The greater part of Mochica art that survives, was
intended for burial in tombs. Much of this art
celebrates the world of the living, the abundance
of nature and the pleasures of the senses.
Existing side by side with this tradition, however,
is a darker, more moralistic art concerned with
death and punishment. This remarkable vessel
depicts a squatting corpse, its face a grinning
skull, its cloaked body only just beginning to
decompose. Surviving mummy burials from
various parts of Ancient America, suggest this
may have been a common way of positioning the
dead. The hollow eye sockets stare out as if to
tell us "I too once laughed and loved and thought
nothing of death." Such a 'Memento Mori,'
transcends the boundaries of Mochica culture; it
is a symbol of powerful universal meaning.