"All of this brings me closer to a world that no longer exists, full of glory and riches, and it is our responsibility to rescue them, since we are Moche descendants."
The San Jose de Moro Association is formed by ceramists who specialize in replicating ancestral vases and vessels using age-old techniques. They are authorized by Peru's National Cultural Institute (INC in Spanish) to replicate these pieces.
Born in the Department of Libertad, Julio Ibarrola Quiroz founded the Association out of a dream to preserve this ceramic tradition. He is the chief supervisor and spokesperson.
"My parents worked in agriculture, and in 1991 I started working at the archeological project in San Jose de Moro as a technician digging the most important tombs at the site. I've been in charge of guarding the site since 1995.
"In 1998 I had the good fortune of meeting the great artist Freddy Galvez Cabanillas, and he taught me how to work with local clays to replicate the ceramic pieces I saw at the tombs I was working along archeologists. However it was destiny that took me to learn the actual ceramic techniques of the Moche people, for alongside the tombs we found information about their ceramic production.
"Thanks to the help of the project manager, Dr. Luis Jaime Castillo, we set on a voyage to recuperate the ceramic techniques that the Moche people used to craft the finest form of ceramic that to this day has been registered in Peru, the style known as Moche Fine Line.
"Since then I've been crafting Moche Fine Line ceramics inspired by my passion for archeology, knowing that the people whose remains I've encountered in the tombs where my ancestors. Nevertheless, iconography became my true passion, because of its complexity and how it narrates the stories of Moche deities, their governors, priests and priestesses.
"They would, in one single piece, depict a parade of dancers, a funeral procession, a funeral and the rites that accompanied them. All of this brings me closer to a world that no longer exists, full of glory and riches, and it is our responsibility to rescue them, since we are Moche descendants.
"One of my fondest memories is when I fired my first 20 pieces. You should now that given their complexity, it had taken me about three days to finish each one. After six hours in the kiln, I wasn't quite sure how it worked, I realized all the decorations had melted!
"My hobbies are painting and soccer, activities that help me relax and forget for a while of the problems I might be dealing with.
"I describe my art as complex. It requires my full attention and time. I believe the most important aspect of my work is the fact that I am contributing to the preservation of traditional ceramic techniques by teaching them to the younger artisans in my village.
"I find it very motivating to see the fruits of my labor. Every day there are more and more people from different backgrounds approaching my workshop wishing to learn these traditional ceramic techniques. Besides, it is a way of for me to provide for my family and be able to offer them better things. I've been featured in national magazines, and tourists visit my workshop.
"I am proud of what I have achieved, and I feel encouraged to carry on. It is my life. My art has identity.
"I want to transmit through my art a tradition that is hundreds of years old. I would like for people to get to know the Moche, especially the Moche that lived in San Jose de Moro: those that once lived in these lands, and those that continue to do so.
"The San Jose de Moro Association is sponsored in part by the San Jose de Moro Archeological Project, Pontificia Universidad Católica of Peru, and by the Sustainable Preservation Initiative, which helps us with resources and exhibiting our work around the world as well as in Peru.
"The greatest challenge I've encountered is being able to be dedicated to this full time. I practically live in the workshop! It's located at the archeological site, which allows me to look after it and protect it from would be robbers. This has caused some conflict with neighbors, who would like to conserve and preserve the site, although gradually they are becoming more accepting as the ceramic school continues to grow.
"I would like to tell Novica customers that you won't regret purchasing one of these pieces. This type of ceramic represents years of tradition and at the same time the future of my people, because with your purchase of these products you’re contributing to the preservation of this art. Besides, being this an exact replica, you avoid the illegal trafficking of the original pieces."
There are six artisans working under Julio's tutelage, and each artisan signs their own work.