Traditional Amazigh Medicine

Traditional Amazigh Medicines

Traditional Medicine Against Oral Thrush

Therapies used in traditional societies are obviously remote from modern biomedical beliefs and standards. In Kabylia, for instance, traditional medicine is holistic and illness is regarded as the result of magical, divine, and natural forces. Therefore, the performance of highly symbolic rituals, which follow the duality principle (sun/moon, right/left, etc.) and the power of numbers (four and seven for instance), among other archetypical concepts, is the key to getting rid of the disease. To illustrate these rituals, two examples of traditional medicine against thrush from Tagemmunt Azuz, At Mahmud, are described in this article.
Thrush is a fungus disease of the face and mouth area commonly affecting children. In Tamazight (Kabyle) it is called tagdit (pl. tigedidin) if the upper jaw is affected, and tawremt (pl. tiwermin) if the lower jaw is affected. When early symptoms occur, the infant is partially shaved on the temporal areas by his mother, who, speaking to the causative fungus, says:
Ksegh tigedidin, ksegh tiwermin
Limer matctci t-tajembbit n-tsed’ila
tili ghed’legh at tmira
I took off tigedidin, I took off tiwermin
Without the shaving razor
I could have knocked down the bearded
In the evening, a bowl of water is prepared. While the child is inside the house, the mother, or a “sorceress’’ winds the pot seven times around the child’s head from right (R) to left (L), counting up to seven. Then she does it again, from left to right. While doing so, she says:
R: Ta n cfa
L: Ta n ddwa
R: Ta l-lmerfa< l-lebla
L: Cqa d lebla ikka berra
R: Naaleq-ak-ts, a R’ebbi di le
L: Cfa d ddwa
R: Di le
This is for the cure
This is for the medicine
This is for the bad to vanish
Misfortune and bad, stay out
I leave this request to you, I beg you God
Cure and medicine
With the protection of God and the saints
Then she takes the bowl outside and, invoking the stars, she repeats three times the following:
Tif tagdurt yensan i yetran
Wala seb
Aqli t-taghribt garawen
Annagh a R’ebbi d sidna Djebrayen
Ad iyi-teddmem lebla n mmi
At teksem yiwen yiwen
At teksem tigdidin, tiwermin, tafukt, tiziri
Ad as-d-errem tizewghi, timelli, tasusmi, t-tguni
S lfed’l-ik a R’ebbi a
Better have a pot sleeping out under the stars than the writings of seven religious scholars(1)
I am a stranger among you
O God, O Gabriel
Take the illness away from my son
Take it away one by one
Take away tigedidin, tiwermin, sunshine, moonlight
Bring him back rosy white skin, tranquil, and rested
With your kindness, O God the highest
The mother then leaves the bowl out and goes to sleep. The next morning, she walks to a male fig tree (a fig tree producing black figs called “ajenjal’’) or a pomegranate tree. She takes the child and the bowl with her and walks around the tree with them. Then she washes the feet, hands, and face of the child, saying each time:
Ksegh tagdit tawremt
I cured tagdit and tawremt
After that, she washes her nipples and removes four pieces from the bark of the fig tree (or pomegranate tree) using a knife, and attaches them to the wrists and feet of the child. Then she throws away the bowl and its contents, saying:
Djdjigh tigedidin, tiwermin, tafukt, tiziri
Bwigh cfa, bwigh ddwa
I left tigedidin, tiwermin, sunshine, moonlight
I took the cure with me, I took the medicine with me
while making a gesture above her head every time she mentions the disease. Finally, she returns home and takes off the bark she put on her child.
BY NADIA AT MENSUR
http://www.ece.umd.edu/ sellami/DEC95/history.html
1. This particular saying clearly shows how strong pre-Islamic religious beliefs are. The stars are here described as more powerful than the Moslem saints.
2. Special thanks to Father Jacques Lanfry from Tagemmunt Azuz for providing me with the precious original documents from Fichier de Documentation Berbere, Paris. Father Lanfry is the author of a French-Tamazight dictionary (dialect of Ghadames, Libya) and a number of articles in Fichier de Documentation Berbere which he directed after the death of Father Jean Marie Dallet.

