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versión impresa ISSN 1405-2768


ZEPEDA G., Carmen  y  WHITE O., Laura. Herbolary and mural painting: medicinal plants in the wall of the convent from Divine Savador of Malinalco, State of Mexico. Polibotánica [online]. 2008, n.25, pp.173-199. ISSN 1405-2768.

In pre-Hispanic times Malinalco was an important ceremonial center and probably one of ideological and economic control. To reinforce the process of evangelization after the conquest the Augustinian convent of San Cristobal, now known as the Divino Salvador, was founded in 1540. After being built, the walls and vaults were decorated by native artists with Biblical scenes, exotic plants, and various species of animals. Analyses of these murals indicate that all natural elements illustrated had a specific meaning to the ancient Mexican culture. With the intention of determining plant species represented in the frescoes, the medicinal uses in the time in which they were painted, and the possible continuity of their use up to the present day, we compared the plants in the frescoes with the present flora and the plants illustrated in different codices. We reviewed their prehispanic and current uses, as well as their distribution. We identified 31 different species of medicinal plants in the frescoes belonging to 25 families. Twenty-one plants were identified as to species, and 10 were identified to the level of related species. Of the plants identified in the murals 90.4% are naturally distributed in the Americas, and 42% are unique to Mexico. Of the plants identified 90% were useful in pre-Hispanic times. However, only 77.4% are currently used, which may indicate a loss of use of some plants, especially those of magical-religious use in pre-Hispanic times. However, today's culture has been enriched by the addition of species introduced with the conquest, such as grapes (Vitis vinifera) and a rose (Rosa aff. canina), and by the use of a plant for treating one or various ailments or the use of various plants for the same disease. The most frequent categories of use in both pre-Hispanic and present times are related to gastrointestinal and dermatological diseases, as well as ill-defined symptoms and diseases.

Palabras llave : Malinalco; murals; medical plants; ethnobotany.

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