Indigenous Peruvians have used totora (Schoenoplectus californicus: Cyperaceae) vessels or caballitos for fishing along the coast of Peru since pre-Inca times. Presently, caballito use and construction are declining in numerous fishing towns. Participant observation techniques were employed to investigate aspects of caballito construction. S. californicus stems were used to make four bundles to serve as the caballito body. The bundles were lashed together with single and double twist rope made from Furcraea andina (Agavaceae) leaves. The stem of Guadua angustifolia (Poaceae) was used as a paddle for the vessel. Caballito construction has varied little through time. We documented a decline in the use of traditional plant materials due to their scarcity. Huanchaco fishermen have played an important role in maintaining the tradition of building caballitos.
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Vol. 57 • No. 1