National Geographic : 1990 Jun
FTER performing a cursory cleaning of some of the artifacts, we placed them in their original burial positions around the head and chest of the Old Lord. The gold nose orna ment-left, at top-is seven and a half inches wide and rests below the pieces of his skull. Nearby are four earspools, two gold and two silver, whose tiny movable disks may have reflected sunlight. Between the two spools, at center, is an exquisitely crafted nose orna ment of a stingray mounted on a silver oval. Below are the gold heads of feline figures, symbols of power and divinity in Moche iconogra phy as well as in other Peruvian cultures. The feline figures typically appear in scenes of sac rifice and torture. These heads were strung together to form a necklace for the Old Lord. Our excitement grew as an excavator's brush and spoon (above right) promised a spec tacular find. Further digging (far right) began to reveal a miniature figure holding a gold war club and shield. We marveled when the piece came to light, a nose ornament of a tiny warrior-lord mounted on a tarnished silver plate weighing only three ounces (right). He wears a headdress of thinly hammered gold with an owl in the center. His turquoise eyes have pupils of black stone, and his own nose ornament actually moves. The war club also has a sharp end that per mits it to be used as a spear. Considered in terms of crafts manship and delicacy of execu tion, this is a spectacular find, one of the most beautiful nose ornaments ever found in the Americas. It will rank as one of the finest objects produced by the Moche.