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Table of Contents
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 123-128

The song tomb fresco (宋墓壁画) in Panle village of Hancheng City (韩城盘乐村): The medicine-preparation picture (备药图)


Department of History and Culture, Shaanxi Normal University, Shaanxi, China

Date of Web Publication24-Sep-2019

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Gengzhe Yu
Department of History and Culture, Shaanxi Normal University, Shaanxi
China
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/CMAC.CMAC_31_19

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  Abstract 


A song tomb was discovered in Panle village(盘乐村) of Hancheng city(韩城), Shaanxi Province(陕西省) in 2009. Although it was not of high standard, the tomb contained extremely exquisite frescoes with striking contents. The relation between the identity of the tomb owner and the frescoes had been discussed by scholars, while this paper focused on the social status of doctors in the Song dynasty(宋朝) and the medical scenes reflected in the frescoes, to form different perspectives toward the profession of the tomb owner and the properties of the frescoes.

Keywords: Current version, medicine-preparation picture(备药图), song tomb fresco(宋墓壁画), Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period)


How to cite this article:
Yu G. The song tomb fresco (宋墓壁画) in Panle village of Hancheng City (韩城盘乐村): The medicine-preparation picture (备药图). Chin Med Cult 2019;2:123-8

How to cite this URL:
Yu G. The song tomb fresco (宋墓壁画) in Panle village of Hancheng City (韩城盘乐村): The medicine-preparation picture (备药图). Chin Med Cult [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Nov 19];2:123-8. Available from: http://www.cmaconweb.org/text.asp?2019/2/3/123/267702






  Introduction Top


A Song tomb was unearthed in Panle Village(盘乐村) of Hancheng city(韩城), Shaanxi Province(陕西) in 2009. Although it was not of high standard, the tomb contained extremely exquisite frescoes with striking contents. The relation between the identity of the tomb owner and the frescoes had been discussed by scholars. However, the interpretations of the frescoes should not be limited to the frescoes and tomb alone but be made from a more macroscopic vision. In ancient times, those who drew tomb paintings had a lower social status and usually practiced following a painting draft, therefore, their drawings tended to be routine and not the true description of real life, especially that of the tomb owner's. The tomb frescoes in Panle village discussed in this paper involved both illusion and innovation, which reflected changes in ideas of times and social status of medicine.

The tomb was of ordinary standard, 2.45 m long, 1.80 m wide, and 2.25 m high. “There was a stone bed against West inner wall, 1.95 m long, 1.13 m wide, and 35 cm high, 1.65 m from the tomb top. A couch instead of a coffin was placed on the bed. On discovery, a pair of skeletons lying shoulder by shoulder on the bed was authenticated to be a man and a woman, with their heads towards the north and feet towards the south. In supine position, apparently being a couple.” As for the time of burying, since there was a Xining (北宋熙宁元宝 during 1068–1077 A. D. of the Northern Song) shoe-shaped ingot in the female's hands, the finders believed it to be after Emperor Shen Zong(神宗)and before Emperor Hui Zong(徽宗), in the late Northern Song Dynasty(北宋末期).[1]

There were no inner or outer coffins or even a tomb record in the tomb, and the hair of the couple owners was yellow, the special characteristics of which aroused suspicion in the finders of Kang Baocheng(康保成) and Sun Bingjun(孙秉君)that they probably were not Han nationalities(汉族). This indeed was worthy of emphasis, because similar burying ways were also found in Anjia Tomb(安伽墓) and Yuhong Tomb(虞弘墓), whose owners were Hu minorties(胡族). What interested the academic circle most was the frescoes in the tomb, the North, West, and East walls of which were painted with frescoes of beautiful colors. The image of the male owner and a scene of preparing medicine were shown on the North [Figure 1], a scene of poetic drama on the West [Figure 2], and a complete nirvana figure of the Buddha(佛祖涅槃图) on the East [Figure 3].
Figure 1: Fresco on the North Wall of Hancheng tomb

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Figure 2: Fresco on the West Wall of Hancheng tomb

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Figure 3: Fresco on the East Wall of Hancheng tomb

