Comparative Guts

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Diagrams of the internal organs

from Wang Qingren (1768-1831), Correcting the Errors of Doctors (Yilin gaicuo), first printed in 1830. Jinqi shuye deji woodblock edition, 1847.

In the library collection of the Needham Research Institute

Besides revising older depictions of the organs, Wang focused attention on structures that had not been previously discussed in medical texts. To identify them and parse their functions, he adapted and revised existing physiological theories. Clockwise from upper right: Wang’s revised image of the stomach, his depiction of the spleen [sic] and the “dragon jade tube” running through its center, a diagram of the “water discharging pathways” on either side of the tube, and the “mansion of qi ” (Wang notes that “the popular name for this is cockscomb fat”). Wang revised the structure of the stomach by adding a third gate, the “fluid gate” on the upper left side. He affirmed that refined fluids from digestion left the stomach through this gate. However, it was difficult to see because it was covered by the “general lifter” (zong ti), a structure whose popular name was the yizi  (pancreas).