Supplement to Compendium of Materia Medica


This work is a supplement to the 16th-century Ben cao gang mu (Compendium of materia medica) in manuscript form, of 11 juan, in 20 volumes, compiled by Zhao Xuemin (circa 1719–1805), a native of Qiantang (present-day Hangzhou), Zhejiang Province. The book is considered the most important medical work of the Qing dynasty. Zhao Xuemin was the son of a renowned physician, and both he and his brother followed in their father’s footsteps. Zhao was known as an avid collector of medical, pharmacological, and astrological works. He cultivated an herbal garden, tested the properties of various plants, and operated a clinic. This work originally was a part of the 100-volume series entitled Liji shi er zhong (Twelve series of Liji), which Zhao completed over decades of collecting and arranging. The work was grouped in 12 categories, encompassing various medical topics relating to diseases, cures, and materia medica, including folk medicine. Of the 12 categories, only two are extant, and these were revised and printed by Zhang Yingchang in the tenth year of the Tongzhi reign (1871). The preface to this manuscript states that it took the author 40 years to complete the work, between 1765 and 1805, during the reigns of Qing emperors Jiaqing and Qianlong. Notwithstanding the lapse of more than 200 years since the publication of Li Shizhen’s Ben cao gang mu, Zhao attempted to fill certain gaps he had found in the earlier compendium. He corrected a number of errors and added a more than 700 medicinal drugs, chiefly taken from the folk tradition. The book has a preface by the author.

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11 juan, 20 volumes


  • Manuscript copy

Last updated: March 12, 2015