Newly Engraved Medical Encyclopedia


The comprehensive medical work presented here, Xin juan Yun lin shen gou (Newly engraved medical encyclopedia), is by Gong Tingxian (1522‒1619), who was from a long line of family physicians. Both he and his father served at the Imperial Medical Academy. The work was not included in Si ku quan shu zong mu (General catalog of the imperial Siku collection) or in other catalogs. Gong chose to lead a solitary life in the countryside, but he nonetheless was known for his skills in all areas, including internal medicine, women’s ailments, and medical care of infants, especially the latter. He was considered one of the ten most prominent medical practitioners in the history of the Jiangxi region and was a prolific author of medical books that greatly influenced Japanese medicine. He assisted his father in compiling Gu jin yi jian (Studies on ancient and modern medicine). He became famous after having treated a severe illness of the wife of Prince Lu. As a reward, the prince had Gong’s work Lu fu jin fang (Secret formulas of Lu House) published. Gong was also recommended for appointment to the Imperial Medical Academy. He practiced medicine for 60 years and died at an old age. This work is a reprint from 1591, by Zhou Yuejiao; thus the title bears the first two characters, xin juan (newly engraved). Gong’s formulas, many of them for treating wind ailments, followed the Han and Song tradition, although he prescribed about 400 herbs as opposed to 1,800 in Ben cao gang mu (Compendium of materia medica). Some of the diagnoses and treatments are written in verse form. Also included are secret formulas kept in the court. Gong’s fundamental concept was that incorrect living leaves a person open to adverse influences; disease prevention thus must be based on a proper lifestyle. The work was edited by Gong’s son Gong Maosheng and his student Wu Jimin and was printed by Zhou Yu, the owner of Jinling shu lin, a bookshop during the Wanli period.

Last updated: January 16, 2018