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Chinese woodcut, dietetic longevity techniques. Chinese

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Shenxian fushi (diet of the Immortals)


    The image shows two men sitting in a hall, earnestly discussing dietetic methods of achieving longevity. On the right, a child is kneeling on the floor, stirring a concoction which is simmering over a furnace.

    The diet of the Immortals (shenxian fushi) was the name given to one of the four genres of ancient Chinese medical literature. The bibliographical treatise of the Sui dynastic history lists 28 works under this heading. Such texts deal mostly with Daoist techniques for achieving longevity and immortality, by ingesting certain drugs. These drugs were many and various; some of them apparently had curative properties but others were poisonous if taken over a long period. Dietetic longevity techniques enjoyed great popularity around the Six Dynasties period (222-589 CE).


      Credit: Wellcome Collection

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