The former horizon (1000 - 200 BC.) Chavin culture (discussed dates: 1200/800 - 300 BC)


The Chavin culture develops throughout Peru, through a theocratic system centered on the city of Chavin de Huantar. The control of trade represents a revolution in the lives of mountain villages, very dependent on coastal food.

The style of Chavin  

Very complex, the style used in the works within the Chavin culture, and in some coastal production is made to disorient the viewer and move to other realities. We note in particular the replacement of some human elements (hair, mustache, rope, hair) by animals, mostly snakes. A strong inspiration from the tropical region, due to extensive links with the Amazon and its cultures, seems to have occurred. The iconography frequently used in the Chavin culture includes:

  • deities carrying scepter
  • Animal predators
  • composite beings (human / animal)
  • shamans in transformation

The site of Chavin de Huantar

Located at 3 180 m altitude, on the banks of Mosna, Chavin de Huantar should be an important ceremonial center, which may be housed an oracle and was used in all cases place of pilgrimage. The center attracted not only pilgrims but also the merchants, and was the focus of a major trade with civilizations devices.

The city is oriented towards the four cardinal points, and housed at least 5,000 people, including priests, servants and farmers. Formed around a large square, surrounded by platforms and an ancient temple (Castillo), in the shape of a truncated pyramid, it takes the type U already developed in the initial period.


This art evolves is complicated. Artists Chavin feel a predilection for extremely flat and burning, although there is also the round. The figures are greatly stylized, simplified details and multiplied, and strong bilateral symmetry brand works. Artists using the method of "modular belts, that is to say, they tend to reduce things to bands of equal width. The substitutions (replacement element by animals) are also used.

In general, the sculpture is integrated into the architecture, as evidenced by the monolith of Lanzon, located in the ancient temple of Chavin, and 4.53 m high. This gigantic monolith carved on three sides was the center of the temple of Chavin. Its shape may remind one of a digging stick, and then leave the impression that being engraved above guarantees a good harvest, but others have been reconciled with a dagger piercing the ground. However, a more or less anthropomorphic mark the surface of the stone. This "old God" Chavin is represented frome a biped character with fangs, a skunk and snakes as a hair, an iconography that could take its source in the world Amazon.

Also at the temple of Chavin, can signal the presence of key heads, beings at the jaguar mouth, typical of the Chavin sculpture that fit the wall. These are represented in the round, rare in the art of this period.

The Raimondi Stela, the Museum of Lima, also from Chavin de Huantar, but it presents an important innovation compared to the iconographic monolith Lanzon. Stone, tall, about three meters, it introduces a new character, the "new god" Chavin said "God smiles," or "god with sticks." In bipedal position, with claws for hands and feet and fangs gushing from his mouth, he is in fact two sticks or staffs. Above his head is represented her cap, which normally falls on his back, and seems composed of human heads nested inside each other, inviting to a double reading.

On the Tello Obelisk, also the Museum of Lima, it is not a be anthropo-zoomorphic which is represented, but a couple of alligators out of the body which plants and creatures of the jungle, probably making reference to a myth of origins.


The ceramic as the fabric is a medium that conveys the iconography of Chavin to regions distant from the main city. The ceramic forms most frequently ENCOUNTERED are globular pots with handles in-neck speed, and cylinder high collar. In general, the surfaces are colored dark gray, black or brown, and a setting of cats, flowers and birds are incised, carved or modeled.

Cultures dependent culture of Chavin


The ceramic Cupisinique probably existed before the outbreak of the site of Chavin. Modeled, it also incised creeks and stirrup-spouts. The iconography is very broad, and it is not uncommon to find representations anthropo-zoomorphic reminiscent of Chavin.


The Paracas culture is another culture that was very influenced by Chavin in its infancy, although a second phase it differs widely. In general, these ceramic materials have a full color high contrast and iconography is strongly influenced by the Chavin.

The former interim period (200 BC. - 500 AD. AD)

The Paracas culture (300 BC. - 0)


Ceramic takes various forms, while its decoration, usually geometric, consists of colorful asked after cooking and separated by incisions. As noted above, the first phase of the Paracas pottery was very influenced by the Chavin culture, but she also knows a second phase which moves away or less.

Culture funeral

The funeral elements are the most original of Paracas art: the bodies are placed in a fetal position, wrapped in several layers of painted or embroidered fabrics, the mantos. The ensemble is named fardo funeral. Two major phases overlap: Paracas Caverns, where the graves are in the form of fat-bellied bottles and Paracas Necropolis, or fardo are placed in baskets with jewels in the center of a tomb in the form of underground house.

The Nazca culture (100 - 600)


The polychrome pottery of Nazca largely takes the iconography of Paracas, but a new fundamental technique appears: colors are now applied before cooking, rather than separated by incisions. The typology also draws ceramics, vases spherical spouts connected by a loop bridge (which already existed in Paracas), cups, bowls, pots, jars, containers anthropomorphic ... The colors, laid in flattened, are most often delineated by a black outline, forming various decorative motifs, with great dislocation in the figures.


The geoglyphs complex networks are drawn on the ground by removing the surface layer in the wilderness, leaving a clear trail. There are networks of lines and spirals as well as animal motifs, such as whales, hummingbirds ... These huge drawings are visible only from heaven or from a height, and remain rather enigmatic. It seems they have given rise to ritual processions, with broken pottery in some places "strategic", but their significance remains questionable. Some researchers have hypothesized a relationship with astrology.

Recuay Culture (200 av. AD - 700 AD. AD)


Phase One is "traditional" pottery Recuay between 300 and 600. Two trends were then underway:
the repetition of stylized animals, characters hieratic carrying scepters, heads and abstract patterns
shaped vases with scenes of multiple characters (presentation, sacred marriage, parades ...) and polychrome varied.

Stone Sculpture

As in the Chavin art, sculptures related to culture Recuay are usually associated with architecture. The large spherical eyes of the characters are a feature. Android app