Cultures & Traditions

Sicán (Lambayeque)

The Sicán (or Lambayeque) culture flourished on the north coast of Peru from about 700 to 1370 CE. The name Sicán was coined in the 1980s based on the local Muchik language term Sian, meaning "house" or "temple" (-An ) "of the moon" (Si-), recorded by Spanish chroniclers present in this region during the 16th century. The term Sicán refers to the culture that flourished around the regional site of Batán Grande, a political and religious center established around 900 CE. The term Lambayeque applies to this regional north coast culture, given its presumed connection to a local oral myth about a dynastic founder named Naymlap and his green-stone idol called "LLampallec." The Sicán (Lambayeque) culture is best known for its extraordinary metalwork produced during the Middle Sicán period, 900-1100 CE. Excavations at the sites of Chotuna and Chornancap in the Lambayeque Valley have revealed monumental architecture and elite tombs associated with this culture. Research and excavations around Batán Grande in the nearby La Leche River tributary have recovered centers of metallurgy production, monumental architecture, and elaborate royal tombs.

Adapted from

  • Carol Robbins, Gallery text, A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2006.

  • Ken Kelsey, Gail Davitt, Mary Ann Allday, Barbara Barrett, and Dana DeLoach, DMA Teaching Packet, 1995.

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