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Beiji qianjin yaofang 備急千金要方 "Invaluable Prescriptions for Ready Reference"

The Qianjin yaofang 千金要方 "Invaluable prescriptions", full title Beiji qianjin yaofang 備急千金要方 "Invaluable prescriptions for ready reference", shortly called Qianjinfang 千金方 "Invaluable methods", also called Sun Zhenren beiji qianjin yaofang 孫真人備急千金要方 "Immortal Sun’s Invaluable Prescriptions [...]", is a book on clinical medicine compiled by the Tang period 唐 (618-907) Daoist master Sun Simiao 孫思邈 (581-682). He came from Huayuan 華原 in the capital region Jingzhao 京兆 (modern Yaoxian 耀縣, Shaanxi) and was a famous physician and Daoist master. When Emperor Taizong 唐太宗 (r. 626-649) founded the Tang dynasty he invited Sun Simiao to the court with the intention to appoint him to a high office, yet Sun refused. In 569 he received an audience by Emperor Gaozong 高宗 (r. 649-683), and again, Sun declined to accept the title of a state official. In 674 he retired. During his active time he had been visitied by a lot of famous scholars like Song Lingwen 宋令文, Meng Yue 孟說, Lu Zhaolin 盧照鄰 or Wei Zheng 魏徵 to ask him for advice. Except the Qianjin yaofang Sun Simiao has also authored a supplement, the Qianjin yifang 千金翼方 (including the text Jinjing 禁經 "Book of avoidances"), and a lot of other writings, like Laozi zhu 老子注, Zhuangzi zhu 莊子注 (commentaries to the Laozi 老子 and Zhuangzi 莊子), Fululun 福禄論, Shesheng zhenlu 攝生真錄, Zhenzhong sushu 枕中素書, Hui sanjiao lun 會三教論, Guijing 龜經, Mingtang tuzhu 明堂圖注, Sun Zhenren danjing 孫真人丹經, Qianjin shizhi 千金食治 and Xuannü fangzhong jing 玄女房中經.
The Qianjin yaofang was finished in 652 and is 30 juan "scrolls" long. The book is a resumme of written texts on clinical medicine in earlier ages and therefore greatly influenced all later books. The title of the book is derived from Sun's thesis that human life is more worth than a thousand pounds of gold (qianjin 千金) and each medicine or treatment able to heal a man is therefore invaluable. The Daoist Canon Daozang 道藏 and the imperial collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書 include a version of the Qianjin yaofang that includes the supplement Qianjin yifang 千金翼方 and has a length of 93 juan. This joint version is also called Qianjinfang 千金方.
The first juan is a kind of introduction (Zonglun 總論) into the topic and explains the wondrous influence of physicians (yi de 醫德), the use of herbs and other material medica (bencao 本草), and the preparation of medicine (zhiyao 制藥). The chapter Dayi jingcheng 大醫精誠 explains the moral standpoint of a "great physician": He had to calm his spirit and to fix his will, to make himself free from desires and wishes, to that he would be able to display a fair and unbiased (putong yideng 普同一等) will to help anyone struck by disease. Wealth and income were not to play any role in his considerations, but he had to equally display kindheartedness to his patients (yi shi tong ren 一視同仁). Sick people were to be regarded by him as if they were his closest relatives (zhiqin 至親). Sun Simiao explained that in his time, of all diseases only 50 to 60 per cent were actually healed because the people were too greedy, did not care for a sincere mind and neglected the importance of diet. There were, furthermore, too many wandering doctors with doubtful scientific knowledge that gave a bad image to the discipline of medicine.
When inquiring his patients, a physician had to ask for all details of their lives, a process that was not to be shortened in any way. Observations had to be made not only on the sick person himself, but also in his environment and his family. Many physicians, the author said, sought only for fame and fortune and to beat their competitors. The studies of medicine (chapter Dayi xiye 大醫習業) were an earnest business that had to be pursued with all seriousness and enthusiasm. Only an excellent physician would be able to render health and youth to a patient. The book then goes on describing diagnosis and treatment methods of the most important diseases in clinical medicine. It is divided into the parts gynecology (nüke 婦科), pediatry (erke 兒科), the science of the five "ministers" (wuguanke 五官科), i.e. the sensory organs ears, eyes, mouth, nose and body, internal medicine (neike 內科), and surgical medicine (waike 外科). Healing the diseases of women, the author claims, was much more difficult than that of men. He furthermore says that caring for the health of the young would have great effects on the health of adults. Healing women and children was therefore more important than caring for men and old people.
Two juan are dedicated to the topic of antidotes and detoxication (jiedu jijiu 解毒急救), two juan to the theme of diet and nourishing life (shizhi yangsheng 食治養生), one juan to pulse diagnostics (maixue 脈學), and two scrolls to acupuncture and moxibustion (zhenjiu 針灸).
The whole book includes 233 chapters and introduces 5,300 different medications. Especially the parts on gynecology and pediatry are path-braking for the later development of Chinese medicine in these fields. The part on internal medicine operates with the concept of coldness and heat, deficiency (xu 虛) and excess (shi 實) in the zang 臟 and fu 腑 viscera that is still made use of today in traditional Chinese medicine.
The Qianjin yaofang is the first book since the Nanjing 難經 which clearly and concretely describes phenomena and curement of febrile diseases. It refers to instructions of the master physicians Zhang Jingzhong 張仲景, Hua Tuo 華佗 and Wang Shuhe 王叔和. It not only relies on traditional manuals, but also considers the use of healing methods from among the common people, for instance, the use of thyroid gland (ye 靨) of deer or sheep for the treatment of goiter (qiying 氣癭), of the use of lacquer from Changshan 常山 and Shu 蜀 (Sichuan) to cure malaria (nüeji 瘧疾), the use of betel nuts (ganlang 檳榔) to expel tapeworms (taochong 絛蟲), all methods that are still used today. The author of the Qianjin yaofang propagates the joint use of acupuncture and moxibution, and explains the importance of diet in the curement process, or for prolonging life.
Sun Simiao preferred a change in diet as the first method to cure a disease. Only when a special diet was not sufficient, drugs would be resorted to. He compared drugs with weapons that were fierce and violent, and therefore a less preferential method, while diet like rice congee (gu baipu jiu 穀白皮粥) or red bean soup (chi xiaodou tang 赤小豆湯) would prevent the appearance of diseases. Generally seen, physical activity was seen by him as a good means to keep the body in good health, like flowing water that does not rot.
The author integrates the treatment of a sickness called "meagreness caused by the ghosts of the flying corpse" (feishi guizhu 飛尸鬼疰, i.e. tuberculosis) into the chapter on lung diseases and points out that it arises from a disorder in diet. He also describes the phenomena and treatment of guju 骨疽 (i.e. bone and joint tuberculosis) and related Diabetes mellitus (xiaoke 消渴) with certain furuncles.
In the field of acupuncture the Qianjin yaofang establishes high standards, like in the detection of nerve points (ashi xue 阿是穴) and the method of finding out acupoints by using the length of finger-limb of the patient (tongshencun 同身寸).
The Qianjin yaofang soon was transmitted to Japan and Korea where it served as a blueprint for important medical books like Tamba Yasuyori's 丹波康賴 Ishimpō 醫心方 in Japan, and Kim Ye-mong's 金禮蒙 Uibang yuchwi 醫方類聚 and Heo Jun's 許浚 Dongui bogam 東醫寶鑒 in Korea.
More than 30 different prints of the Qianjin yaofang have survived until today, basing on the earliest print made during the Song period 宋 (960-1279). During the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) Gao Baoheng 高保衡 and Lin Yi 林億 rearranged the text and brought it into a more coherent shape. One of the earliest prints dates from the Dade reign 大德 (1297-1307) and was produced by the Dexi Academy 梅溪書院. Another print of an annotated edition was made by the Wangken Studio 王肯堂 in 1605. In 1955 the Renmin weisheng press 人民衛生出版社 published a facsimile of the Dexi edition.
The Qianjin yifang that was planned as a kind of supplement to the Qianjin yaofang was finished in 682 and consists of 30 juan, covering the parts materia medica (yaowu 藥物), clinical medicine, examination methods (zhenfa 診法), acupuncture and moxibustion, as well as the book Jinjing. The Qianjin yifang includes some medical information coming from abroad, like agada pills (ajiatuo wan 阿伽陀丸) or Jivaka's prescriptions (Qipo fang 耆婆方). It furthermore quotes from ancient books that are only preserved as fragmentary quotations, like the Xinxiu bencao 新修本草 or the Shanghanlun 傷寒論. In 1543 Qiao Shiding 喬世定 from Yaozhou 耀州 published the first joint version of the two Qianjin books.
The most important commentary to the Qianjin yaofang is Zhang Lu's 張璐 Qianjinfang yanyi 千金方衍義 from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911).

