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viernes, 25 de septiembre de 2009

Ancient Myths and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine inherits and develops major philosophies of ancient Chinese culture and uses them to understand disease and health. Therefore the understanding of ancient Chinese culture helps the understanding of traditional Chinese medicine.

The core philosophy of Chinese medicine is correspondence between man and nature. China has been an agricultural country for thousands of years. To get a good harvest, ancient people would follow the changes of seasons and climates to adjust their farming work like sowing and reaping.

Gradually they began to recognize the laws of nature. Besides, upon observation, people found that natural seasonal changes have extensive influence on plants and animals as well. Therefore, the ancient Chinese concluded that man, as an organism in nature, must also coordinate with the laws of nature. This understanding of the relationship between humans and nature is thus termed correspondence between man and nature. This philosophy includes the integrated and harmony concept. In accordance, traditional Chinese medicine holds that man and nature is a whole. Man should maintain both the harmony of his body and coordination with nature to maintain health.

Ancient Myths and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Fu Xi is the father of human civilization according to Chinese legend. He is respected as the head of the “Three Emperors” (Fu Xi,Shen Nong and Huang Di). According to the study of historians, Fuxi was born in today’s Tianshui, Gansu Province.

From legends and historical records, the major contributions of Fu Xi are: teaching people to fish and hunt, domesticating beasts, inventing musical instruments, composing music and designing the ancient calendar. Another important achievement of Fu Xi is the establishing Bagua, or the Eight Diagrams.

Bagua is a set of symbols with meanings in ancient China. “” stands for yang while “--” stands for yin. Three of such symbols can be arranged into Eight Diagrams, called Bagua. Each diagram represents a certain phenomenon.

There was a mountain named Gua Tai in Tianshui. It is said to be where Fu Xi made the Eight Diagrams. At that time, people knew little about nature, so were scared and puzzled by rain, wind, lightning and thunder. Fu Xi wanted to figure out what was behind, so he often stood on the mountain to observe the heavenly bodies above and topography below. He also studied the footprints and textures of animals and birds.

One day while on Gua Tai Mountain, he heard a strange roaring. A strange horse leaped out of a cave opposite to Gua Tai Mountain. Fu Xi named it dragon-horse because the horse had a dragon head but a horse body with unique picture on its skin. The horse jumped onto a big rock in the Wei Shui River, the river at the foot of Gua Tai Mountain. The rock was shaped like Taiji. Together with the texture on the dragon-horse, Fu Xi was suddenly enlightened and made the Eight Diagrams.

Millions of years ago, life was harsh for humans. Wind, storms, thunder, lightning, floods, beasts, plagues and diseases threatened human’s lives all the time. Human instinct and intelligence helped them combat various natural disasters.
Herbs played an important role in relieving pain, treating diseases and saving lives. The one who was crucial in making this become reality is a legendary character—Shen Nong.

Shen Nong was an industrious, brave, intelligent and kind person. He was never at ease when he saw others suffering from injuries or diseases. So he decided to find out what herbs can be helpful. Hot or cold, he collected flowers, roots, leaves and fruits of all plants in the wild. He carefully observed and tasted them one by one and recorded the feelings and effects although he knew it was possible some of them would be poisonous. Finally, he knew the properties and actions of several hundred herbs, and used them to aid those in suffering. Since then, Human life has been better protected and improved.

In addition, Shen Nong was the founder of ancient agriculture in China. He taught people how to clear land and plant five grains, facilitating the transformation and development from an economy focused on fishing, hunting and livestock rasiing to an agricultural economy.

Huang Di, Xuan Yuan

Huang Di established his state at You Xiong (Xinzhen, Henan Province), so he was also called You Xiong. At that time, Yan Di Shen Nong was in decline while Chi You, a cruel chieftain, started wars between states, trying to conquer China.

Shen Nong went to Huang Di for help. Huang Di shouldered the responsibility of seeking peace for the country and fought Chi You at Zhulu. He caught and killed Chi You finally. He was then chosen by all the chieftains to become the head of China, taking the place of Yan Di.

Huang Di’s throne lasted for a long time. During than time, China was stable, strong, and developed. A lot of inventions were made, such as Chinese characters, palace, boat, vehicles, clothes and compass carriage. It is said that Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang and other ancient emperors were all his descendants. So Huang Di was considered the ancestor of all Chinese.

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