While the guinea pig is a very famous and traditional animal in the Andes of Peru for the delicious flavor of its meat and the great variety of typical dishes that can be prepared, there is another rodent that has even more history than the guinea pig. We are talking about the Andean vizcacha (scientifically: Lagidium viscacia) that has a great resemblance to rabbits.
Unlike the guinea pig that is a domesticated animal, the vizcacha lives wildly in the Andes of Peru. Since ancient times, the Incas knew the vizcacha. Several chroniclers, such as Garcilaso de la Vega in his book The Royal Comments of the Incas, speak of the uses assigned to this rodent. Fine clothes were made with the fur of this animal; only royalty could wear them. “In the time of the Inca Kings and many years later, such that even I lived them, they took advantage of the vizcacha’s pelt and spun it in order to vary the fine clothes they wove in colors. The color of it is light brown, an ash color, and it is soft. It was a very esteemed thing among the Indians: it was only made for the clothes of the nobles ”.
There is in the city of Cusco a painting called “The Last Supper” that was painted by Marco Zapata, one of the great painters of the Cusco school. In this oil painting you can see symbols on the table belonging to Andean culture such as chicha morada, papaya and what most attracts attention is guinea pig as everyone knows it.
But if we analyze carefull with the story and the painting itself, what would be in the center of the table would be the vizcacha because of its importance. Currently, in some high Andean villages, the vizcacha is still eaten and is represented as the guardian of the lakes and mountains.
This little rodent represents a whole story within the culture of the Andes. With the latest events of forest fires in the Andes of Peru, much of the flora and fauna are being exterminated. Just as vizcachas live free in Machupicchu, let’s take care of them everywhere and say no to forest fires in order to conserve the flora and fauna that we are so proud to have