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A collection of notes on the topics of classical Chinese, medicine, and traditional culture.
 

This blog is a collection of ruminations, translations, and personal opinions by Sabine and some guest authors. Reflecting my own personality, some posts are academic, some clinical, and some personal, some are excerpts from existing books and some may become part of future books. Please leave comments with feedback, questions, constructive criticism, and differences of opinion as long as you argue your reasons for disagreement logically. Any personal attacks, uncivil remarks, or self-promoting comments will be deleted.

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Guest post by Di Lu on the Tang Ye Jing

The title printed on the front cover, i.e.  Yi Yin Tang Ye Jing  伊尹湯液經 (Yi Yin’s Classic of Decoction). Below the title are the five characters ‘Yi Qian Ge Juan Zhuan 一錢閣鐫傳’ (Engraved and Issued by the One-Coin Pavilion).

The title printed on the front cover, i.e. Yi Yin Tang Ye Jing 伊尹湯液經 (Yi Yin’s Classic of Decoction). Below the title are the five characters ‘Yi Qian Ge Juan Zhuan 一錢閣鐫傳’ (Engraved and Issued by the One-Coin Pavilion).

It is a great pleasure to share a piece here that the medical historian Di Lu kindly wrote for me on a topic that has long been a concern of mine: The historicity of the Tangyejing 湯液經 “Classic of Decoctions” as a Shang dynasty text and important source of Zhang Zhongjing’s Shanghanlun 傷寒論 (“Treatise on Cold Damage”). Dr. Lu has a PhD in History from University College London, with a focus on transnational history of medicine, materia medica, and natural history. His generous contribution here demonstrates to me once again how important it is that contemporary Western practitioners of Chinese medicine, especially those with a classical orientation, respect and follow the ongoing and important research of medical historians. Too many times recently, I have heard the theories of the Tang Ye Jing, presumably coming from the 1948 publication discussed below, referred to unquestioningly as a key source of Zhang Zhongjing’s formulas. When I first heard about this text, it merely struck me as strange that as a medical historian I had never heard anybody mention this text before and that it also was not named in Zhang Zhongjing’s own preface:

Deeply affected by this ruinous loss in my past and by the failure to rescue them from damage and premature death, I have diligently sought out the ancient instructions and collected a great number of methods far and wide. I have chosen the Sù Wèn, the Líng Shū, the Nàn Jīng, the Yīn Yáng Dà Lùn, the Tāi Lú Yào Lù, and the Píng Mài Biàn Zhèng, to compose the Shāng Hán Zá Bìng Lùn in sixteen scrolls.

Neither is it mentioned in such bibliographic lists as those found in Sun Simiao’s first essay in volume 1:

“All those desiring to become eminent physicians must intimately familiarize themselves with the Sù Wèn, Jiǎ Yǐ, and Huáng Dì Zhēn Jīng; with the flow [of qi] in the Hall of Brightness, the twelve channels, the three positions and nine indicators; with the five zàng organs and six fǔ organs; with the [acumoxa] points in the exterior and interior; with the materia medica and the [craft of] combining medicinals; with Zhāng Zhòngjǐng, Wáng Shūhé, Ruǎn Hénán, Fàn Dōngyáng, Zhāngmiáo, and Jìnshào5; and all the other sections of the classics and methods.”

I hope you read Di Lu’s guest blog carefully and with an open and clear mind, and then treat the theories and formulas from the Tangyejing accordingly. Ultimately, for you as a practitioner and your suffering patients, it may of course be irrelevant where your formulas come from if they work and make good sense to you. And if the information in the Tangyejing provides a helpful theoretical framework for conceptualizing Zhang Zhongjing’s formulas, perhaps it is not all that important that we don’t know how old this material is. As a historian, though, I am so grateful to Di Lu for shedding some light on this issue that has been bugging me or a while now, and also for sharing the illustrations, all from the 1948 edition (see below). Enjoy this post and feel free to share or leave a comment! Sabine


A Brief Review of Related Issues on the Problematic Tang Ye Jing 湯液經

A guest blog by Di Lu

Many scholars and practitioners of Chinese medicine now consider the Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) as the basic reference for Zhang Ji’s 張機 (style name: Zhongjing 仲景, c. 150-219 AD) Shang Han Lun 傷寒論 (Discourse on Cold Damage). But is such an opinion on the relationship between the two texts unquestionable?

