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Abstract Detail


Economic Botany: Ethnobotany

Alden, Harry [1], Galvis, Alvero [2].

Wood analysis of Santos from early Spanish missions in Chihuahua, Mexico and California.

WHAT began as a routine survey (using microscopic wood analysis) of Santos from early 17th Century missions in Mexico and southern California has resulted in significant discoveries of the transportation of Santos from Chihuahua by the early Fathers to California and of the incorporation of a pre-colonial, spiritual material into the catholic Santos. A total of 186 wood samples from 93 Santos were examined using light microscopy and digital image anaylsis. A signature wood, Chilicote (Erythrina flabelliformis) is used in 20% of the Santos from 12 colonial missions in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is even more prevalent (40%) in the Santos examined from Mission San Luis Rey in California. The natural range of this tree is in the central portion of Mexico, including the state of Chihuahua and does not grow in or near California. Its presence in the Santos of California indicates that the Fathers carried Santos with them in their travels in establishing new missions. Chilicote was revered by the Tarahumara of Chihuahua (the makers of the Santos) as having strong medicinal and religious properties (the seeds are thought to be hallucinogenic). It is probable that the Tarahumara purposely incorporated Chilicote wood into the Santos as a holdover of their “pagan” religious beliefs, mixing their native religion with Catholicism introduced by the Spanish.


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1 - Alden Identification Service, 3560 Brookeside Drive, Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, 20732, USA
2 - University of California, Medical School, Irvine, California, 92167, USA

Keywords:
ethnobotany
Tarahumara
wood anatomy.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 58-3
Location: 312/Bell Memorial Union
Date: Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
Time: 2:30 PM
Abstract ID:708


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