks for the heads-up about the map exhibition. Hopefully we will get to it soon.

      Delete
  40. My ex-husband grew up in Peru and we visited it many years ago. I would have loved this exhibit. I laughed about the sexually explicit ceramics:~) This I do remember from the places we visited.

    Thanks for sharing this. I enjoyed it very much:~)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sara: Welcome and thank you. The exhibition was a joy and a delight, and I am very glad that others have enjoyed having a peak inside with me.

      Delete
  41. I am tickled on on my brief foray back to Blogland (and more specifically, your homey little corner of it!) to find waiting a post about another of your outings! I'm always pleased when you get a chance to treat yourselves to one, and enjoy them vicariously as well!

    I had to grin at the tale of Mr. Know-It-All-About-Peru's comeuppance. :-) Humbling but also fun to discover depths yet to be plumbed about something as interesting as this! I do, however, envy the fact he's visited Machu Pichu, etc. A friend of ours did that several years ago (also hiked the trail in the Andes) with a group of women. A spiritual women-empowerment quest thing, and she came back very inspired, even wrote and recorded some beautiful music that came to her while in the Andes.

    Anyway, it's a shame they didn't allow photography or sell any postcards of the textiles, but you did grand job of sharing what treasures you could with us! The randy mice vessel made me laugh (imagine the terribly offended hue and cry it would raise these days if some department store started selling replicas!) I must say it made me think of the hysterical dinner party scene in the film "The Bird Cage." (Have you seen it?) I could picture it among their "Greek boys" dish ware. :-) Anyway, the owl head bead is lovely - I'm trying to figure out how large (or small) it was! And I am most struck but the wonderful llama vessel. Astounding to think that it made it through all those centuries without a leg breaking off or losing one or both of his delicate ears! And this in the days before bubble wrap! :-) What a treasure. Thanks so much for sharing, I'm glad you both enjoyed it so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laloofah: I am jealous about his sojourn in Machu Pichu too. And the Galapagos. And Turkey. And Egypt... And it was nice that he too learned from the exhibition.
      I would love replicas of the randy mice on general sale here. Shock and horror.
      And I too am amazed that the ceramics and the textiles survived, sans bubble-wrap, buried in the ground. Amazed and grateful.

      Delete
  42. I didn't realize the Incas were only in power for 100 years! I'm shamed to say I don't know anything about the earlier empires either. Visiting a place gives a tourist only a small taste of a culture...when I would rather take a long drink and memorize everything I see. Love the mice! Thank you for sharing. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River Fairchild: I am not a fan of quick tours. I need time to absorb. The skinny one spends a couple of months away at a time, but usually doesn't stay in one place for more than a couple of days (if that). Which would do my head in. We have never holidayed well together. So usually don't.
      And the mice were a hoot. I would cherish that vessel.

      Delete