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This article is a preliminary survey of representations of the body produced in China from the Song to the Qjng period in the context of medicine, forensic medicine and Daoism. Despite much common theoretical background, bodily representation in each of these fields differs in function and intent. Each field came to be associated with a particular aspect of the body. For medicine, this was the description of the viscera and the channels and tracts through which qi and humours flowed; for forensic medicine, it was the description of the skeleton; for Daoism, it was the symbolic description of the body as the spatio-temporal locus of a system of mutations and correspondences with the outside world and the spirit world.

These representations fall into three categories, reflecting three different approaches to the body: images of the whole body approached from without, including gymnastic postures, locations on the body, somatic measurements, channels and tracts; images of the inside of the body, i.e. the internal organs and the skeleton (which raises issues regarding dissection); and images of the symbolic body, i.e. alchemical processes within the body and the true form of the allegorical body. The images, which are always accompanied by text, require to be read according to specific cultural codes, and reveal particular mental constructions of the body. They perform multiple functions, serving as proof of knowledge, teaching material, medium of transmission, memory aid, or graphic presentation of a text; and for the Daoists, manifesting the form of the true body.

In: Asian Medicine
Author: Zheng Jinsheng

Dietary therapy (shiliao 食療) is a distinctive feature of traditional Chinese pharmacology. But the Song period (960-1279) saw a new vogue for beverages and foods with added medicinal ingredients. 'Health drinks' containing aromatic medicinal herbs enjoyed great popularity in all strata of society. The writer distinguishes this phenomenon of medicated foods from the practice of 'curing illness with diet' and draws parallels with the current popularity of medicinal cuisine (yaoshan 藥膳).

In: Asian Medicine

According to the Lingshu 靈樞 (Numinous Pivot) section of Huangdi neijing 黃 帝內經 (The Inner Canon [of Medicine] of the Yellow Emperor), the Yellow Emperor (said by legend to have reigned c. 2698–2599 BCE) read all the remedy literature, and distilled from it five methods of treating illness. The first of these was Daoyin xingqi 導引行氣 (Guiding and stretching and moving qi). This article traces the history of the daoyin exercise traditions involving animal impersonation from pre-Qin China to the present day. It uncovers a tale of transformation, on the one hand indicative of the therapeutic power invested in animals in early Chinese culture, and on the other of a practice sufficiently plastic to lend itself to unarmed combat and community sports-an emblem at once of self-determination and conformity.

In: Asian Medicine
Volume Editors: Vivienne Lo and Penelope Barrett
A unique collection of 36 chapters on the history of Chinese medical illustrations, this volume will take the reader on a remarkable journey from the imaging of a classical medicine to instructional manuals for bone-setting, to advertising and comic books of the Yellow Emperor. In putting images, their power and their travels at the centre of the analysis, this volume reveals many new and exciting dimensions to the history of medicine and embodiment, and challenges eurocentric histories. At a broader philosophical level, it challenges historians of science to rethink the epistemologies and materialities of knowledge transmission. There are studies by senior scholars from Asia, Europe and the Americas as well as emerging scholars working at the cutting edge of their fields.

Thanks to generous support of the Wellcome Trust, this volume is available in Open Access.
Author: Chang Che-Chia

This paper casts light on the myth, current in China before the Opium War, that the Europeans could not survive without rhubarb. The myth has its roots in differences between pharmaceutical theories and material culture in the Chinese and Western traditions. In China, rhubarb was considered a drastic purgative, indicated only in case of grave illness. In the West, in consequence of a specific method of processing, it was regarded as a mild and gentle drug, albeit wonderfully effective in ridding the body of superfluous humoral substances. Thus the same herb acquired completely different images in China and in the West. An important factor that fostered the myth was the Russian government's termination of the rhubarb monopoly in the prelude to the Sino-Russian border conflict in the late eighteenth century. This gave rise to increased smuggling, which was misinterpreted in China as evidence that Russia stood in desperate need of rhubarb. When the border conflict came to an end in 1792, Russia's unusually submissive attitude tended to confirm this misapprehension. This article not only explains why the Qjng government adopted an embargo on rhubarb; it also shows how differing pharmaceutical views influenced international affairs.

In: Asian Medicine
In: Imagining Chinese Medicine
In: Imagining Chinese Medicine
In: Imagining Chinese Medicine
In: Imagining Chinese Medicine