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Chinese tongue diagnosis diagram

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Credit: Chinese tongue diagnosis diagram. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

About this work


Woodblock illustration of 'Black tip' tongue (heijian she) and 'Inner border' tongue (liquan she) from Yuan Ao Shi shanghan jinjinglu (Mr Yuan Ao's Golden Mirror of Cold Damage), a treatise on tongue diagnosis -- original text by Ao Jiweng (Song period, 960-1279); additional material by Du Ben (Tao Hua) (Yuan period, 1206-1368 ); continuation by Xue Ji and Ma Chongru (Ming period 1368-1644). This edition was published in 529 (8th year of the Jiajing reign period of the Ming dynasty).

In 'Black tip' tongue image, the body of the tongue is pale red, but the tip is blue-black. This tongue image indicates deficiency of water and excess of fire, leading to heat in the kidney. It should be treated with Decoction of Bamboo Leaf and Gypsum. In 'Inner border' tongue image, the body of the tongue is pale red, and it has a red film in the centre with a black rim around it. This tongue image indicates cold damage, with residual poisons transmitted to the pericardium (xinbao, lit. heart envelope). It should be treated with Qi Supporting Decoction (cheng qi tang).


Black tip tongue (heijian she): Pale red Inner border tongue (liquan she): Pale red; red film



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