| Home | E-Submission | Sitemap | Editorial Office |  
top_img
Korean J Med Hist > Volume 28(3); 2019 > Article
CHO:

Abstract

The main thesis of this research is to discuss the shamanistic medical activities as seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, to corroborate them with handed-down literature and other underground written attestations in early China, and to inquire its characteristics. In the Eastern Zhou dynasty, medicine already emerged with specialized and professional properties, but did not disengage from the ideology of shamanism in Eastern Zhou society. In other words, the shamanistic treatment of diseases was one of the most important works of shamans because the specialized knowledge of medical treatment always interlaced with superstitious and mediumistic treatment methods. This article examines the details of shamanistic medical activities, for example, the ‘zhuyou’, the ‘zhuyichuxiong’, curing maggots activities, and so on, by analyzing the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript. The origin and development of this early Chinese medical treatment had an influence on ancient Korea, Japan, and other places. Through this research, we can learn more about the initial development stage of the early traditional medicine in ancient societies of East Asia.

1. Introduction

As early as the primitive period, in order to survive and reproduce, human beings have made unremitting efforts to prevent and treat diseases that endanger and affect human life and health. Therefore, the ancients had knowledge about the treatment of common traumatic symptoms.
Many archaeological results reveal that up until and before the Shang (商) era and Zhou (周) dynasties, the identification of symptoms and causes had reached a fairly high level. On one hand, through the accumulation of numerous successful or unsuccessful experiences, the methods of medical treatment and the social customs of health care marked, to a certain extent, the civilized development of social life at that time, and at the same time, marked the establishment and improvement of the medical system of later generations in China, laying its foundation (CHO, 2011: 322-325).
Even so, due to the harsh living conditions in primitive society, poor nutrition and poor sanitation conditions, the chronic damage to human tissues was indeed very serious. In particular, when the concept of ghosts and gods was abundant, many ancient people directly attributed the causes of diseases that were not easily visible to the ghosts and gods of the natural world.
Therefore, the ancients used various means to appease the ghosts, or to please them with sacrifices, or to dispel their discontent with pious repentance, or to express their submission to please them, or to exorcise the ghosts with certain ceremonies. At that time, the task was accomplished by the means of a medium that could perform communication between human beings and ghosts, i.e. the power of shamans (巫者) (Michael, 2015: 649-696; CHO, 2004a: 167-182; 2011b: 49-58)[1].
In ancient times, shamanism (巫術) and medicine were indiscriminate. Due to human beings regarded ghosts as the cause for diseases, they used shamans as intermediaries between the former and the latter. They hoped that shamans would practice medicine and appease the ghosts so as to eliminate diseases. Therefore, when performing a ritual of healing shamanism, the shaman often made full use of his own solution to perform this medical shamanism. With this concept, medicine and shamanism, or medical treatment and shamanism were closely combined, and medical psychology and shamanistic psychology were also naturally combined. Seeking medication and a shaman were therefore unified medical activities (Hsu, 1995: 506).
Even so, in the Eastern Zhou (東周) Dynasty, the ancients gradually broke away from the superstitious concept of relying on shamans (CHO, 2011: 284-293), and took acupuncture, moxibustion and medicine as main medical treatments methods, resulting in the later generations’ emergence of medical professionalization and famous doctors (CHO, 2013: 17-25), such as Yi Huan (醫緩), Yi He (醫和), Bian Que (扁鵲), and Wen Zhi (文摯). Nevertheless, the medical knowledge of the Zhou Dynasty was still an embryonic form of Chinese medicine. It was simple and naive, mixed science with falsehood, and interwoven with shamanism belief. Nevertheless, ‘wuyi (巫醫)’ of that time pioneered and expanded the medical field, playing an important role in Chinese medicine (CHO, 2010a: 322-325; 2011b: 127-147).
This paper discusses the main content of shamanistic medical activities as seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, based on the recent reorganization and publication of Changsha Mawangdui Han Tomb Bamboo and Silk Integration (長沙馬王 堆漢墓簡帛集成), Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments (Volume No. 5) (Qiu et al, 2014), and corroborates it with various traditional documents of early China and other unearthed documents. The shamanistic medical activities seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript contain details about the shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ medical activities, the ‘zhuyichuxiong’ activities and curing maggots activities. Here are some examples facilitating the understanding.

