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January 2023

Sudhoffs Arch Z Wissenschaftsgesch. 1993 ; 77(2): 193-222.

[Early Western observations of moxibustion and acupuncture]

Michel W.

Institute of Languages and Cultures, Kyushu University, Fukuoka-City, Japan.

Earlier research has maintained that the earliest passage of written information about acupuncture and moxibustion to Western Europe took place around the middle of the 17th century. But an investigation into the letters, 'historias', dictionaries, grammars, etc. of the Jesuit mission in Japan, which started in 1549, shows that the missionaries there already enjoyed a considerable knowledge of both methods of treatment. These sources also reveal indications of the use of needles and moxa on horses as well as the use of 'hammer-needles', a Japanese invention which was later described in detail by Willem ten Rhijne and Engelbert Kaempfer. Furthermore some central Sinojapanese terms of anatomy, physiology and pulse diagnosis in the light of their European interpretations, and a hitherto unknown outline of Japanese medicine found in an early French book on Chinese sphygmology are presented.

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