Theodor de Bry's Engravings of the Timucua

Theodor de Bry's Engravings of the Timucua

Transcript

Plate XX
Mode of Treating the Sick

As can be seen from this engraving, the Indians make a long wide platform where they lay the sick person, with his face up or down according to his complaint. With the help of a pointed instrument, a hole is made in the forehead from where blood is sucked through the mouth and spat into an earthen vessel or gourd bottle. Women who are suckling boys or who are with child or suffering from some disease come and drink this blood, especially when it is that of a strong young man, so that it may improve their milk and make their offspring stronger and more energetic. To others, lying face down, they administer fumigations by throwing certain seeds on the fire. The smoke, entering by the mouth and nose, circulates the entire body and induces vomiting and so expels the cause of the sickness. The Indians possess a certain plant whose name is petum in Brazil and which the Spanish call tapaco. The dried leaves of this plant are put in the widest part of a pipe. The Indians set it on fire and inhale the smoke so deeply from the narrowest part of the pipe that it comes out through the mouth and nose at the same time dispelling the humors. They are also extremely subject to venereal diseases, to cure which they have special remedies provided by nature.


All transcriptions are taken from Discovering the New World, Based on the Works of Theodore de Bry, edited by Michael Alexander (New York: Harper & Row, 1976).