domingo, 23 de março de 2014


  1. The Making and Disappearance of the Bronze Acupuncture Figure
  2. After the Tang dynasty ended in 907,
  3. China experienced a period of political instability during the Five Dynasties
  4. and Ten Kingdoms (907-979).
  5. Medical education during that brief period was also interrupted,
  6. which created many social problems.
  7. After the Song dynasty (960-1279) restored order to the empire,
  8. the Song emperor Renzong (1010-1063) ordered the physician Wang Weiyi
  9. to consolidate the entire body of medical literature
  10. and establish a system of standards
  11. to serve the needs of the medical profession and the general population.
  12. Wang researched the number of acupuncture points and their locations on the body, and in the year 1027
  13. published his Illustrated Manual of Acupuncture and Moxibustion for use with the Bronze Figure.
  14. Because of the work’s importance,
  15. the text and illustrations were carved on stone tablets,
  16. which others could copy or use to make rubbings.
  17. Taking rubbings from carved stone tablets is one of the earliest forms of printing in China.
  18. This is how it is done.
  19. A paste is applied to the flat, uncarved surface of the stone.
  20. Soft white paper is then placed on the surface of the stone,
  21. and beaten with a pillow-like tool, so that some of the paper sticks
  22. to the flat surface while some is forced into the carved out text or pictures.
  23. The paper is then “stamped” gently with a flat inked pad.
  24. The pad only applies ink to the flat surface of the stone, which forms the “background” of the final rubbing,
  25. and leaves the carved-out text or illustrations white.
  26. Rubbing thus enables anyone to take a perfect copy of a written text,
  27. although the results appear as “white on black.”
  28. Wang Weiyi, who lived in the Song dynasty,
  29. is also the inventor of an important bronze human figure
  30. that had 354 acupuncture points indicated on its surface,
  31. along with their names.
  32. The figure was hollow inside and
  33. opened up to show models of the 11 internal viscera.
  34. It was a superb aid in teaching acupuncture in government institutions;
  35. no equivalent device was produced in the West for another 800 years.
  36. During the Song dynasty, officials used the bronze figure for teaching
  37. as well as testing.
  38. The points themselves were filled with small amounts of mercury,
  39. and the entire figure was covered with wax, which concealed the points.
  40. When a student was asked to locate a particular point with a needle,
  41. if he hit the point correctly,
  42. the mercury would spill out of the hole in the wax.
  43. If he missed, nothing happened.
  44. In the Song dynasty, doctors had to master the location of every acupuncture point
  45. on the figure in order to obtain their license to practice,
  46. whether they specialized in acupuncture or moxibustion.
  47. Treating a place on the body where there were no acupuncture points was,
  48. of course, useless and potentially harmful.
  49. Historical records tell us that Wang Weiyi made two bronze figures.
  50. One was placed in the imperial Office of Medicine,
  51. and used for teaching and examinations.
  52. The other was placed in a famous Buddhist temple,
  53. the Da Xiangguo temple,
  54. in the Northern Song capital, Kaifeng,
  55. where people could come to learn about acunpuncture.
  56. The figure is called the Tiansheng Bronze Figure because it was cast
  57. in the Tiansheng reign period of the Song Renzong emperor.
  58. We have little historical information about the figures themselves,
  59. but a book written in the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) by Zhou Mi,
  60. entitled Dong Qi Ye Yu, an unofficial history of the period,
  61. records an incident in which a man sees a bronze figure used
  62. in acupuncture and moxibustion.
  63. The figure was cast out of high-quality bronze,
  64. and covered with acupuncture points,
  65. with the names of the points written next to them.
  66. “What is most astonishing is the way the names of the points are not written
  67. on the surface of the figure with brush and ink,
  68. but rather inlaid with Chinese characters in gold.”
  69. This inlay or cloisonné technique was accomplished
  70. by incising the characters with a stylus
  71. on the surface of the figure,
  72. filling in the carved-out spaces with gold filaments,
  73. hammering the gold until it filled the space,
  74. and polishing the surface until it is smooth
  75. Try to imagine a life size bronze figure as tall as I am,
  76. with all the acupuncture points indicated with gold characters.
