Originally written in the Aztec language, Nahuatl, in 1552, this classic codex was the first herbal and medical text compiled in the New World. The author of this extraordinarily rare and valuable document was Martín de la Cruz, an Aztec physician, whose work was subsequently translated into Latin by an Aztec nobleman, Juan Badiano. The book was translated into English in 1939 by William Gates. In these pages are centuries-old Aztec remedies for boils, hair loss, cataracts, insomnia, sore throats, hiccups, gout, lesions, wounds, joint diseases, tumors, and scores of other ailments. Over 180 black-and-white figures of the plants augment the text, along with 38 full color illustrations made specially for the Gates edition. Additional supplements include an introduction to the Mexican botanical system, an analytical index of the plants, and a new Introduction by anthropologist Bruce Byland of the City University of New York. Remarkable for its scope, detail, careful observation, and accurate description, An Aztec Herbal stands as a magnificent example of the impressive medical knowledge of indigenous peoples. This handsome and inexpensive edition of a long-unavailable work promises to engender a new appreciation of the skill and inventiveness of Aztec medical practices in particular and of Native American science in general.
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