Silver had a great symbolic value linked to the feminine elements of nature and complemented that of gold, related to the masculine side, as also represented by the Moon and the Sun. The abundance of this mineral allowed to develop extremely sophisticated lamination, embossing, hammering, chiseling and alloying techniques that helped craftsmen reach high levels of artistic creation.
The ceremonial offerings among ancient Peruvians included indispensable liquid ingredients such as chicha corn beer, water, and animal or human blood. Ceremonial vessels are abundant in all Andean societies. Whether in vessels, bottles, cups, bowls or pitchers, made in baked earth, wood or precious metals. Each culture imprinted on them their own unique aesthetic seal.
The spiral is a universal symbol related to the cycles of natural life and, therefore, the articulating axis of worldviews and their artistic expressions. The ancient Peruvians recorded the cycles of nature, which allowed them to perceive the permanent and constant return to conditions that, although not identical, are very similar to previous ones.
In the Andean worldview, shiny white silver was linked to the Moon goddess and, therefore, to the nocturnal feminine and unfathomable world. This metal was also associated to the sea and its depths, an interior, humid and fertile world. Both connotations – the Moon and the sea – appear in these silver earrings with circular motifs of points and waves, symbols of the cyclical nature of life and its return to the mythical origin, the sea. Earpieces had a symbolic value as they enlarged the ears of the great lords reflecting the esthetic patterns of power.
Nose rings were an important part of the attire worn by leaders and priests to display their higher status and enable their transformation into supernatural or ancestral beings. The iconography of these nose rings, their designs of spirals and the symbolic associations of silver refer us to the inner and subterranean world of recurring cycles and the renewal of life. Nose rings were an abstract representation of felines’ whiskers, who were animals closely related to power, and expressed a synthesis of ideologies and artistic creation.