2. A Brief Introduction of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments

Mawangdui is located outside the Wulipai (五里牌) in the eastern suburb of Changsha City (長沙市) in Hunan Province (湖南省). Since 1972, tombs No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 have been excavated one after the other. The Mawangdui Silk Manuscript was found in Tomb No. 3 in a rectangular lacquer box which had been folded and rolled for a long time and had been damaged. The Mawangdui Silk Manuscript is a 48-centimeter high and 85-centimeter wide ink book. The content of this Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, according to the classification of Hanshu (漢書), Yiwenzhi (藝文志), is widely related to ‘Liuyi (六藝)’, ‘Zhuzi (諸子)’, ‘Bingshu (兵書)’, ‘Shushu (數術)’, ‘Fangji (方技)’ and others (Liu, 2004: 48-61).
Among them, in ‘Fangji’, most of texts are rich in details about early Chinese medicine, thus can be used as reference about the development of Chinese medicine in the Pre-Qin Period (Ma, 2005: 277; Liu, 2004: 103- 112). Their main content include internal medicine, surgery, moxibustion, massage and so on. They reflect the medical achievements of the Warring States Period, which mostly reflects the various medical thinking modes of the ancients in the Pre-Qin Period, and most of them belong to the works of Pre-Qin China (Zhao, 1983: 25; Ma, 1992a: 22-23; 2005b: 277)[2].
Found especially in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments, ‘Fangji’ section, although there is no title at all, the basic format of the text is that before each disease is first written its name, and then various prescriptions or other therapies are recorded separately. There are fifty-two titles, which are consistent with the manuscript ‘fan 52 (凡五十二)’ in the first volume. The book is about 500 lines and 11,000 words long. It is copied on an about 24-centimeter high and 45-centimeter long area. It is not very well preserved. This manuscript covers 103 cases, 283 prescriptions and 247 medicines. This manuscript is the oldest medical prescription document in China (Qiu et al, 2014: 213-214; Lu and Liao, 1998: 85-86).
Some scholars participated in the research on the shamanistic medical activities seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, and some of their research results mentioned relevant issues (Harper, 1983; Liu, 2004; Li, 2005: 73-76; Ma, 1992a; Ma, 2005b; Li, 2008: 30-33; Liu and Jia, 2009: 173-176; Qiu et al, 2014; Chen, 2018: 94-97; Lin, 2019). However, these studies still lack comprehensive and systematic in-depth research, and there are still no research results to investigate its specific characteristics alone. Therefore, based on the previous research results, the author tries to make a systematic discussion on the shamanistic medical activities as seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript.
In addition, the evolution of Chinese medicine begins with shamanism, later the mixture of shamanism and medicine appear, and then the separation of shamanism and medicine begins (Chen, 1954: 7-10). As mentioned above, the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript truly reflect the development level of clinical medicine and prescription pharmacy in Pre-Qin era of China, as well as some contents of shamanistic medical activities. Therefore, it is necessary to discuss the content of shamanistic medical activities as seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript in order to understand the embryonic stage of early Chinese medicine.

3. ‘Zhuyou (祝由)’ Activities

The ‘zhuyou’ shamanistic activities are ancient Chinese medicine techniques using a prayer charm. They form one of the shamanistic types of method used to cure diseases, and are mainly composed of prayers, sacrifices, incantations and simple shamanistic body movements (CHO, 2010: 127-142). Later generations called the exorcism of the patient’s method ‘Zhuyouke (祝由科)’ (Lu and Liao, 1998: 18-19).

(1) ‘Zhuyou’ Activities Seen in Various Documents in Pre-Qin China

If we look at the ancient Chinese literature in Pre-Qin China, there are many examples of this kind of blessings by shamans. For example, in the Spring and Autumn Gong Yang Zhuan (春秋公羊傳), Yingong Four Years (隱公四年) appears “when Lu Yin Gong (魯隱公) offered sacrifices to Zhong Wu (鍾巫), a prince Hui (翬) sent people to kill Yin Gong.” [3] Next, [East Han (東漢) Dynasty] He Xiu’s (何休) annotation mentions:
Shamans are people who serve ghosts and gods, cure illnesses and ask for blessings through sacrificial activities. The males are called xi (覡), the woman are called wu[4].
In addition, The Analects of Confucius (論語), Shu Er (述而) has its own record as follows:
As Confucius was seriously ill, Zilu (子路) prayed to ghosts and gods. Confucius said, “Is there such a thing?” Zilu said, “There is. The imperial edict says, ‘Pray for you to the gods of Heaven and Earth.’” Confucius said, “I have been praying for a long time.”[5]
From these two articles, we can see that in Pre-Qin China, the ancients used prayer to implement the ‘zhuyou’ method, in order to beg for the gods’ forgiveness (Mou and Zhang, 2000: 208).
In addition, in the bamboo manuscripts of the Warring State Chu (楚) collected at the beginning of 1994 by the Shanghai Museum, there were also articles on Jian Dawang Pahan (柬大王泊旱 Fear of Drought) and Neili (內禮) which mentioned sacrifices offered to gods through various methods of shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ medical activities. Among them, Neili is an example, and its records are as follows:
The gentleman says: “When parents are sick, filial piety is making them wear a hat but not tie up their hair; it is walking slowly; it is not relying on standing; it is talking less. At dawn, sacrifices such as Gong ( : 攻), Ying ( : 禜) and Xing (行) sacrifices were carried out, and in five places were Zhu (祝) sacrifices offered for healing. It is of little help, but in this way the gentleman fulfills filial piety. This is called a gentleman.” (This record can be found in the 8th and 9th slips of Collection of the Warring States Period in Shanghai Museum Chu Zhushu(IV), Neili) [6]
The main idea of this record is to offer sacrifices to the gods by the means of various shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ medical activities such as Gong, Ying and Xing, Zhu, etc. These Shanghai Museum bamboo manuscripts were probably unearthed in the Jingmen (荊門) area (Institute of Archaeology, 2004: 488-490). From this we can see that the ancients’ belief in shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ medical activities also appear in the bamboo manuscripts of the Warring States Period collected by Shanghai Museum.
In a word, the ancients’ practice of shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ medical activities can be seen in all kinds of traditional documents and unearthed documents of Pre-Qin China. In other words, when the ancients were ill, they not only beseeched the gods and practiced divination, but also offered sacrifices and prayers for healing.

(2) ‘Zhuyou’ Activities Seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments

Here, the author mainly focuses on the characteristics of the shamanistic activities seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, which can be divided into two categories: the shamanistic language and compound shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ activities.