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This paper mainly emphasized the medicine-preparation picture beside the image of the male tomb owner on the North wall [Figure 4], since it was hard to speculate his identity without a record. The picture was believed to be enough to judge the man's identity. It was located on the right side, showing vases and jars on a table and two men preparing medicines. The man on the left was holding a book named Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period), the binding format of which seemed to be the butterfly style prevalent in the Song dynasty. The man on the right was holding two packs of medicine labeled Da Huang (大黄Rheum officinale) and Bai Zhu (白术Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), respectively, as if waiting for instructions after the man on the left read. A third man was holding a medicinal box with three characters of Zhu Sha Wan (朱砂丸Cinnabar Pill).
Figure 4: Medicine-preparation Figure on the North Wall of Hancheng Tomb

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On the left side of the picture were others processing medicines [Figure 5].
Figure 5: Medicine-processing Figure on the North Wall of Hancheng Tomb

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  The Medicine-Preparation Picture and the Tomb Owner Top


Prior to Panle Village Tomb, there were no frescoes featuring in medicine discovered in China, so it was highly respected by the archeology and medical history fields. “In summary, the drawings on the north wall had shown a complete processing of Chinese medicines and provided reliable data for researches on Traditional Chinese medical history. Meanwhile, it revealed that the tomb owner should be a doctor or the owner of a workshop of medicinal materials.”[2] Similar opinion was held by Mr. Zheng Jinsheng(郑金生) that Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period) was published officially and distributed throughout the country, thus it was rarely republished in later Song periods because of its massive volumes and usually held by the medical official in a province or a county. According to the scene of cowork (one man holding the book and the other holding medicines) in the picture, he assumed the tomb owner should be a local medical official.[3] Jeehee Hong (洪知希) and TJ Hinrichs also considered the owner to be a Confucian physician.[4]

However, the question lies in whether or not this is enough evidence to determine the identity of the owner. The author thought it not necessarily a reliable route to judge the owner's identity from tomb frescoes. Based on the current data, the picture itself seemed to be insufficient evidence because the paradigms of tea-preparation and food-preparation pictures emerged frequently at that time, and the Hancheng picture was probably a modified version with basic elements equivalent to the following paradigm: the painting around the owner, work around a table, and a practice reflecting thetheme of dedication. Even the working scene, which can be seen from the Zhang Shiqing Tomb(张世卿墓) of Liao dynasty(辽代), was practically the same with that of Hancheng tomb's: two men standing beside a table working, with a book as a guidance, and only a transformation from preparing tea or food to medicines. Such transmutations were not as sufficient to decide the tomb owner had a profession related to medicine as to relate an owner with a profession of tea or cuisine businesses. But as discussed before, whether it reflected the theme of dedication or the profession of the owner, the tomb was closely related to the changes of ideas of times. This paper focused on the textuality of medicine in form of arts and the medical representative status of Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period).


  the Textuality of Medicine in the Song Dynasty Reflected in the Hancheng Tomb Fresco Top


To study the theme choices and drawing of Hancheng tombfresco, we must take the psychological changes of times into consideration. It was not coincidental that such kind of theme and pattern of manifestation had never appeared before the Song dynasty. First, the theme of worldly dedication did not prevail in pre-Song times. Second, similar medical themes were almost not able to emerge before the Song dynasty. The Hanand Wei frescoes were generally themed on becoming immortal and Dao Yin, rarely involving worldly medicine. As for the Sui and Tang dynasties, no such themes were depicted in the frescoes from <-200 Sui-Tang tombs discovered around the country up till now. There were many Dunhuang frescoes involving medicine and hygiene, such as Middle-Tang Bathing figure in Cave 159(盛唐217窟得医图), Sui Bathing-pool figure in Cave 302(隋302窟浴池图), Glorious Tang Tonsure figure in Cave 445(盛唐445窟剃度图), Northern Zhou Cleaning figure in Cave 290(北周290窟清扫图), Northern Zhou Diagnosis figure in Cave 296(北周296窟诊病图), Sui Treating figure in Cave 302(隋302救治图), Glorious Tang Seeking Doctor figure in Cave 217(盛唐217窟得医图)and Cave 31(盛唐31窟如病得医图), and the Yulin Cleaning figure in Cave 25(榆林窟25窟清扫图). However, these medicine-topic scenes would not reveal specific medicines or medical works, and even the directly-related Diagnosis and Treating Pictures did not center around medical texts but represent Buddhism themes, to stress the suffering and death of human or stories about Buddha Jataka(佛本生).

