Moche and Chimu Cultures
The Moche Culture lasted from about 100 B.C. to 750 A.D. Its territory covered about 700 Km.,from Piura in the north to Huarmey in the south.
It is considered that the Moche Valley was the center of this culture.However,according to differents archaeologists such as Luis Jaime Castillo, the Moche did not have a single capital . He argues that there were regional capital cities in each one of the bigger valleys: Loma Negra in Piura, Sipan and Pampa Grande in Lambayeque; Dos cabezas and San Jose de Moro in Jequetepeque; El Brujo in Chicama and Huacas del Sol y La Luna in the Moche Valley.
At the end of the VI Century, after the phenomenon of El Niño, the Moche society declined.In the Moche valley the capital was moved on to Galindo. In Lambayeque the population was centralized in Pampa Grande.
The base of its economy was agriculture, that is why they built different irrigation canals.Other activities are represented on the pottery,such as: deer hunting and the fishing on the reed boats (caballitos de totora).
The principal god is depicted in the temples. Its called AI-APAEC, and has feline features .On the ceramic this God has the body of animals like: crabs,spiders and eagles. As well it is seen over ear of corn or on the top of one hill. Another name is “The Decapitator”,associated to the depiction where the God is taken the ceremonial knife (Tumi in Quechua language) and the head of a prisoner. Sea,Moon and Rainbow were others important deities.
The metalwork was beyond the Chimu technique. Gold,silver and cooper were worked magnificently. They knew the technique called “tumbaga”,an alloy of cooper and gold. The symbol of the Moche gold work is represented by the objects found in the royal tomb of the Lord of Sipán.
The Moche ceramic is the most realistic of the Peruvian cultures. The classic colors were red and yellow. The activities represented on ceramic had a ceremonial character and were used as offerings in the temples and funerary platforms. Rafael Larco Hoyle proposed in 1948, its classification in five style stages.
CHIMU KINGDOM (850 A.D. – 1470 A.D.)
Like in the time of the Incas, the origin of the Chimu is a legend that was picked up in an Anonymous Chronicle (1604 - 1610), according to which a mythical character called Taycanamo came from the sea, its founder was at the head of a fleet of rafts.
This culture, transformed then into a powerful State, begins approximately in the year 850 A.D.until 1470, when the Inca conquer them and annexed them to the Empire of the Tahuantinsuyo.
For 600 years, the Chimu extended their territory with an organized army.Towards 1370 they conquered to the Lambayeque or Sicán culture,which contributed vastly to the development of the metalwork in Chan Chan.
During the government of Minchancaman, the Chimu dominated all the north coast of Peru. From Tumbes to Lima (Chillón Valley), in an extension of more than 1000 km. However, Minchancaman had the fatal destination of seeing the fall of its extensive Kingdom. An army of more than 30 thousand soldiers commanded by Túpac Inca Yupanqui, son of Pachacutec, achieved his defeat. According to the historical evidences it was a peaceful conquest. This allowed that the city of Chan Chan to not be plundered. The king was taken to Cuzco together with hundred of artisans: ceramists, goldsmiths and weavers.
In Chan Chan the heir of Minchancaman, his son Chumuncaur, ascended to the throne, but under the domain of the Inca Empire. The representatives “cusqueños” located their center of operations in Chiquitoy Viejo, Chicama Valley, this meant the decadence and abandonment of Chan Chan.
Finally, during the government of Caja Cim Cim, the Spanish conquerors arrived to the Moche Valley, beginning the looting and destruction of temples and citadels.
The base of the economy was agriculture, they built for it canals and profited from underground water. The Chimu took advantage of the guano of the islands as fertilizer. They cultivated products such as: Lima bean, corn, beans, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yucca, pepper, caygua and peanut. Fruits: plum, lúcuma, guanábana, pacae, avocado and cherimoya; also plants for construction as: algarrobo wood, cane and totora reed. Cotton was the most important non nutritious cultivation.
Fishing, hunting and the cattle raising were other important activities. They didn't use currency, trade and exchange was the system to obtain products and goods that the Chimu did not produce.
Handicrafts were very important. At Chan Chan there were workshops where people made textiles for the locals and also for exchange. There were extraordinary developments in metalwork. Gold, silver, copper and bronce were worked magnificently.
According to the references of the Spanish chroniclers, the Chimu didn’t have a single language, but rather a variety of regional languages:
-Language Sec, also known as tallana, it was spoken in Tumbes and Piura.
-Language Muchic or Yunga, was spoken from Motupe to Chicama. In the XVII century, the priest Fernando de La Carrera , pointed out his use in 26 towns of the coast and north mountains, estimating in 40 000 the number of its speakers.
-Language Olmos, associated to the Olmos area.
-Language Quingnam, for the Moche, Virú and Chao valleys.
-Language Pescadora, in Pacasmayo and Guadalupe.
In Chan Chan, the religion was the base of power. The monumental constructions almost always had a ceremonial function. The main cult was dedicated to the Moon which called SI. They considered it more powerful than the Sun because one could see by day and also at night. When the Moon didn't appear it was because it was in the other world punishing the thieves.
The eclipses of Sun were celebrated as the triumph of the Moon over the Sun. However, the eclipses of Moon were occasionally linked with sad happenings. It was also considered that the Moon protected fishing. SIAN "House of the Moon", in Muchic language , was the temple where the main rituals were celebrated.
The stars were also cult objects. According to the chroniclers (Calancha 1638) the ancient residents believed that their ancestors were four stars. These would be those that form the constellations of Canis Major and Southern Fish. The biggest and brilliant stars would have given origin to the noblemen and important people, while the smallest and pale ones to the humble and plebeian people. Other stars called PATA (Constellation of Orion) they symbolized three beings, the central star a thief and the other two their captors. These had been sent by the Moon to catch the thief and hand him over to a vulture.
Other gods were NI, the sea; gods of stone called ALAECPONG. Also, they had a special cult for the mummies of the main ancestors.