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Early C20 Chinese Lithograph: 'Fan' diseases


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Credit: Early C20 Chinese Lithograph: 'Fan' diseases. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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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 Harvest Fly (qiuchan) fan, Mantis fan and Earthworm (qiuyin) fan. According to the captions, the signs of these conditions are as follows: In Harvest Fly fan, blue tendons (veins, jin) stand out on the limbs, and purple tendons (veins, jin) appear at the back of the head. The method of treatment is to lance the purple veins with a needle and apply stork's beak, calcined till brown and powdered. In Mantis fan, the head leans to one side, there is heart pain, and the patient loses conciousness. This can be treated by needling the purple tendons (veins, jin) on the joints of the arms and applying stork's beak burnt to ash. In Earthworm fan, the patient's head and body move like a squirming worm, and vomiting and diarrhoea occur. This is treated by administering wormcasts with yellow rice wine.

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TITLE: Harvest Fly (qiuchan) fan; Mantis fan; Earthworm (qiuyin) fan. CAPTIONS: See 'Description of Image Content'

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