Chimú Culture

The Kingdom of Chimor and the Chimú culture emerged between 850 CE and 900 CE; developing out of the Moche civilization.  It was a coastal culture extending from present day Tumbes in the north to the Ica region south of Lima; a span of 1440 kms.  It´s capital was Chan Chan located near present day Trujillo in central Peru.




Chan Chan is Doug’s favorite archeological site in Perú.  As he sat along side the courtyard, he felt he could here the old ones speaking to him.




The city, at it´s height was home to more than 100,000 people.


Within the city walls there were ten ciudadelas, or palatial fortresses with U-shaped courts and temple mounds (huacas).  There were residences for the royal class and separate ones for the non-gentry, artisans, and laborers.  Storage rooms could be found around the perimeter.


The population worshiped the moon.  This celestial body was deemed more powerful than the sun as it appeared both day and night.

The majority of the population belonged to the artisan class.  The Chimú were known primarily for their black ceramics and work in precious metals.  images-1.jpeg

The ceramics were often in the shape of an animal or had a human figure on top of a bottle.  The ceramics had two functions:  use in daily life and for ceremonial use.  Pottery was often buried with the dead to provide for their needs as they moved into the next world.

tumiMetal work was often very detailed and intricate.  Masks and jewelry were made from copper, gold silver, bronze or tumbaga (mix of copper and gold).


The shell of the Spondylus shellfish was prized in offerings and incorporated by artisans into their work.  It was associated with the sea, rainfall and fertility.  Many of the local artisans and jewelry makers today use the shell.  The shell was also used as currency in trading.



Fisherman used reed fishing canoes.  Textiles were woven from the native cotton, llama, vicuña, and guanaco.  Farmers developed an extensive irrigation system and grew beans, sweet potatoes, papaya and cotton.








Wikipedia, Chimú Culture.ú_culture

Klarén, Peter.  Nación  y Sociedad en la Historia de Perú.  IEP Instituto de Estudios     Peruanos, Peru, 2011.

Images from the web.



  1. One of my trays in the kitchen has the same picture of the fisherman in reed canoes etched into the leather. I didn’t know that it was from the Chumi period. Thanks!

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