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Tale of blood and gold to open at Auckland Museum


Tale of blood and gold to open at Auckland Museum

A supernatural tale of the Incas and their ancestors, opens at Auckland Museum next week.

Gold & Sacrifice: Treasures of Ancient Peru, unearths the might and mystery of one of the world’s great lost civilisations, from the simple, artistic societies of the central Andes nearly 3000 years ago, to the grand opulence of the Inca Empire.

Human sacrifice, the afterlife and the supernatural, are all explored in this internationally touring exhibition of precious metals and ceramics from the Museo Arqueologico Rafael Larco Herrera in Peru.

Lacking a written language, Peruvian art was used to record events and ritual practices. Beautiful in their own right, these objects tell the story of their makers, from their faith in the supernatural, to the power structures of their societies.

Exquisite body adornments, from the gilded crowns worn by sacrificial priests, to the blades and goblets used for the sacrifice and consumption of human blood, will be on display from 18 July.

Curator of archaeology at Auckland Museum, Dr Nigel Prickett, says all ancient Peruvian societies performed ritual sacrifice, both animal and human.

“Ritual sacrifices were performed to assure prosperity and protect society from natural disasters, disease and war. Young warriors defeated in ritual combat, went to their deaths in the belief that their sacrifice protected society from harm and fuelled the supernatural power of their rulers.”

Most notable of the Pre-Columbian works on display are the ceramics and metal work of the Moche people, who occupied the north coast of Peru for almost 800 years. Their ceramics, which detail rituals involving hunting, fishing, sex, agricultural production and medicine, also depict the rite of human sacrifice, from warriors in combat to the act of sacrifice itself.

Gold & Sacrifice is indemnified by the New Zealand Government. It is generously supported by sponsors Walker & Hall and LanChile and is on display until 28 September 2003.

Notes for editors:

The Museo Rafael Larco Hererra
Gold & Sacrifice: Treasures of Ancient Peru, comes to Auckland Museum from the Museo Arqueologico Rafael Larco Herrera, in Lima, Peru. Founded in 1926 by Rafael Larco Hoyle, one of the great pioneers of Peruvian archaeology, the Museo Larco holds the world’s largest collection of Moche ceramics, and is the only place to hold representations of every moment of the Moche sacrifice ceremony.

$12 adults, $9 concessions

Saturday 12 July, 3.00pm
A performance of traditional South American music by Tumi, a band who take their name from the ritual knives used for human sacrifice in ancient Peru.

Saturday 26 July, 7.30pm – 2am
Fiesta Peru!
Celebrate Peruvian Independence Day with an evening of music, salsa and traditional South American dance. Ticket price includes exhibition entry, Banda Latina and Peruvian food. Cash bar available. Tickets $30/$25.

Sunday 17 August
Treasures of Peru Living Treasures Day
A day of events celebrating Peruvian culture, including music, documentaries and children’s activities.

Be in to win a trip for two to Inca country through LanChile and Adventure Getaways, or one of five gold bangles from Walker & Hall, when you visit Gold & Sacrifice: Treasures of Ancient Peru.


Culture Dates
Cupisnique 1200 – 200 BC
Chavin 900 – 200 BC
Nazca 0 – 700 AD
Moche 50 – 800 AD
Wari 650 – 800 AD
Lambayeque 800 – 1350 AD
Chimu 1100 – 1550 AD
Inca 1450 – 1532 AD
Spanish conquest 1532 AD



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