1) Shamanistic Language

The shamanistic language, or the act of reciting incantations, is an important part of the shamanistic therapy. As ‘zhuyou’ and various incantations in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments appears, for example, threatening the ghosts causing the sickness, begging the gods to dispel evil and eliminate the disease, as well as cursing directly the name of the ghosts causing the illness. They all belong to the category of ‘cursing therapy (咒禁療法)’ which is one kind of psychotherapy (Lu and Liao, 1998: 15-17). In other words, the ancients believed that the use of this cursing therapy could achieve the purpose of deterring powerful ghosts and driving them away in order to cure the disease.
If we look at the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments, we can see many records of this shamanistic language. Here, take one or two titles for example, the records go as follows:
[Inguinal swellings:] One. On a xinsi (辛巳) day chant an incantation, saying, “Spouting! Today is xinsi.”, three times. Say, “The Spirit of Heaven comes down to prevent sickness! The Goddess, according to her sequence, listens to the spirits! A certain fox lives in a place where it does not belong. Desist. If you do not desist, I will cut you apart with an ax.” Then grasp a piece of hemp cloth and hit the patient with it seven times, twice. (This record can be found in the lines 217 to 218 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript.)
[Inguinal swellings:] [One. Pray and say:] “A certain inguinal swelling has been cured, and I will use a piglet to offer you a Saidao (賽禱) sacrifice. If you don't believe me, I will use a white […], hang the thatch on the sacrificial site, and perform the Saidao sacrifice.” (This record can be found in lines 243 to 244 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript) [7]
[Lacquer:] One. “Spouting! Lacquer King. You cannot lacquer armor and weapons and cause somebody to be injured. Chicken and rat feces will be daubed on the Lacquer King.” (This record can be found in line 392 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript) [8]
Therefore, it is evident that in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments, the most ancient Chinese medical prescriptions document, the ancients had implemented ‘zhuyou’ activities. In particular, the ‘chant an incantation, saying’ seen in lines 217 to 218 should be interpreted as ‘zhuyou’ (Li, 2005: 73). In addition, the ‘Saidao’ seen in lines 243 to 244 is a kind of prayer for the gods in return for the patient recovering from illness. This is the wish of the patient when he is ill, so it belongs without a doubt to the category of shamanistic language.
From this point of view, from the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, we can see the fact that the ancients used various ways of chanting incantations and praying to gods, that is, to implement the method of ‘zhuyou’ in order to beg for gods to get rid of diseases and ghosts.

2) Compound Shamanistic ‘Zhuyou’ Activities

According to the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments, the compound shamanistic activities, i.e., the combination of shamanistic language and shamanistic body actions, account for the largest proportion. Most of the shamanistic body movements are performed before or after reciting mantras. Among them, shamanistic actions such as ‘spitting (涶: 唾)’, ‘spouting (賁: 噴)’ and ‘blowing (吙)’ contain the shamanistic medical treatment of ‘tongue as poison (口舌爲毒)’ (Harper, 1983: 83-87)[9]. Also, this method was popular among later generations (Lu and Liao, 1998: 14-15). In addition, the shamanistic action of ‘Pace of Yu (禹) performed thrice (禹步三)’ not only imitated the dance of shamans carrying on rituals, but also had significance for deterring ghosts, dispelling evil spirits and expelling evil spirits to cure diseases (Harper, 1983: 98-100; Wang, 2007: 142)[10]. Take one or two of these records for example. The records go as follows:
[Scorpions:] One. Spit and spout water on it and saying, “Father and brother gave birth to the Great Mountain, and you dwell below in this ravine. […] tie you up, […] you, and the Phoenix Bird […]. Do not dare to go up or down looking for escape. If you try to escape, its beak will then pierce your heart.” (This record can be found in lines 82 to 83 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript)
[Lizards:] One. Put one cup of silted water into a gourd flask. Carry it in your left hand. Facing the North, face also the patient, perform the Pace of Yu thrice, and ask his name. Then say, “Someone! A certain year he was bitten and now [ ].” Drink it and say, “Leave the disease, cure the disease. Quietly leave, quietly cure.” Then cover the gourd flask and discard it. (This record can be found in lines 97 to 98 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript) [Abscesses:] One. A person with abscesses on the body says, “Shout! I dare to curse to Great Mountain: ‘Someone was [un] fortunately afflicted with abscesses. I encountered [ ] of the hundred sicknesses. I use the bright moon to scorch you. I make you cold and [ ]. I use an oak pole to block you. I use tiger claws to dig a hole and apprehend you. With a knife I butcher you. I cut off your foot with reeds. If this [ ] you do not depart, I spout bitter water on you.’” Then in the morning, on an empty stomach, face the East and spit. (This record can be found in lines 379 to 381 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript) [11]
From this appears evident that in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments, the most ancient Chinese medicine prescriptions document, the ancients once carried out compound shamanistic activities.

