Comparative Guts

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Diagram of the heart

from Wang Qi (jinshi degree holder of 1565), Collected Diagrams of Heaven, Earth, and Man (Sancai tuhui), Chongzhen reign (1628-44) reprint of 1609 edition.

In the collection of the Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University

This famous encyclopedia was a collection of illustrations of myriad aspects of the “three realms” of Heaven, Earth, and Man. Acupunctural images and images of the organs appear in its chapters on the human body. This rendering of the heart (left) shows four “connectors” going from the heart to the lungs, liver, kidney, and spleen. The tracheal tube is labelled “heart tube” and the space above that is labeled “cavity of the lung”. When the Imperial Encyclopedia  of 1726-28 provided illustrations of organs in its section on medicine, it used this image of the heart with four connectors. By contrast, the Golden Mirror of the Orthodox Lineage of Medicine  compiled by the Imperial Medical Academy in 1742 used the heart with three connectors found in the work of Zhang Jiebin (See fig. 2)