Extensive Spanish cattle ranching boasts a strong, deeply rooted tradition: the use of completely black sheep, the offspring of white mothers, as magical elements to protect flocks from bad luck. Conditions are very specific, so they are unique, exceptional animals. These characteristics make them special, sacred sheep that are kept in the herd with special care until their death. There is an explanation for this symbolic and magic practice: it has existed to sustain, before Mendel discovered the laws governing genetics, the purity of white wool in sheep by isolating mutations in black ones. In this text we examine the scope of this practice and analyse it from the perspective of the anthropology of symbolism.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 54 • No. 1