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Bianque, From A Divine Bird To A Distinguished Doctor

By Jiang Yike
 

In remote antiquity, a divine bird, called Bianque, could clear up people's trouble. "Que" means a magpie. In China, a magpie is a propitious bird. In the primitive times, the eastern tribes of the Yellow River Valley regarded birds as their totems. So the legend about Bianque probably came from the East. Why did eastern tribes regard birds as their totems? In the 17th year of Lu Zhao-Gong who was a monarch of Lu State, 525 B.C., Tan Zi, the monarch of Tan State, visited Lu. Shusun Ruo, the minister of Lu, asked the monarch of Tan why Shaohao who was the ancestor of Tan Zi and a famous chief of a eastern tribe in remote antiquity used the names of birds to name official positions. Tan Zi said that a phoenix came when Shaohao throned, and Shaohao thought this was an auspice, so he did.

Doctors bring patients happiness, as magpies bring people happy events. In the early days of the Warring-States Period, there was a great medical scientist, Qin Yueren. He was a highly skilled doctor, and was called "Bianque" by people.

When Qin Yueren was young, he was an assistant of a hostelry. He respected and took good care of an old man, Changsangjun. In order to thank him, Changsangjun gave him medical books. Qin Yueren learned this book,and became an excellent doctor. Qin Yueren was very good at diagnosis by feeling pulse. So Sima Qian, a great historian of the Western Han Dynasty, said in his great works the Historical Records, "Nowadays there are doctors diagnosing pulse conditions, and they succeed Bianque."

He came to Qi State and paid a formal visit to Qi Huan-Gong, the monarch of Tian-Qi. Bianque saw the face of Huan-Gong and said to him, "There is a disease in your skin. If it isn’t treated, it will be into deeper part. “ Qi Huan-Gong said, ”I have no diseases.” Bianque had to leave. Huan-Gong laughed and said to his attendants, ”Doctors are avaricious, so they like to treat persons which have no diseases and regard these as their praiseworthy achievement.” After five days, Bianque visited Huan-Gong again, and said, ”There is a disease in your vessels. If it isn’t treated, I'm afraid it will be into deeper part.” Qi Huan-Gong said, ”I have no diseases.” After five days, Bianque visited Huan-Gong at the third time, and said to him, ”There is a disease in the part between your intestines and stomach. If it isn’t treated, it will be into deeper part.” Qi Huan-Gong didn’t respond.

After five days, Bianque visited Huan-Gong at the fourth time. When he saw Huan-Gong, he ran away. Huan-Gong was surprised, and sent an attendant to ask the reason. Bianque said, ”When there is a disease in skin, it can be treated by fomentation. When there is a disease in vessels, it can be treated by acupuncture. When there is a disease in the part between your intestines and stomach, it can be treated with vinum. When there is a disease in bone marrow, even the god who administers lives of humans is not able to cure it. Now there is a disease in your bone marrow, so I have to run away without your permission.” After five days, Qi Huan-Gong felt bad, and sent attendants to summon Bianque. But Bianque had left Qi State. Huan-Gong died soon.

Bianque was very famous in that period. He had been to many places. When he came to Handan, the capital of Zhao State, where people looked up to women, he became a gynecologist.Why did the people of Zhao State looked up to women? Because there were many beautiful women in Zhao State,and many of these women married with high officials and nobles of other countries.

When Bianque came to Luoyang, the capital of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, where took good care of old men, he became a doctor treating aural and ophthalmic diseases. Why did the people of areas of Zhou Capital take good care of old men? Because there were traditional virtues of Zhou Rituals.

When Bianque came to Xianyang, the capital of Qin State, where cherished children, he became a pediatrician. Why did the people of Qin cherish children? Because the people of Qin State were militant, and they want their children to be strong warriors.

Li Xi, the minister of state medical affairs, knew his medical skill couldn’t be as good as the skill of Bianque. He grudged Bianque very much, and sent an assassin to assassinate Bianque.


About the author
Jiang Yike is a post-Graduate Student of the Traditional Chinese Medical Science and webmaster of www.hxtimes.com

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