Moche Mural Painting at Pañamarca: A Study of Image Making and Experience in Ancient Peru

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Moche Mural Painting at Pañamarca: A Study of Image Making and Experience in Ancient Peru

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Title: Moche Mural Painting at Pañamarca: A Study of Image Making and Experience in Ancient Peru
Author: Trever, Lisa Senchyshyn
Citation: Trever, Lisa Senchyshyn. 2013. Moche Mural Painting at Pañamarca: A Study of Image Making and Experience in Ancient Peru. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation is a study of the late Moche murals found within the adobe temples of Pañamarca, Peru (ca. 600-850 CE). This project was designed to redress the problem of iconographic decontextualization of the Pañamarca paintings that, through limited documentation and repetitive scholarly publication, had become effectively untethered from their material moorings and spatial settings. New fieldwork succeeded in contextualizing and conserving remains of all known mural paintings. This field research also resulted in the discovery of a new corpus of paintings at the site. Together these paintings form a case study on image making and visual experience in a Pre-Columbian era without contemporaneous writing. This art historical study of archaeological monuments makes several contextual moves. Most concretely it mounts evidence for the situated experiences of images by ancient beholders. This includes analysis of spatial patterns that governed both visual and kinaesthetic approaches to images, as well as forensic indices of human-image engagement and response through time. The approach is not, however, exhausted by the nested contexts of architecture, archaeology, and geography. Meaning is further established through the discernment of philosophical propositions set forth in the broader corpus of ancient Moche art, material culture, and ritual practice. This work proposes to yield emic perspectives on mimesis, corporeality, and spatiality. An embodied approach to image and space is not merely imported from theory developed elsewhere, but is grounded in the Andean cultural setting at hand. The orthodox Moche imagery of the Pañamarca murals was arrayed in specific, strategic ways in both plazas and private spaces. In some areas life-size paintings may have modeled mimetic performance that perpetually enlivened ritual architecture. Elsewhere densely composed imagery would have enveloped the bodies of ritual practitioners and devotees, as they were absorbed into a private architectural repository of specialized knowledge. This is unusual in the Moche world where the innermost spaces of lavishly decorated temple complexes are themselves usually devoid of painted images. The paintings of Pañamarca are interpreted as efficacious in the articulation, embodiment, and recollection of late Moche ideology and identity as it crystallized on the southern periphery in the Nepeña Valley.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:11002761
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