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Chinese tongue diagnosis diagram: 'Black within' tongue


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


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Woodblock illustration of ' Black within' tongue (li hei 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).

The text states: In 'Black Within' tongue image, the body of the tongue is bright red with a hard, black part in the centre, which is shaped like another long, thin little tongue and has barbs on it. This tongue image indicates that raging heat poisons are established in the large intestine; metal is subjugated by fire, and wood cannot be settled. The appropriate treatment is purgation by means of Stomach Regulating and Qi Supporting Decoction (tiao wei cheng qi tang).

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IMAGE TITLE: Black within tongue (li hei she) LABEL: Bright red

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