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TitleThe Art of Medicine in early China
TagsTraditional Chinese Medicine Alternative Medicine Confucius Historian Han Dynasty
File Size5.1 MB
Total Pages256
Table of Contents
Title page
Copyright information
Table of contents
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Author's Note on Translations and Chinese Text
	The Medical Fathers – A European Invention?
	Research Design
Part I Before Medical History
	1 Attendant He: Innovator or Persona?
		Setting the Stage
		Who Was He?
		Historical Person or Literary Device?
		Personification of an Archetype
		Attendant He after the Tradition
	2 Bian Que as a Seer: Political Persuaders and the Medical Imagination
		Setting the Stage
		Mirror of Contemporary Healing?
		Urban Legend?
		The Sage and the Healer
		The Afterlife of an Analogy
	3 Chunyu Yi: Can the Healer Speak?
		Setting the Stage
		The Healer as an Official?
		Whose Voice?
		From Official Memorandum to Case Histories
Part II Medical Histories
	4 Liu Xiang: The Imperial Library and the Creation of the Exemplary Healer List
		Setting the Stage
		Histories of Medicine
		Matters of Timing
		Conclusion and Discussion
	5 Zhang Ji: The Kaleidoscopic Father
		Setting the Stage
		Historical Person or Medical Persona?
		Matters of Timing
		Beyond Song
	6 Huangfu Mi: From Innovator to Transmitter
		Setting the Stage
		Where Did the Transmitter Go?
		The Emergence of the PEDANT
		Conclusion and Discussion
Epilogue: Ancient Histories in the Modern Age
	The Modern Context
	The New Histories
		The Historians and Their Motives
		Signs of European Influence
		Similarities to Ancient and Medieval Histories
	Histories Past and Future
Appendix: A Problematic Preface
	1 Attendant He: Innovator or Persona?
	2 Bian Que as a Seer: Political Persuaders and the Medical Imagination
	3 Chunyu Yi: Can the Healer Speak?
	4 Liu Xiang: The Imperial Library and the Creation of the Exemplary Healer List
	5 Zhang Ji: The Kaleidoscopic Father
	6 Huangfu Mi: From Innovator to Transmitter
	Epilogue: Ancient Histories in the Modern Age
	Appendix: A Problematic Preface
Works Cited
	Pre-1900 Works
	Refetences Post-1900
Document Text Contents
Page 128




At the close of Chapter  4, we established that Huangfu Mi’s list of exemplary healers endured for centuries. How
do we come to understand that, despite disparate outward manifestations
in varying time periods, we always return to the same list of ancient
fathers? Is it safe to assume that the portraits of the medical fathers
remained static through the centuries after Huangfu Mi? Or did the
archive evolve over China’s medieval period, and if so, by what means?

For answers to these questions, I  examine the shifting representa-
tions of Zhang Ji (ca. AD 150–219),1 a figure found among the ranks
of Huangfu Mi’s exemplary healers and Needham’s medical fathers. By
all accounts, Zhang Ji was a figure of unrivaled importance to the clas-
sical medical tradition. Regarded by later healers as the ancestor of all
drug formulary, Zhang Ji invites comparisons to the Roman physician
Galen in terms of his historical significance. As Needham and Lu explain,
Zhang Ji’s Cold Damage Disorders was one of the most important medical
treatises in China after the Inner Classic, and more important than the
Inner Classic from the perspective of drug therapy.2 Since the eleventh
century, this treatise has represented a key text in the classical medical
tradition. Healers have read, memorized, and reflected upon the contents
of the treatise, relying upon it for guidance in the diagnosis and treat-
ment of ills.

At first glance, Zhang Ji would seem to be an odd choice of subject
for my study, as one would not think that his image changed much over
the centuries. If we turn to his preface to the Cold Damage Disorders,
we find the image of Zhang Ji that dominates current accounts of the
medical tradition. By Zhang Ji’s account, the epidemic that struck the
late Han dynasty (ca. 196–220) all but wiped out his clan – no less than
two-thirds of his relatives succumbed to the epidemic in the space of a

Page 129

Zhang Ji: The Kaleidoscopic FaTher


decade. Frustrated by his inability to rescue his kinsmen, or in his words,
“moved by the fallen of the past and pained by those who could not be
rescued from their untimely demise,” the Han dynasty healer set his mind
to rectifying the situation. “I have sought,” he wrote, “the teachings of the
ancients, selecting widely from the multitude of formulas.” Not content
with merely collating ancient works, Zhang Ji verified the efficacy of
old formulas through his own trials. The result of his labor was a work
called the Cold Damage Disorders, which explained how to diagnose and
treat these illnesses. “Although this work cannot cure all illnesses,” he
remarked modestly. “I hope that readers will be able, when they examine
a disorder, to recognize its source.”3

The image of Zhang Ji as a tragic figure has captured the imagi-
nation of centuries of medical authors and healers. The early Qing
scholar and authority, Cheng Yingmao 程應旄 (seventeenth century),
for example, asserted that the preface to the Cold Damage Disorders was
the key to unlocking the meaning of the treatise as a whole. As this
seventeenth-century scholar put it, “When I read Zhang Ji’s preface to
the Cold Damage Disorders, I  realized that it was precisely a work that
‘lamented to Heaven and grieved for the people.’ ” Only by considering
the preface, Cheng reasoned, would the reader see the parallels between
the medical treatise and the Spring and Autumn Annals (Chunqiu 春秋), a
classic long attributed to Confucius.4 With this comparison, Cheng was
alluding to Sima Qian’s own preface to the Records of the Grand Historian,
where the Grand Scribe of the Han had framed the act of writing as an
expression of the sage’s frustrations. According to Sima Qian, Confucius
produced the Spring and Autumn Annals during a particularly difficult
moment in the life of the sage. Unable to find employment as a min-
ister, Confucius had failed to restore humane governance. As a result,
Confucius had no choice but to encode his thoughts in his annals. Or, to
quote Sima Qian, “Confucius transmitted the events of the past, thinking
of those to come.”5 Cheng’s comparison of the Cold Damage Disorders to
the Spring and Autumn Annals is intriguing. For it suggests that Cheng saw
Zhang Ji as a medical counterpart to Confucius, whom Cheng described
as a sage and tragic figure.

The casting of Zhang Ji as a tragic figure captivated not only pre-
modern scholars but also contemporary historians, who also believe
that this figure is historical. Indeed, many modern accounts return to
the preface in an effort to put the monumental treatise in its rightful
historical context. In the History of Chinese Medicine, Li Jingwei 李經緯
opens his description of Zhang Ji with a bit of dramatic flair  – by

Page 255



Zhu Danxi, 62
Zhu Jianping, 21
Zichan, 23–5

as textual double of Attendant He, 31–4
Zuozhuan, 14, 21–3, 53, 56, 104, 161,

185n13. See also Attendant He;
Lord Ping

as political parable vs. medical history
account, 22, 30, 41

Attendant He as textual double of
Zichan in, 31–4

circulation of, 100
historical context of, 23
Jin visit and diagnosis of Lord Ping’s

illness episode, 24–6
medical divination and, 35–8
Zichan’s visit to Jin Court

episode, 235

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