This sculpture, originating from the Chancay Valley and adjacent Chillón Drainage region (Late Intermediate Period), captures the llama's natural inquisitiveness. The Walters Art Museum.

This sculpture, originating from the Chancay Valley and adjacent Chillón Drainage region (Late Intermediate Period), captures the llama’s natural inquisitiveness. The Walters Art Museum.

WIKIPEDIA

Pre-Incan Cultures

The Moche people frequently placed llamas and llama parts in the burials of important people, as offerings or provisions for the afterlife. The Moche culture of pre-Columbian Peru depicted llamas quite realistically in their ceramics.

Inca Empire

In the Inca empire, llamas were the only beasts of burden, and many of the people dominated by the Inca had long traditions of llama herding. For the Inca nobility, the llama was of symbolic significance, and llama figures were often buried with the dead. In South America, llamas are still used as beasts of burden, as well as for the production of fiber and meat.

The Inca deity Urcuchillay was depicted in the form of a multicolored llama.

Scholar Alex Chepstow-Lusty has argued that the switch from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to widespread agriculture was only possible because of the use of llama dung as fertilizer.

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The Llama Is In

The New York Times

People who keep llamas as pets will readily offer you any number of reasons: llamas are quiet, they’re gentle and affectionate, they don’t take a lot of work to maintain and, for outdoor animals, they don’t smell bad.

But it’s more than that. Look at a llama and it’ll gaze back sympathetically with those huge, beguiling eyes, ears perked up, looking for all the world like it understands you and really cares about your problems.

Most people start with two or three, since llamas are sociable

and don’t like to live alone. But as Katrina Capasso, a llama owner in Ballston Spa, N.Y., discovered, “They’re like potato chips.” It’s hard to stop at just a few. Ms. Capasso, 49, received her first llama as a wedding gift from her husband, Gary, in 1990. Now she has 55.

That irresistible quality may explain their popularity as pets. A few decades ago, they were almost unheard-of in this country. Today there are about 115,000 in the United States,

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