Two Kuna women practicing blood-letting John Savage
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Two Kuna women practicing blood-letting
Portrait of two unnamed Kuna people, shown in the act of blood-letting by arrow puncture. They wear they hair long and thick beaded necklaces. The seated woman is said to be one of Lacenta's, the local Kuna chief, wives.
Described by Lionel Wafer: “It so happen’d, that one of Lacenta’s Wives being indisposed, was to be let Blood; which the Indians perform in this Manner: The Patient is seated on a Stone in the River, and one with a small Bow shoots little Arrows into the naked Body of the Patient, up and down; shooting them as fast as he can, and not missing any Part. But the Arrows are gaged, so that they penetrate no farther than we generally thrust our Lancets...”.
Plate facing p.285 of: A new voyage and description of the Isthmus of America. Giving and account of the Author’s abode there...by Lionel Wafer; within volume 3 of A collection of voyages..., by William Dampier l., 4 volumes, (London, James and John Knapton, 1729). Copy belonging to Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), President of the Royal Society.
Lionel Wafer (c.1640–1705) British surgeon and buccaneer was not a Fellow of the Royal Society. He embarked on an East India Company vessl in 1677 as an assistant surgeon and served a bried period as surgeon in Jamaica. Later joined a squadron of buccaneering vessels, where he met William Dampier (1651-1715). It was on an expedition with Dampier in 1681 that Wafer sustained an injury to his leg, which led to his being left in the Isthmus of Darien [Panama], living among the local Kuna, or Cuna, people.
The Kuna, Guna, are a Chibchan-speaking Indian people who traditionally occupied the central region of what is now Panama and the neighbouring San Blas Islands. Formerly spelled Cuna.
Original: copperplate engraving. 1729
- Image reference: RS-9596
- The Royal Society
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