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The Pulse Classic

Source:chinaculture.org

Updated: 2014-07-25

Maijing(The Pulse Classic), compiled by Wang Shuhe in the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316), is the first extant book specializing in sphygmology in China, and a summing-up of the knowledge on sphygmology before the third century in China.

 Maijing is in 10 volumes, containing 98 chapters. It categorized pulse tracings into 24 kinds, such as light, heavy, slow, fast, etc., and tells the disease each kind of pulse tracing indicates. The discussion is carried out with reference to the other three ways of diagnosis: looking, listening and asking. Notwithstanding Maijing is a book integrating the achievements of the previous generations in sphygmology, its conciseness and convenience for study has earned it an important position in the development of Chinese medicine, and has exerted a great influence both at home and abroad. For example, the Ministry of Imperial Physicians of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) took it as a compulsory course, and in the ancient medical education of Japan it was also regarded as a required course.

After the book was completed, it was spread to the Tibetan area, which had a great impact on traditional Tibetan medicine. From Tibet, Chinese sphygmology was spread to India,and then to Arabian countries and so on. It also exerted some influence on the development of sphygmology of Western Europe. For example:In a medical encyclopedia in Persian compiled by Ra.Al.Al-Hamdani (1247-1318), Earham's Treasure-House of Chinese Science (13th century to the early years of 14th century), the name Wang Shuhe was mentioned, and the content on sphygmology was also quite similar to that in Maijing. The content on sphygmology in the Encyclopedia of Medicine written by the Arabian medical saint Avicenna(980-1037), is also similar to that. From this we can see that that Maijing has far-reaching influence on the development of medical science at home and abroad.

The extant early versions of it include the block-printed edition of Guangqintang in the third year of the Tianli reign of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Thereafter, from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1840) to now, there have been dozens of versions of all kinds, such as block-printed ones, typographic ones, etc. Among them, the series version of Shoushange of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was quite influential. After the founding of the New China, many more versions emerged, such as the letterpress edition of the Commercial Press, the photostat copies of the People's Medical Publishing House, Shanghai Medical Publishing House and Shanghai Press of Science and Technology and so on.

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