Gods

(1) Water bottle showing human head, PM 08-33-30/73819
(2) Stirrup-spout bottle depicting the Decapitator God, PM 09-3-30/75626
(3) Spherical stirrup-spout bottle depicting an owl, PM 46-77-30/5031
(4) Stirrup spot depicting feline, PM 46-77-30/5086
(5) Stirrup-spout bottle in the form of a feline-headed snake, PM 46-77-30/5065
(6) Water bottle showing feline-headed snake, PM 09-3-30/75626.10
(7) Stirrup spout bottle in form of puma with captive warrior, PM 16-62-30/F727
(8) Water bottle; fanged anthropomorphic figure battling a sea monster, PM 08-33-30/73818
(9) Red and white stirrup pot, fanged anthropomorphic figure battling a sea monster, PM 46-77-30/4977
(10) Shell shaped pot with fanged anthropomorphic figure holding snake-like animal, PM 46-77-30/5004

Moche art seems most approachable, and most enigmatic at the same time, when it depicts deities. Fangs on humanlike visages (1) identify supernaturals, such as the Decapitator God (2). Other deities are known only by inference such as the Owl (3), associated with warfare. Fierce felines (4) were symbolically powerful as was a feline-headed snake (5, 6). A feline attacking a bound human captive (7) may depict an actual rite, or it may symbolically represent the relationship of victorious warriors to their prisoners.

A repeated scene is of a fanged anthropomorphic figure battling a sea monster (8). A similar scene with a ray is rendered on another vessel in fine-line painting (9). The figure appears again, crawling out of a shell (10). All of these images may be related to a single narrative, with variations in costume depending on where and when a version was made or on the influence of artists or patrons.