An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Renshenkao 人參考

Mar 9, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Renshenkao 人參考 is a book on ginseng written during the mid-Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Tang Bingjun 唐秉鈞 (fl. 1778), courtesy name Hengquan 衡銓, from Shanghai. Tang was actually a physician and wrote the medical book Neijing yaoyu 內經要語.

Tang's brief book on ginseng focuses on the identification of genuine and fake ginseng. Ginseng could easily be confounded with Saposhnikovia divaricata (fangfeng 防風), Adenophora stricta (shashen 沙參) or bellflower roots (Platycodon grandiflorus, jiegeng 桔梗). The genuine ginseng root was very expensive, and forgers could therefore make huge profits. Tang approaches the topic from the medical part, then describes where the root grew, provides detailed descriptions on its appearance, and methods of preparation and conservation.

The book was first printed in 1778 by Master Tang’s Zhuying Shanzhuang Studio 竹瑛山莊. It is included in the series Lingjiange congshu 靈鶼閣叢書 and Yiyao congshu 醫藥叢書.

Zhuang Shufan 莊樹藩, ed. (1990). Zhonguo gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Yiyao 醫藥卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 3.