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The uses of ox bezoar in pre-modern Japan in ritual and medical practices

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19/10/2017

By | Early Medicine, Events and Visits

The next seminar in the 2017–18 History of Pre-Modern Medicine seminar series takes place on Tuesday 24 October.

Asian medical woodcut.

Woodcut from the first edition (published 1590) of Li Shizhen’s monumental pharmaceutical encyclopedia Bencao gangmu. The illustrations in this edition are credited to his son Li Jianyuan. Wellcome Images L0039333.

Speaker: Dr Benedetta Lomi (University of Bristol), ‘The uses of ox bezoar in pre-modern Japan in ritual and medical practices’

This paper focuses on the therapeutic use of ox bezoars in pre-modern Japan. Bezoars, highly valued concretions found in the stomachs of ruminants, were renowned for their healing properties, and thus widely employed in the Sino-Japanese tradition to address a variety of ailments.

On this occasion, I explore specifically those instances in which ox bezoars were used to assure safe and easy parturition. Starting with a comparative look at a selection of ritual and medical injunctions involving ox bezoar, I first assess the continuity and differences between these two contexts. Then, by shifting focus to the processes of extraction, preparation and application of bezoars during birthing practices, I reflect on how both medical and ritual knowledge were employed to construct an ox bezoar-specific ritual.

Location:

Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.

Doors open at 6pm, seminar will start at 6.15pm.

The seminar series is focused on pre-modern medicine, which we take to cover European and non-European history before the 20th century (antiquity, medieval and early modern history, some elements of 19th-century medicine).

Further details on the seminar series are available in a previous post.

Ross Macfarlane

Ross Macfarlane is the Research Engagement Officer at the Wellcome Library.

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