Vessels, erotic “huacos” (ancient ceramics) and pre-Columbian artifacts are exhibited at the Larco Museum (Museo Larco) in Lima on Sept. 21, 2010. The Larco Museum, which owns the largest collection of pre-Columbian erotic pottery, reopened today renewed, displaying 3,000 years of development of pre-Inca cultures. (ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP)

LIMA — A Peruvian cancer prevention group has begun using erotic ceramics sculpted over a thousand years ago to teach men how to self-test for early signs of prostate and testicular cancer.

In an event on Friday at Lima’s Museo Larco, famous for its collection of pre-Columbian art, men were encouraged to touch the genitals of the clay sculpture replicas to learn how to perform a cancer self-test on their testicles and penis.

The sculptures created by the Moche culture that thrived in northern Peru 100 to 800 years after Christ are known as erotic “huacos,” a pre-Columbian term for handicrafts.

The exhibition, called “Touch the Genitals of the Mochicas,” was promoted by the private organization League against Cancer.

“Timely detection of cancer of the external genitalia in men, both of the penis and testicles, is very low,” said nurse Giselle Grillo from the League Against Cancer. “Many do not how to explore their genitals, what palpation is. With this, we give an early diagnosis.”

According to the organization, some 10,000 cases of prostate, penis, and testicular cancer were diagnosed in Peru in 2021. Of that, 45% were in advanced stages with little chance of being cured.

“The aim is to bring closer the knowledge of our ancestors about the human body, expressed through these ceramic vessels that we call the Erotic Huacos,” said Larco Museum Director Ulla Holmquist.

In the museum, the hundreds of huacos, some with large male genitalia and others in varying sexual positions, were displayed in showcases while visitors timidly touched them.


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