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Inca Pottery


Many cultures long before the Incas exist did develop marvelous pottery skills. The Inca pottery that we know today is the result of the knowledge recollection the Incas practice during their rule. It is proper to say; the Inca culture, copy or take as its own, several methods to create ceramics. Generations after, such methods became the Inca Technology we know today.

The most common pottery shape was a long-necked pitcher and conical base, which use to be call macka o puy'un. Today the name of this style of ceramics is Aryballos, name that came from the Greeks that create similar pottery in the 9th century. The Greeks and the Incas have pottery with similar shape, because they found a common solution for identical problem.
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    • inca ceramic
      The Incas occasionally sacrifice their enemies in religious ceremonies.
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    • common inca pottery
      The Aryballos were the most popular shape of pottery of the Inca Empire.
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    • simple inca pottery
      This is a good example of simple pottery for massive production.

The Inca pottery artisans and Greek problem was: how to empty large ceramic liquid containers without broken it? The solution was to create this large shape container, with a conical base. To understand why, first you need to know the Aryballos were transport by people, tie to their backs. When the person with the Aryballo arrives to the destiny, he places the Aryballo inside a hole in the ground. Ones the Aryballo is stable, they pour the content into smaller containers.

The Inca pottery was simple and useful. They produce two kinds of ceramics, the ceremony style and the massive production ceramics. They were in limited shapes, with a simple geometric decoration, stylized images of animals and day by day actions.

The pottery was polychrome, precook and the surface was polish. The Incas didn't know the potters wheel technique, instead they use molds with the designs and shapes they want. To polish the surface of the ceramic they use sand, follow by paint decoration with brown, orange, cream, white, yellow and red colors.

The Inca pottery design for religious ceremonies was send to all Inca Temples on the kingdom. The Inca artisans make them with an inlay of gold and gemstones. The Inca artisans also made special Aryballos, with the only purpose to be place in tombs of important authorities or great Inca warriors. All pottery you have seen in museums came from burial places; it is why the pottery has great beauty.

The simple Inca pottery use in daily basis was the most common one. The Incas master the massive production and distribution, because they make pottery in many different provinces of the Inca Empire. The Inca artisans live in communities were they make hundreds of Aryballos, pots for cooking, jars and plates of all kinds and sizes everyday. They work depending of the needs of the Inca government. Ones the ceramics were ready; the Inca authorities count it and ship it to the entire country.

The use of the pottery as a way to express renegade feelings from conquered tribes against the Incas was a common practice. Each conquered tribe made their own pottery and keep it hide from the Inca Government. They also use pottery to express personal feelings, sexual wishes, histories and adventures. This unauthorized Inca pottery art was keeping the internal identity of the conquered tribes alive.
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    • sexual inca pottery
      The Inca artisans create sexual pottery for their own entertainment; they were not use in ceremonies.
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    • unofficial inca pottery
      This an example of Mochica culture pottery, made during the Incas rule.
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    • pre inca pottery
      At first sight you may think this pottery is Inca, but it is not; it's easy to get confuse.

The Peruvian pottery history is complex; you may easily get confuse by different types of pottery. Peru has many pre Inca cultures that master pottery much better than the Incas. To recognize witch one is real Inca pottery, you must see common Inca symbols draw on the surface. For example, 4000 years before the Incas, the Cupisnique culture masters the pottery making like no other culture before or after them. They made the most beautiful pottery of all.

If you will keep seeking for more information about Inca pottery, keep in mind, the Incas create simple pottery. They simplify the pottery styles from all the cultures that they conquer before, but applying their own Inca Symbols. The real Incas pottery designs have no shape of animals, faces or other images. They make simple Aryballos, pots for cooking, jars and plates; it was a simple pottery for a massive kingdom.

If you find pottery that is call Inca pottery and it not mach with what I have explained you, is not Inca. I can almost guarantee you that it belongs to a pre Inca culture. The pre Inca cultures are another complex subject because in the Peruvian history, before the Incas, you can find 14 great civilizations. And at list 23 other small societies, which create their own cultures. All of them disappear conquered by stronger cultures and so on until the Inca empire arrive and conquer them all.
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