3) Analysis of Shamanistic ‘Zhuyou’ Activities

All instances of shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ activities appearing in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments mainly record shamanistic body movements such as ‘spitting’, ‘spouting’, ‘blowing’, and ‘the Pace of Yu performed three times’, as well as the recitation of incantations. If analyze in a list format, the following table is produced (Table 1). As the document suffers a serious degree of damage, it is then impossible to examine its specific content. Thus, we will not discuss it here for the time being.
From this point of view, we can see from the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript the fact that the ancients used various ways of chanting incantations, praying to gods, and used different combinations of shamanistic language and shamanistic body movements. Those are all implementations of the method of ‘zhuyou’ adopted in order to beg for gods and to dispel diseases and ghosts.
According to statistics, there are 283 prescriptions in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, and 103 disease names. Among them, nearly 60 prescriptions contain shamanistic characteristics, accounting for 21.2% of the total prescriptions, and involve 18 diseases, accounting for 17.5% of the total disease names (Lü, 2010: 188). In particular, among the nearly 60 prescriptions of shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ activities, there are about 46 recitations of incantations and 19 shamanistic body movements. It can be seen that this kind of ancient medical prescription still prevailed at the time, fully demonstrating the ‘shamanism and medicine being indiscriminate (巫醫不分)’ characteristic in the early prescriptions. This kind of shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ medical treatment, although not helpful, on the other hand must have had the psychological effect of comforting sick people.
To sum up this technique of treating diseases with ‘zhuyou’ activities, or ‘cursing therapy’, being separated and specialized by later generations of shamans and doctors, was still found in medical institutions of every dynasty in China (Lu and Liao, 1998: 18-19)[12]. This fact proves the ‘zhuyou’ therapy, which has a shamanistic nature, is one of the most important components of ancient Chinese medicine. Especially considering that in early China the concept of ghosts and gods was so prevalent, therefore there is no need to further elaborate on this.

4. ‘Zhuyichuxiong (逐疫除凶)’ Activities

In ancient China, shamanistic activities of eliminating diseases and epidemics, which are called ‘zhuyichuxiong’ in the literature, included shamanistic activities such as ‘shuiqin (水寢 Washing beds with water)’, ‘ouqin (毆寢 Removing filth)’, ‘souqin (搜寢 Killing insects and ominous diseases)’ (CHO, 2010: 55-56).

(1) ‘Zhuyichuxiong’ Activities Seen in Various Documents in Early China

Firstly, the epidemic-driven activities were investigated. In the ancient literature of early China, the records of epidemic-driven activities are common. For example, there is a record in Zhou Li (周禮), Nü Zhu (女祝) that goes as follows (Loewe and SHAUGHNESSY, 1993):
Nü Zhu: …… sometimes held the Zhao (招) sacrifice, the Geng (梗) sacrifice, the Gui (禬) sacrifice, and the Rang (禳) sacrifice, in order to eliminate diseases and disaster[13].
In this record, the Zhao, Geng, Gui, and Rang sacrifices are four kinds of sacrificial names eliminating diseases. The Zhao sacrifice is used to invite good fortune, the Geng sacrifice to repel disasters, and the Gui and Rang sacrifices to eliminate disasters. Therefore, it is not difficult to know that these kinds of sacrifices are acts of shamanism expelling epidemic diseases.
In addition, if we discuss the eviction of epidemics and the shamanistic activities of eliminating diseases of the ancients seen in the unearthed documents of Pre-Qin China, we can notice the Rishu Jiazhong (日書甲 種) bamboo manuscripts of Qin (秦) period excavated at the end of 1975 at No. M11 tomb in Shuihudi (睡虎地), Yunmeng (雲夢) mention not only the causes of illness caused by ghosts, but also the ways to eliminate them. Let’s take one or two of them here as examples. The records are as follows:
[Prohibit:] In a house, if all family members suffer from infectious diseases, die or fall ill for no reason, it is because they are entangled by a ghost thorn. Because standing upright and buried, if above it is dry, it will become wet; if there is humidity, it will become dry. So if you dig it out and throw it away, it will stop. (This record can be found in the 37th to 39nd slips in Bamboo Manuscripts of Shuihudi Qin Tomb, Rishu Jiazhong)
In a house, if all the family members suffered from infectious diseases for no reason, or many people died of fear in their dreams, it is because the ghost of a pregnant woman was buried there. If there is no grass on it, it is like a place where people sit. So if you dig it out and throw it away, it will stop. (This record can be found in the 40th to 42nd slips in Bamboo Manuscripts of Shuihudi Qin Tomb, Rishu Jiazhong) [14]
As seen from these records, up to the end of the Warring States Period and the Qin period, the ancients still attributed the causes of various diseases to ghosts, and used shamanistic methods to alleviate difficulties and worries (CHO, 2004: 1-9).
From this point of view, details of the ancient people’s shamanistic expulsion of epidemics and elimination of diseases appear in various early Chinese documents.

(2) ‘Zhuyichuxiong’ Activities Seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments

Here, this part will mainly focus on the shamanistic activities of eliminating diseases and epidemics seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript.
If we look at the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments, we can see many records of ancient people expelling epidemics and performing shamanistic activities to eliminate diseases. Here we take one or two of them as examples. The records go as follows:
[Urine retention:] One. At the daybreak on a jisi (己巳) day, whimper and urinate while facing towards the east. If it does not decrease, repeat it again. (This record can be found in line 196 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript)
[Inguinal swellings:] One. Use straw to make a bow, and use the cord handle of a steamer to make a bowstring. Use kudzu to make arrows, and use [ ] feathers [ ]. Shoot at dawn, and at sunset [ ] small. (This record can be found in line 227 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript) [15]
Seen in the examples cited above, the ancients used things with mysterious power as a means of treatment, or also used things deemed disgusting by the ghosts, or even symbolic tools and actions to remove the evil spirits. There is no doubt that such ways of thinking and measures belonging to the category of shamanistic activities to eliminate diseases.
From this point of view, we can see in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript the ancients’ shamanistic elimination of diseases, that is, as seen in the literature, ‘zhuyichuxiong’ activities. Although these ‘zhuyichuxiong’ activities were not helpful, on the other hand, they must have had a comforting psychological effect for the patients.

