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The Guinea Pig in Andean Folk Culture

Daniel W. Gade
Geographical Review
Vol. 57, No. 2 (Apr., 1967), pp. 213-224
DOI: 10.2307/213160
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/213160
Page Count: 12
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The Guinea Pig in Andean Folk Culture
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Abstract

The cultural geography of the guinea pig in its native realm of western South America is pieced together from field observations, from a study of historical documents, and by speculative reconstruction. A hypothesis of domestication by a scavenger association with man is proposed, and evidence is presented for the guinea pig as a ubiquitous domesticate in pre-Columbian times in the Central Andes. Although its distributional range in South America as an item of folk culture has considerably decreased since the Spanish Conquest, the guinea pig still maintains a specific niche in traditional highland Indian society, where it is kept more for ritualistic purposes than as an important source of food.

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