Li Jingwei 李經緯 et al. (ed. 1995). Zhongyi da cidian 中醫大辭典, Beijing: Renmin weisheng chubanshe, p. 968.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1656.
Lin Jianfu 林建福 (1996) „Beiji qianjin yaofang 備急千金要方“, in: Zhou Gucheng 周谷城 (ed.), Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Keji 科技, Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe, p. 520.
Zhongguo da baike quanshu zongbianji weiyuanhui "Zhongguo chuantong yixue" bianji weiyuanhui 中國大百科全書總編輯委員會《中國傳統醫學》編輯委員會 (1992). "Shen Nong bencao jing 神農本草經", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo chuantong yixue 中國傳統醫學, Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe, p. 327.

1. 醫學總論 Yixue zonglun General introduction into the science of medicine
2.-4. 婦科病 Nüke bing Diseases of women
5. 少小嬰孺 Shaoxiao ying'er Diseases of children
6. 七竅病 Qiqiao bing Diseases of the seven orifices
7. 風毒脚氣 Fengdu jiaoqi The poison of winds and diseases caused by it
8. 諸風 Zhufeng Pathogenic winds
9. 傷寒例 Shanghan li Examples of treating febrile diseases
10. 傷寒雜治 Shanghan zazhi Miscellaneous treatment of febrile diseases
11. 肝臟 Ganzang The liver
12. 膽腑 Danzang The gallbladder
13. 心臟 Xinzang The heart
14. 小腸腑 Xiaochangfu The small intestines
15.-16. 脾臟 Pizang The spleen
17. 肺臟 Feizang The lung
18. 大腸腑 Dachangfu The large intestines
19. 腎臟 Xianzang The kidneys
20 膀胱腑 Pangguangfu The bladder
21. 消渴, 淋閉, 尿血, 水腫 Xiaoke linbi niaoxie shuizhong Diseases with the symptom of frequent drinking or urination, gonorrhoe etc.
22. 疔腫癰疽 Ding zhong yong ju Furuncles, turgors, boils, and vesicles
23. 痔漏 Zhilou Anal fistulas
24. 解毒並雜治 Jiedu bing zazhi Detoxication and miscellaneous treatments
25. 備急 Beiji First aid
26. 食治 Shizhi Regulating diet
27. 養性 Yangxing The nourishment of life
28. 平脈 Pingmai Equalizing the pulse
29. 明堂三人 Mingtang sanren Three human (charts) of the (channels of the) Bright Hall
29.-30. 針灸孔穴主治 Zhenjiu kongxue zhuzhi Acupuncture and moxibustion
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

June 25, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail