Turkish Tobacco

(Nicotiana rustica) A yellow-flowered hybrid, derived from two wild species growing on the western side of the Andes near the borders of Ecuador and Peru. It spread by diffusion and migration over a much larger area than did N tabacum, though the latter is the kind raised commercially today (Driver) (see TOBACCO). The fumes of Turkish tobacco are strong and almost intoxicating, for the plant contains four times as much nicotine as in modern cigarette tobacco. Some southern Indians raise it still, always in remote plots and away from women. Four solemn puffs to the four directions was the custom, as the pipe was passed ceremonially from hand to hand.

Sometimes two puffs were added for the zenith and the nadir (Underhill). The curing shamans of Aztec-speaking communities used this tobacco to put themselves into a state in which they could call on the spirits to help in a patient's cure (Furst). Being so much more powerful, this was the tobacco that was more widely used in ritual. The Huichola refer to this as the "proper tobacco of the shaman", while the Seneca of New York called it "real tobacco" (Furst).

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