EnglishShow more Special sense of general English herbalist ‘one versed in the knowledge of herbs or plants;..a botanist’ (OED).
In African society: one who dispenses or deals in medicinal herbs and other traditional remedies for sickness or misfortune.Also attributive. See also medicine man (medicine sense 2). Cf. bossiedokter, witchdoctor.
The role of diviner is sometimes erroneously attributed to the herbalist by writers.
[1925D. KiddEssential Kafir 134The diviner may send a patient to one of these people, saying that, as his illness is not caused by magic or by ancestral spirits, all that is needed is a course of medical treatment by a herb-doctor.]
1930S.T. PlaatjeMhudi (1975) 54He remembered how, when people were ill, they consulted a herbalist and how the longana (wormwood) bush served as a tonic and cure for every ailment.
1949C. BullockRina 84The infusion of the bark of a certain tree and herbs of the field such as our herbalists knew of.
1950D. ReedSomewhere S. of Suez 227The witch-doctor is always a herbalist when he is facing a white man; when he turns his face towards a tribesman he becomes a witch-doctor.
1962W.D. Hammond-TookeBhaca Soc.Initially it is necessary to distinguish two types of ‘doctor’ viz. the herbalist (inyanga..) and the diviner (isangoma..). Both are practitioners in the art of healing...The herbalist does not commune with the shades nor can he divine.
1977N. Xayimpi inE. Prov. Herald 11 Mar. 5A Kwazakele trader, Mr. E Z Kabane, who started his business in a shack as a herbalist, has been chosen 1976 black businessman of the year in the Eastern Cape.
1984E. Mantini inSunday Times 26 Feb. 7The bills of inyangas and other traditional African healers will be tax-deductible...Johannesburg’s Receiver of Revenue..adds: ‘We will honour such receipts provided the inyangas are registered with a local herbalist association.’
1985J. Mason inCosmopolitan May 154The herbalist..has an intimate knowledge of the medicinal properties of herbs and powders, and..sometimes divines with the use of bones.
1990R. MalanMy Traitor’s Heart 185The classified sections of Soweto’s newspapers carried ads in which ‘traditional healers’ or ‘herbalists’ offered to restore love to the lovelorn, seal homes against evil spirits, thwart the designs of enemies, and cure disease.
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