Pasar El Cuy

“En Peru, se dice que cuando las personas estan enfermas, les pasan un cuy, lo frotan por todo el cuerpo. Cuando matan al cuy y lo abren, la parte que tiene el cuy mas oscura es la parte que esta enferma. Por ejemplo, si tienes algun problema en el igado, cuando abren el cuerpecito del cuy, el igado se ve mas oscuro, como, enfermo. Dicen que scientificamente hay como probarlo pero, bueno, yo no se.”

“In Peru, they say that when people are sick they pass a guinea pig through their body, they rub it all over their body. Then, when they kill the guinea pig and they open it, the body part that is dark on the guinea pig is the sick part. For instance, if you have a liver problem, when they open up the guinea pig’s little body, the liver will look dark, like, sick. They say that there are ways to scientifically prove it, but I don’t know.”

Context: The informant is my mother, a Peruvian woman whose parents both come from villages near Cuzco, Peru. She grew up in Lima, the capital and the most metropolitan city in Peru. Peruvian culture, however, is deeply rooted in pride about their myths and legends, and these forms of folklore are widely known. I actually inquired about Inca creation myths on my own, but realized that this is a prime example of folklore.

Analysis: This custom is highly recognized and highly debated in Peru. As we learned, I believe that the belief rate for this technique is much higher in Peru, but there have also been scientific attempts to debunk or confirm the scientific element of this folk medicine strategy and they determined that it does work, but no one truly knows why.