How to See Peru’s Erotic Moche Pottery

Lima, Peru

Never thought I’d say this about the pre-Columbians… But they sure knew how to make great looking pots. Or… water vessels as how they were referred to in Museo Larco, Lima.

Jack and I are not… well, how to say this? “Cultured”. We don’t go to museums unless they offer something completely unique that strikes our fancy.

But when we read that Museo Larco contains a notable collection of pre-Columbian erotic Moche potteries – it got us all curious. This is definitely a museum we’ll have to check out.

Erotic potteries… tell me that you would not be intrigued by that. (and if you’re not – I suggest not going past the first 2 images)

Museo Larco pottery

Even though we were only interested in the erotic collection, after paying the the 30 soles entrance fee, we might as well check out the other non-erotic stuff, right?

The collection took us by surprise. We were blown away.

I’d never thought I’d say this about pottery, especially about water vessels – but these ARE BEAUTIFUL. They’re whimsical, they’re funny, they’re cute… they’re simply adorable!

Check out the one depicting a dog sled on the first picture. Or how about the cute, chubby characters depicted on these water vessels below?

Museo Larco pottery collection

I was impressed to say the least. Even Jack was impressed – and it takes a lot to impress that guy.

But really, these guys are nothing compared to the erotic Moche pottery collection…

One thing I have to say – these guys were not shy about their sexuality at all.

Prudes (and the easily offended)… close your eyes.

Not really erotic, but this particular Moche pottery depicts child birth in action.

Moche pottery depicting childbirth
Moche pottery depicting childbirth
Moche pottery Erotic pottery in Lima Moche pottery - Museo Larco collection

This next one is my favorite. This couple just seems to be taking such illicit delights in touching each other, it made me smile.

Favorite Moche erotic pottery from Museo Larco

It’s interesting to note that in this culture, the world of the dead in this culture holds as much importance as the world of the living.

That aspect of the culture was also depicted in this erotic Moche pottery collection.

Erotic pottery at Museo Larco

They have quite a collection depicting skeletons touching each other and masturbating. But definitely not having sex since sex is for procreation and only the livings can do that. I mean, of course…

So why did these Moche potteries exist?

There was little explanation about why they made these pots. We are talking about a culture that’s 3000 years old after-all. It was suggested that they used these pots for ceremonial purposes, maybe to teach about procreation and even sexual diseases.

Syphillis depicted on a Moche pottery
This person seems to have... coffee beans spilled all over his crotch?

Whatever the real reason might be, if it had been to provide a giggle-filled afternoon for museum visitors, 3000 years later – they did a very good job.

It was fascinating stuff.

Never thought I’d say this about a museum – but Museo Larco in Lima? Highly recommended. Even if you skip the erotic room (but why would you?).

Admission to Museo Larco: 30 soles
Address: Av. Bolivar 1515, Pueblo Libre. Lima, Peru.
Website: Museo Larco

Where to stay in Lima
3B Barrancos – A cute B&B in Barranco district. Rooms start at $80.
Tiera Viva Miraflores – highly rated in Lima’s trendy neighborhood. Rooms start at $95.

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
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28 Replies to “How to See Peru’s Erotic Moche Pottery”

  1. Could it be birth control instruction come propagander, limmited available resouces. No normal sex seems to be depicted, BJ

  2. Thanks for this post, but there are some misunderstandings here: the Muchik (Moche, Mochica) people were not pre-Colombians people.

    We are indigenous people, the original civilizations of this continent today known as America. We are still here, we are not Colombians today. The Muchik lived in what is today the northern coast of Peru, they represented daily life in their pottery as a way of chronicle and books, to study purposes perhaps.

    These pottery depicting sexual acts and sexuality behavior were secretly kept due to the religious repression of the Catholic church. Currently, these belong to the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera:

    1. Hi Camila,
      My bad – I meant to say 'pre-Columbian' which refers to time period before the appearance of Europeans on the American continent. So I was referring to pre-Columbus civilization as the creators of these amazing potteries.

      Not Colombia as a country.

      I'll edit the mispelling. Thanks for pointing it out.

  3. I can't remember which museum we visited in Lima, or if there is more than one. I remember seeing some pots similar to this but I think I must have missed the erotic room.

  4. Just a note, the majority of ceramics at the Larco Museum is from the Moche culture, which was around from about A.D. 200 to A.D. 800, and the most impressive ceramic phases were in the middle of that, so the pots are about 1500 years old. The oldest ones they have, Cupisnique (the last picture you posted looks like Cupisnique), are close to 3000 years old, but most of the really explicit stuff is Moche.

    And yeah, the Moche are famous for depicting absolutely everything on their pots (and the portrait pots are so well-executed that you can sometimes trace the same person through their life depicted in various pots), so it makes sense that they depicted their sexuality too. And the Larco Museum is great for putting that on display! It's honestly one of my favourite museums, although the new site museum at the main Moche site is pretty incredible too.

  5. First of all, I love the fact that you went to the museum, especially to see the erotic collection. It's also something that I would do. 🙂

    Great photos as well. I'll will try to visit this museum if I ever make it back to Lima, which I hope I will. =)

  6. Wow! Some very interesting looking sculptures indeed. Of all places, I've never expected Korea to be very liberal on this front…

  7. So cool! Even without the erotic art, they are beautiful pots. Just last week, we were at a chocolatier in Cannes and they had "Kama Sutra" chocolate which was SO explicit that I almost felt like I was looking at porn. And, if you ever want something really crazy, head to India for any of the erotic temples (especially the ones at Kujaharo.) They'll blow your ind.

    1. I love erotic arts – very interesting about the erotic chocolate. Was it sold for consumption? That'd make a cool V-day gift, I think 🙂

  8. They are absolutely interesting, but what stunned me more is the fact that those stuffs are 3000-year-old or so. Just amazing!

    1. Actually, Moche pottery is dated around 2000 years old. The Moche culture was at large around 100 A.D.

  9. Isn't it crazy how explicit they are?! I remember seeing these for the first time in a collection in Germany (of all places), and was shocked. I was just glad that I was in the exhibit by myself and not surrounded by curious children. I still haven't been to Museo Larco but now I think I need to make a trip. I find all of Peru's pre-Colombian pottery, erotic or not, to be very impressive. I'm glad you thought the same. Thanks for the tip!

    1. They are definitely a lot more explicit than we expected. Especially the erotic ones depicting the skeletons (after life) was particularly …. unexpected. Made us a feel a tad uncomfortable in the beginning to be honest.

  10. Hehe, I'm exactly the same. I'm not really a big fan of museums or art galleries (the exception being natural history – which fascinates me for some reason).

    But I did love 'Love Land' in South Korea – which is pretty similar in theme to the museum you just visited. It's more erotic art than craftsmanship, but there's still some hilarious and interesting stuff to be found there.… is my entry on the subject :-p

  11. Uh hum, not sure how to respond to these! They definitely were erotic. It is interesting wandering museums and trying to figure out the civilization the artifacts are from. Very interesting indeed.

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