“Speaking with the Fire”: The Inquisition Confronts Mesoamerican Divination to Treat Child Illness in Sixteenth-Century Guatemala 159

in Medicine and the Inquisition in the Early Modern World
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Abstract

Indigenous midwives and female healers who treated infants and children in late-sixteenth-century Guatemala were medico-religious specialists who mediated the natural and supernatural realms to treat child illness. Their socially critical roles are examined through the lens of an Inquisition investigation in the tributary Maya town of Samayaq in colonial Central America into indigenous and mixed race women’s use of divination as a strategy to treat child illness, and in particular mollera caída, or fallen fontanel.