Islamic Humoralism on the Malay Peninsula

Carol Laderman

in Taming the Wind of Desire

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1991 | ISBN: 9780520069169
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520913707 | DOI:
Islamic Humoralism on the Malay Peninsula

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This chapter relates the Malay humoral system—the cornerstone of both medical and cosmological theory—to medieval Islamic humoralism and to the beliefs of aborigines who live in the Malayan rain forest. By the fourteenth century, when Greek–Arabic medical theories reached Malaya along with Islam, its inhabitants had had more than a thousand years of exposure to similar traditional Hindu Ayurvedic theories, tempered by contact with Chinese medicine. Over the following centuries, Islamic humoral theory has been shaped by and integrated into Malay thought. Elaborated humoral ideas of contemporary Malays extend from such mundane matters as food and illness to the workings of the universe and the nature of its inhabitants, both seen and unseen.

Keywords: Malay humoral system; Islamic humoral theory; aborigines; beliefs; Hindu Ayurvedic theories; Chinese medicine

Chapter.  9423 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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