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James Callow Folklore Archive

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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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Belief

The pishtace are nocturnal murderers of Indians. The pishtaco murder Indians in order to obtain human fat to be sold as lubricants for machinery and to be used in pharmacuticals.

The legend derives from 16th and 17th centurey Spanish practices of using human body fats as treatment for wounds and diseases. the people who tell this tale are poor Indians and the pishtaco are usually wealthy industrial men in the area. The tale helps draw lines of social class.

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Where learned: Journal of American Folklore ; The Pishtaco: Institutionalized Fear in Highland Peru

Keyword(s): BODY ; Cultural ; Culture ; Fat ; FEAR ; HORROR ; INDIAN ; INDUSTRY ; Kill ; Lubrication ; Machinery ; MEDICINE ; MURDER ; Native American ; Peru ; Peruvian ; Pharmaceutical ; Pishtaco ; Poor ; Social Class ; Wealthy

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal

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