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Ming herbal (painting): Adjutant bird(?)

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Credit: Ming herbal (painting): Adjutant bird(?). Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Painting of the zi[] (archaic character) bird in the meticulous (gongbi) style, in colour on silk, from Bencao tupu (Illustrated Herbal). The painted illustrations in Bencao tupu were jointly executed by Zhou Hu and Zhou Xi in 1644 (the final year of the Ming period). The explanatory texts were provided by Zhou Rongqi. The book was not completed: each volume was to have contained 14-15 paintings, but only 29 are extant. Zhou Rongqi writes: The zi[] , is also known as fulao and tuqiu (adjutant bird). It mostly lives on islands. Its habitat is lakes and maeshy areas. It is as large as a crane, and greenish black in colour. It has a long neck and red eyes. Its beak is rather straight, and it has a pouch underneath its beak like a pelican. Its feet are black and like a chicken's. It has a vicious, rapacious nature and will attack humans. It feeds on fish, shrimps and young birds. The flesh, marrow, beak and feathers are all used in medicine, and can get rid of water, parasitic worms, and fish poisons. Besides this, the flesh is salty in sapor and slightly cold in thermostatic character,while the marrow is sweet in sapor and cold in thermostatic character, but both are non-poisonous, and have the medicinal effects of replenishing insufficiency detriment (xusun), and tonifying essence/semen (jing) and marrow. The ancients used it to treat insufficiency-overexertion (xulao), bodily weakness, frailty and emaciation after long illness, etc.


Zi [] (archaic character)


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