  77. Only a Chinese emperor could afford to have such a priceless object!
  78. The book Dong Qi Ye Yu also mentions that the figure had an opening
  79. in the middle and models of the 11 internal organs inside it.
  80. Qi Dong Ye Yu was written in the Southern Song dynasty,
  81. but the figure was made in the earlier Northern Song dynasty.
  82. We can thus assume that the figure was still
  83. in existence during the Southern Song,and that one of them was placed
  84. in an office of the government for safe keeping.
  85. After the Mongols invaded China in the mid-thirteenth century,
  86. crossing the Yangtze River and conquering the Southern Song dynasty,
  87. the famous bronze figure disappeared.
  88. In 1268, Kublai Khan became the first emperor of the Yuan dynasty.
  89. Medicine was a subject of great interest to the Mongols.
  90. When Kublai got ahold of the one remaining bronze figure,
  91. it had already been damaged by war.
  92. He had it repaired
  93. and ordered a revised version of Wang Weiyi’s book,
  94. Illustrated Manual of Acupuncture and Moxibustion for use with the Bronze Figure.
  95. He had both the figure and the book placed them in the Temple of the Three Emperors in the Mongol capital, today’s Beijing.
  96. In 1368, the Ming dynasty overthrew the Mongols.
  97. Nearly a century later,
  98. the restored bronze figure
  99. was again seriously damaged in an uprising,
  100. leaving most of the names of the acupuncture points illegible.
  101. But in 1443, the Ming Zhengtong emperor ordered a copy
  102. made of what remained of the Yuan dynasty figure,
  103. which was actually from the Northern Song.
  104. This copy turned out to be a masterpiece of bronze craftsmanship,
  105. displaying all the acupuncture points
  106. and their names in finely executed Chinese characters.
  107. This bronze figure, known as the Zhengtong Bronze Acupuncture Figure,
  108. was placed in the Imperial Medical College,
  109. where is served as the standard
  110. for acupuncture studies for the next five centuries.
  111. In 1900, near the end of the Qing dynasty,
  112. the Eight Allied Armies entered Beijing to suppress the Boxer Uprising.
  113. Russian troops occupied the Imperial Medical College,
  114. and in the chaos that followed the Zhengtong acupuncture figure disappeared,
  115. its whereabouts unknown.
  116. While it lasted, the Qing dynasty Imperial Medical College needed a bronze acupuncture figure on the premises
  117. —just as the Foreign Ministry
  118. and the Ministry of Geology needed world globes
  119. —so another figure was cast,
  120. some two meters tall. This time, however,
  121. it was not modeled after an earlier figure,
  122. since there was no such figure around .
  123. Today this early-twentieth-century bronze figure stands in the National Museum of China in Beijing.


  1. Holistic Medicine and Holistic Treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine
  2. There are major differences between Western and Chinese medicine.
  3. In addition to using different tools for treatment,
  4. and different theoretical approaches,
  5. the most significant difference is the fact that
  6. Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to human health.
  7. Western medicine takes off from anatomy.
  8. Medical students dissect corpses and analyze each organ,
  9. which provides the evidence for pathology and diagnosis,
  10. and leads to specialization. Opthamologists treat eyes, not ears.
  11. Dentists stay away from noses.
  12. Internists don’t use scalpels.
  13. Chinese medicine follows a different path.
  14. Chinese doctors train with live people, not corpses.
  15. In addressing illness,
  16. Chinese doctors concentrate on the relationship
  17. between organs and their functions,
  18. examining the cause and effect of internal
  19. and external phenomenon.
  20. If you go to a Chinese doctor, he or she will first take pulse,
  21. not only to determine the heartbeat,
  22. but rather to understand the nature and source of your problem,
  23. and then make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
  24. Some of the theories of TCM may seem strange at first, but they actually make sense.
  25. For example, “Treat an ‘upper’ illness ‘below.’”
  26. In cases of migraine headaches,
  27. Chinese doctors don’t treat the head,
  28. because the root of the illness lies elsewhere.
  29. To treat migraine,
  30. Chinese doctors insert acupuncture needles in two points in the foot.
  31. Another theory is “Treat a ‘lower’ illness ‘above.”
  32. A twitching in the leg muscles is often treated at
  33. two acupuncture points behind the ears.
