Textual History (from the Introduction by Sabine Wilms)
As its title suggests, ZhÄng Zhòng-JÇng’s ShÄng Hán Lùn discusses the diagnosis and treatment of cold damage conditions, which are conditions related to external contraction, especially of wind and cold. His JÄ«n Guì Yào Lüè is thought to reflect that section of the original ShÄng Hán Zá Bìng Lùn that was called “miscellaneous diseases” (æ‚ç—… zá bìng), basically a catch-all phrase for any conditions which could not be traced to externally contracted evils. The full title of this present text is JÄ«n Guì Yào Lüè FÄng Lùn, “Essential Prescriptions and Discussions from the Golden Cabinet.” This title tells us several things about the book. First, it is an indication of the value that the author (or more accurately, the person who named the text as such) placed on the book’s content. “Golden Cabinet” refers to a cabinet-like storage box made of gold, hence a place where a person of great wealth would store his or her most valuable items. Second, the text is characterized as containing both “prescriptions” and “discussions,” or in other words, clinical as well as theoretical information. This combination positions it at an interesting fulcrum in the textual history of Chinese medicine, namely the intersection between theoretical classics like the Huáng Dì Nèi JÄ«ng (“Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon”) and Nàn JÄ«ng (“Classic of Difficult Issues”), which were mostly concerned with the flow of qì and blood through the vessels and the correlation of the human body to the macrocosm, and formulary collections like the QiÄn JÄ«n FÄng (“Thousand Gold Pieces Prescriptions”) by SÅ«n SÄ«-MiÇŽo, which primarily matched lists of symptoms to specific formulas without providing any diagnostic or etiological explanation for the rationale behind a treatment. By contrast, the JÄ«n Guì Yào Lüè includes detailed diagnostic guidelines and etiological reasoning in addition to instructions for treatment primarily with medicinal formulas (and some references to acupuncture, moxibustion, and other therapeutic modalities). ZhÄng Zhòng-JÇng thus created a medical classic with outstanding significance for both theory and practice, centuries before other medical authors attempted to follow in his footsteps during the Sòng period.
Due to the turbulence of its historical times, it is impossible to reconstruct the exact format, content, and organization of ZhÄng Zhòng-JÇng’s work today. Nevertheless, its significance for the history of medicine and its applicability in modern clinical practice has inspired much research, especially in China, to approximate its original form as much as possible on the basis of later reprints, fragments that have been recovered in China and Japan in archaeological sites, and quotations in received texts.
By order of the Sòng Imperial court in the 11th century, both the ShÄng Hán Lùn and the JÄ«n Guì Yào Lüè were included among a small selection of early Chinese medical classics to be collated, annotated, and reissued in woodblock print. This monumental effort was completed by a large editorial team from the Office for the Correction of Medical Texts, which had been established in 1057 CE. While these scholars had access to the ten scrolls of the ShÄng Hán Lùn which had been edited by Wáng ShÅ«-Hé, the part on “miscellaneous diseases” had not survived. Instead, they painstakingly had to recreate the JÄ«n Guì Yào Lüè on the basis of quotations found in other medical classics like the Mài JÄ«ng (“Pulse Canon”), ZhÅ« Bìng Yuán Hòu Lùn (“Origin and Indicators of Disease”), and QiÄn JÄ«n FÄng (“Thousand Gold Pieces Prescriptions”), as well as a summary of ZhÄng Zhòng-JÇng’s work in three scrolls entitled JÄ«n Guì Yù Hán Yào Luè FÄng (“Essential Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet and Jade Sheath”). These Sòng editors matched the prescriptions with the descriptions of symptoms, arranged the text by disease categories into 25 chapters in three parts, and lastly added select outstanding prescriptions by other physicians of the times, all with the goal of making this text as clinically useful as possible. This Sòng revision has been the standard version of the text ever since, and also the version on which subsequent editions such as this one are based. It is thus important for the discerning reader to keep in mind that we are looking at a Hàn dynasty text that was lost for several centuries and reconstructed, rearranged, and supplemented by Sòng dynasty scholars approximately eight hundred years later.