National Geographic : 1990 Jun
THOUGH TRADITIONAL pottery is slowly being replaced by plastic jugs-cheap, colorful, and "modern" -M6rrope craftsmen still churn out thou sands of pots for the towns of northern Peru. They specialize in jugs (right)-some hauntingly similar in shape to those crafted by the Moche-that hold as much as 35 gallons of water or chicha. Made with coils of clay, the jars are formed with paddle and anvil and then fired. "This specialization is pre Hispanic," says Guillermo Cock. "We know that immedi ately before the conquest, whole villages or at least large groups of people would make a single type of ceramic. The lord would then organize its distribution." With their extensive use of molds (lower, far right) Moche potters revolutionized the making of ceramics. A modern potter (lower right) demon strates the technique with a rare Moche mold. He presses one half of a two-piece mold onto moist clay, then repeats the pro cess with the second half and joins the two. After leaving the clay to dry for about a half hour, the potter removes the mold and smooths the seam between the halves. Then he allows the clay figure to dry a few days before firing it. Before this innovation pottery making could be laborious; an artisan might spend hours or even days on a single object. With a mold, "unique" pieces could be reproduced in a limit less fashion.