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94th Faculty Research Lecture
Moche Portraits From
Ancient Peru
Christopher B. Donnan
Professor , Department of Anthropology

April 3, 2003
3:00 - 4:30 PM
 

Professor Donnan's professional career has focused on the Moche, a civilization that flourished on the north coast of Peru between 100 and 800 AD. Although the Moche had no writing system, they left a vivid artistic record of their beliefs and activities in beautifully sculpted and painted ceramics, sumptuous textiles, colorful wall murals and finely crafted objects of gold, silver and copper.

Convinced that the key to understanding the Moche would be to record the largest possible sample of Moche art, and to organize this material for systematic study, Professor Donnan set out to photograph Moche objects in museums and private collections throughout the world. This photographic archive has grown steadily for nearly four decades, and now contains more than 160,000 photographs housed at UCLA, systematically organized for iconographic research. It is by far the most comprehensive record of Moche art ever compiled.

Dr. Donnan's scholarship has established him as a world-renowned, influential voice on Andean research, where his discoveries have had significant effects on how anthropologists, archeologists and historians have come to think about the evolution and composition of Andean society and culture.

Professor Donnan's lecture focuses on his recent study of Moche portraits. Of all the civilizations that developed in the Americas prior to European contact, only the Moche perfected true portraiture and produced it in quantity. Professor Donnan will explain how Moche portraiture developed, how portraits were made and distributed, and how they functioned in Moche society. Moreover, he will provide remarkable evidence of who the individuals were that we see depicted in Moche portraits, and why they were portrayed in this way.

 


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