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By Herbert M. Shelton

Publication by way of Shelton, Herbert M.

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The means they employ include prescriptions for rest, dietary adjustments, and medicines (which may have plant, animal, and mineral components), as well as incantations and trance cures. In Malaysia, the etiology of the great majority of illnesses and their treatment fit into a humoral model. In many respects contemporary Malay humoralism is remarkably similar to the humoralism of the medieval Islamic world, but it incorporates significant differences in both theory and practice. Humoralism on the Malay Peninsula The bases of medical thought in three of the world's great civilizations, ancient Greece, India, and China, are remarkably similar.

Although seeking the "original form" of Malay texts appears to be a serious occupation of some Malay scholars, for example, Ismail Hussein (1974), it is fruitless to attempt to reconstruct "the original form" of the Main Peteri because of the emergent quality of each performance. Every seance is its own "original" whose plot and staging develop, to a large extent, out of particular circumstances, as well as owing a debt to specific performers and their audiences. I have attempted to show the great variety this form can attain by transcribing and translating three complete seances, presided over by six different ritual specialists.

The village was chosen after consultation with the director and staff of the General Hospital in Kuala Trengganu, the state capital. Located on the main highway, twenty-five miles away from cosmopolitan medicine in either direction, Merchang seemed perfect as a research site. The director of nursing told me that although a government-trained midwife had been in attendance for seventeen years, traditional midwives (bidan) and indigenous medical practitioners (bomoh) were still very much in demand.

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