Myrrh: Medical Knowledge from Arabia into Chinese Materia Medica
Keywords:Myrrh , Silk Road, Chinese Medicine
AbstractNative to the Arabic peninsula, myrrh (Commiphora spp./mo yao 沒 藥) was traded throughout the ancient world and is an example of the transfer of botanical medical knowledge from the Middle East to China. The timeline of myrrh’s introduction to China is a matter of debate. Though firmly established during the Song Dynasty 宋朝 (960-1279 CE) and later documented by Li Shizhen 李時珍 (1518-1593 CE) in his Bencao gangmu 本草綱目 of the Ming Dynasty 明朝 (1368-1644 CE), the incorporation of myrrh into Chinese materia medica (bencao 本 草) tradition may have been much earlier. Looking at the primary textual sources both within the field of materia medica and outside of this tradition (in the standard histories, miscellaneous texts, and accounts of foreign interactions), we will trace the inclusion of myrrh into the Chinese medical tradition.