On the Anonymous Text Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction)

The Tang Ye Jing (Classic of Decoction) has long been lost since the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). The ‘Yiwen Zhi 藝文志’ (Bibliographical Treatise) of the Han Shu 漢書 (History of the [Former/Western] Han Dynasty, c. late 1st century and early 2nd centuries AD) simply records the Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction, in 32 juan 卷 [volumes], without author information), and groups it with the other ten medical works under the title of jing fang 經方 (classical prescriptions). Many later authors mentioned the bibliographic record of this text in the Han Shu (Book of Han); but none of them reported his/her reading of the text (strictly under the title of ‘Tang Ye Jing Fa’, or under a similar title [e.g. Tang Ye Jing 湯液經] but containing the same number of volumes), or introduced the content of the text.

On the Text Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) by Yi Yin 伊尹

At least from the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279 AD) onward, so far as known, authors of Shi Wu Ji Yuan 事物紀原 (Origins of Things and Matters, first printed in 1197 AD), Yi Shui 醫說 (Discourse on Medicine, 1224 AD) and other works attributed the text entitled Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction; NOTE: lacking the character fa 法) to Yi Yin 伊尹 (c. 1649- c. 1549 BC), without offering any reasons or additional information, without basing such a claim on the above bibliographic record in the Han Shu (History of the [Former/Western] Han Dynasty). But similarly, no one in pre-modern China left a bibliographic record of this text, and/or spoke of any specific content of the text. Did this Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) ever exist? If so, is it the same as the Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction)? If so, why does the above bibliographic record in the Han Shu (History of the [Former/Western] Han Dynasty) not ascribe authorship to Yi Yin?

On Yi Yin’s 伊尹 Authorship of Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction), Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 and Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法

Modern proponents of the Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) as the progenitor of Zhang Ji’s Shang Han Lun 傷寒論 (Discourse on Cold Damage), as mentioned above, often invoke the following words in Huangfu Mi’s 皇甫谧 (215-282 AD) preface to his own work Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing 鍼灸甲乙經 (Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Selected and Arranged):

Zhong Jing Lun Guang Yi Yin Tang Ye Wei Shi Shu Juan, Yong Zhi Duo Yan.

仲景論廣伊尹湯液為十數卷, 用之多驗.

[Zhang] Zhongjing expanded Yi Yin’s Decoction into more than ten volumes, which were mostly effective in practice.

Lin Yi’s 林億 (active in the 11 century AD) preface to Zhang Ji’s Shang Han Lun (Discourse on Cold Damage) adopts the above words of Huangfu Mi, and adds that ‘Zhong Jing Ben Yi Yin Zhi Fa 仲景本伊尹之法’ ([Zhang] Zhongjing’s [medical knowledge] is rooted in Yi Yin’s norms). The proponents often acquiesce in the equation of the Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction) with the Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) or Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法(Models of the Classic of Decoction). In this way, Tang Ye (Decoction) becomes an abbreviation of the latter text title; and Yi Yin also becomes the author of Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction).

However, Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction) consists of 32 juan 卷 (volumes); while Zhang Zhongjing’s expanded edition of Yi Yin’s Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction) merely contain more than ten juan 卷 (volumes). How could Yi Yin’s Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction) or Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) be the same as the anonymous Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction)? Why do extant editions of Zhang Ji’s preface to his own work Shang Han Lun (Discourse on Cold Damage) contain no words of the text Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction), Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction), or Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction)?

Copyright page A, showing the book title  Tang Ye Jing  湯液經 (Classic of Decoction), the words ‘Yang Shao Yi Fu Zi Kao Ci 楊紹伊夫子考次’ (Compiled by Teacher Yang Shaoyi) and ‘Di Zi Li Ding Jing Shu 弟子李鼎敬署’ (Respectfully Signed by [Yang’s] Student Li Ding).

Copyright page A, showing the book title Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction), the words ‘Yang Shao Yi Fu Zi Kao Ci 楊紹伊夫子考次’ (Compiled by Teacher Yang Shaoyi) and ‘Di Zi Li Ding Jing Shu 弟子李鼎敬署’ (Respectfully Signed by [Yang’s] Student Li Ding).

