Printed in 1895, the Newly Expanded Druggist’s Ten Thousand Treasures Encyclopedia (新增懸壺萬寶全書) contains far more than medical advice.
Even if you can’t read a word of Chinese, the charming illustrations alone lead me to recommend that you take a couple minutes to browse through the work anyway. There’s a lot more going on in it than just recipes for prescriptions – a star chart, a map of China and its surroundings, illustrations of mythical races, the twenty four filial exemplars, a pictorial homophone dictionary, and math problems!
Also, a chart telling you the meaning of various physical phenomena when they occur at different times of the day. For example, what does it mean if your right ear is starts ringing between 11pm and 1am?
A few of my favorites:
Filial legendary emperor Shun plowing the field with an elephant
The homophone dictionary towards the end is fascinating because it’s not giving homophones in modern Mandarin. The book itself has no location given for its publication, but I bet someone well versed in varieties of Chinese languages could tell us where it’s from. Most characters do rhyme in Mandarin, but see below for a few that don’t. Any guesses as to what language these represent?
I came across this text while looking through the collection of morality texts held by the Museum of World Religions in Taipei, which were scanned by Taoyuan Innovation Institute of Technology in a project also sponsored by Taiwan’s National Digital Archives Program and the Nanya Institute of Technology. This project, while a blessing for someone like me working on these texts from afar, could still have used a little more care in the texts’ digitization. Some scans have missing pages, while others, including this encyclopedia, have mistakes in the page division coding in the latter half that make them difficult to read. But the intention is great, and I’m much rather have them as they are, imperfect, than not have them at all.