  34. “Treat internal maladies externally” is another example.
  35. Western-style surgery is extremely rare in TCM.
  36. The parasitic disease ascariasis can be horribly painful for children,
  37. especially when the worms enter the biliary tract.
  38. A Western-trained doctor would perform surgery to remove the worms,
  39. while a TCM doctor would perform bloodletting at
  40. an acupuncture point on the hand to relieve the pain.
  41. Yet another example is “Treat external maladies internally.”
  42. If a patient has a severe skin itch,
  43. a Western doctor will apply an anti-inflammatory medicine
  44. at the site to alleviate the condition,
  45. while a TCM doctor will look for the cause of the itching in the lungs,
  46. and prescribe a medicine that expels the heat in the lungs,
  47. which will stop the itching.
  48. These approaches characterize the way
  49. in which TCM addresses illness holistically.


  1. Yin & Yang and the Five Elements in the Inner Canon
  2. Yin and Yang and the Five Elements are key concepts
  3. in Chinese philosophy.
  4. First, Everything in the universe contains a mixture of elements of Yin and Yang,
  5. forces or “energies” which are both contradictory and complimentary.
  6. For example, night and day,
  7. heaven and earth, male and female, life and death,
  8. strength and weakness
  9. all have the dialectical qualities of Yin and Yang.
  10. While Yin and Yang are opposites, in certain circumstances they can trade places:
  11. strength becomes weakness,
  12. living things die, death is followed by birth.
  13. Second, Chinese view the material universe
  14. as highly intricate and immensely complex,
  15. yet in basic terms all phenomenon boil down
  16. to the Five Elements:
  17. metal, wood, water, fire and earth.
  18. These five physical elements interact under the influence of Yin and Yang,
  19. resulting in the world we live in.
  20. This cosmology plays a key role in Chinese traditional medicine,
  21. with every part of the human body having its own Yin or Yang qualities.
  22. For example, the head is Yang,
  23. as is the entire upper torso,
  24. while all the parts below the waist are Yin.
  25. The front of the body is Yin,
  26. the back is Yang.
  27. The back of the hand is Yang, while the palm is Yin,
  28. and the same goes for the outer and inner sides of the legs.
  29. According to the Inner Canon,
  30. “Yin and Yang are the Way of Heaven and Earth.”
  31. Here, “Way” means the interaction between Yin and Yang
  32. that gives order and discipline to the universe.
  33. Within this great order,
  34. controlling the forces of Yin and Yang
  35. enables one to be a master of the universe.
  36. Yin and Yang are also the “mother and father” of all change,
  37. including the processes of birth and death.
  38. Yin and Yang are mysterious,
  39. but their mystery can be seen and solved.
  40. The subtle and complex relationship between Yin and Yang
  41. is a key topic in Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine.
  42. Another important aspect of the Chinese worldview
  43. is the intimate relationship between Heaven and Mankind.
  44. Human beings are singular participants in the vast universe.
  45. Thus the human body functions according to the same principles and rules that govern the universe, or nature.
  46. The human body is a microcosm of the universe.
  47. Consider how the movement of the sun reflects activity in our bodies.
  48. The sun, which is Yang,
  49. rises in the morning, as does the Yang energy in our bodies.
  50. Yang energy reaches its peak at noon,
  51. and like the setting sun,
  52. it retreats in the afternoon and evening,
  53. making way for the emergence of Yin,
  54. which thrives at night.
  55. Let’s also consider the concept of the month,
  56. and the relationship between the lunar calendar
  57. and women’s monthly menstrual cycles.
  58. There are 365 days in the year,
  59. and approximately 360 acupuncture points on the body.
  60. In the Chinese calendar, 60 years constitutes a cycle or 甲子jiazi.
  61. In fact, some major epidemics occur at regular intervals,
  62. every 60 years or so.
  63. In ancient times, Chinese people believed that in order to understand the universe,
  64. it was essential to observe the functioning of the human body,
  65. as the two are intimately connected.


  1. Introducing the Inner Canon
  2. At first, treating illnesses by stimulating acupuncture points seems like something
  3. rather straightforward and easy.
  4. In world history,
  5. many different peoples practiced medicine this way.
