Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in An Ancient Chinese Medical Text

By Paul U. Unschuld | Go to book overview

IV
Origin and Tradition
of the Textus Receptus of the Su wen

1. THE IMPERIAL EDITORIAL OFFICE OF 1057

For more than two hundred fifty years, Wang Bing's version of the Su wen was transmitted side by side with Quan Yuanqi's Su wen xun jie of the early sixth century. In addition, the combined edition of the Su wen and the Zhen jing/Jiu juan/Ling shu in Yang Shangshan's Huang Di nei jing tai su of the second half of the seventh century competed for the attention of scholars and practitioners with an interest in medicine. Eventually, beginning in the twelfth century, the Su wen xun jie and the Huang Di nei jing tai su fell into oblivion, and the Su wen annotated by Wang Bing was the only one of the three to be transmitted continuously in China until the present day.

A major reason for this success story was the editorial effort the Imperial Editorial Office put into Wang Bing's version in the second half of the eleventh century. As stated earlier, we can only speculate about the motives that led the Song-era editors to prefer Wang Bing's Su wen over the Su wen xun jie by Quan Yuanqi or over the even more comprehensive Tai su by Yang Shangshan. However, we may not be wrong in assuming that the quality of the version they published under the title Chong guang bu zhu Huang Di nei jing su wen (The Huang Di nei jing su wen, once again broadly amended and commented) guaranteed this book its future position.

Altogether, the Su wen was edited by imperial committees three times in the eleventh century. No records exist explaining the background of this flurry of activities around the ancient classic. In 1026 Emperor Ren zong $ v ordered Chao Zongyi –vt and Wang Juzheng to establish an authoritative text of the Su wen. Nothing is known, though, of the outcome of this endeavor if it ever started. The fact that in 1035 another order was issued to a group around Ding Du to undertake the same task may indicate

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