On the Reconstruction of Yi Yin’s Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 in 1948

In 1948, Yang Shiyin’s 楊師尹 (style name: Shaoyi 紹伊, 1888-1949) reconstruction of Yi Yin’s Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction), supplemented by Liu Fu 劉復 (style name: Minshu 民叔, 1897-1960), was published by Liu’s Yiqian Ge 一錢閣 (One-Coin Pavilion). This is the only reconstruction of the text Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction), which is believed by some people to be written by Yi Yin, and/or to have truly existed and given birth to Zhang Ji’s Shang Han Lun (Discourse on Cold Damage). Its main text has 160 pages.

The book title printed on the front cover of this reconstruction is ‘Yi Yin Tang Ye Jing 伊尹湯液經’ (Yi Yin’s Classic of Decoction); while the title shown on the copyright pages and the first page of the main text is ‘Tang Ye Jing 湯液經’ (Classic of Decoction).

All images here are from the original edition (1948) of the reconstruction of the Yi Yin Tang Ye Jing 伊尹湯液經 (Yi Yin’s Classic of Decoction) or Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) in 1948.

The 1948 reconstruction of the Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) now has the following two modern versions (the latter one has adjusted the original title to another):

  • Yi Yin Tang Ye Jing 伊尹湯液經 (Yi Yin’s Classic of Decoction), in: Liu Min Shu Yi Shu He Ji 劉民叔醫書合集 (Collection of Liu Minshu’s Medical Works), Chen Guangtao et al. (eds.), Tianjin: Tianjin Kexue Jishu Chubanshe, 2011, pp. 201-345.

  • Tang Ye Jing Gou Kao 湯液經鈎考 (A Study of the Collected Text of the Classic of Decoction), Chen Juwei and Guo Yujing (eds.), Forewarded by Qiu Hao, Beijing: Xueyuan Chubanshe, 2011, Pp. 242.

Yang Shiyin’s 楊師尹 (style name: Shaoyi 紹伊) name indicates Yang’s admiration of Yi Yin. Literally, Shiyin 師尹 means imitating [Yi] Yin; and Shaoyi 紹伊 means introducing Yi [Yin]. According to Yang Shiyin’s own introductory chapter in the reconstructed text,

The first page of the main text, showing the following information: ‘Shang Yi Yin Zhu 商伊尹著’ (Written by Yi Yin of the Shang Dynasty), ‘Cheng Du Yang Shi Yin Shao Yi Kao Ci 成都楊師尹紹伊考次’ (Compiled by Yang Shiyin of Chengdu, whose style name is Shaoyi), and ‘Hua Yang Liu Fu Min Shu Bu Xiu 華陽劉復民叔補修’ (Supplemented by Liu Fu of Huayang, whose style name is Minshu).

The first page of the main text, showing the following information: ‘Shang Yi Yin Zhu 商伊尹著’ (Written by Yi Yin of the Shang Dynasty), ‘Cheng Du Yang Shi Yin Shao Yi Kao Ci 成都楊師尹紹伊考次’ (Compiled by Yang Shiyin of Chengdu, whose style name is Shaoyi), and ‘Hua Yang Liu Fu Min Shu Bu Xiu 華陽劉復民叔補修’ (Supplemented by Liu Fu of Huayang, whose style name is Minshu).

  1. the full title of the text Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction) mentioned by Huangfu Mi should be Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction);

  2. the author of the Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) was Yi Yin of the Shang dynasty (c. 1600-1046 BC);

  3. the Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction, 32 volumes) was a later text composed on the basis on Yi Yin’s Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) and containing all the content of the latter;

  4. the Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) still existed in the Eastern Han dynasty, and enabled Zhang Ji to read it and expand its content; Shang Han Lun (Discourse on Cold Damage) was not ‘written’ by Zhang Ji, but an expansion of the Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction);

  5. Yang Shiyin’s reconstruction of the text Tang Ye Jing 湯液經, alleged by Yang to be comprised of Yi Yin’s Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction) and extended words by Zhang Ji, was reconstructed on the basis of Wang Shuhe’s 王叔和 (c. 210-285 AD) Mai Jing 脈經 (Classic of the Pulse) and Sun Simiao’s 孫思邈 (581-682 AD) Qian Jin Yi Fang 千金翼方 (Supplement to Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold, c. 682) (Wang and Sun’s texts contain words from Zhang Ji’s Shang Han Lun [Discourse on Cold Damage]).

