An Aztec Herbal
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An Aztec Herbal

The Classic Codex of 1552

William Gates

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📖 eBook - ePub

An Aztec Herbal

The Classic Codex of 1552

William Gates

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Originally written in the Aztec language, this 16th-century codex was the first herbal and medical text compiled in the New World. It contains ancient remedies for myriad ailments — boils, hair loss, cataracts, insomnia hiccoughs, and gout, to name a few. Analytical Index to Plants. New Introduction. Over 180 black-and-white and 38 color illustrations.

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Analytical Index to Plants named in Herbal.

Aca-capac-quilitl, pleasing cane edible. Aganippea dentata, *p. 79.
Grows in the Canal de la Vega, near Mexico City. v. Sahagún, xi-7.8.20.
Acatl, cane. Arundo donax L. *p. 79.
There are various reedlike plants, including edible ones, growing in or by water. Note the identical root forms on all four plants on p. 79, and also the similarity of the reedlike stalks for this and the next number.
A-chilli, water chile. *p. 65.
While there is no actual identification of this with the Salvia chian from which was made the refreshing drink so universally had during Holy Week, yet our sources, taken in parallel, strongly suggest it. First, Sahagún, discussing the achilli at xi-7.5.86, speaks of “ this chian ”; further, the Madrid Hernández, i-270, speaks of the achilton, or small achilli, as having the synonym piltzin-tecouh-xochit /; and then, our present section of the Badiano prescribing a number of aromatics, gives us in succession wormwood, mountain chian, and a-chilli, and just below piltzin-tecouh-xochitl.
Acocotli, or Acoco-xihuitl, aesophagus or ‘ suction pipe ’; cumin. Arracacia atropurpurea, *p. 94, 10a.
The acocotli was used for sucking up the gathered juice of the maguey for making pulque, and the cane-like divisions of the stalk are plainly shown in the illustration. Three illustrations of an acocotli plant are given at Hern. 31, none resembling this in any way.
Robelo quotes Molina as to the above use of the stalk, and then gives it as being cumin or Arracacia atropurpurea, followed here by the Ph. Mex. and then by Martínez, all giving it as stimulant and carminative, which the two paragraphs in Sahagún fairly support.
Acxoyatl, a balsam. Abies religiosa, *p. 95, 10b.
The picture at Hern. 348 quite agrees with the one here in showing it as being of the Pine family.
Ahquiztli. Save for the picture at *p. 74, and its association with the long list of plants prescribed for a fever, 9b, no guide at hand.
Ahuatl, oak. Quercus castanea L. Quercus insignis. 8-1.
The Latin word Quercus is quite regularly used in the text, instead of the Aztec.
We also have an Ahuat/-tepiton, small oak, at *p. 88, but not repeated in the text. At p. 211 Hernández illustrates the Ahuaton or Quercus parva, with the synonym Tlal-capulin; also Sahagún gives us these same synonyms, at xi-7.5.49; also the term ava-quavitl at xi-6.2.8; and at xi-6.2.8 ava-tetzmolli as the holm oak.
A-huehuetl, water-growing cypress. Cupressus Montezuma, or Taxodium mucronatum.
This also is only referred to by its Latin name, but its fame is such as to merit the following quotation from Standley:
“ The largest individual reported is the famous one of Tule, near Oaxaca; its height is 38.6 meters and the girth 51.8 meters; the greatest trunk diameter is 12 meters, and the spread of the branches 51.8 meters. The Cypress of Moctezuma at Chapultepec was a noted tree four centuries ago, and its actual age estimated at 700 years; others have attained much greater periods.
“‘The tree has been long used for its acrid resin, curative of ulcers, toothache, gout; also as diuretic and resolutive and a pectoral.”
Ahuiyac, adj. Agreeable; used with xihuitl, plant, 8k, *p. 107; also tlatlanquaye, pepper, *p. 73, *83.
Amatl, fig-tree; wood used for paper. Ficus nymphaefolia L.
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Xiuh-amolli, soap plant. Saponaria americana, *p. 11, 1e.
