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Chinese drugs personified: Lithograph, 1935

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TITLE: Hongniang mai yao (The Red Woman (i.e. red-nosed cicada) Sells Medicines) CAPTIONS: The Red Woman (i.e. red-nosed cicada) Sells Medicines; Cape jasmine (zhizi); hong guniang (lit. 'red girl', red-nosed cicada; huechys); donggua [variant graph of 'dong'] (white gourd, Benincasa hispida)


    Yaohui tukao (Illustrated Congregation of Drugs), published in 1935 (24th year of the Republic of China), presents the materia medica in dramatic form. It consists of ten scenes, in which various drugs appear as protagonists.

    This illustration accompanies Scene 7, The Red Woman (i.e. red-nosed cicada) Sells Medicines, in which characters personifying personifying Cape jasmine (zhizi), the red-nosed cicada (hong niangzi, lit. red woman; huechys sanguinea) and white gourd (donggua, Benincasa hispida) present the sapors, potencies, and therapeutic uses of various drugs through the medium of spoken dialogue and song.

    Crucian carp warms stomach Qi. White chicken can replenish vacuity and enfeeblement. Yellow rice wine regulates menstruation and harmonises the blood. Tea improves vision and clears the heart. Haw is efficacious for relieving fleshy accumulations. Melon seeds replenish the spleen and harmonise the centre. Turtle head has an astringent effect and relieves discharges. Field thistle (xiaoji) cools the blood and arrests bleeding. Japanese pagodatree pod (huaijiao, fructus sophorae) can relieve haemorrhoids. Dog's kidney replenishes vacuity and invigorates Yang… Altogether, this scene introduces about 70 drugs.


      Credit: Wellcome Collection

      Free to use with attribution

      CC BY