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Japanese/Chinese woodcut: Infectious 'red-eye' (chiyan)

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Credit: Japanese/Chinese woodcut: Infectious 'red-eye' (chiyan). Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Woodcut from the Chinese Ming (1368-1644) medical text Michuan yanke quanshu (Secretly Transmitted Compendium of Ophthalmology), in a Japanese edition published in Osaka in 1824 (7th year of the Bunsei era). It illustrates the condition known as infectious chiyan ('red-eye' - conjunctivitis, etc.). This is attributed to an epidemic of toxic Qi. The text notes that, if one person catches the disease, the entire household frequently becomes infected. In this condition, the eye becomes swollen and painful, narrowed and hard to open. It is treated externally by washing five times with a warm decoction of Golden Thread (huanglian) child's urine, to get rid of the poisons of malign Qi. One should then use eyedrops composed of figwort flower (hu huanglian), Chinese goldthread, (huanglian), alum (mingfan) and realgar (xionghuang), ground into a fine powderand mixed with ginger juice. For internal drug treatment, one can choose from liver-purging powder (xiegan san), eight-ingredient rectification powder (bazheng san), etc.


PICTURE TITLE: External ophthalmology: tianxing chiyan ('red-eye' - conjunctivitis, etc.)


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