The Inca ruler Capac Yupanqui's wife having an epileptic seizureThe Inca ruler Capac Yupanqui's wife
having an epileptic seizure
Codex péruvien illustré (Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno) by Poma de Ayala
Paris: Institut d'Ethnologie, 1936

Epilepsy was also a known disease among the ancient cultures on the American continent. Many different names were given to the illness, which shows that it was regarded as a serious illness. The Incas, for instance called it Aya huayra (breath of death), Ttucu (attack of the night bird), or Huani keshia (sickness of death).

An illustrated Peruvian manuscript reports that the wife of the Inca ruler Capac Yupanqui (who lived around 1500) had epilepsy. She suffered severe convulsions up to three times a day. According to the manuscript, her husband sent her away and married another woman.

The illustration shows Capac Yupanqui's wife having a grand mal seizure. She has fallen, her arms are stiff and her eyes are fixed in a stare.

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