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Chinese woodcut, Famous medical figures: Shen Nong

Gan Bozong (Tang period, 618-907)

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One of a series of woodcuts of illustrious physicians and legendary founders of Chinese medicine from an edition of Bencao mengquan (Introduction to the Pharmacopoeia), engraved in the Wanli reign period of the Ming dynasty (1573-1620) -- Volume preface, 'Lidai mingyi hua xingshi' (Portraits and names of famous doctors through history). The images are attributed to a Tang (618-907) creator, Gan Bozong. The text states: Shen Nong Yandi (the Divine Farmer; Red Emperor) was surnamed Jiang [Ginger]. In remote antiquity, he succeeded Fuxi as Emperor. He created agricultural implements and showed human beings how to cultivate the land. The originator of medicine, he is also supposed to have tasted hundreds of herbs to discover their effects. The eponymous text Shen Nong bencao jing (The Divine Farmer' s Canon of Materia Medica) dates from the Qin or Han period. According to tradition, he had a human body and ox's head, and he is depicted here with horns.


Shen Nong Yandi (the Divine Farmer; Red Emperor)



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Chinese woodcut, Famous medical figures: Shen Nong. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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