Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Unknown Cureloms and Cumoms- Part I

In the entire Western Hemisphere, only two indigenous animals meet the requirements set forth by Moroni as he abridged the Jaredite record, known as the Book of Ether in the scriptural record. But before introducing those two animals, circumstances have set forth the criteria by which we need to judge what animals fit the requirements of the two Moroni mentions. First of all, Moroni abridged the record down to a single sentence about the animals: “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19).
Now, we know how useful horses and donkeys would be to a new society having immigrated to a new land, with the need to plant, build and survive—and especially elephants that could with their brute strength be indispensable in building. So we are looking for two animals that provided more of ancient man’s requirements than horses and donkeys, and equally that of elephants.
    So these two animals needed to be:
1. Animals that were unknown to Joseph Smith in 1829 when he translated the Plates. At the time, Joseph Smith would have been unable to even make a guess at the animals, having no knowledge of them whatsoever that he could not even make a guess to present for a spiritual acknowledgement.
2. Animals that were indigenous to the area of the Land of Promise.
3. Animals that were brought to the Land of Promise by the Jaredites.
4  Animals that were domesticated for Jaredites use, and then reverted to a wild (feral) state after the Jaredites and before the Nephites, and then be domesticated by the Nephites.
5. Animals that were extremely valuable for the use of man to be compared equally with elephants and superior to horses and donkeys.
6. Animals that served as beasts of burden (horses, donkeys and elephants), pack animals (horses and donkeys), transportation (horses, donkeys, and elephants), food—meat supply (horses, elephants), fur or skins (horses), leather (horses), clothes, (horses), sure-footed (donkeys), farming (donkeys, horses and elephants), brute force (elephants), and protection (elephants).
7. Animals that provided milk and wool products for daily living.
8. Animals that were used for gardening and agriculture, such as plowing, planting and harvesting.
    In searching all of the Western Hemisphere for two animals that match the above as closely as possible, only those of Andean South America could be seriously considered--two animals, that were unknown in the United States until the 20th century, more than 100 years after Joseph Smith translated and published the Book of Mormon, before becoming known.
Probably the most useful two animals to man overall in the entire Western Hemisphere that would meet these requirements would be the Llama and Alpaca of Peru and Chili, along with their wild variants, the Vicuna (Vicugna) and Guanaco.
    According to the Penny Magazine, “Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge”, The Monthly Almanack (No.434, Charles Knight, London, January 5, 1839), when the Spaniards first invaded Peru and Chili, they found the llama domesticated and used as a beast of burden its flesh and wool being also in great demand—it was, in fact, at once the camel and the sheep of the Peruvians—it was their only beast of burden, its flesh was eaten, its skin prepared into leather and its wool spun and manufactured into cloth. It carried ore down from the mountains, as much as 150 pounds per animal at the rate of 15 miles per day over rugged mountain passes. According to Gregory Bolivar, in his day three hundred thousand llama were employed in the transport of the produce of the mines of Potoni alone, and four million killed annually for food. They were also ridden for four or five leagues a day by the Spanish, and were considered by the Spanish as of great use and profit to their masters, for their wool was very good and fine, particularly of that species called alpaca, requiring little expense to keep, could go four or five days without water, and their flesh was considered as good as any sheep of Castile. Its wool immediately attracted the attention of the Spanish and Europeans and the animal’s wool and produce was imported into those areas as quickly as possible, with the English especially appreciating its flesh and the French its wool, particularly the silk-like alpaca wool.
    Though domesticated longer than practically any other animal in the world, the llama has languished in relative obscurity until recently. The last thirty years have seen the rediscovery of this most unique animal in its native South America. Native to the high puna of the South American Andes, Peru, Chili and Bolivia form the heart of this region with portions of Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador forming the periphery. The llama is one of the four species known as New World camelids, which inhabit the region. The other species are the alpaca, the guanaco, and the vicuna. All four species are thought to have originated from a common North American ancestor who is also the supposed predecessor of the African and Asian camels; however, in South America, the two main animals, the domesticated llama and alpaca, dominate the Andes.
    The llama and alpaca of the South American Andes form the ancestry of the guanaco and vicuna, which adapted to the harsh climate, sporadic moisture, high elevations, large daily temperature fluctuation, and unpredictable food supply of the region. Domestication of these two species is thought to have given rise to the llama and alpaca, with the llama originating from the guanaco and the alpaca from the vicuna, which marked the beginning of a high dependence on these animals by the early Peruvians of the Andes, dating well back into B.C. times. This dependence was somewhat analogous, though to a lesser degree since buffalo are not domesticated, to the dependence the Plains Indians of North America had on the bison, which provided the base needs of the native cultures.
    Domestication allowed the llamas’ additional use as a beast of burden as well as selective breeding for specific traits. The llama's adaptability and efficiency as a pack animal in the mountain terrain of the Andes made it possible to link the diverse altitude zones and to cover the great linear distances of the region. The llama was bred specifically to produce a large, strong animal for the packing function. The alpaca was bred to accentuate its naturally finer wool. The harvest of this fine wool served as the base for a significant domestic textile market.
    The pivotal role that llamas and alpacas played in the Andean culture and economy naturally elevated them to a highly regarded status. Husbandry and management practices were very sophisticated for that period of history. The reign of the llama and alpaca in the Andean region ended abruptly in the early 1500s with the Spanish conquest of that region of South America. The Spaniards initiated their colonization with the systematic destruction of the llamas and alpacas and replaced them with their own domestic species, principally sheep. The European stock displaced the native camelids from every part of the region save the highest reaches of the puna where the foreign stock had no chance of survival because of the harsh climate.
    Exiled to the upper regions of their natural territory, the llama and alpaca languished as second-rate citizens while the sophisticated husbandry and management systems, were lost amid Spanish prejudice, arrogance and misunderstanding. The wild vicuna and guanaco were hunted to the point of extinction for their fine pelts and to eliminate competition with domestic stock. The llama and alpaca became animals of the poor and formed the base of a subsistence culture for the natives of the high puna.
    Rediscovery of the alpaca's fine wool by the international textile market in the late 1800s led to a higher level of interest in the alpaca, in turn leading to increased management, research, and selective breeding. The llama continued its obscure existence until about 30 years ago. The Andean countries, especially Peru and Bolivia, have, of late, recognized the importance of native camelid species in their cultures and have begun to restore them to their rightful place as the preferred inhabitants of their varied landscape. The alpaca has led in this resurgence because of its desirable fiber. Strong world demand has fostered growth of an economically significant industry and, more importantly, has caused these Andean countries to recognize all the camelid species as unique to their region and as a part of their heritage.
(See the next post, “The Unknown Cureloms and Cumoms- Part II,” for an even greater understanding of the two animals Moroni described as being more useful to man than the horse and donkey and as useful as the elephant)

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