5. Curing Maggots Activities

In Chinese shamanism tradition, there is a mysterious and frightening black shamanistic practice, which is the release of maggots and the poisoning of people[16]. The ancients believed that because shamans used this technique to cause disease and death, they tried their best to prevent falling victim to it. Therefore, when encountering the technique of releasing maggots and poisoning people, the ancients applied the ‘curing maggots’ technique.

(1) Curing Maggots Activities Seen in Various Documents in Early China

First of all, about the techniques of the release of maggots and the poisoning of people in Pre-Qin China, texts such as Spring and Autumn Zuo Zhuan (春秋左傳), ZhaoGong First Year (昭公元年) have records. The king of Jin (晉) sought a doctor to the Qin, so the king of Qin dispatched the doctor and looked upon it. The doctor said, “The illness can’t be cured. It is called being close to women. It is like being bewitched. Not because of ghosts, nor because of a certain diet, but because of the loss of will caused by the bewilderedness of women. Good ministers will die, God cannot protect them.” [17] Later, he talked about it with Zhao Meng (趙孟) as follows:
Zhao Meng said, “What are maggots?” The doctor answered, “It is caused by confusion. As inscribed in Chinese characters, maggots are poisoning insects in vessels. Flying insects in rice are also maggots. In the Book of Changes (易經), women mesmerizing men, and the great wind blowing down trees are all called maggots. It’s all the same thing.”[18]
Under this record, Tang Dynasty’ Kong Yingda’s (孔穎達) annotation said: “Using poison to harm people without letting them know is called maggot poisoning under the current law.” [19] It can be seen that the technique of releasing maggots and poisoning people has a long history.
In addition, the records of documents unearthed in Pre-Qin China concerning shamanistic activities of releasing maggots can be seen in the Curse Class One (詛咒類一) 105:1 of Houmamengshu (侯馬盟書). Its record goes as follows:
If Xu (卹) […] does not serve the monarch Han Zi (韓子) […] piously, and boldly colludes with Zhonghang Yin (中行寅) […] in secret, then we will boldly carry out the curse of being poisoned by maggots […][20].
The word ‘maggot’ in this record refers to the kind of shamanistic activities that curse others and wants them to suffer from diseases and disasters[21]
In addition, the ancients were not helpless when encountering the technique of releasing maggots and poisoning people, but practiced the method of curing maggots in order to avoid falling prey to them. For example, there is a record in Zhou Li, Shushi (庶氏) that goes as follows:
Shushi is responsible for eliminating the maggots that endanger human beings, getting rid of them by offering Gong (攻) and Shuo (說) sacrifices to gods, and fumigating them with Jiacao (嘉草). If there is anyone who can expel the maggots, let him do it and compare his skills[22].
Then, East Han Dynasty’ Zheng Xuan (鄭玄) commented on the record and said, “Poisonous maggots are a kind of insect that get people sick and hurts them. Gong and Shuo are names of sacrifices urging gods to remove the maggots. Jiacao is a kind of medicine, but its appearance has not been heard of. Gong means to fumigate it.” [23] Hu Xinsheng (胡新生), a contemporary scholar, thinks that, in this record, Jiacao refers specifically to the maggots-curing ‘mioga ginger (蘘荷)’ (Hu, 1999: 444- 445). According to Zheng Xuan’s annotations, there are two shamanistic ways to cure maggots: one is to pray for the gods to kill maggots by ‘Gong and Shuo’ and the other is to fumigate maggots with herbs. In other words, in early China, this method of maggots control was prevalent.

(2) Curing Maggots Activities Seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments

If we look at the chapter of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments, [ ] Maggots (□蠱者), we can notice records of shamanistic activities, namely the ancient ‘curing maggots’ method. Here we take one or two of them as examples. The records go as follows:
A person who is sick by maggots: Incinerate to ashes a pair of talismans that are facing the north and steam a sheep rump. Put (the rump) into hot water and scatter the ashes of the talisman over it. Then […] the ailing person bathes his hair and body and expels maggots. (This record can be found in line 447 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript)
One. For the sick with maggots. Use one black rooster and one snake, and put them together in a red pottery kettle. Then, cover with [ ], make a stove facing the east and cook them. Let the chicken and snake become completely charred, then take them out and pound them finely. Every morning have the ailing person put a pinch of medicine into one cup of rice gruel-looking liquor and drink it. Drink once a day. When it is used up, (the maggots) will subside. (This record can be found in lines 448 to 450 of the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript) [24]
Therefore, it is not hard to observe that the shamanistic activities of ‘curing maggots’ are also included in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript. It can also be seen in Pre-Qin China, not only the technique of releasing maggots and poisoning people was popular, but also the shamanistic method of curing maggots (Harper, 1983: 601-609).
In summary, in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, although the professional medical skills were quite developed, shamanistic medical activities, such as the shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ activities, the ‘zhuyichuxiong’ activities and curing maggots activities, which were inherited from the former dynasty, can also be seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, which itself belongs to Pre-Qin Chinese literature (Zhao, 1983: 25; CHO, 2004: 1-9; Ma, 2005: 277; Liu, 2004: 103-112).

