tecpaocelotl (tecpaocelotl) wrote,

Domesticated Animals in Meso-America








What are domestic animals? The term is very vague especially if you’re talking about Meso-America. If you mean animals of burden, they had none, but there are other animals

What they had for food, ritual sacrifice & companions (if they were pets, they were never used as food.) dogs & turkeys.

The dogs that they had are the Chihuahuas (debated to be techichi) & Mexican Hairless (Xoloitzcuintli). There was people who breed them to have select qualities. It’s a debate whether the ones as pets were breeded differently than the ones that were eaten other than the ones that would be eaten were fatten.

Image from Mayan Vase known as K5534.

Dogs that were companions were killed with their owner since the ancient belief was that dogs would guide their human companion to the after life.

Mexican Hairless were endangered. Luckily, they became popular and the breed was taken out of the endangered species list.

In recent times, there are findings of dog/wolf/coyote hybrids in Teotihuacan.

Turkey from the Borgia Codex.

Turkeys were first domesticated by the Maya. The turkeys that we eat today are descendants of the turkeys from the Aztecs. Turkeys back then were smaller than the turkeys of today.

For animals they were and continued to be used for other things like cochineal & stingless bees. Though they may not seem much or out of the ordinary when thinking of domestic animals. For example the stingless honey bees where in some Mayan families, they are heirlooms, were are passed down to one generation to another.

Cochineal were used by the Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec & Nahua. They became very popular in Europe since at the time was the first time Europeans have seen a red color so bright. During the colonial times, it became the second most valuable export (Silver being number 1). The British would use it to dye their red coats red. After Mexican independence, the dye became invaluable after alizarin crimson was discovered. It almost disappeared in the 20th century. Luckily, today, we eat this bug since it's in some red dyes in foods (it will be labeled as "cochineal extract", "carmine", "crimson lake", "natural red 4", "C.I. 75470", "E120", and at times "natural colouring") along with clothing that say that they use organic red dyes on their clothing.

Stingless bees were the only bees that were domesticated in the Americas. They were first domesticated by the Maya. Back in the ancient days, they were sacred. They provided honey. The honey was also a key ingredient in the alcoholic drink balche. Their wax was used for jewelry and ornaments in the lost-wax casting technique. Though they don’t sting, they still bite. The stingless bees are now endangered since they do not produce as much honey as the Africanized bees (hybrid of European/African bees) and a majority of those who are traditional bee keepers to the stingless bees, are mostly elderly and are dying.
Tags: aztec, food, maya, mayan, mexica, mexican, nahua, native, native mexican, precolumbian

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