Comparative Guts

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The Spleen

organ responsible for digestion (from the Compilation of Medical Prescriptions).

This image appears in the Uibang Yuchwi 醫方類聚 (Compilation of Medical Prescriptions 1445). It draws inspiration from the Chinese physician Hu Yin’s (fl. 848) Huangting Neijing Wuzang Liufu Buxie Tu 黃庭內景五臟六腑補瀉圖(Diagram of the inner landscape of supplementing and reducing the five zang and six fu organs). The Korean image differs, though, in how the phoenix is depicted, also in that includes trigrams, an inverted basin, and an image of the Jade Maiden. Uibang yuchwi explains that the spleen belongs to kon 坤earth and female. Yellow in color, it is shaped like an inverted basin. The phoenix divinity resides in the spleen. It houses thought. The Jade Maiden spirit also resides in the spleen. The spleen is central. It is responsible for digestion. To calm the Spleen spirit one should temper sexual desire. It is responsible for trust, as well as expansive generosity, refraining from resentment towards others and seeking benefits for oneself, seeking virtue by not coveting money. These are the rules of a secure and calm spleen. The spleen engenders all the things on earth. The spleen engenders the intestines. It engenders righteousness and the Do 道. To strengthen one’s virtue, do not transgress against the earth, feminine principles of the spleen.