Paris.- Fly over the citadel of Macchu Picchu in the company of its founder, the emperor Pachacutecor admire pre-Columbian jewelry that never left Peru: a spectacular exhibition on the Inca world and its predecessors opens this weekend in Paris.
“Machu Picchu and the treasures of Peru” is a joint project of World Heritagea promoter of cultural events that achieved great success in Paris with a retrospective dedicated to the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, and the Larco Museum in Lima, which has lent nearly 200 objects of all kinds.
Copper death masks, gold ornaments, huge black porphyry earrings, turquoise necklaces… the retrospective celebrates “the successes of the civilizations of ancient Peru over 3,000 years,” Carole Fraresso, curator of the exhibition and associate researcher at the Larco Museum.
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For the spectacular flight “through the eye of the condor” of Machu Picchu, the culmination of the visit, the organizers took advantage of the exceptional closure, for eight months, of the site, in the midst of the COVID-19.
They filmed the location with a drone, and the footage made for an immersive, virtual experience that is dizzying.
The visitor flies over the place, where the buildings are meticulously reproduced and the crops, the daily life of its inhabitants, the rituals in the splendor of the Incas are simulated.
The world on three levels
However, “the Incas represent 80, 90 years of the history of Peru” that extends over millennia, Fraresso recalls.
Machu Picchu represents the heyday of the empire. But before, for centuries, the Chavin, Nazca, Mochica, Huari, Chimú civilizations flourished…
The exhibition is an introduction to these cultures, with an exceptional sample of their objects, also reproduced in 3D, to unravel their symbology.
The objective is to explain “how the societies of the ancient Peru thought the world”, added the expert.
“The world on three levels: the upper plane, of the heavenly bodies, the lower plane, where the ancestors and the dead meet. And in the middle, men,” he said.
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“Men are going to create rituals, activities to be in permanent connection with these different worlds,” he explained.
One of the protagonists of this incessant journey between the earthly world and the afterlife is Ai Apaechero of the mochica culture (100-800 after JC).
Invested with superhuman virtues, Ai Apaec is able to rescue the Sun from the bottom of the ocean and offer it back to humans, through crops.
The exhibition shows examples of such worship, the most perfected cult objects.
“They are agricultural societies, which essentially depend on the cycles of each season,” recalls Fraresso.
The priests observe natural phenomena, the stars, often with a rigor unknown in Europe at the same time.
In addition to libations, with hallucinogenic substances, sometimes you have to appease the gods with sacrifices, of llamas, of children, of virgins who are buried alive.
The daggers of gold or silver, the cups to drink the chicha, richly carved, follow one another throughout the exhibition.
All these civilizations culminate in the Inca empire, made up of “incredible managers and soldiers who guarantee the expansion and administration of a vast territory of more than 900,000 km2,” says Fraresso.
Machu Picchu is built around 1450. Just before the arrival of the conquerors, who put an end to one of the greatest civilizations of humanity.
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