6. Conclusion

Although the function of the shamans was to communicate with ghosts and gods, the ancients believed that the shamans could accomplish many things with their power. The main types of activities of ancient shamans can be divided into nine categories: communicating with ghosts, medical activities, protective activities, farming and hunting activities, seeking offspring activities, architectural activities, funeral activities, imprecation and agony activities, and ordeal activities (CHO, 2011: 77-108).
This article discusses the main details of the shamanistic medical activities seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript. Here is a brief summary of its content.
First, in ancient China, the ancients used various forms of incantations, prayers to gods, and combinations of shamanistic language with shamanistic body movements to practice ‘zhuyou’ activities in order to beg for the forgiveness of gods and to keep the hope to recover from illnesses. These kinds of shamanistic medical activities are also common in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript.
Secondly, in ancient China, the shamanistic medical activities for eliminating epidemics, or the ‘zhuyichuxiong’ activities, as seen in the literature, included various shamanistic medical activities in order to eliminate diseases. These kinds of shamanistic ‘zhuyichuxiong’ activities are in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, and therefore are seen more often.
Third, when encountering the technique of releasing maggots and poisoning people, the ancients applied the method of curing maggots. These curing maggots activities can also be seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript.
In conclusion, it is known from the content above that the medical knowledge depicted in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript is part of the embryonic stage of Chinese medicine. It was simple and naive, combining science and fallacy, and was intertwined with shamanistic belief. Even so, the ‘wuyi’ of that time was a pioneer in the expansion of medicine, and because of this, occupies an important position in Chinese medicine (CHO, 2010a: 322-325; 2011b: 127-147).
In addition, the origin and development of this early Chinese medical treatment had an influence on ancient Korea, Japan and other places. So through this research, we can learn more about the embryonic stage of the early traditional medicine in ancient societies of Eastern Asia (CHO, 1997: 216-226; Ohe, 2007: 24).

Notes

1) Michael, Thomas has put forward penetrating opinions on the translation of ‘shaman’ and ‘shamanism’ by ancient Chinese ‘wu (巫者)’ and ‘wushu (巫術)’ in his articles on “Shamanism Theory and the Early Chinese Wu”. Even so, according to the CHO’s previous research results, the following is a direct translation of ancient Chinese ‘wu’ and ‘wushu’ into the word ‘shaman’ and ‘shamanism’.

2) According to the research results of the predecessors, the author treats it as the Pre-Qin literature in the narration of this article.

3) [Qing (清) Dynasty] Ruan Yuan’s (阮元) proofreading, Spring and Autumn Gong Yang Zhua, Volume 2, Yingong Four Years, p. 2205.

4) The same as above.

5) [Qing Dynasty] Ruan Yuan’s proofreading, The Analects of Confucius, Volume 7, Shuer, p. 2484.

6) Ma Chengyuan (馬承源), Editor-in-Chief, Collection of the Warring States Period in Shanghai Museum Chu Zhushu (上海博物館藏戰國楚竹書) (IV), Neili, pp. 226-227.

7) Although this sentence is seriously damaged, according to the content of the text, the author drafted it.

8) Qiu Xigui et al, Changsha Mawangdui Han Tomb Bamboo and Silk Integration, Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments (Volume No. 5), pp. 254-286. In addition, after more than six years of hard work, this set of Changsha Mawangdui Han Tomb Bamboo and Silk Integration has been reorganized and published in 2014. This book has not only the original version, but also the mosaic restoration. It also publishes all the anti-print, infiltration and blank pages, as well as various scraps of silk, so the current Mawangdui bamboo and silk manuscripts can be said to be the most comprehensive and accurate collation text. Therefore, the English translation of various prescriptions seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments written in the Mawangdui Silk Manuscript in this paper is based on the penetrating explanations of Harper, Donald John, The Wu Shih Erh Ping Fang — Translation and Prolegomena: Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1983). Nevertheless, if there are new texts collated, translations should be made according to the meaning of the original text and the author’s opinions.

9) Examples of shamanistic therapies for curing diseases by ‘tongue as poison’ are as follows: [Tang (唐) Dynasty] Wang Bing (王冰) annotation and [Song (宋) Dynasty] Shi Song (史崧) revised phonetic explanations, Lingshu Jing (靈樞經), Volume 11, Functions (官能), p. 413.

10) Summary of Wang’s article says, “Xia Yu (夏禹) was regarded as the patriarch by the shamans and those giving blessings in ancient Chinese society, and was called ‘Shen Yu (神禹)’. ‘Pace of Yu thrice’, a lame step formed by Pace of Yu performed thrice, was used by shamans as a special step to deter ghosts. Because Yu is considered to be the master of all things in the world after water harnessing, he has the power to control everything in the world, even the demon and goblin. As a result, Shen Yu is respected as the master of all shamans, and Pace of Yu thrice becomes a special shamanistic trick for the shamans to pretend that Yu overwhelms ghosts and monsters.”

11) Qiu Xigui et al, Changsha Mawangdui Han Tomb Bamboo and Silk Integration, Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments(Volume No. 5), pp. 230-285.

12) As for its illustrations, it is not difficult to see such facts as ‘Zhujinboshi (祝禁博士)’ set up by the Tai Medical Department (太醫署) in Sui (隋) Dynasty, ‘Zhoujinshi (呪禁師)’ set up by one of the doctors in Tang Dynasty, ‘Jinzujianshujinke (金鏃兼書禁科)’ set up by the Tai Medical Bureau (太醫局) in Song Dynasty, and ‘Zhuyouke (祝由科)’ set up by Tai Hospital (太醫院) in Yuan (元) and Ming (明) Dynasties.

13) [Qing Dynasty] Ruan Yuan’s proofreading, Zhou Li, Volume 8, Nü Zhu, p. 690.

14) Shuihudi Qin Tomb Bamboo Manuscripts Collection Group (睡虎地秦墓竹簡整理小組), Bamboo Manuscripts of Shuihudi Qin Tomb (睡虎地秦墓竹簡), Rishu Jiazhong: pp. 212-217.