Traditional Medicine Against Oral ThrushTherapies used in traditional societies are obviously remote from modern biomedical beliefs and standards. In Kabylia, for instance, traditional medicine is holistic and illness is regarded as the result of magical, divine, and natural forces. Therefore, the performance of highly symbolic rituals, which follow the duality principle (sun/moon, right/left, etc.) and the power of numbers (four and seven for instance), among other archetypical concepts, is the key to getting rid of the disease. To illustrate these rituals, two examples of traditional medicine against thrush from Tagemmunt Azuz, At Mahmud, are described in this article.
Thrush is a fungus disease of the face and mouth area commonly affecting children. In Tamazight (Kabyle) it is called tagdit (pl. tigedidin) if the upper jaw is affected, and tawremt (pl. tiwermin) if the lower jaw is affected. When early symptoms occur, the infant is partially shaved on the temporal areas by his mother, who, speaking to the causative fungus, says:
Ksegh tigedidin, ksegh tiwermin   Limer matctci t-tajembbit n-tsed’ila   tili ghed’legh at tmira
I took off tigedidin, I took off tiwermin   Without the shaving razor   I could have knocked down the bearded
In the evening, a bowl of water is prepared. While the child is inside the house, the mother, or a “sorceress’’ winds the pot seven times around the child’s head from right (R) to left (L), counting up to seven. Then she does it again, from left to right. While doing so, she says:
R: Ta n cfa   L: Ta n ddwa   R: Ta l-lmerfa< l-lebla   L: Cqa d lebla ikka berra   R: Naaleq-ak-ts, a R’ebbi di le   L: Cfa d ddwa   R: Di le
This is for the cure   This is for the medicine   This is for the bad to vanish   Misfortune and bad, stay out   I leave this request to you, I beg you God   Cure and medicine   With the protection of God and the saints
Then she takes the bowl outside and, invoking the stars, she repeats three times the following:
Tif tagdurt yensan i yetran   Wala seb   Aqli t-taghribt garawen   Annagh a R’ebbi d sidna Djebrayen   Ad iyi-teddmem lebla n mmi   At teksem yiwen yiwen   At teksem tigdidin, tiwermin, tafukt, tiziri   Ad as-d-errem tizewghi, timelli, tasusmi, t-tguni   S lfed’l-ik a R’ebbi a
Better have a pot sleeping out under the stars than the writings of seven religious scholars(1)   I am a stranger among you   O God, O Gabriel   Take the illness away from my son   Take it away one by one   Take away tigedidin, tiwermin, sunshine, moonlight   Bring him back rosy white skin, tranquil, and rested   With your kindness, O God the highest
The mother then leaves the bowl out and goes to sleep. The next morning, she walks to a male fig tree (a fig tree producing black figs called “ajenjal’’) or a pomegranate tree. She takes the child and the bowl with her and walks around the tree with them. Then she washes the feet, hands, and face of the child, saying each time:
Ksegh tagdit tawremt
I cured tagdit and tawremt
After that, she washes her nipples and removes four pieces from the bark of the fig tree (or pomegranate tree) using a knife, and attaches them to the wrists and feet of the child. Then she throws away the bowl and its contents, saying:
Djdjigh tigedidin, tiwermin, tafukt, tiziri   Bwigh cfa, bwigh ddwa
I left tigedidin, tiwermin, sunshine, moonlight   I took the cure with me, I took the medicine with me
while making a gesture above her head every time she mentions the disease. Finally, she returns home and takes off the bark she put on her child.
BY NADIA AT MENSUR
http://www.ece.umd.edu/ sellami/DEC95/history.html
1. This particular saying clearly shows how strong pre-Islamic religious beliefs are. The stars are here described as more powerful than the Moslem saints.
2. Special thanks to Father Jacques Lanfry from Tagemmunt Azuz for providing me with the precious original documents from Fichier de Documentation Berbere, Paris. Father Lanfry is the author of a French-Tamazight dictionary (dialect of Ghadames, Libya) and a number of articles in Fichier de Documentation Berbere which he directed after the death of Father Jean Marie Dallet.

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