Northern and Southern Moche: The Stylistic Distinctions of Face-Neck Vessels Across Regions


  • Shannon Marie Trono University of Florida



ceramics, arts, moche, museum collections


This essay is an investigation of stylistic differences in the ceramic production of “face-neck” vessels from the Middle Moche Period (400-600 CE) of the Northern and Southern Moche regions. These face-neck vessels are also referred to as effigy vessels or cántaros cara gollete in Andean ceramic classifications. Face-neck vessels take the shape of human bodies where the torso and limbs have been condensed into a large globular mass; on the neck (the spout of the vessel) appears a human face in relief. In this paper, I focus on fineware face-necks rather than utilitarian wares since the majority of the vessels in this discussion originate from monumental funerary complexes for the elite. Face-neck vessels were commonly used to holds liquids like corn beer, which was consumed in ceremonial practices. By comparing vessels produced contemporaneously by Northern and Southern Moche polities, I have developed a set of distinctions in form, surface decoration, and finishing techniques that appear to distinguish each group.  Using these distinctions, I argue that two face-neck vessels from the Harn Museum of Art, which have an unknown provenience, originate from the Southern Moche region between stages III and IV in the Moche ceramic sequence. In the process, I discuss burial practices, the concept of dualism in Moche culture, and the significance of mold technology (with implications for Moche funerary practice). While my research relies heavily on external observation of effigy vessels, I integrate my knowledge and experience as a ceramicist to provide insight on production processes.

Author Biography

Shannon Marie Trono, University of Florida

School of Art and Art History / Senior


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