15) Qiu Xigui et al, Changsha Mawangdui Han Tomb Bamboo and Silk Integration, Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments (Volume No. 5), pp. 249-256.

16) Shamanistic activities harmful to human beings, namely, the shamanistic activities that attempt to make people sick, dead or suffer from disasters, are called ‘black shamanistic activities.'

17) [Qing Dynasty] Ruan Yuan’s proofreading, Spring and Autumn Zuo Zhuan, Volume 41, ZhaoGong First Year , p. 2024.

18) The same as above, p. 2025.

19) The same as above.

20) Shanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Working Committee (山西省文物工作委員會), Houmamengshu, p. 41.

21) The same as above, p. 42.

22) [Qing Dynasty] Ruan Yuan’s proofreading, Zhou Li, Volume 37, Shushi, p. 888.

23) The same as above.

24) The same as above, p. 295.

Table 1.
Shamanistic ‘zhuyou’ activities seen in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments
Disease name Symptoms Serial number Spitting, spouting, blowing Pace of Yu performed thrice Incantation
Various wounds (諸傷) Various wounds 13 0 time 0 time 1 time
Infant convulsions (嬰兒瘛) Infantile spasms 51~55 2 times 0 time 1 time
Foul smell (巢(臊)者) Body repulsive odor 66 0 time 0 time 1 time
Scorpions (: ) Scorpion stings 82~83 2 times 0 time 1 time
84 0 time 0 time 1 time
Lizards (蚖) Snake bites 91 1 time 0 time 1 time
96 2 times 0 time 1 time
97~98 0 time 1 time 2 times
Warts (尤: 疣) Excrescences on the skin surface 103 0 time 0 time 2 times
104 0 time 0 time 1 time
105~107 0 time 1 time 1 time
108 0 time 0 time 1 time
109~110 0 time 0 time 1 time
111 0 time 0 time 1 time
Urine retention ((癃)病) Dysuria 169~170 1 time 1 time 1 time
Inguinal swellings (穨: ) Hernia 208~210 0 time 1 time 1 time
212~213 0 time 1 time 7 times
217~218 0 time 0 time 4 times
219~220 0 time 0 time 2 times
221 0 time 0 time 1 time
223 0 time 1 time 3 times
243~244 0 time 0 time 1 time
Recipe for [ ] burns (□闌(爛)者方) Burns 318 1 time 0 time 1 time
Abscesses (癰) Purulent inflammation of subcutaneous tissues 379~381 1 time 0 time 1 time
Lacquer (: 髹) Lacquer sore 390 1 time 0 time 4 times
391 1 time 0 time 1 time
392 0 time 0 time 1 time
Body mange (身疕) Body sores 437 0 time 0 time 1 time
Child ghost (鬾) Disease brought by the child ghost 452 0 time 1 time 0 time
453~455 0 time 0 time 1 time
Total 12 times 7 times 46 times

References

[Tang 唐 Dynasty] Wang Bing 王冰 annotation and [Song 宋 Dynasty] Shi Song 史 崧 revised phonetic explanations, Lingshu Jing 靈樞經, which is contained in Book 733 of Wenyuan Pavilion Siku Quanshu 文淵閣四庫全書, Zibu 子部 39, Medical Classes 醫家類 (Taiwan: Taiwan Commercial Press, 1983-1986)..

[Qing 清 Dynasty] Ruan Yuan’s 阮元 proofreading, Annotations to the Thirteenth Classic (with collation notes) 十三經注疏, 附校勘記 (Volume 1, 2) (Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1980)..

CHO Hungyun 趙興胤, The Shaman’s World in Korea 한국 무의 세계 (Korea: Minzoksa, 1997).

CHO Yongjun 趙容俊, “Shamanistic Medical Activity as Seen in Shang Dynasty Oracle Bones 甲骨卜辭所見之巫者的醫療活動,” Collected Papers of History Studies 史學集刊 3 (2004).

CHO Yongjun 趙容俊, “A Study of the Similarities and Differences between Religion and Shamanism 巫術與宗教之異同,” Journal of Religious Philosophy 宗教哲學 30 (2004).

CHO Yongjun 趙容俊, “A Study on Shaman’s Medical Activities of Pre-Qin China 先秦巫者的醫療活動研究,” PhD Diss., Beijing: Tsinghua University, 2010.

CHO Yongjun 趙容俊, References to Shamanism in the Shang Dynasty Oracle Bones 殷商甲骨卜辭所見之巫術 (Expanded Edition) (Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2011.

CHO Yongjun 趙容俊, “A Review on the Specialization of Chinese Medicine in Zhou Dynasty 兩周時期中國醫學的專業化小考,” The Journal of Oriental Medical Classics 대한 한의학 원전학 회지 26-1 (2013).

Chen Bangxian 陳邦賢, History of Chinese Medicine 中國醫學史 (Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1954).

Chen Ning 陳寧, “The Meaning of Zhuyou’s Words ‘Spouting’ and its Religious and Cultural Implications 馬王堆帛書《五十二病方》祝由語‘噴’義及其宗教文化意蘊,” Journal of Xinyang Normal University 信陽師範學院學報 (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition 哲學社會科學版) 38-4 (2018).

Hsu, James 許進雄, Ancient Chinese Society -- Perspective of Characters and Anthropology 中國古代社會 -- 文字與人類學的透視 (Revised) (Taiwan: Taiwan Commercial Press, 1995)..

Hu Xinsheng 胡新生, Ancient Chinese Shamanism 中國古代巫術 (Shandong: Shandong People’s Publishing House, 1999).

Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences 中國社會科學院考古研究所, Chinese Archaeology 中國考古學, Two Zhou Volume 兩周卷 (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2004)..

Li Jiahao 李家浩, “The Meaning of ‘You (由)’ in the Mawangdui Han Tomb Silk Manuscript Zhuyou 馬王堆漢墓帛書祝由方中的‘由’,” Journal of Hebei University 河北大學學報 (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition 哲學社會科學版) 1 (2005)..

Li Cong 李叢, “A Study on the Content of Forbidden Incantation in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments 《五十二病方》禁咒內容研究,” Journal of Jiangxi University of TCM 江西中醫學院學報 20-2 (2008)..

Lin Zhenbang 林振邦, “A Study on the Concept of Disease in the Silk Medical Books of the Pre-Qin and Qin and Han Dynasties 先秦兩漢簡帛醫書的疾病觀研究,” PhD Diss., Beijing: Beijing University of traditional Chinese Medicine, 2019.

Liu Guozhong 劉國忠, Ancient Silk Manuscripts 古代帛書 (Beijing: Cultural Relics Publishing House, 2004).

Co-authored by Liu Yutang 劉玉堂 and Jia Haiyan 賈海燕, “Shamanism and Folk Customs Involved in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments of Mawangdui Silk Manuscript, Removing Warts 馬王堆帛書《五十二病方·祛疣》所涉之巫術與民俗,” Journal of South-Central University for Nationalities 中南民族大學學報 (Humanities and Social Sciences Edition 人文社會科學版) 29-1 (2009)..

Lu Jiaxi 盧嘉錫 Editor-in-Chief and Liao Yuqun 廖育群, History of Science and Technology in China -- Medical Volume 中國科學技術史 -- 醫學卷 (Beijing: Science Publishing House, 1998).

Lü Yahu 呂亞虎, Shamanistic Research in Bamboo Slips and Silk Documents of the Warring States, Qin and Han Dynasties 戰國秦漢簡帛文獻所見巫術研究 (Beijing: Science Press, 2010)..

Ma Chengyuan 馬承源, Editor-in-Chief, Collection of the Warring States Period in Shanghai Museum Chu Zhushu 上海博物館藏戰國楚竹書 (IV) (Shanghai: Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House, 2005)..

Ma Jixing 馬繼興, Mawangdui Ancient Medical Manuscripts 馬王堆古醫書考釋 (Hunan: Hunan Science and Technology Publishing House, 1992).

Ma Jixing 馬繼興, Mawangdui Ancient Medical Manuscripts 馬王堆古醫書考釋 (Hunan: Hunan Science and Technology Publishing House, 1992).

Ma Jixing 馬繼興, A Study of Ancient Medical Books Unearthed and Lost 出土亡佚古醫籍研究 (Beijing: Chinese Medicine Ancient Books Publishing House, 2005).

Qiu Xigui 裘錫圭, Editor-in-Chief, Hunan Museum 湖南省博物館, Fudan University Research Center for Unearthed Documents and Ancient Chinese Characters 復旦大學出土文獻與古文字研究中心, Changsha Mawangdui Han Tomb Bamboo and Silk Integration 長沙馬王堆漢墓簡帛集成 (Volume No. 5) (Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2014)..

Shanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Working Committee 山西省文物工作委員會, Houmamengshu 侯馬盟書 (Beijing: Cultural Relics Publishing House, 1976).

Shuihudi Qin Tomb Bamboo Manuscripts Collection Group 睡虎地秦墓竹簡整理小組, Bamboo Manuscripts of Shuihudi Qin Tomb 睡虎地秦墓竹簡 (Beijing: Cultural Relics Publishing House, 1990).

Wang Hui 王暉, “The Mystery and Name of Xia Yu (夏禹) as the Sorcerer of Shamanism 夏禹爲巫祝宗主之謎與名字巫術論,” Humanities Magazine 人文雜誌 4 (2007)..

Zhao Pushan 趙璞珊, Ancient Chinese Medicine 中國古代醫學 (Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1983).

Zhang Lijun 張麗君, “A Study of Zhuyou Activities in the Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments 五十二病方祝由之研究,” Chinese Journal of Medical History 中華醫史雜誌 27-3 (1997)..

Atsushi Ohe 大江篤, The Gods and Spirits in Ancient Japan 日本古代の神と霊 (Japan: Rinsen Book Co, 2007).

Harper, Donald John, The WU SHIH ERH PING FANG -- TRANSLATION AND PROLEGOMENA: Recipes for Fifty-two Ailments 五十二病方 (United States: UNIVERSITY MICROFILMS INTERNATIONAL, 1983)..

Co-authored by Michael Loewe and EDWARD SHAUGHNESSY, Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide (United States: University of California, 1993).

Michael, Thomas, “Shamanism Theory and the Early Chinese Wu,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 83-3 (2015)..

TOOLS
PDF Links  PDF Links
PubReader  PubReader
ePub Link  ePub Link
Full text via DOI  Full text via DOI
Download Citation  Download Citation
CrossRef TDM  CrossRef TDM
  E-Mail
  Print
Share:      
METRICS
0
Crossref
0
Scopus
335
View
12
Download
Related article
Editorial Office
The Korean Society for the History of Medicine Department of Medical History,
Yonsei University College of Medicine, 50-1 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 03722, Korea
TEL: +82-2-2228-2471   FAX: +82-2-2227-8077   E-mail: medhistory@hanmail.net
About |  Browse Articles |  Current Issue |  For Authors and Reviewers |  KSHM HOME
Copyright © The Korean Society for the History of Medicine. All rights reserved.