National Geographic : 1988 Oct
The tomb's multiple sets of combat objects, their exquisite craftsmanship, and the fact that they are made of gold and silver indicate that this warrior was of unusually high status and pos sessed special qualities. To un derstand why, it is necessary to understand the role of warriors and combat in Moche society. Moche art provides numerous depictions of military equip ment, warriors, and warrior activity. Some scenes show warriors parading as though in preparation for war. Others depict combat: warriors hurling slingstones and atlatl darts at the enemy from a distance and using war clubs at close range. The artistic depictions show that a primary purpose of Moche warfare was to capture enemy warriors. Once they were taken prisoner, their weapons and clothing were removed and hung from the war clubs of their captors. With ropes around CHRISTOPHERB. DONNAN,COURTESY ENRICOPOLI COLLECTION(ABOVE); DRAWING BY DONNAMcCLELLAND(BELOW) their necks, the prisoners were paraded, formally presented in courtly scenes, and ultimately sacrificed. The killing of captured war riors occurred at a special cere mony in which their throats were cut and their blood pre sented in tall goblets to elegantly dressed individuals--an event frequently depicted by Moche artists. The ceremony involved a specific cast of participants, recognizable by characteristic poses and garments. One Moche ceramic bottle bears a highly detailed depiction of the sacrifice ceremony, paint ed in fine-line drawing around its chamber (below). In the lower right of this scene are two captured warriors sit ting cross-legged, their hands tied and their throats being cut by figures standing beside them. In the upper part of the scene a warrior-priest receives a tall goblet from a bird warrior.