Llamas and the lordly commitment: an offering context and Recuay camelid imagery at Pashash (ca. 200-600 CE), Ancash, Peru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay studies an ancient outlook and system of social relations in which animals were seen not solely as food, but also as beings that intervened mutually in overall social life. For studying how an Andean culture developed when camelids became increasingly incorporated into social and political life, there is perhaps no better case than the Recuay culture of ancient Peru. Recent investigations at the site of Pashash (Ancash) uncovered an offering cache including fired clay camelid objects, in the form of pendants, an effigy vessel, and small figurines. The items and the context provide important evidence for new engagements, physical and conceptual, with camelids during the Recuay period (ca. 200-600 CE). In particular, they are among the earliest expressions of lordly “commitment” to camelids as wealth, and their depiction on portable valuables draws from their public ceremonial use in feasts and sacrificial offerings. The camelid items indicate that herded camelids became resources for noble identity and authority in northern Peru, and were increasingly seen as crucial for community well-being and social reproduction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • andes
  • Recuay
  • figurines
  • Ancash
  • Peru
  • pastoralism
  • social complexity
  • pre-columbian art

Cite this