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The Female Body

"The Use of Cruz Kaspi to Terminate Fertility " Tod Swanson interview with Luisa Cadena on the use of Cruz Kaspi to terminate fertility.  YouTube video.  2:43.  February 8, 2019


The new leaves of cruz caspi are bright red with a dark spotted pattern.  The bark is used  to stop excessive postpartum bleeding.  Women who no longer want to have children drink a strong tea made from the bark believed to permanently stop menstruation.  

Eulodia Cadena, "Chuchu Ala: The Breast Milk Mushroom."  Youtube video. 3:24  December 16, 2016.

Bélgica Dagua, “A Philodendron Used as a Beauty Cream After Pregnancy.”  YouTube video. 0:49 Posted [December 31, 2016]. Kichwa subtitles.

Delicia Dagua.  "On placing manioc head down like a baby in the womb."  YouTube video. 1:20,  January 14, 2019 .

Eulodia Dagua, "Toucan Song for a Girl No One Wants.”  Youtube video. 3:29   January 1, 2017.

This song uses images from the life cycle of a toucan to create sympathy for a young girl who rejected in marriage. When baby toucans are inside their hollow tree nests they are dirty and often covered with worms. But when they learn to fly and wash in rainwater they become splendidly beautiful.  In traditional times marriages were arranged when the girl was 8 or 10 (and consummated after puberty). Like the toucan the rejected girl is still in the nest but when she flies she too will be beautiful.

Clara Santi Grefa, "Waranga Sisa.”  Youtube video. 5:03.  September 18, 2015.  subtitles in English and Pastaza Quichua.

Narcisa Dagua, "Bitter, Bitter, Ayambi: a magical song against anger.”  Youtube video. 1:46  March 25, 2012.   Bitter Ayambi (recorded and translated from Kichwa by Tod Swanson) is a magical song meant to protect the singer from the anger of her relatives.   The song works by linking the identity of the singer to that a large iguanaesque lizard called an ayambi.  The ayambi works as a poignant image for an elderly lady because it has loose rolls of scaly skin that jiggle when it walks and it is almost always seen alone.   Because of the magical song, when those who are angry see an ayambi their anger will be changed to compassion for the elderly singer.

Eulodi Dagua,  "Address to a shirkillu tree (Protium nodulosum) asking its gift for giving birth easily for a human woman." Youtube 0:38video    

Protium nodulosum sap used as a medicine for speeding up childbirth.

Kichwa women primarily collect the sap of Protium nodulosum for use as pottery glaze.  However the form in which the sap coagulates suggests its use as a medicine.  When the sap oozes out it cools  into a rounded form that resembles the belly of pregnant woman.  These belly shaped balls of sap are called "the children" of the tree.  Because these "children" are born so easily shirquillu trees are understood to be women with a gift of giving birth easily.   When consumed by a pregnant woman the sap works as a medicine to speed up childbirth.   Because the tree is a human woman she must be asked politely to bestow her gift.

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