The name of the animal in Quecha is allpaka, paqo or paqocha, forms that also appears in the other living language Aymara. Paqo is also used for one particular color of alpaca, a dark coffee- color with a reddish hue, which is considered the original color of all alpacas and even the other camelids.
Alpacas are about 80-100 cm (2 ft - 3 ft) tall. Their heads are small and rounded, with diminutive ears, large eyes and a sweet expression. The back is slighly curved and the tail hangs down close to the hindquarters.They have a gently rounded profile with a wide body - more noticeable when viewed from behind- and short legs. Live weight is between 75 and 85 kg (165- 187 lb).
There are two varieties of alpaca: Huacaya and Suri.
Huacaya are almost 90% of present-day herds. They are strong, robust animals whose medium- length fleece has a fluffy appearance. They are resistant to cold and diseases.
Suri are slim and delicate, with long shaggy hair often reaching nearly to the ground. When they're young they are weak and at birth are affected by the low temperatures and by changes of climate and food.
Alpaca fibre comes in more than 22 natural colours. These colours are classified into nine pure colours: white, light camel, camel, light brown, brown, grey, brown/black and black with many other subtle shades and hues.
Compared to other animal fibres, alpaca fibre has a low grease content ( 2,8 - 3,9%), which means that much less energy and chemicals are required to treat the water used for its washing process.
Alpaca fibre is an excellent insulator for both heat and cold. Due to this attribute, home products made of alpaca fibre like carpets, blankets, quilts and curtains are very well-known within the category of home products.
Alpacas have history
“Alpaca” is a Spanish word derived from the Aymara name “Allpacu”, or the Quechuan names “Pacos” or “Pacoshas”. Paintings made on rocks more than 8000 years ago were a reference to the interaction between the ancient Peruvians and the alpacas.
The use of alpaca fibre in textiles began around 2500 B.C., and became increasingly important through time in ancient Peruvian cultures.
Alpacas and present time
To more than one million small alpaca farmers in the central Andes of South America, alpacas are an important pillar for livelihood. Alpacas are also an extremely important element of cultural identity. According to the Peruvian National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) census in 2012, a population of 3,7 million alpacas support these Peruvian families.
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