  6. But acupuncture is not so simple.
  7. First, the points on the body have to be identified,
  8. and then organized in a systematic way
  9. that can serve as the basis for a theory of medicine.
  10. This process began in China over 2000 years ago,
  11. and the results were recorded in the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon.
  12. This book is a series of dialogues
  13. between the emperor and the doctor Qi Bo and others.
  14. They discuss medical theory,
  15. the functioning of the channels and tracts,
  16. human longevity,
  17. acupuncture,
  18. and various diagnostic techniques.
  19. In the Warring States period (BCE 475-221),
  20. Chinese scholars had a custom of attributing
  21. their own writings to great men of the past,
  22. as a way of boosting their own reputations.
  23. The legendary Yellow Emperor is believed to have lived over 4000 years ago,
  24. long before the Chinese writing system was invented,
  25. not to mention acupuncture or medicine.
  26. Scholars have established the fact that the Yellow Emperor’s
  27. text dates only from the Warring States period,
  28. and that it consists of two parts,
  29. the “Basic Questions,”
  30. and the “Spiritual Pivot.”
  31. The “Basic Questions” describes the 12 regular tracts,
  32. the 15 junctions, 12 cross-connections, 12 muscular inter-connections,
  33. and other particulars about the system of acupuncture points,
  34. tracts and channels.
  35. The “Spiritual Pivot” goes into greater detail about
  36. the practical aspects of acupuncture therapy,
  37. as well as theoretical questions.
  38. These books are the first to present the entire
  39. corpus of acupuncture knowledge,
  40. and are still regarded as classics today.


  1. Two Famous Acupuncturists in Ancient China
  2. In the early Han dynasty, around BCE 200,
  3. there was another important medical practitioner whose name is often mentioned along with Bian Que.
  4. This is Chun Yuyi,
  5. better known as Cang Gong,
  6. who practiced the medical traditions of the Yellow Emperor and Bian Que.
  7. Cang Gong made his diagnoses based on the “five colors,”
  8. part of the ancient Chinese system of Five Elements active
  9. in the human body:
  10. metal, wood, water, fire, earth.
  11. Wood, for example, represents the color blue;
  12. fire is red;
  13. earth is yellow;
  14. metal is white;
  15. and water is black.
  16. Our internal organs, and their functions, are also part of this five-part system:
  17. the liver corresponds to wood;
  18. the heart to fire;
  19. the lungs to metal;
  20. the gall bladder to the yellow earth;
  21. and the kidneys to black water.
  22. These correspondences help TCM doctors diagnose illnesses
  23. by the color of the patient’s complexion.
  24. The Historical Annals recounts how the Han emperor Wendi once held
  25. a conversation with Cang Gong
  26. in which the doctor recited a list of 25 different illnesses
  27. he had cured in his lifetime,
  28. based solely on the patients’ external appearance.
  29. In another famous incident,
  30. Cang Gong was treating a patient with dental cavities,
  31. which he cured by applying a stone needle to an acupuncture point
  32. on the patient’s left hand.
  33. Other famous doctors in the history
  34. of TCM include Zhang Zhongjing,
  35. Sun Simiao and a long, long list of others.


  5. Two Famous Acupuncturists in Ancient China
  6. History records a large number of famous physicians and
  7. medical practitioners active in ancient China.
  8. At the time of the legendary Yellow Emperor, Huangdi, around 4,600 years ago,
  9. there was a superb doctor named Bian Que.
  10. The Historical Annals, or Shi Ji,
  11. written by Sima Qian around 100 BCE,
  12. has biographies of two skilled doctors:
  13. Qin Yueren, who was called the Bian Que of his age;
  14. and Cang Gong, a Han-dynasty physician.
  15. Today’s primary school textbooks contain excerpts
  16. from the Historical Annals.
  17. In one of them, Bian Que goes to visit Marquis Huan of Cai,
  18. and tells him that he is sick.
  19. The Marquis denies it and says he feels fine.
  20. Time passes, and the next time Bian Que sees the Marquis, he tells him that his condition is worse.
  21. But again the Marquis says that he feels perfectly well.
  22. At their third meeting, Bian Que says nothing to the Marquis, turns around and walks out of the room.
  23. Before long, however, the Marquis dies.
  24. Bian Que only had to look at the Marquis to know that his condition was critical.
  25. In another famous story,
  26. Bian Que travels to the state of Guo,
  27. where chaos and confusion prevail.
