Maya Medicine: Traditional Healing in Yucatán

Overview

This account of the practice of traditional Maya medicine examines the work of curers in Pisté, Mexico, a small town in the Yucatán Peninsula near the ruins of Chichén Itzá. The traditions of plant use and ethnomedicine applied by these healers have been transmitted from one generation to the next since the colonial period throughout the state of Yucatán and the adjoining states of Campeche and Quintana Roo.

In addition to plants, traditional healers use western medicine and ...

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Overview

This account of the practice of traditional Maya medicine examines the work of curers in Pisté, Mexico, a small town in the Yucatán Peninsula near the ruins of Chichén Itzá. The traditions of plant use and ethnomedicine applied by these healers have been transmitted from one generation to the next since the colonial period throughout the state of Yucatán and the adjoining states of Campeche and Quintana Roo.

In addition to plants, traditional healers use western medicine and traditional rituals that include magical elements, for curing in Yucatán is at once deeply spiritual and empirically oriented, addressing problems of the body, spirit, and mind. Curers either learn from elders or are recruited through revelatory dreams. The men who learn their skills through dreams communicate with supernatural beings by means of divining stones and crystals. Some of the locals acknowledge their medical skills; some disparage them as rustics or vilify them as witches. The curer may act as a doctor, priest, and psychiatrist.

This book traces the entire process of curing. The author collected plants with traditional healers and observed their techniques including prayer and massage as well as plant medicine, western medicine, and ritual practices. Plant medicine, she found, was the common denominator, and her book includes information on the plants she worked with and studied.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826328649
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Marianna Appel Kunow holds a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies. She teaches Spanish at Southeastern Louisiana University.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 Introduction and Setting 1
Ch. 2 The Yucatecan Sources 6
Ch. 3 Portraits of the Curers 12
Ch. 4 Acquiring Curing Skills 32
Ch. 5 Exploring the Spectrum of Curing Specialties: Common Practices 42
Ch. 6 Common Treatments and Traditional Concepts of Disease and Its Cause 59
Ch. 7 Relation to Colonial Sources 74
Ch. 8 Conclusion 98
Illustrations 100
App. A Plant Catalog 109
App. B Plants with Uses Similar to Roys (1931) 139
Glossary 141
References Cited 143
Index of Plants by Families 146
Index 148
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