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Collection of lost books on Chinese medicine published


11-24-2016 18:19 BJT

Before western medicine spread to China more than a century ago, Chinese medicine and herbs were solely used to cure diseases. And, a vast number of books on traditional Chinese medicine and herbs have been written over the centuries.

Some of these ancient books got lost within China, and were given to foreign countries in different periods. But now, thanks to a move to find and photocopy these books located overseas, some of the treasured texts have now returned home.

A book collection bringing together many lost ancient books on traditional Chinese medicine has been published thanks to a national fund. It's the fruit of more than two decades of labor by Chinese medicine experts and historians. They've traveled to countries like Japan, Germany, France and the UK, to find such books collected in libraries or museums.

The books have been photocopied and are finally accessible to researchers, doctors, and anyone else with an interest in TCM in their home country.

"These books were brought overseas in ancient times, and then there were none of them in China. This set of books is photocopies of these lost books. It's a task we've worked on since the 1990s. Now, this is the result of our labor," said Zheng Jinsheng, editor-in-chief of "Treasured TCM Books Found Overseas".

The set of books includes 427 ancient books on traditional Chinese medicine, 160 of them were completely lost in China, with the rest being rarely seen in China and not having been published before. The book collection, with a total of 403 volumes, features ancient books and manuscripts from the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties, handwritten copies from the Qing dynasty, and handwritten copies produced in Japan and Korea. The "return" of these books is important for passing on the ancient knowledge of Chinese medicine.

"Many books dating back to the Song dynasty recorded prescriptions to cure diseases. So they are of very practical use for our clinic," Zheng said.

Being a key publishing project of the country's 12th Five-Year Plan, the books are hailed as a fine example of lost Chinese books "returning" to China.

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