Segments in this Video

Bolivia: Kallawaya, Healer People— Introduction (01:08)


In a valley in the Royal Mountains of Bolivia, an indigenous culture maintains "age old" traditions. The Kallawaya are itinerant healers with a history that dates back to the Incas.

Festival of the Cross (03:38)

Bernard Fontanille arrives in Chajaya at the beginning of harvest season and meets Kallawaya doctor, Mario Portugal. The Kallawaya converted to Christianity in the 17th century, but maintain traditional rituals and practices; Portugal explains the colors on the cross.

Ritual Offerings (02:07)

Chajaya villagers provide offerings before the harvest so the Pachamama will be generous. Portugal explains the ritual accoutrements and the representations of mountain's ecological levels.

Healing Method (04:40)

Kallawaya means "the one who carries plants on his back." Portugal diagnoses a woman who is not feeling well and treats her with a poultice and prayer. A Kallawaya is a mediator between body and environment.

Herbal Medicine (03:36)

As is customary, Portugal receives a meal after treating the patient. He explains what he and Fontanille will be doing on the Altiplano; Portugal gathers plants along the way. Traditionally, the Kallawaya would travel to gather plants and treat people.

Kallawaya Doctor (02:35)

Portugal uses nearly 300 of the 900 plants cataloged by the Kallawaya. Medicinal knowledge passes from father to son during initiatory journeys. Portugal and Fontanille reach a house in the valley and stop for the night; Portugal recalls his travels.

Kallawaya Tradition (03:20)

Portugal and Fontanille start their day with coca; learn medicinal benefits of the plant. The men purchase llama fat before continuing their journey to a patient.

Patient in Amarete Village (04:29)

Life in high altitudes can cause mountain sickness. Portugal and Fontanille reach the village at 4,500 meters. Portugal treats a teacher recently arrived from Santa Cruz; Fontanille examines him with medical instruments. Emigration threatens Kallawaya medicinal traditions.

Credits: Bolivia: The Kallawaya, Healer People—World Medicine (00:18)

Credits: Bolivia: The Kallawaya, Healer People—World Medicine

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Bolivia: The Kallawaya, Healer People—World Medicine

Part of the Series : World Medicine
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The Kallawaya, itinerant healers of the Andes, live in the mountains of Apolobamba. They are doctors, pharmacists, traders and gatherers, and know how to concoct remedies; the Kallawaya have an unequalled knowledge of Andean plants. In the village of Chajaya, emergency doctor Bernard Fontanille meets Mario Portugal who has in-depth knowledge of nearly 300 plant species. The men travel to the Antiplano to treat an ailing patient.

Length: 27 minutes

Item#: BVL120524

ISBN: 978-1-63521-613-4

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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