Thursday, August 15, 2013

History of sickness and medical art 6 : in preliterate society 3

a boy of Chamus who pastures cow

< a boy of Chamus who pastures cow >

How does pastoral tribe Chamus in Kenya understand sickness?
I refer to book “Pastoralists’ View of Body and Therapeutic Practice" (a fieldwork 20 years ago) by Kaori Kawai.


Their understanding to their body is concrete and they abundantly have the name of internal part.
It was guessed from the dismantlement of livestock.
For example, they regarded that a brain and a spinal were as a unit.
When somebody became convulsion or swoon, they thought that the part was cut off.
The sickness is mentioned with everyday greetings, and the handling is done basically in the family.
Except for an emergency, they do not go to a Sherman or a clinic of modern medicine.
Everyday as the prevention and the medical treatment, they have been boiling many medicinal herbs together with meals or drinks.


a pastoral tribe in Africa  

< a pastoral tribe in Africa  >

The sickness and the principle of cause and effect
How do they understand the cause of the disease?
They recognize the abnormalities of the affected part (a headache, a fever) and its cause part (a liver, a spleen).
They think that causes of the disease depend on what enters from the outside, or depend on their body.
In the former example, there are rotten foods or drinks, parasites, wind, a haze, and an infectious unknown intruding object, etc.
For example, although a reason why the newborn baby died is regarded as the wind went into and swelled the baby’s stomach and intestines, there is not the further explanation.
In the latter example, there are the hereditary or weak constitution, a pregnancy, and a blow etc.

If they were asked who was to blame for the disease, they will answer " causing by themselves" or " bringing by somebody else" or " causing by God."
They have thought that they might have made an original cause of the disease that was based on others' grudge.  
They consider that they have no choice of the disease that was caused by God that is omnipresent to sky or rain.
And they not think that somebody received divine punishment.
Although the sickness may be induced from outside, one's body eventually is important, and they concentrate on care of health and medical treatment.



Pygmy tribe living in a jungle

< Pygmy tribe living in a jungle   >

This recognition has a certain similarity to ancient Greece, India and China.
It is the cure does not remove an etiology and preferentially turns the body back to normal.
Although this recognition holds a minority position, the hunter-gatherers pygmy living in a jungle of Congo also has similar recognition with it.
However, pastoral Nuer in adjoining southern Sudan has etiologyof magical factor.

Next time, it becomes a summary of the sickness and the medical treatment in preliterate society



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