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Temazcal at the Joya de Cerén archaeological site, El Salvador

A temazcal ([temasˈkal]) is a type of low heat sweat lodge, which originated with pre-Hispanic Indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica. The term temazcal comes from the Nahuatl word temāzcalli [temaːsˈkalːi] ("house of heat")[citation needed], or possibly from the Nahua words teme (to bathe) and calli (house).[1]


Pictogram of an Aztec temazcal in the Codex Magliabechiano

In ancient Mesoamerica it was used as part of a curative ceremony thought to purify the body after exertion such as after a battle or a ceremonial ball game. It was also used for healing the sick, improving health, and for women to give birth. It continues to be used today in Indigenous cultures of Mexico and Central America that were part of the ancient Mesoamerican region for spiritual healing and health enrichment reasons. It is currently being recovered by all sectors of society in Mexico, Central America and the world as a cleansing and restorative balancing of mind, body and spirit.

The temazcal is usually a permanent structure, unlike sweat lodges of other regions. It has various construction styles differing by region; from volcanic rock and cement adobe mid bricks even wood mud and cloth can be utilized. It may be a circular dome made to represent the uterus, although rectangular ones have been found at certain archeological sites and this shape is also used. To produce the heat, volcanic stones are heated. Volcanic stones are safe because they do not explode from the temperature. They may be heated with fire from an outside port or placed in a pit located in the center or near a wall of the temazcal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aaland, Mikkel. "Origin of the Temescal". "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2011-05-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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