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Drawing of inoculation knife from 1817 Chinese casebook

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Credit: Drawing of inoculation knife from 1817 Chinese casebook. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Drawing of an inoculation knife from Sun Shi yi'an (Doctor Sun's Casebooks) by Sun Qishun (Qing period, 1644-1911), dated 1817 (22nd year of the Jiaqing reign period of the Qing dynasty, Ding Chou year).

Doctor Sun's Casebooks run to 68 juan (volumes). In them, Sun Qishun records a variety of case histories under the rubrics 'Nei' (Internal), 'Wai' (External), Fu (Gynecological), Er (Paediatric) and Wu guan (Five sensory organs). This illustration comes from Book 1: 'Inoculation with cowpox'.

The text states: The inoculation knife is made from pure steel and has a sharp point. It is shaped like a dagger with a sharp double-edged blade, approximately 1 cun [Chinese inch, c. 3 cm.] in length and 0.2-0.3 cun in width. It is kept in a protective sheath. During inoculation, with the aid of this knife, the pox is pierced and pus obtained, which is then inoculated into the xiaoluo (Extinguishing Brightness) and qinglengyuan (Clear Cold Abyss) acu-moxa points of both arms of the child, who is thus prevented from succumbing to infection.


Heading (on right): Form of the inoculation (zhongdou) knife. Caption (on left): To achieve this appearance, the knife is made out of pure steel. labels: Knife point; sheath; turtle-shell sheath



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