The above points are arbitrary and speculative. None of them is solidly convincing. In particular, the Mai Jing (Classic of the Pulse) adverts to neither Yi Yin nor the Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction). And only the 26th chapter of the Qian Jin Yi Fang (Supplement to Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold) mentions ‘Gu Ren Yi Yin Tang Ye 古人伊尹湯液’ (the ancient man Yi Yin’s Decoction), which, however, is not connected with origins of the content of the Qian Jin Yi Fang. Moreover, as mentioned above, extant editions of Zhang Ji’s preface to his Shang Han Lun (Discourse on Cold Damage) also makes no mention of the text Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction), Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction), or Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction). Some scholars also treat Yang’s opinions, methodology and reconstruction with caution, as evidenced by Qiu Hao’s foreword to the Tang Ye Jing Gou Kao 湯液經鈎考 (A Study of the Collected Text of the Classic of Decoction, Chen Juwei and Guo Yujing eds., Beijing: Xueyuan Chubanshe, 2011, pp. 1-16) and Feng Shilun’s foreword to the Jie Du Yi Yin Tang Ye Jing 解讀伊尹湯液經 (Interpreting Yi Yin’s Classic of Decoction, Feng Shilun 馮世綸 ed., Beijing: Xueyuan Chubanshe, 2009, pp. i-iv).

On the Manuscript Fu Xing Jue Zang Fu Yong Yao Fa 輔行訣臟腑用藥法要 (Auxiliary Knacks of Essential Drug Usage for Viscera)

A text often associated with academic discussions of the Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction) is the manuscript Fu Xing Jue Zang Fu Yong Yao Fa 輔行訣臟腑用藥法要 (Auxiliary Knacks of Essential Drug Usage for Viscera, hereinafter FXJ), which is now included in, for example, the Dun Huang Gu Yi Ji Kao Shi 敦煌古醫籍考釋 (Commentary and Research on Ancient Medical Texts Excavated in Dunhuang, Ma Jixing 馬繼興, ed., Nanchang: Jiangxi Kexue Jishu Chubanshe, 1988, pp. 115-137), Dun Huang Shi Ku Mi Cang Yi Fang 敦煌石窟秘藏醫方 (Secret Medical Prescriptions from Dunhuang Grottoes, Wang Shumin, ed., Beijing: Beijing Yike Daxue & Zhongguo Xiehe Yike Daxue Lianhe Chuban, 1998, pp. 1-28), Fu Xing Jue Zang Fu Yong Yao Fa Jiao Zhu Kao Zheng 《輔行訣臟腑用藥法要》校注考證 (Textual Studies, Collation and Annotations of the Auxiliary Knacks of Essential Drug Usage for Viscera, Wang Xuetai, ed., Beijing: Renmin Junyi Chubanshe, 2008, pp. 3-62), and Fu Xing Jue Zang Fu Yong Yao Fa Jiao Zhu Jiang Shu 《輔行訣五臟用藥法要》校注講疏 (Interpretation, Collation and Annotations of the Auxiliary Knacks of Essential Drug Usage for Viscera, Yi Zhibiao, et al., eds., Beijing: Xueyuan Chubanshe, 2009, pp. 250-307).

According to the introductory remarks on FXJ in the above modern publications, FXJ was initially preserved at the Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang, and then flowed into the hands of a Daoist, who later sold it to the Chinese physician Zhang Wonan 張偓南 at the beginning of the Republican period (1912-1949). Zhang passed the original manuscript of FXJ down to his grandson Zhang Dachang 張大昌, also a Chinese physician. In the summer of 1966, unfortunately, the original manuscript was destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. In 1974, Zhang Dachang sent a copy of the manuscript to the Zhong Guo Zhong Yi Yan Jiu Yuan 中國中醫研究院 (China Academy of Chinese Medicine). Later, the manuscript began to receive increasing attention from historians of medicine. Until now, 21 copies of the original manuscript of FXJ, transcribed by different people in the second half of the 20th century, have been found in China and included in the Fu Xing Jue Wu Zang Yong Yao Fa Yao Chuan Cheng Ji 《輔行訣五藏[臓]用藥法要》傳承集 (Collection of the Circulated Manuscripts of the Auxiliary Knacks of Essential Drug Usage for Viscera, Beijing: Xueyuan Chubanshe, 2008, pp. 3-400).