  28. A prince had just died,
  29. and that the palace was preparing for his funeral and burial.
  30. Upon further enquiry, Bian Que learned the time of the prince’s death,
  31. and what his appearance was like at the moment of death.
  32. Bian Que then announced that in fact,
  33. the prince was not dead,
  34. but was in a comatose state,
  35. caused by a clash between Yin and Yang energy.
  36. His body was motionless
  37. —he was in a coma,
  38. which made it seem he was dead.
  39. Bian Que told the king of the State of Guo
  40. that his son’s condition was treatable,
  41. and ordered his disciple Ziyang to grind a special stone
  42. needle for the purpose.
  43. Bian Que then applied this stone needle to three acupuncture points
  44. on the top of the head,
  45. where three yang pulses meet,
  46. and shortly afterward the prince recovered.
  47. At the time,
  48. people marveled at Bian Que’s ability to revive the dead,
  49. but this was only one of his remarkable skills.
  50. Bian Que developed his own system of medical treatment,
  51. which included applying heat to specific points on the body
  52. and using stone needles at acupuncture points.
  53. If a medical condition occurred near the surface of the body,
  54. he treated it with medicine and heat;
  55. if it occurred internally,
  56. he used acupuncture.
  57. When needed, he performed bloodletting
  58. to rebalance the energy in the body,
  59. and he treated illnesses of the digestive system
  60. by prescribing medicinal wines.
  61. This is a bust of Bian Que.
  62. These are rubbings from stone carvings at the big Confucian Temple in Qufu,
  63. which show Bian Que treating a female patient;
  64. here he is performing surgery;
  65. and here he is performing acupuncture.
  66. In these carvings,
  67. Bian Que is depicted with a bird’s body and human head.
  68. Not coincidentally, “Que” in Chinese means “magpie.”


  1. The Ming Dynasty Bronze Acupuncture Figure and Acupuncture Theory in Ancient China
  2. Ancient Tales of Chinese Medicine
  3. In 1971, while planning United States presidentRichard Nixon’s state visit to China,
  4. Secretary ofState Henry Kissinger made a secret trip to Beijing viaPakistan.
  5. Traveling with him was a reporter from theNew York Times,
  6. who had asudden attack of appendicitis when they arrived inBeijing.
  7. The reporter,James Reston, underwent emergency surgery with conventionalanesthesia,
  8. but the next day, once the anesthesia wore off,Reston was still in pain.
  9. Chinesedoctors suggested using acupuncture to reduce the pain.
  10. Restonagreed,
  11. and twenty minutes after the tiny silver needleswere inserted in his body,
  12. he felt better.
  13. When Kissingerarrived back in the United States,
  14. and described Reston’s treatment,
  15. it set off a furor of interest inacupuncture.
  16. After severaldecades of mutual isolation,
  17. most Americans knew very little about Chineseculture.
  18. Like other Westerners,
  19. they were amazed to learn that tiny needlescould reduce pain
  20. more effectively than conventionalanesthesia.
  21. In China, acupunctureis widely used in medical treatment today.
  22. Three years ago,
  23. I suddenly came down with a seriouscough,
  24. a so-called “dry cough.”
  25. In TraditionalChinese Medicine (TCM), dry coughs are considered extremely hard tocure.
  26. My coughingwent on for two months.
  27. It was so bad I couldn’t sleep atnight.
  28. I went to the hospital for chest X-rays, butthey turned out normal.
  29. A blood test was also normal.
  30. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrongwith me.
  31. The coughing grew worse,
  32. and I could hardly get any work done.
  33. A friend ofmine introduced me to an acupuncturist.
  34. I told him my problem,
  35. and he said he could cure me.
  36. He stuck needles in a few acupuncturepoints,
  37. and by that evening, I was already feelingbetter,
  38. and sleptthrough the night.
  39. But I was still coughing the nextday,
  40. and went tothe doctor again.
  41. After a second course of treatment, my cough wascompletely cured.
  42. In thislecture, we will discuss the way that Chinese acupuncture can curedisease.