Mochica " Ceremonial Knife "
naked prisoner of war stands tied to a tree, his arms bent around
its trunk, his mouth open in a cry of pain. His face has been
peeled away, leaving no lips to cover his teeth and only cartilage
where his nose had been.
He strains to avoid a vulture that is pecking out his right
eye. Opening his breast with a TUMI and seizing the still beating
heart by the diviner, will be the last thing before his head
being cut off with the same pure gold knife, in order to please
the Sun God.
This event ocurred about 1500 years ago, during the Splendor
of the Moche, a Pre-Inca civilization.
The Tumi was a ceremonial knife, used for skull trepanation,
and other purposes. It has been proven that trepanation was
successfully carried out in Pre-Inca times.
The lovely Tumi we see in this picture was considered the
masterpiece of Mochica metal working. It was stolen from the
Anthropological museum in the 1980s and to us it meant a national
tragedy. We speak about the theft of our 'Mona Lisa'. Now
we only have photos like this one, taken by Wilfredo Loayza,
one of our best Peruvian photographers.