Knowledge transmission of medical prescription and the role of the literati officials from the Song Dynasty: Focusing on Huadupainongneibusan

Hae Byoul Choi

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1 Scopus citations


This paper attempts to examine the spread of medical prescription knowledge during the Song dynasty and the role played by the literati officials through a reconstruction of the transmission of Painongneibusan ( r ^. U), a prescription to treat abscesses. An examination of the origins of Painongneibusan shows that after being confirmed in the Qianjinyaofang, it was passed down through Waitaimiyao , Taipingshenghuifang Shengjizonglu, and Taipinghuiminhejijufang. In particular, in the records from Taipinghuiminhejijufang, which was revised and enlarged during the Shaoxing period (1131-1162) unlike transmissions that were almost identical to those from previous periods, we can find a clear increase in the knowledge regarding medicinal effects, medicinal ingredients, administration methods, precautions and so on. However, if we examine the same prescription record included in Hongshijiyanfang published by Hong Jun in 1170, we can see that the contents are almost exactly the same as those in Taipinghuiminhejijufang and that Hongshijiyanfang had even more content. Through this study, we can deduce that the prescription recorded in these two books were from the same original text. In addition, we can conclude that the original text is likely to be sourced from the knowledge of folk medicine. According to the records, Hu Quan received this prescription from an “outsider,” and Hu Quan gave this to Hong Kuo, who wrote an introduction and published it as a stone carving in Huizhou. After this, knowledge about this prescription became known far and wide. While Chen Yan criticized the abuse of this prescription, Hong Jun still included it in Hongshijiyanfang, and Hong Mai included it in Yijianzhi leading to it becoming even more widespread. Due to this spread of the prescription, the transmission of the description that is connected from “Outsider - Ho Quan - Three Hong Brothers” continued to appear in many medical anthologies by literati officials. Whenever this prescription was mentioned, they referred to Three Hong Brothers, and it went as far as to cause the practice to sometimes be called “Hongshineibusan .” Chen Ziming continued the criticism of Chen Yan in Waikejingyaowhile the prescription made famous by Hong Kuo had the same contents as prescription in Taipinghuiminhejijufang, the fact that criticism was only directed at Hong Kuo is a proof of his influence in the spread of related knowledge. In conclusion, this happened during an active time of accumulation, exchange, and competition in the knowledge of prescription, as can be observed in various sources from the Song Period. There were various communications and exchanges between officials, locals, and literati officials, and tensions could also sometimes be found. We can say that the role of the literati officials was to collect, record, publish, and spread the knowledge of medicine taken from various sources. In addition, in relation to the spread of the knowledge of medicine, the influence of the literati officials exceeded Taipinghuiminhejijufang, which was the official text at that time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-129
Number of pages41
JournalKorean Journal of Medical History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Korean Society for the History of Medicine. All rights reserved.


  • Hongshineibusan
  • Literati Officials
  • Medical Prescription
  • Painongneibusan
  • Song dynasty
  • Taipinghuiminhejijufang
  • Three Hong Brothers


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