Explanations of the Subtleties of the Original Mechanism, with Appendix


This work on Chinese ophthalmology is of historical significance and had great influence on later generations of ophthalmologists in China. An inscription in the work originally read: “written by Xue Ji of Wujun; edited by Guo Xian’en, a follower.” The inscription was crossed out and changed, in red ink, to: “written by Ni Weide of Wujun of the Yuan dynasty and edited by Xue Ji,” which acknowledges that the work was compiled by Ni Weide (1303‒77), edited and reissued by Xue Ji (1487‒1559), a Ming physician at the Imperial Academy of Medicine, and that it has an appendix. This title was included as if it were by Xue in a collected work entitled Xue shi yi an (Xue Ji’s medical cases). This copy was a single work printed by Guo Xian’en, Xue Ji’s pupil. Ni Weide, other names Zhongxian and Chishan Laoren, a native of Wuxian, Jiangsu, was a Yuan imperial physician. He started his medical study by reading works by the three famous Jin dynasty physicians, Liu Wansu, Li Dongyuan, and Zhang Congzheng. He became a general practitioner, but he was best known for his skills in ophthalmology. Ni Weide took his title from the text of Yin fu jing (Yellow Emperor’s hidden talisman classic), a Daoist scripture associated with Chinese astrology and alchemy. He quoted the words in the scripture that “the heart, or mind, is born out of material and dies in material, the process of which lies in the eyes,” thus the title. This is a Wanli (1573‒1620) print edition in two juan, in two volumes, and the appendix is in one juan. The first juan discusses, in detail, the origins of diseases and groups the diseases of the eye into 18 categories based on their causes. The second juan provides details of treatments, listing 46 formulas, with detailed analyses based on the traditional Chinese medical theories. The appendix is a miscellaneous collection of views and ideas, such as “eyes are the essential blood vessels,” or “the most urgent case is bleeding in the eye.” This copy has punctuation marks in red ink and handwritten supplemental notes in red and black.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Guo Xian'en


Title in Original Language

原機啟微集 : 二卷, 附錄一卷

Type of Item

Physical Description

2 juan, 2 volumes

Last updated: January 16, 2018