July 25, 2004
The llama, alpaca, guanaco and vicuña are native to Peru. They are members of the camelid family. However, the llama and alpaca live as domesticated animals, while guanaco and vicuña live in the wild. The wools from these camelids are still used today to make traditional Peruvian clothing, with particular variations:
- Llama has a coarse outer coat, usually made into rugs, wall hangings and lead ropes, while the soft undercoat is hand-woven into everyday garments.
- Alpaca has finer and denser fleece that is prized for its lightweight, durable, thermal, and hypo-allergenic fiber. Huacaya alpacas produce soft, sheep-like fiber and the Suri produces longer and silkier fibers.
- Guanaco have two coats with a thick, course overcoat and a soft, downy undercoat.
- Vicuña is the national symbol of Peru, featured on both the coat of arms and the national flag. It produces the rarest, softest and finest fiber in the world and was once only worn by royalty.