Comparative Guts

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‘Map of the inner sceneries in dorsal view’ (Ti ke ge, 3b)
‘Map of the inner sceneries in ventral view’ (Ti ke ge, 3a)

Maps of the inner sceneries • ventral and dorsal view

Songs of the Bodily Husk  (Ti ke ge  體殼歌), in Daoist Canon  (Zhengtong daozang  正統道藏), fasc. 125, no. 263, juan 18: 3a, 3b. Public domain; color scan.

Body parts marked in black are those discussed in Zhu’s treatise. The respective positions of the liver and the spleen are exchanged, as if both ventral and dorsal body maps would depict a situs inversus. Later versions of situs pictures show the more commonly seen arrangement, where the liver is at the right side of the body, and the spleen at the left.

See Frontal illustration (f. 69v) of the small and large intestines (amʿāʾ diqāq wa-ghilāẓ) and the bladder (mathānah) and The Screen Gate (A | 13 lán mén  闌門).

Superintendent Zhu points out asymmetric postions of organs, which were missed in B ‘Master Yan Luo’s map of courting the perfected’ (Ti ke ge, 2b):
“Of the kidneys lies the one to the right of the liver a bit deeper, the one to the left of the spleen a bit higher.”

The five storehouses (wǔ zàng  五臟, i.e. lung, heart, spleen, liver, kidney) and five of the six hoards (liù fǔ  六腑, namely stomach, gallbladder, large and small intestine, and urinary bladder) are shown together with three ‘gates’ of the digestive system, i.e. cardia (E | 6), pyloric orifice (E | 8), and ileocecal valve (E | 13).

Body maps are used for five storehouses visualisation: “Gaze inside at the five storehouses: The lung white, the liver blue green, the spleen yellow, the heart red and the kidney black. {One should seek first a diagram of the five storehouses, or of the Master Yan Luo kind. Suspend it constantly on a wall. Cause to know perfectly the forms of the six [recte five] storehouses and the six hoards.}” (Miscellaneous Information from Gui Xin Street by Zhou Mi, 1232-1298, Song)

The ‘gate of destiny’ is placed to the right kidney (F | 8) of a man, and thus closes the debate in the controversy over its precise location. Some specified that in a woman it’s just the other way round: the left kidney being her ‘gate of destiny’. Others had located it between the kidneys, or interpreted it as a male uterus-like organ lying in the pouch of connective tissue, which is now called the rectovesical pouch (Douglas space).