Daguan Classic and Historical Classified Materia Medica


The author of the original materia medica presented here was Tang Shenwei of the Song dynasty, and the work was first issued in the late 11th century. This copy, in 31 juan and 24 volumes, contains Tang Shenwei’s name, with a preface written by Ai Cheng, dated 1108. Ai Cheng received his jin shi degree in 1103. One of his posts was as text reviser of the imperial library during the Daguan era (1107‒10). By the order of Song emperor Huizong (1082‒1135), he was given the task of revising Tang Shenwei’s work. The revised edition was issued in 1108, under the title of Daguan jing shi zheng lei bei ji ben cao (Daguan classic and historical classified materia medica for emergency), shortened as Daguan ben cao (Daguan materia medica). The colophon at the end reads “printed by Zongwen Shuyuan, in the spring of the sixth year of the Dade reign” (1302). This copy has a postscript, written by Yang Shoujin (1839‒1915), the late-Qing historian, geographer, and bibliographer. According to Yang, this copy is a Korean reprint of the Yuan edition, without any textual changes. It also has detailed notations in red ink, made by a Japanese owner, Tsushima, based on a Zhenghe edition. The text thus was a reprint of the Daguan edition, but the commentaries were based on a Zhenghe edition, which provides useful source material for comparing the two editions. The work also contains several seal impressions, including that of Tsushima. Although the original work underwent many editions and title changes, the basic contents did not. Daguan ben cao collected comprehensive documents and clinical experience, more than 1,000 drugs, hundreds of new drugs, and hundreds of formulas. It also provided details on the functions of each drug, the collection of drugs, distinguishing various medicines, and techniques of compounding, storage, and use of medicines. Also included are case studies and clinical experience. The work has preserved many medical documents and records that are now extinct. The illustrations are meticulously detailed.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

經史證類大觀本草 : 三十一卷

Type of Item

Physical Description

31 juan, 24 volumes

Last updated: January 16, 2018