A small plant whose root yields a glutinous lather and supplies an excellent soap. Note the use of xiuh-as prefix, instead of a terminal xihuitl, to mark particularly its smallness and herbaceous character.
Amoxtli, paper plant or rush; also name for paper, book, etc.
We only have this as te-amoxtli, or a papyrus reed growing on stony ground; the illustrations at pp. 7, 29, and that of the small or tepitonte-amoxtli all show the marshy bottom. This marshy base is also seen with the teo-iztaquilitl, *p. 3, or Portulaca oleracea L, growing in “ red earth,” at 5f as growing in a stone-filled marsh. With these also note the marshy base of the xiuh-tlemaitl on p. 85. (See these latter in their places.) The te-amoxtli is prescribed seven times in the text passages, at 5d, 8b, 8f, 9f, 9p, 9q, 12b.
Paper made in ancient Mexico was of two kinds, one from the above papyrus, and the finer kind from the fig-tree, or Ficus petiolaris, illustrated by Hernández at p. 82 as the tepe-amatl, mountain fig, or texcal-amatl, rock-cavern fig. Specimens of this paper we still have in our few surviving codices, and it further gave its name to the sacred calendar-book the Tonalamatl .
Sahagún tells us that the tree is of the size of a peach, its leaves very green, and the bark smooth; when this bark grows old, “ they cut it off for the paper-making, whereon the tree puts on anew.”
The wood is yellowish, whence the further term amacoztic. Its medicinal value is as a pectoral.
A-quahuitl, water-tree. Illustrated at *p. 81, and prescribed in the text at 6d, 9i.
Not mentioned by Hernández, nor in our other sources at hand.
A-toch-ietl, literally ‘water-growing rabbit bean.’ *p. 24.
Hern. 1790 ed., pp. 148-50, gives four species, all aromatic, and being the flea-bane, Pulegium, or similar. One of these is given as curing colds and headache. Apparently pennyroyal.
Atoya-xocotl, ‘flowing-stream plum.’ Spondias mombin L. 1d, 10k.
Sahagún at xi-6.7.4 lists four plum or jocote varieties, calling them all xocoquahuitl , or bitter tree; first are the yellow or red manzanillas, with white centers, called te-xocotl; then the maza-xocotl, or ‘ deer plums,’ red or yellow; then the “ large plum ciruelas called atoya-xocotl, sweet and savory, good to eat raw or cooked. They make a pulque of these that is more intoxicating than that from honey; all the plums have large pits.” Finally the guavas, the xal-xocotl or ‘ sand-plums.’
The modern Farm. Mex. assigns no medicinal value, but Hern., 1790 ed. iii, 355, gives a seven line paragraph describing the plum as being cooling, astringent, and of value in dysentery. The 1651 edition assigns the same qualities.
A-xocotl, ‘water plum.’ Spondias sp., *p. 80, 8-1, 10k. v. supra.
Ayauh-quahuitl, ‘misty cloud tree.’ ? Cupressus thurifera, *p. 91, 8b, 8f, 9f.
Quite probably the white cedar, as given by Siméon Dict.; the trees of this family are usually called in the Badiano text by their Latin names, Pinus, Cupressus.
Ayauhtli, cloud or mist; probably the above. 7b.
Ayecotli, large beans, haricots. Phaseolus multiflorus L, *p. 50.
Molina, Dict. gives it thus,...

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APA 6 Citation
[author missing]. (2012). An Aztec Herbal ([edition unavailable]; W. Gates, Trans.). Dover Publications. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/111791/an-aztec-herbal-the-classic-codex-of-1552-pdf (Original work published 2012)
Chicago Citation
[author missing]. (2012) 2012. An Aztec Herbal. Translated by William Gates. [Edition unavailable]. Dover Publications. https://www.perlego.com/book/111791/an-aztec-herbal-the-classic-codex-of-1552-pdf.
Harvard Citation
[author missing] (2012) An Aztec Herbal. [edition unavailable]. Translated by W. Gates. Dover Publications. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/111791/an-aztec-herbal-the-classic-codex-of-1552-pdf (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
[author missing]. An Aztec Herbal. Trans. William Gates. [edition unavailable]. Dover Publications, 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.