Where are the peanuts?

Another splendid Moche tomb has come to light: the finery buried with the Lord of Ucupe is said to be even more impressive than that of the Lord of Sipan. According to the archaeologists, “it’s unheard of to find so many precious funerary ornaments in a single Moche tomb.” Alas, no sign of the wonderful gold and silver necklace and earrings in the shape of peanuts (groundnuts) which graced the mummy of the Lord of Sipan.

I talked about this with our resident peanut expert David Williams and he said he expected that the excavators will have “found some jars full of actual peanuts as part of the all the stuff included in the burial; it’s very common in Moche tombs.” There is a theory, he explained, that peanuts were associated with death, the journey to the afterworld and reincarnation.

When planted, the peanut grows and flowers above ground like any other plant, but then it buries its fruit underground, where it germinates, returning back into the “world of the living”, growing and flowering and burying its fruit, and so on and on, for generations (or incarnations). Plus, the peanut shell is like a little coffin. Peanuts, because of their high protein and caloric value, as well as their lightweight, durable “packaging”, make great travel food, particularly for the long journey to the afterlife.

2 Replies to “Where are the peanuts?”

  1. The peanut was significant to the Moche and did relate to the after life of warrior-priests. The peanut represented the two seeds within a container together or untied as one. This was a metaphor used to describe Venus and its two appearances in the east and west. The gold peanuts represented the rising sun and therefor the eastern arising of Venus. The silver peanuts represented the west and nighttime via the silver color of the moon and the stars — thus the western arising of Venus. Further, the “U” shape of the necklace itself represented the “turning” of Venus beneath the Earth. Venus was considered the warrior’s star as it, the star, was a companion of the sun.

    1. What about the number 10 for the peanut strands? Have you noticed that the peanut necklaces always have strands of 10 peanuts? I have a strand of 10 (probably copper) Moche peanuts in my little Moche collection. I wonder what significance they are if they are copper?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *