The nine ancient acupuncture needles, 17th Chinese (detail)

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The nine ancient acupuncture needles, 17th Chinese (detail). Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

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Detail of 17th century Chinese woodblock illustration showing the 'Nine Needles' (jiu zhen) (see also L0034712 and L0034714). The Nine Needles was the collective term for the needling instruments used in antiquity, i.e. chan zhen (arrow-headed needle), yuan zhen (round needle), chi zhen (spoon needle), feng zhen (lance needle), pi zhen (stiletto needle), yuanli zhen (round sharp needle), hao zhen (filiform needle), chang zhen (long needle) and da zhen (big needle). Precise descriptions of the Nine Needles (but no visual representation) can be found in Huangdi neijing (Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor), a classical medical text compiled in first or second century CE (in the Jiu zhen shi'er yuan and Jiu zhen lun sections of Lingshu, the Divine Pivot). This detail shows, from right to left, the lance needle, the stiletto needle and the round sharp needle. The lance needle, now known as the the three-edged needle (san leng zheng) was 1.6 cun [Chinese inches] long. It had a cylindrical body and sharp tip, with three cutting edges. Used for drawing blood, it figured in the treatment of heat related disorders, abscesses and swellings. The stiletto needle was 4 cun long and 2½ fen (0.25 cun) wide, and was shaped like a dagger. It was used for lancing abscesses, draining pus and drawing blood. The round sharp needle was 1.6 cun long. It had a short, pointed tip, a thick middle section and a slender body. Rounded yet sharp, it was used for deep puncturing in the treatment of abscesses and swellings and blockage diseases.


Headings (from right to left): 4) Feng zhen (lance needle); 5) Pi zhen (stiletto needle); 6) Yuanli zhen (round sharp needle) Descriptive text: See under 'Description of Image Content'.


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