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In the Inca empire llamas were the only beasts of burden, and many of the peoples dominated by the Inca had long traditions of llama herding. For the Inca nobility the llama were 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.
One of the main uses for llamas at the time of the Spanish conquest was to bring down ore from the mines in the mountains.[Gregory de Bolivar estimated that in his day, as many as three hundred thousand were employed in the transport of produce from the Potosí mines alone, but since the introduction of horses, mules, and donkeys, the importance of the llama as a beast of burden has greatly diminished.
Llamas have a fine undercoat which can be used for handicrafts and garments. The coarser outer guard hair is used for rugs, wall-hangings and lead ropes. The fiber comes in many different colors ranging from white, grey, reddish brown, brown, dark brown and black.
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