Of the domestic sheep and cattle found in the southern lands of the Mainland, in the governorate of New Castile, where Atabaliba was king.
Translated by Kristine (Kasey) Drake ’23
In New Castile and the governorate of the marquess don Francisco Pizarro, where the very rich Atabaliba was lord and king, the Indians have three types of sheep: small ones like Guinea goats [vicuñas], others a bit larger [alpacas], and others larger than all. The largest [llamas] are the size of small donkeys; they have lean legs and a long neck very similar to camels, except they do not have a hump like a camel, but in feet and hands and everything else they are much like camels; they graze like sheep and are such that the Indians avail themselves of them to carry whatever they wish, as long as the burden is adequate to their size. These sheep are already known in Spain, because the same Marquess took them to Castile, where they are already notorious; in this city there are some that were brought from that land. In the lowlands they call this animal col, and in the mountains they call it llama, and the male or ram is called urco and the young are called uña; they are pretty animals to look at and very tame and domesticated. The medium-sized ones of the three kinds I mentioned are the ones that have very fine wool, almost like silk, and the Indians use it to weave very fine cloth. The Adelantado Diego de Almagro gave me one of the larger ones as a gift in the city of Panama, and I loaded it onto a caravel at Nombre de Dios; and as we sailed it died in this gulf and we ate it, and it seems to me to be one of the best meats in the world. I have not seen the other two kinds of sheep of that land (Lam. 5a. Fig. 6a).
Some residents of Santo Domingo who have been to that land say that the other two have very good meat as well. They are the same color as the sheep in Spain, white and black, or a mix of both colors, and the wool is straight and not like that of merino sheep, and for the most part the large ones have short, even hair, although they have longer wool on their loins. The medium ones are auburn and white, these two colors mixed together or each by itself; of the small ones, which are wilder, one can see wild herds of five hundred or a thousand of them together, very fine and black. The larger ones I mentioned are also found on the Plata river, from its mouth inland, as will be told later in book XXIII, chapter VII.