FXJ, originally authored by Tao Hongjing 陶弘景 (456-536), is a controversial manuscript. Two historians of Chinese history, namely Zhang Zhenglang 張政烺 and Li Xueqin 李學勤, had examined FXJ, and concluded that it could not be counted as an early writing composed by Tao Hongjing, nor could it be a modern forged text. The original manuscript of FXJ is now lost; and available information on the origin of FXJ originates from Zhang Dachang, whose narrative might be unreliable (say, FXJ might be forged or might not be a manuscript from Dunhuang Grottoes). The title of FXJ also does not appear in extant records of Tao Hongjing’s writings. Some scholars treat FXJ a forged text, see, for example, Tian Yongyan 田永衍, ‘Fu Xing Jue Zang Fu Yong Yao Fa Yao Fei Cang Jing Dong Yi Shu Kao——Cong Wen Ben Xing Shi Yu Wen Xian Guan Xi Kao Cha 《輔行訣臟腑用藥法要》非藏經洞遺書考——從文本形式與文獻關係考察 (A Study of the Auxiliary Knacks of Essential Drug Usage for Viscera as a Text not from Dunhuang Grottos——From the Perspectives of Textual Forms and Relationships)’, Nan Jing Zhong Yi Yao Da Xue Xue Bao (She Hui Ke Xue Ban) 南京中醫藥大學學報(社會科學版) (Journal of Nanjing University of TCM [Social Science]), 2015, 16(4): 232-237.

FXJ mentions ‘Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法’ (Models of the Classic of Decoction) three times, and claims that it was written by Yi Yin of the Shang dynasty. Because of this, some historians, such as Ma Jixing 馬繼興, consider that FXJ incorporates some words from the Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction). Further, because some prescriptions recorded in FXJ (not associated with the Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 [Models of the Classic of Decoction]), bear resemblance to their counterparts in Zhang Ji’s Shang Han Lun (Discourse on Cold Damage), some historians of medicine, such as Qian Chaochen 錢超塵, think that FXJ proves Shang Han Lun (Discourse on Cold Damage) to be composed on the basis of Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction). Even if FXJ is not a forged text, such an opinion is still too arbitrary.


Concluding Remarks

Copyright page B, showing the publisher information ‘Liu Shi Yi Qian Ge Zeng Fu Zhen Juan Zhuan Chuan 劉氏一錢閣曾福臻鐫傳’ (Engraved and Issued by Zeng Fuzhen at Liu’s One-Coin Pavilion), and the information on the transcriber and the collator: ‘Di Zi Li Ding Lu Gao 弟子李鼎録稿’ (Transcribed by [Yang’s] Student Li Ding) and ‘Wu Zi Nian Dong Chu Ban Hai Men Shen Dan Jiao Zi 戊子年冬初版海門沈旦校字’ (First Published in the Winter of 1948, Collated by Shen Dan of Haimen).

Copyright page B, showing the publisher information ‘Liu Shi Yi Qian Ge Zeng Fu Zhen Juan Zhuan Chuan 劉氏一錢閣曾福臻鐫傳’ (Engraved and Issued by Zeng Fuzhen at Liu’s One-Coin Pavilion), and the information on the transcriber and the collator: ‘Di Zi Li Ding Lu Gao 弟子李鼎録稿’ (Transcribed by [Yang’s] Student Li Ding) and ‘Wu Zi Nian Dong Chu Ban Hai Men Shen Dan Jiao Zi 戊子年冬初版海門沈旦校字’ (First Published in the Winter of 1948, Collated by Shen Dan of Haimen).

After a brief review of related issues on the Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction), we can confirm that:

  1. There had been an anonymous text entitled Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction, in 32 juan [volumes]) in the Western Han dynasty;

  2. It is unknown whether there truly existed a text written by Yi Yin of the Shang dynasty and entitled Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction) or Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction);

  3. It is unknown whether the Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 (Models of the Classic of Decoction) was Yi Yin’s Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction) or Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction);

  4. It is unknown whether Zhang Ji’s Shang Han Lun (Discourse on Cold Damage) was an expansion of Yi Yin’s Tang Ye 湯液 (Decoction) or Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction);

  5. Yang Shiyin’s reconstruction of Yi Yin’s Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction), published in 1948, can only represent his own faith in the existence of Yi Yin’s Tang Ye Jing 湯液經 (Classic of Decoction).

Sabine Wilms4 Comments