The Perfumed Garden, by Richard Burton

Chapter xiv

Description of the Uterus of Sterile Women and Treatment of the same

Know, O Vizir (God be good to you!), that wise physicians have plunged into this sea of difficulties to very little purpose. Each one has looked at the matter with his own point of view, and in the end the question has been left in the dark.

Amongst the causes which determine the sterility of women may be taken the obstruction in the uterus by clots of blood, the accumulation of water,180 the want of or defective sperm of the man, organic malformation of in women that are very corpulent, so that their uterus stagnation of the courses and the corruption of the menstrual fluid, and the habitual presence of wind in the uterus. Other savants attribute the sterility of women to the action of spirits and spells. Sterility is common in women that are very corpulent, so that their uteurs gets compressed and cannot conceive, not being able to take up the sperm, especially if the husband’s member is short and his testicles are very fat; in such a case the act of copulation can only be imperfectly completed.

One of the remedies against sterility consists of the marrow from the hump of a camel, which the woman spreads on a piece of linen, and rubs her sexual parts with it, after having been purified subsequently to her courses. To complete the cure, she takes some fruits of the plant called jackal’s grapes,181 squeezes the juice out of them into a vase, and then adds a little vinegar; of this medicine she drinks fasting for seven days, during which time her husband will take care to have copulation with her.

The woman may besides pound a small quantity of sesame-grain and mix its juice with a bean’s weight of sandarach182 powder; of this mixture she drinks during three days after her periods; she is then fit to receive her husband’s embraces.

The first of these beverages is to be taken separately, and in the first instance; after this the second, which will have a salutary effect, if so it pleases the Almighty God!

There is still another remedy. A mixture is made of nitre, gall from a sheep or a cow, a small quantity of the plant named el meusk,183 and of the grains of that plant. The woman saturates a plug of soft wool with this mixture, and rubs her vulva with it after menstruation; she then receives the caresses of her husband, and, with the will of God the Highest, will become pregnant.

180 There is reason to believe that the author is speaking here of so-called “whites,” which occasions protuberances in the genital organs of women.

181 The jackal’s-grape, also called foxgrape and meuknina, is simply the black nightshade (solanum nigrum). This name has been translated erroneously bear’s-grape (uva ursi), which is nothing but the arbute tree, which furnishes an anodyne.

182 Note in the autograph edition. — Sandarach, zemikh el ahmeur, red arsenic. Dictionary of Kazimirski.

183 The word meusk used by the author designates a plant, and signifies also musk. The plant is no doubt the tuberose, called in Arabic meusk el roumi, the musk of the Christian.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31