[Figure 6] is a part of Futian Sutra figure(福田经变画), painted according to the text of “donating medicines frequently to treat and rescue people's diseases” from Fo Shuo Zhu De Fu Tian Jing (《佛说诸德福田经》All-Virtue Futian Sutra by Buddha).
Figure 6: Northern Zhou Diagnosis Figure in Cave 296 of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes(敦煌莫高窟北周296窟诊病图)

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[Figure 7] originates from the same Sutra the figure in Cave 296 does, denoting the part of “treating and rescuing people's diseases.”
Figure 7: Sui Treating Figure in Cave 302 of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes(敦煌莫高窟隋302窟救治图)

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[Figure 8] is named after the texts of “like a child seeking his mother, a diseased person seeking a doctor”(如子得母,如病得医) from Miao Fa Lian Hua Jing (《妙法莲华经》Lotus Sutra of Wonderful Dharma). The picture was seriously damaged and barely discernable, which was imitated by Duan Jianshan(段兼善) in modern times [Figure 9].
Figure 8: Glorious Tang Seeking Doctor Figure in Cave 217 of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes(敦煌莫高窟217窟盛唐“得医图”)

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Figure 9: Imitation of Glorious Tang Seeking Doctor Figure in Cave 217 of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes by Duan Jianshan(段兼善临摹敦煌莫高窟217窟盛唐“得医图”)

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[Figure 9] demonstrates that that the hostess was guiding a doctor into the residence, and the doctor and his assistant were taking with them some medicines or instruments which the painter did not intend to depict specifically [Figure 10].
Figure 10: Glorious Tang Seeking Doctor Figure in Cave 31 of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes(敦煌莫高窟盛唐31窟如病得医图)

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Like Cave 217, the 31 figure is also derived from the “diseased person seeking a doctor” of Miao Fa Lian Hua Jing (《妙法莲华经》Lotus Sutra of Wonderful Dharma), outlining a scene of greeting a doctor [Figure 10].

In total, there were almost no tomb frescoes, which had a definite connection with worldly medicalscenes, prior to the Song dynasty and nearly all the medical scenes from the Dunhuang Buddhism-themed frescoes were derived from sutras. The paintings in those times used medicine as a background with no intention to introduce specific medical work or technique, which was closely related to the neglect of medicine at their times.

Things changed dramatically in the Northern Song dynasty(北宋). The author held that the medicine-preparation figure in the Hancheng Tomb was not only a product under the macro trend of evolution in Song tomb structures but a reflection of a textuality tendency of Song medicine.

The author believed the transmission of medicine in ancient times definitely involved varies of approaches. The academic attention attached to the texts has to some extent been influenced by the speaking right of historical material. In history, the writer, reader, and inheritor of texts indeed would emphasize the importance of texts, and the advantages of texts would become prominent in reflecting history as time went by. However, the expression of such speaking right of texts was not just theoretical. It would eventually influence the views of history and value in later times, weeding out other modes, excelling itself, and winning emphasis in a time like the Song dynasty when culture was highly appreciated. Since then, texts had not only become a symbol of evaluating medical skills and transmitting knowledge but further representation of the entire medicine. Similar phenomena can be found in many areas of knowledge other than medicine.

Therefore, the image of Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period) in the figure was a textual symbol of medicine at that time. When the theme of medicine was chosen, the painters would not follow their Tang-predecessors' example of just centering around characters and describing the general medical scene. Instead, their drawings would symbolize specific medical work and texts as a mark of dedication and filial piety. The intentional or nonintentional practice was a reveal of the social thoughts at its time.


  The Choosing of Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》 The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period ) Top


Next issue is about why Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period) was chosen instead of other works. This may be attributed to its special status in the Song dynasty.

