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Early C20 Chinese Lithograph: 'Fan' diseases

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Credit: Early C20 Chinese Lithograph: 'Fan' diseases. Wellcome Collection. In copyright

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Huitu zhenjiu yixue (Illustrated Acupuncture Made Easy), by Li Shouxian, was composed in 1798 (3rd year of the Jiaqing reign period of the Qing dynasty). It comprises two volumes (juan), plus a supplementary volume containing illustrations of the 'Seventy-two fan'. The 'Seventy-two fan' are not mentioned in any other early Chinese medical sources. Judging from the accounts given in this text, fan must be a generic term for a category of acute illness of unexplained origin. The word fan is qualified by names of animals and insects to characterise the external manifestations of these illnesses. This illustration shows the manifestations of Earthworm (dilong) fan, Insect (chong) fan, 'Nine types of heart pain' and Sparrow-Eye (quemu) fan. According to the captions, the signs of these conditions are as follows: In Earthworm (dilong) fan, the patient writhes on the ground, the small intestine is painful and the belly is distended. This treated by administering ashed 'oil wicks' (you nianzi), washed down with yellow rice wine. In Insect fan, first the head, then the legs, then the lumbar region swell up. It can be cured by bathing the whole body in water with mulberry leaves boiled in it, then letting the patient drink ashed wild rice (gucao, zizania) and mulberry leaves in water. In case of the 'Nine types of heart pain', the patient experiences pain and oppression in the cardiac and thoracic region. This is treated with pagoda tree (sophora) fruit (huairou) calcined till brown, and made into mungbean-sized pills with aged vinegar, eight or nine pills to be taken at a time washed down with plain water. In Sparrow-Eye (quemu) fan, the patient has great difficulty in discerning objects at dusk (or in poor light). This can be treated by letting the patient drink alfalfa (muxu) root boiled in water.

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TITLE: Earthworm (dilong) fan; Insect (chong) fan; Nine types of heart pain; Sparrow-Eye (quemu) fan. CAPTIONS: See 'Description of Image Content'

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