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Chinese woodcut: Daoist internal alchemy (3)


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Credit: Chinese woodcut: Daoist internal alchemy (3). Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Woodcut illustration of the 'graet and small cauldron and furnace' from Xingming guizhi (Pointers on Spiritual Nature and Bodily Life) by Yi Zhenren, a Daoist text on internal alchemy published in 1615 (3rd year of the Wanli reign period of Ming dynasty). The illustration depicts a man seated cross-legged on a stool. Eyes closed and in meditative posture, he is practising internal alchemy. The 'cauldron' and 'furnace' of the title are not to be understood literally; in the figurative language of internal alchemy, these terms apply to the inner workings of the practitioner's body. The 'cauldron' (ding) refers to the head and the 'furnace' (lu) to the abdomen. The 'great cauldron' refers to the creation of elixir by refining jing (essence, semen), Qi and spirit. The 'small cauldron' is a place between the locations of Original Qi (yuan qi) and Vapour (yinyun).

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PICTURE TITLE: Image of the freat and small cauldron and furnace. OTHER LETTERING: Arrange the furnace, set up the cauldron by the rule of heaven and earth; smelt and refine essence and spirit, control the po and hun souls -- unless the seed is already there in the cauldron, the pan will stay empty, cook water and fire as you will…

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