An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jingui yaolüe 金匱要略

Jun 18, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Jingui yaolüe 金匱要略 "Concise manual from the Golden Chamber" (jingui is the traditional reading, however, the reading jingui might be correct when considering the meaning of the title as jingui 金櫃 "coffer, chamber") is a fundamental book on ancient Chinese clinical medicine. The 3-juan-long book is also called Jingui yaolüe fanglun 金匱要略方論 and is part of Zhang Zhongjing's 張仲景 (150-219 CE) book Shanghan zabing lun 傷寒雜病論 (Shanghanlun 傷寒論) from the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE).

The original book had a length of 16 juan and was revised during the Jin period 晉 (265-420) by Wang Shuhe 王叔和 (210?-258?, Wang Zhu 王洙) who shortened it to a length of 3 juan and gave it the title Jingui yaolüe fanglun. Surviving fragments of this version were revised in 1065 during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126). During this process the part on febrile diseases (shanghan 傷寒) was left out, and the book obtained the transmitted shape. There is a Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) edition that bore the title Jingui yuhan yaolüe fang 金匱玉函要略方.

The Jingui yaolüe contains 25 chapters and describes several dozen phenomena of diseases of internal medicine (neike 內科). The arrangement allows it that the curement of the diseases is immediately written side by side with the described phenomena, so that it is very convenient for a physician to use this book as a manual. There are 262 methods of curement (fangji 方劑) described, to be used for more than 40 diseases of the discipline of internal medicine. The book says that in examining the patient it is of great importance to establish a diagnosis about the intestines. This is made by the creation of valid rules for examining the pulse (maizheng guifan 脈證規范).

Apart from diseases of internal medicine, the Jingui yaolüe also explains many other diseases of clinical medicine and gynaecological (nüke 女科) diseases like menstrual disorders (yuejingbing 月經病), morbid leucorrhoea (daixia 帶下), or problems during pregnancy and after childbirth. In the field of external medicine (waike 外科) the book speaks about appendicitis (changyong 腸癰) or acute eczema (jinyinchuang 浸淫瘡). It describes cases of sudden death (jijiu cusi 急救猝死), diseases of the main and the collateral arterias of the lung, diet in eating and drinking, and intoxication. The book says that for an ideal treatment it was necessary to search for the reasons of the disease and to analyse its mechanism in the body, in order to fit with a correct application of methods and medicine.

The Jingui yaolüe is a resumé of medical knowledge of the Han period and was therefore an important basic text on which all later medical writings could rely. It quotes extensively from ancient medical writings. The methods of treatment describe in the book have a very high value for the science of clinical medicine.

In the treatment of diseases, the Jingui yaolüe represents a holistic view and thus perpetuates methods described in the Huangdi neijing 黃帝內經, like "treating before diseases break out" (zhi wei bing 治未病) and "treating a disease is to look for its origin (and not the phenomena)". During the examination of the patient, the so-called eight principles (bagang 八綱) are asked for (yin 陰, yang 陽, "outside" biao 表, "inside" li 裡, "deficiency" xu 虛, "excess" xu 實, "cold" han 寒, "hot" re 熱) and the "eight methods" (bafa 八法) are applied (sweating hanfa 汗法, vomiting tufa 吐法, the stomach xiafa 下法, the harmony of the organs hefa 和法, warming wenfa 溫法, clearing qingfa 清法, resolution xiaofa 消法 and use of tonics bufa 補法). Although the recipes for medication mainly prescribe orally taken medicine (neifu 內服), there are also many outer treatments described, especially for first aid purposes.

The Jingui yaolüe is an important book that it has been published and commented very often. The earliest commentary was written by Zhao Yide 趙以德 (Jingui yaolüe yanyi 金匱要略衍義) during the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). Other famous commentaries were written by the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholars You Zaijing 尤在涇 (1650-1749, Jingui yaolüe xindian 金匱要略心典), Xu Bin 徐彬 (Jingui yaolüe lunzhu 金匱要略論注), Cheng Lin 程林 (Jingui yaolüe zhijie 金匱要略直解), Zhou Yangjun 周揚俊 (fl. 1671, Jingui yuhan jing erzhu 金匱玉函經二柱), Shen Mingzong 沈明宗 (Jingui yaolüe bianzhu 金匱要略編注), Wei Litong 魏荔彤 (b. 1670, Jingui yaolüe fanglun benyi 金匱要略方論本義), Huang Yuanyu 黃元御 (1705-1758, Jingui xuanjie 金匱懸解), Wu Qian 吳謙 (Dingzheng Jingui yaolüe zhu 訂正金匱要略注), Chen Xiuyuan 陳修園 (1753-1823, Jingui yaolüe qianzhu 金匱要略淺注), or Tang Rongchuan 唐容川 (1846-1897, Jingui yaolüe qianzhu buzheng 金匱要略淺注補正).

Modern commentaries were written by Lu Yuanlei 陸淵雷 (1894-1955, Jingui yaofang jinshi 金匱要略今釋) and He Ren 何任 (1921-2012, Jingui yaolüe tiyao biandu 金匱要略提要便讀). There are also some commented translations into modern Chinese, like Jingui yaolüe yishi 金匱要略譯釋 by the Nanjing Zhongyi Xueyuan 南京中醫學院 and Jingui yaolüe yuyi 金匱要略語譯 by the Zhongyi Yanjiuyuan 中醫研究院. Japanese scholars were also interested in the Jingui yaolüe. Tamba Motoyasu 丹波元簡 (1755-1810) has written Kinki gyokkan yōryaku shūgi 金匱玉函要略輯義 and Tamba Mototaka 丹波元堅 (1795-1857) Kinki gyokkan yōryaku jutsugi 金匱玉函要略述義.

The Jingui yaolüe has been printed repeatedly over the ages. The earliest print dates from the Yuan period, yet those of the best quality are Zhao Kaimei's 趙開美 (1563-1624) print from 1599 and that of the Wenrui Hall 文瑞堂 from 1683. The most famous of the later prints is included in the series Yitong zhengmai 醫統正脈. In 1956, the Renmin Weisheng Press 人民衛生出版社 published a modern print called Zhongjing quanshu 仲景全書 "The complete writings of (Zhao) Zhongjing", based on Zhao Kaimei's edition.

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Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1654.
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