Acosta on the Bezoar Stone
A note to Pseudodoxia Epidemica, Book III, chapter 23

From Historia natural y moral de las Indias, Lib. 4, Chap. 42 (in the 1604 London edition, translated by E[dward] G[rimston], The Naturall and Morall Historie of The East and West Indies, pp. 323-326).

Of the Bezaars stone. Chap. 42.

The Bezaars stone is found in all these beasts before mentioned [i.e., "Vicugnes and Tarugnes" (chap. 40) and "Pacos, Guanacos, and Indian Muttons" (chap. 41)], which are proper to Peru, whereof some Authors of our time have written whole bookes, which they may reade that desire to have a more particular knowledge. For the present subject it shall be sufficient to say, that this stone which they call Bezaar, is found in the stomacke and belly of this beast, somtimes one alone, sometimes two, three, and foure. They are very different in forme, greatnesse and colour, for that some are small like filberds, & lesse; others like walnuts; some like pigeons egges, and others as bigge as a hens egge: and I have seene some as bigge as an orange; in forme some are round, others in fashion like to lentils, and many other formes. For their colour, som are black, some white, some grey, darke greene, and others, as if they had beene guilded. It is no certaine rule to judge the best and most fine by the colour or forme. All these stones are made and fashioned of divers films and skins one upon another. In the province of Xaura and other provinces of Peru, they find these stones in divers kinds of beasts, both wild and tame, as in the Guanacos, Pacos, Vicugnes, and Tarugues, some adde an other kind, which they say are wilde goates, which the Indians call Cypris. These other kindes of beastes are very well knowen in Peru, whereof wee have alerady discoursed. The Guanacos or country sheepe, or Pacos, have commonly the lesser stones, and blacke, neither are they so much approoved for the use of Physicke. They draw the greatest Bezaar stones from the Vicugnes, and they are grey, or white, or of a darke greene, which are helde for the better. They esteeme those of the Tarugues for the most excellent, whereof there are some reasonable bigge: they are commonly white, inclining to grey; and they have the filmes commonly bigger and thicker than the rest.

They finde the Bezaar stone equally in both male and female. All beasts that ingender it, chaw the cuid, and commonly feede upon the snow and rockes. The Indians reporte & teach by tradition from their fathers and Antients, that in the Province of Xaura, and in other provinces of Peru, there are many herbs and venomous beasts, which poison the water and the pastures where they eate and drinke, and where they breathe: amiddest which venomous hearbs there is one very well knowne of the Vicugne, by a naturall instinct, and of other beasts that ingender the Bezaar stone, which eate this hearb, and by meanes thereof they preserve themselves from the poisoned waters and pastures: and they say, that of this hearb the stone is compounde in the stomacke, whence it drawes all the vertue against poyson and other wonderfull effects. This is the opinion & tradition of the Indians, discovered by men of great experience in the kingdome of Peru, which agrees with reason, and with that which Plinie reports1 of the mountaine goates, which are nourished and fed upon poison without suffering any harme. The Indians being demaunded, why the sheepe, kine, goates, and calves, such as are in Castille, have not the Bezaar stone, seeing that they feede on the same rockes: their answer is, That they beleeve not, that those beasts of Castille eate of that hearbe, or that they have found the Bezaar stone in stags and falow diere. This seemes to agree with our knowledge, for that in new Spaine they find the Bezaar stone, although there be no Vicugnes, Pacos, Tarugues, nor Guanacos, but only stags, in some of which they finde these stones.

The principall vertue of the Bezaar stone is against poison and venomous diseases, although there bee heerein divers opinions, some hold it for a mockerie, others for a miracle. Howsoever it be, it is most certaine that it is of a great operation, when it is applied in time, & convenient in a maner, as hearbes, and to persons capable and disposed: for there is no medicine that doth alwaies cure infallibly. In Spaine and Italie, we have seene admirable effects of this stone, against the Taverdette, which is a kind of plague, but not so much as in Peru. They do apply it beaten and put into some liquor, which may make it fit for the cure of melancholy, the falling sickenes, pestilent feavers, & many other diseases. Some take it in wine, others in vineger, with water Dezahac, of Leangue de beufe, borrage and other sortes, as the Phisitians and Apoticaries can tell. The Bezaar stone hath no proper savour, as Rasis the Arabian doth testifie. Wee have seene notable trialls, and there is no doubt but the Author of this universall world, hath given great vertues to this stone. The Bezaar stones which comes from the East Indies, have the first place of account, they are of an olive colour, the second are those of Peru, and the third those of New Spaine. Since that these stones were in request, they say, the Indians have made artificall ones; and many when they see these stones greater then the orddinarie, they take them to be false and counterfait: triall and experience is the best mistres to know them. One thing is worthy admiration, that they grow and are fashioned upon very strange things, as upon the tagge of a point, upon a pinne, or a peece of wood, which they finde in the centre of this stone, and yet do they not hold it false, for that the beast might swallow it, and the stone thicken upon it, and growes one upon another, and so it increaseth. I did see in Peru, two stones fashioned upon Pignons of Castille, which made us to wonder much, for that in all Peru, we had not seene any pines or Pignons of Castille, if they were not brought from Spaine, which seemes to me very extraordinary. This little may suffice touching the Bezaars stone. They bring other phisicall stones from the Indies, as the stone of Hyiada, or of Rate, the bloud stone, the stones of milke, and of the sea. Those which they call Cornerinal, for the heart, whereof there is no neede to speake, having nothing common with the subject of beastes, whereof we have intreated: which gives us to understand how the great Master and Author of all, hath imparted his benefites and wonderfull secrets, to all partes of the world; for the which he is to be glorified for ever.


See also Boodt on bezoars.

1. Plin. lib. 10. c. 72. [HN X.xcii.197 (or englished)]

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