The Yanomami healing system is based on the performance of the shamans. They are like a protective shield against the evil powers coming from humans and nonhumans. They are tireless warriors of the invisible, dedicated to protect the lives of the members from their communities. In the image above, Yanomami shamans gathering, in 2011 | Beto Ricardo — ISA

The traditional Yanomami medicine is now available to the world

The knowledge of the indigenous people about medicinal plants is the theme of an online exhibition curated by Instituto Socioambiental (ISA). It becomes available together with the global launch of a project that joins international natural history collections, organized by Google Arts & Culture.

The Yanomami indigenous people have a different understanding of what is known as ‘nature’. In their language, the term Urihi — the ‘earth-forest’ — makes reference to a live entity that is part of complex dynamics between humans and non-humans, such as animals, plants and other beings. This relationship is described in the Manual dos remédios tradicionais Yanomami [Guide to Traditional Yanomami Medicine], published by the ISA and the Yanomami Hutukara Association in 2015.

The book is the result of an in-depth project developed by young Yanomami researchers, inspired by the work of anthropologist Bruce Albert and botanist William Milliken. It contains a comprehensive list of medicinal plants used by the Yanomami to treat several diseases.

Credit: William Milliken, Vicente Albernaz Coelho, Midia Ninja

All this knowledge will now be available to the world thanks to an online, interactive and bilingual (Portuguese and English) exhibition launched today (September 13) by Google Arts & Culture. We invite you to browse through this millenary wisdom here

The online exhibition Manual dos remédios tradicionais Yanomami brings together photographs, videos, drawings, audio recordings and texts. Curated by the ISA, it is part of the global launch of a project about natural history that unites collections from renowned international institutions such as the London and American Natural History Museums.

Credit: Edson Sato; Leandro Lima

The exhibition looks at the traditional knowledge about forest medicine — a millenary heritage from the Yanomami people, protected by shamans and transmitted by elderly women from one generation to the next. This wealth of culture and information survived throughout the centuries despite the passing of many Yanomami individuals, victims of measles epidemics and malaria brought by invaders of indigenous lands. At the end of the virtual tour, ‘visitors’ can access the original and complete version of the Manual dos remédios tradicionais Yanomami.

Book cover: “Manual dos remédios tradicionais Yanomami

The Yanomami are one of the largest indigenous people in Brazil. About 22,000 Yanomami individuals live in the states of Amazonas and Roraima, in the northern part of the country. Their territory sits at the border between Brazil and Venezuela, and several communities inhabit the neighbor country. The ISA Institute works with the Yanomami to develop projects that ensure the protection of their land, the strengthening of their organization and the preservation and acknowledgement of their culture. More about the Yanomami here.

The Google Cultural Institute has over 1,000 partner organizations in its project to offer online and unrestricted access to the world’s cultural treasures. The ISA is one of these institutions.

This specific project brings together natural history organizations from 15 countries. They created over 100 interactive stories and shared 300,000 photos, videos and documents online, offering everyone the chance to reconnect with the history of human evolution and the richness of the Earth’s environment.