Balché

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Balché is a mildly intoxicating beverage common among ancient and indigenous cultures in areas of what are now Mexico and upper Central America. Today, the drink is still common among the Yucatec Maya, and is made from the bark of a leguminous tree (Lonchocarpus violaceus), which is soaked in honey and water, and fermented. A closely related beverage, made from honey produced from the nectar of a species of morning glory (Turbina corymbosa), was called xtabentún.

Manufacturing[edit]

Balché is a kind of mead, an intoxicating beverage consumed by the ancient Maya and by some of their descendants today. These people make the drink in a trough or a canoe, which they fill with water and honey, adding chunks of bark and roots from the balché tree. The mixture begins to ferment immediately. It results in an inebriating drink the people consume during rituals and believe to have magic powers.


The peoples of Mesoamerica have long held the balché tree and their mysterious beverage sacred. Because the drink had strong religious significance to the Maya, the Spaniards banned the beverage in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. The ban was observed until a Maya named Chi convinced the Spaniards that balché had important health benefits and that many Maya were dying as a result of the prohibition. The Spaniards then lifted their ban, and balché rituals resumed. . . .
The Lacandon. . . believe that the gods gave balché rituals to them, and that because the gods themselves first became inebriated by the beverage, the people from then on had a duty to imitate the inebriation of the gods and to experience that same exhilaration. The Lacandon chant incantations while preparing the balché. . . First, the brewer offers his drink to the gods; then, later, the people partake of it, usually just before dawn. The Lacandon call the balché brewer "Lord of the Balché" and they identify him with Bohr or Bol, the god of inebriation.

Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews 2000, ISBN 1-57607-036-0

From Katz's book:[1] 'Ancient Mayan ceremonies involved a honey fermented called balché, which they used in enema form to maximize its inebriating effect. Perhaps because of this unfamiliar mode of consumption, their conquerors saw the devil lurking in balché, in order to "turn into snakes and worms that gnawed at the souls of the Maya." It was banned in the name of Christendom.'

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wild Fermentation, 2006. Ellix Katz.