Homosexuality in pre-Columbian Peru

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Erotic ceramics of Larco Museum in Lima

Some evidence for


Pre-Columbian Era


Ancient Peru
. Gender studies carried out for this period are scarce, and very little is known about pre-Columbian homosexual practices.

Moche culture

In the

Spanish conquistadors, many of these "huacos" were destroyed for being considered immoral, a practice that continued until the 20th century, this time by researchers and archaeologists, in an attempt to censorship and maintain an idealized vision of ancient Peruvian.[citation needed

Inca Empire

According to the chronicler Pedro Cieza de León in Crónica del Perú, unlike the rest of the Inca Empire, the practice of homosexuality was tolerated in the north (Chinchaysuyo) and even considered an act of worship, with a male brothel existing that attended to the needs of the troop. These sexual servants were known as pampayruna.

Each temple or main shrine has a man, two or more depending on the idol, who are dressed as women, and with these, almost by way of sanctity and religion, the lords and principals have their carnal council.

— Crónica del Perú.

Likewise, the Incas had special consideration for

Capac Yupanqui used to have a very special affection for these women.[3]

However, in the center and south of the empire the Incas severely punished homosexuality.

General History of Peru that the Inca Lloque Yupanqui punished "with great severity public sins - stealing, killing – and sodomy, for which he restrained, plucked his ears, pulled his nose and hanged him, and he cut the necks of the nobles and principals or tore their shirts.”[5]


For his part, Cieza de León commented in his Chronicle of Peru that the Incas punished those who practiced homosexuality: "they hated those who used it, considering them as vile timid people and that if it was known to anyone that such a sin had committed, they punished him with such a penalty that it would be pointed out and known among everyone."[5]

Aymara people

In the case of the

Aymaras, who reside southwest of the Peruvian mountains, there are different opinions. According to the superstitions of certain sub-ethnic groups, they are also said to be an omen of bad luck. Although some communities have a certain degree of acceptance, respect and understanding of these people for their sexual orientation. In others, homosexuals were frequently considered special, magical beings, endowed with supernatural powers, recognized for their powers to be shamans.[7]

Arrival of the Spanish and banning of homosexuality

Once the Spanish arrived, in the 16th century, they were astonished at the sexual practices of the natives. Viceroy Francisco de Toledo and the priests were aghast to discover that homosexuality was accepted and that the indigenous population also did not prohibit premarital sex or hold female chastity to be of any particular importance.[8][unreliable source?]

Historian Maximo Terrazos describes how the Spanish reconciled this native sexuality with the

Catholic faith:[8]

Toledo ordered natives evangelized and those "caught cohabiting outside church-sanctioned

segregation of the sexes in public. Violations were punishable by 100 lashes and two years' service in pestilential state hospitals. Under the Inquisition
, brought to Peru in 1569, homosexuals could be burned at the stake."

— Maximo Terrazos, historian

However, homosexuality in Peru was decriminalised in 1837.[9]


Chimú culture (1000–1400) depicting 2 men engaging in anal sex

Over a span of 800 years, pre-Columbian central

gay male anal intercourse, one depicts lesbian penetration with the clitoris.[10] Many others show partners where at least one member is of indeterminate sex, like the oral sex ceramic shown above, where the genitalia of the person on their knees is not visible. Such works, due perhaps to heterosexist bias, have often been interpreted as depicting a heterosexual couple.[10]


Many of the ceramics, along with most indigenous icons, were smashed. In the 1570s, Toledo and his clerical advisers organized to eliminate

procreation and that women do not experience sexual pleasure."[8]


In spite of this organized effort to destroy these artifacts, many have survived to the present day. For decades, the erotic ceramics were locked away from the public, accessible only to an elite group of Peruvian social scientists. Occasionally and reluctantly they were made available to select foreign researchers from the United States and Europe. The Larco Museum in Lima, Peru is well known for its gallery of pre-Columbian erotic pottery.

See also


  1. ^ Candela Alva, Juan José (5 March 2010). "Los huacos eróticos en la cultura Mochica | Peruanos en el exterior". rpp.com.pe. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Los huacos eróticos de la cultura Mochica". Lamula.pe (in Spanish). 9 August 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  3. ^ Villalobos, José Luis (5 January 2014). "La homosexualidad en las culturas precolombinas". Cáscara amarga. Archived from the original on 19 April 2018. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  4. . Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  5. ^ a b González Arenas, Mauricio; Gamboa, César (28 August 2014). Actitudes homofóbicas entre los indígenas del Nuevo Mundo: los casos azteca, inca y mapuche en fuentes de los siglos XVI y XVII. Centro de Estudios Históricos, Universidad Bernardo O’Higgins. p. 368.
  6. ^ "Liesder Mayea Rodríguez: Un análisis de la representación y falta de representación del sujeto subalterno femenino u 'otro' en los Comentarios reales del Inca Garcilaso de la Vega- nº 46 Espéculo (UCM)". pendientedemigracion.ucm.es. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  7. ^ Crompton, Louis (2003). Homosexuality and Civilisation (en inglés). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-02233-5.
  8. ^ . Retrieved 1 December 2009.
  9. ^ "Where is it illegal to be gay?". BBC News. 10 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  10. ^ . Retrieved 1 December 2009.