This profile was last updated on
Is this you? Claim your profile.
Wrong Douglas Sharon?
Dr. Douglas Sharon
University of California Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology
(103 Total References)
Doug Sharon - University of California Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley CA
JoshBernstein.com - The Official Website of Explorer Josh Bernstein
Dr. Douglas Sharon, Director, P.A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology
The Ethnographic Collections | Museum of Man
Ecuadorian Collection, Central Andes (Cacha): Former Curator Grace Johnson and former Director Douglas Sharon collected 145 items.
collected ethnographic items in Peru from 1989 to 2003.
The Mystery of Ulluchu | Singing to the Plants
Ethnobotanist Rainer Bussmann and anthropologist Douglas Sharon - whose work I have discussed here - have long been interested in identifying ulluchu.
For years they consulted local curanderos and sellers of medicinal plants.
"We would go to these markets," Sharon has said, "and people would say, 'We think we know what that is, but it's not being sold here.'" The curanderos claimed to have heard of a plant called ulluchu, perhaps because of its coinage by Larco; but they did not use it, they could not describe it, and the term had no place in their language.
"For the last seventy years people have been trying to identify this fruit but couldn't," Bussmann says.
"And when our work started, I thought to myself, This is not going to be simple."
Now, in an article in the Journal of Ethnobiology
and Ethnomedicine, Bussmann and Sharon
have identified ulluchu, not as a pepper, but rather as a group of species in the genus Guarea, which is in the Meliaceae or mahogany family.
"Rainer is a first-rate taxonomist," Sharon
studied every physical characteristic of these plants until he
was absolutely certain we had it.
When Bussmann compared specimens of Guarea to drawings of the ulluchu that had been unearthed a decade earlier, he
had found the plant.
While the existing literature on Guarea seed compounds is fragmentary, Bussmann and Sharon
believe that a concentrated dosage of ulluchu seeds, if ingested, would increase heart rate, elevate blood pressure, and widen blood vessels.
This would make it easier to extract sacrificial blood - and cause those surprising erections.
Priest costumed as a bird drinking a goblet of blood, with ulluchu in a basin, and perhaps holding a snuff tube
Bussmann and Sharon
also suspect that a ground preparation of Guarea seeds, when inhaled, may have been used as a hallucinogen.
One ceramic figurine shows a seated male with ulluchu plants on his
headdress holding a gourd and pestle, possibly containing ground ulluchu seeds, with his
nostrils flared, as is often seen in people inhaling hallucinogenic snuffs.
Similarly, a fineline painting shows a winged runner or flying priest with ulluchu on his
belt, ulluchu seeds floating above his
head, and an instrument in his
hand that closely resembles a typical double snuff tube of the sort used to inhale powdered hallucinogens.
The Survival of Plant Knowledge | Singing to the Plants
The study is by two distinguished scholars, ethnobotanist Rainer Bussmann and anthropologist Douglas Sharon, who had previously co-authored two significantly useful books - Plants of the Four Winds: The Magic and Medicinal Flora of Peru and Plants of Longevity: The Medicinal Flora of Vilcabamba.
Bussmann and Sharon
give a historical explanation.