chapter  4
22 Pages

A ‘Pleasant Banquet of Words’: Therapeutic Virtues and Alimentary Consumption in Garcia de Orta’s Colloquies on the Simples and Drugs of India

This chapter addresses some of the protracted historical consequences resulting from Garcia de Orta's professional activities; focuses on the long-term implications throughout the Portuguese sphere of the culturally blended, hybridized medical culture that Orta helped to create as a result of his work as a colonial physician, hospital administrator and, most particularly, as an author. Many of the locally sourced traditional Malabar and Goan healing plants, such as aloe, snakeroot cardamom, cloves, gum benzoin, sandalwood, camphor, black pepper, tamarind and opium, were drogas described in Garcia de Orta's work, and prescribed in much the same way as Orta had advised. Eventually, as many local Goan healers found their way into Portuguese service, the widespread introduction and use of indigenous medicine in Goas medical institutions, begun during Garcia de Orta's 30-year tenure as chief physician of the Estado da ndia, became inevitable, and the hybridization of Indo-Portuguese medical culture reached a stable steady state.