The Fetal Sedative, Nurturing and Exorcism in The Medical Gestation Texts of Middle China
Jin-Shiu Sung(Assistant, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica)
Starting from the perspective of fieldwork in Taiwan, this essay intends to pursue a historical analysis that combines ‘ethnographic’ data and Middle Chinese texts pertaining to medical gestation to examine the relationship between Chinese medicine and culture. In traditional gynecology, the medical texts can be classified into three main categories: symptoms & therapy , regimen, and taboos. This essay tries to make a dynamic relationship between Taiwan traditional strategies of fetal sedative and gynecological knowledge systems in Middle China–from Sui & Tang Dynasties to Sung Dynasty–in order to construct the primary meanings and ‘classical’ discourses of pregnancy.
I argue that there are two fundamental themes in the classical knowledge of pregnancy. One is the theme of fetal sedative (an t’ai) , and its discourse is focused on symptoms and prescriptions pertaining to pregnancy ‘disorders’. Moreover, fetal sedative is clearly the first theme in classical discourses of pregnancy, whose importance in Chinese gynecology has been stressed since the Pre-Qing & Hang Dynasties. The second is the theme of fetal nurturing (yang t’ai), which focuses on the thesis of ‘zhu yue yang t’ai’ (fetal nurturing monthly during the gestation) , which has been developed to perfection the Northern Chi to Sui & T’ang Dynasties. This theme also involves the subordinate fields of related theories of fetation, fetal education (t’ai chiao) and other taboo subjects. As a whole, the theme of fetal nurturing has advanced to a point of maintaining a condition of ‘balance’ within mothers-to-be , instead of focusing on curing and reducing ‘disorders’, and thus has given rise to broad discourses on taboo. By comparison, relevant discourses within the category of taboo, such as exorcism devices and beliefs concerning ‘t’ai sha’ etc., have gradually developed to perfection until Southern Sung Dynasty, and appear late in classical works such as Fu-jen ta-chun liang fang (Complete Good Prescription for Women), which was published in 1237 A.D.
gender & ritual gynecology of Middle China (ku ten nu-k'o) / fetal sedative (an t'ai) / fetal nurturing (yang t'ai) / exorcism (bi sha)