llamas in cusco

Immense herds of these “large cattle” (llamas and guanacos) as they were called, and of the “smaller cattle” or alpacas (and vicuñas), were held by the government (in Inca times) and placed under the direction of shepherds, who conducted them from one quarter of the country to another, according to the changes of the season.

History of the Conquest of Peru, William H. Prescott

An Ancient Companion:
Archaeologists have found evidence around the Chavin area (in the northern Peruvian highlands) that camelids such as llama and alpaca were domesticated for thousands of years (circa 1000 BC).

Inca Garcilaso de la Vega claims that when the Spanish conquered Inca´s land, there were so many herds of sheep that they had nowhere to graze their cattle:  “Decían los indios que cuando los españoles entraron en aquella tierra, ya no tenían donde apacentar sus ganados”.

Moreover, Garci Diez de San Miguel found in his visits around indigenous communities that a peasant could have up to a thousand heads of camelids, while a chieftain could boast up to 50 thousand.

In Inca times, a llama (Lama glama) was chiefly employed as a pack animal carrying clothing and coca leaves. It was also sacrificed as an offering for gods.
Llama´s flesh was cut into thin slices, sun-dried and dehydrated; thus, converted it into “charqui”, the jerked beef of the country. One popular dish is “olluquito con charqui”.
The alpaca (Lama pacos) was domesticated for its fine wool used preferentially for clothing.
"Huancaro Fair"
Alpaca Suri.
The vicuña (Lama vicugna), found only in the wild like the guanaco (Lama guanicoe), was caught in the chaku or hunting and sheared for its wool, the finest in the world.

Related Posts:

Guinea pig

Potatoes and much more

Condors and llamas