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C9 Chinese obstetrics text, C19 re-edition, Woodblock print

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Credit: C9 Chinese obstetrics text, C19 re-edition, Woodblock print. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Title page of Jingxiao chan bao (Treasured Knowledge of Obstetrics) by Zan Yan (Tang period, 618-907), edition of 1881 (7th year of the Guangxu reign period of the Qing dynasty).

This book was first published in 852 (6th year of the Dazhong reign period of the Tang dynasty), but was later lost. It was rediscovered in Japan by Zhang Jincheng (Qing period, 1644-1911), who saw to its republication.

The text is divided into three juan (volumes). The former juan deals with various disorders of pregnancy and complications of labour, while the middle and latter juan are concerned with postnatal disorders. It does not discuss symptoms in great detail, but focuses on ways of treating specific disorders. This is the earliest extant Chinese treatise on obstetrics, and was also the most widely diffused. It laid the foundation for the development of a Chinese obstetrics.

Physical characteristics: Single margin (dan kuang). Double marginal heading (shuang yuwei). White border (bai kou). 11 columns per half-folio, 18 characters per column. 3 seals, i.e 'Library of Zhongguo zhongyi yanjiu yuan' (China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine), 'Shanfen shi' [rare books collection] and 'Fan Xingzhun' [C20 medical historian].


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