First of all, the book was a symbol of caring his people by the emperor. The importance attached to medicine in the Song dynasty by the government was unprecedented and hardly surpassed.

The preparation for the compilation of Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period)

In the third year of Chunhua (淳化三年992 AD), the Taiping Sheng Hui Fang was completed, entitled and prefaced by the Song Emperor of Taizong himself. Before his time, there had been already several prescription works compiled under the emperor's edict, such as Si Hai Lei Ju Fang (《四海类聚方》Classified Collection of Formulae from Four Seas) by Sui Emperor of Yang(隋炀帝) and its later simplified version of Si Hai Lei Ju Dan Yao Fang (《四海类聚单要方》Single and Essential Classified Collection of Formulae from Four Seas), and Guang Ji Fang (《广济方》Formulae For Popularized Relief) by Tang Emperor of Xuanzong(唐玄宗), etc. But due to technical drawbacks, these works had been scattered or lost in the Song dynasty and therefore of little social impact. The people in the late Northern Song period(北宋末期) they must have been deeply influenced by the Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period)of their time.

Next, Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period) was favored by the whole society. It involved medical ethics, pulse diagnosis, prescription-drawing methods, and formulae for various diseases, discussing the processing, contraindications, three three grades of quality, and contrary and aversion of medicines as well as the threatening infectious diseases, which made it highly practiced. Moreover, this also made it highly respected by the folk at least before the publication of Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (《太平惠民合剂局方》Dispensary Formulae for People's Benefit in Taiping Period).

The time for the official promotion of Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period) through woodblock printing was basically when the Hancheng Tomb was completed. The work was not a rare version. On the contrary, its status excelled in tons of medical works due to the official promotion and social acknowledgment. We are not sure if the tomb owner could access the work, but we know in painting and most varieties of arts the more precious the objects are, the more likely they will become a theme, just like the frequent manifestation of immortal herb of Ling Zhi (灵芝Lucid ganoderma) in the Qin-Han brick paintings(秦汉画像砖). The book of Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period) was chosen maybe because of its halo rather than the possession of its owner. It served as a prominent subject adjacent to the tomb owner, not to emphasize his profession but to contrast the theme of dedication.

The time of the Hancheng Tomb should be earlier than the occurrence of He Ji Ju Fang (《和剂局方》Dispensary Formulae). However, Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period)had won high respect for officially compiled formulary in replacement of ancient formulae from people for the first time, which also paved a way for the development of dispensary formulae. Hence, it was no coincidental the Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period) was chosen in the Hancheng Tomb fresco, typically representing a new social phenomenon.

This paper analyzed the Hancheng tomb fresco through perspectives of paradigm and innovation. The author held similar views with some scholars in the academic field that the Medicine-preparation picture here was not meant to reveal the owner's profession but to indirectly represent changes in times and people's minds just like those food or tea preparing pictures and that the theme of dedication determined the purpose of material chosen in painting. The elements of Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (《太平圣惠方》The Holy Benevolent Formulae of Taiping Period) medicines, and the processing procedure all served for the theme, behind which were involved the rise-up of Confucian physicians, trend of esteeming medical texts, and a new social wave of promoting current formulae rather than ancient ones. On intentional observation by the lookers, the painters in the Song dynasty had unintentionally revealed different social mentality from that of previous historical periods.

Translator: Yingshuai Duan(段英帅)



 
  References Top

1.
Kang BC, Sun BJ. Textual research and interpretation of song Tomb-Fresco in Hancheng city of Shaanxi. Literature Art Stud 2009;11:80.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Kang BC, Sun BJ. Textual research and interpretation of song Tomb-Fresco in Hancheng city of Shaanxi. Literature Art Stud 2009;11:81.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Liang YX, Liang R. The first discovery of medical Fresco of Song dynasty. China J Traditional Chin Med 2011.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Hong J, Hinrichs TJ. Unwritten life (and death) of a 'Pharmacist' in song China: Decoding Hancheng Tomb Murals. Cahiers d'Extrême Asie 2015;24:247-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    


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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9], [Figure 10]



 

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