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Corpse powder or corpse poison (Navajo: áńt’į́, literally witchery or harming) is a Navajo folkloric substance made from powdered corpses. The powder is used by Navajo witches to curse their victims.
The best sources for áńt’į́ are the corpses of children, especially twins; the best body parts for it are the fingerprints and the bones of the back of the skull. Áńt’į́ is said to look like the corn pollen used in blessing ceremonials. However, it is used to curse, not to bless.
There are different types of powder. For example, incest corpse powder is made from dried semen produced from intercourse with the corpse of a female relative.
The effect of the áńt’į́ is a curse-disease, usually indicated by an immediate reaction to administration of the poison, like fainting, swelling of the tongue, or lockjaw. Sometimes, however, the victims simply wastes away as from a normal disease. Because, however, it is actually caused by a witch, medicine or the usual disease ceremonials will not be effective.
If the person from which the corpse powder is made died of a contagious disease, the powder may have actual harmful properties.
- Perrone, Bobette; Stockel, H. Henrietta; Krueger, Victoria (1993-03). Medicine women, curanderas, and women doctors. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-8061-2512-1. Retrieved 8 October 2010. Check date values in:
- Preston, Douglas; Child, Lincoln (2000-06-01). Thunderhead. Warner Books. p. 328. ISBN 978-0-446-60837-4. Retrieved 8 October 2010.