The Lima Museum of Art, or MALI, has inaugurated an exhibition that delves deeply into "the mythological and archaeological narrative" that framed the Mochica culture, a pre-Columbian society that lived between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D., and was one of the most developed and complex in Peru.

The director of "Moche and Its Neighbors: Reconstructing Identities," Cecilia Pardo, told EFE that the show seeks to offer "an archaeological study of the mythological images that defined that culture."

One element is the hero Ai Apaec (the powerful, the achiever), a man with catlike attributes who goes to sea to fight against frightening creatures, then moves upon the mountains," Pardo said.

The expo is made up of 80 ceramic, metal and fabric items associated with Mochica art and on loan from Peru's Larco Museum, the National Museum of Archaeology, and from archaeological remains on the north coast, such as San Jose de Moro and the Huacas of Moche.

One of the two galleries is dedicated to Ai Apaec, and Pardo notes his importance because, "for the first time, we can confirm that these seemingly semi-divine characters are in fact real."

About the Moche hero, Pardo spoke of his relations with "people at the limits of the world, limits that this complex civilization determined to be at sea and on the mountains, and were "fundamental to their concept" of the universe.

Ai Apaec traded in various goods including coca leaf, which he obtained from eastern communities like La Libertad and Cajamarca.

The second gallery exhibits the construction of the "collective identity of the Moches, the process of consolidating the Mochica state, and its relations with neighboring populations and the lands along the coast, in the south and on the mountains," Pardo said.

The exhibition, open until Aug. 14, is part of the MALI initiative to organize a different pre-Columbian art exhibition every year; in 2017 it will be dedicated to the Nazca culture, the director said.