Chapter

Mawangdui: Early Healing in China

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257658.003.0011
Mawangdui: Early Healing in China

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The earth of China has revealed a treasure that was uncovered for almost exactly two thousand years. The excavation in Mawangdui proved to be a direct probe into the cultural heart of the early Han era, only a few decades following the first unification of the Chinese kingdom in the year 221, bc. Since then, further graves of this era have been found and opened. They corroborate the impression left by the finds from Mawangdui. The texts such as the ones from Mawangdui were not written the day before his lordship's book collection was laid into his grave. They probably date from the late third to early second century stating that intellectuals of the time saw the cause of illness mainly in two harmful influences. First, the harmful influence of a manifold host of spirits and demons and second, of an equally varied host of microorganisms. The knowledge of the appearance of the body's interior had similarly been maintained in writings on healing.

Keywords: Mawangdui; writings on healing; early second century; cause of illness; host of microorganisms

Chapter.  1760 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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