Return to main Gallery Previous Picture Next Picture

  Frog Poison

An important ritual in Matsés society is the use of a poison obtained from a tree frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor). Traditionally, older men scrape the exudate (“sweat”) of the frog without harming it. The frog poison is injected into the body by applying it to wounds made by burning the skin with sticks. The poison acts as an emetic, cleansing one’s system and the Matsés believe it will make one work harder and hunt better. The use of this poison frog in this manner is not limited to the Matses and is also used by the Matis, Canamari, Katukina, Kaxinawa, Marubo, Yaminawa, Ashaninka, Culina and Ticuna tribes. Despite claims by some that the indigenous medicinal use of this frog poison was only recently discovered, publications by anthropologists in 1955 documented the use of this frog poison by the Ticunas as an emetic identical to the use by the Matses.

Indigenous People Videos
Return to main Gallery | Previous Picture | Next Picture

Text © 2007, Photos © 2007, Bjorn Svensson, all rights reserved, Frog Poison.