Health Care, Medicine, and Chinese Society

  • Nathan Sivin
Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 43)


This book explores the spectrum of health care available to people in Imperial China, and analyzes important parts of it. It focuses on ideas and methods of therapy in the long eleventh century (960-1127) and their interaction. Historians have concentrated on the high medical tradition, with its rich sources, but its physicians treated few outside the class that governed China and owned most of its wealth. Who, then, cared for the vast majority, illiterate, mostly rural, and largely poor? They depended on the resources available in their own villages—from local herbalists, popular priests, and others—and, for epidemics and other collective crises, from Buddhist and Daoist priests and occasionally from local officials. To most Chinese, curative rites were more familiar than medical prescriptions. The book applies medical anthropology and the sociology of medicine to interpret the rich evidence of ritual therapy in the eleventh century.


Song Dynasty Eleventh Century Imperial Examination Northern Song Dynasty Classical Medicine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



  1. DZ = Volume number in Daozang Google Scholar
  2. ES = Ersishi shi 二十四史 of ZS, 1959–1977.Google Scholar
  3. HY = text in Harvard-Yenching Concordance seriesGoogle Scholar
  4. j. = juan 卷 (chapter)Google Scholar
  5. RW = published by Renmin Weisheng Chubanshe 人民衛生出版社, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  6. S = Title number in Schipper 1975Google Scholar
  7. SQ = Siku quanshu 四庫全書Google Scholar
  8. SV = Schipper & Verellen 2004Google Scholar
  9. T = Taishō shinshū Daizōkyō 大正新修大藏經Google Scholar
  10. UP = University PressGoogle Scholar
  11. YZ = Yi tong zheng mai quan shu 醫統正脈全書Google Scholar
  12. ZD = Volume, item, juan, and page numbers in Zhonghua daozang 中华道藏Google Scholar
  13. ZS = published by Zhonghua shuju 中華書局, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  14. ZZ = Zhongyi zhenben congshu 中醫珍本叢書 ed.Google Scholar
  15. Furth, Charlotte. 1999. A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China’s Medical History, 960–1665. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  16. Hartwell, Robert M. 1982. Demographic, Political and Social Transformations in China, 750–1550. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 42. 2: 365–442.Google Scholar
  17. Hu Daojing 胡道靜. 1963. Shen Kuo de nongxue zhuzuo Mengxi wang huai lu 沈括的農學著作夢溪忘懷錄 (Shen Kuo’s agricultural book Record of Longings Forgotten). Wen shi 文史, 1963, 3: 221–225.Google Scholar
  18. Hu Daojing. 1981. Mengxi wang huai lu gouchen—Shen Cunzhung yizhu gouchen zhi yi 夢溪忘懷錄鈎沉—沈存中佚著鈎沉之一 (Record of Longings Forgotten reconstituted. Shen Kuo’s lost works reconstituted, 1). Hangzhou daxue xuebao 1981, 11. 1: 1–16.Google Scholar
  19. Kalinowski, Marc, ed. 2003. Divination et société dans la Chine médiévale. Étude des manuscripts de Dunhuang de la Bibliothèque nationale de France et de la British Library. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale.Google Scholar
  20. Sivin, Nathan. 1987. Traditional Medicine in Contemporary China. Science, Medicine, and Technology in East Asia, 2. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  21. Smith, Paul Yakov, & Richard von Glahn, eds. 2003. The Song–Yuan–Ming Transition in Chinese History. Harvard East Asian Monographs, 221. Harvard UP. On the period 1270–1550.Google Scholar
  22. Smith, Paul Yakov. 2003. Problematizing the Song–Yuan–Ming Transition. In Smith & von Glahn 2003, 1–34.Google Scholar
  23. Unschuld, Paul U. 2010. The Berlin Collections of Chinese Medical Manuscripts: Rural Authors, Rural Contents. Monumenta Serica 58: 281–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Unschuld, Paul U., & Zheng Jinsheng. 2012. Chinese Traditional Healing. The Berlin Collections of Manuscript Volumes from the Sixteenth through the Early Twentieth Century. Sir Henry Wellcome Asian Series, 10. 3 vols. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  25. Yu Gengzhe 于赓哲. 2011. Tangdai jibing yiliao shi chu tan 唐代疾病医疗史初探 (Preliminary historical studies of illness and therapy in the Tang period). Beijing: Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Chubanshe.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan Sivin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations