Tongue & Lip Diagnosis

Manuscript on paper, entitled “Kokuji fukuzetsu zukai” [“Illustrated Book of Abdomen and Tongue Symptoms”] on title label on upper cover & on first leaf, with 191 hand-drawn paintings of tongues, chests, & abdomens.

34 folding leaves. Small 4to (237 x 166 mm.), contemporary wrappers, new stitching. [Japan]: at end of orig. Preface & end of scribe’s introduction: “1813.”

Tongue and lip diagnosis has been a vital tool used in traditional Chinese medicine for both assessing the current health of a patient and providing a basis for prognosis. Our text is based on a portion of Zhongjing Zhang’s late 2nd-century work Shanghan lun. “Zhang is known to have compiled this text after an epidemic swept through his hometown of Changsha (in present-day Hunan province), killing numerous family members and decimating the general population. Over the next two centuries it became one of the most highly regarded and popularly disseminated medical texts. Its particular genius was to pay attention to the individual and evolving condition of each patient during a rapidly changing illness, not just to the fixed disease…

“While the Shanghan lun was revolutionary in its strategies for treatment with herbal prescriptions, it offers only scattered mentions of tongue presentation, and no tongue illustrations. One of these few mentions is in line 230 of the text. Under the rubric of ‘Yangming illness’, it lists a white tongue fur among indications for the use of the prescription Xiao chaihu tang (Minor Bupleurum Decoction). Yet despite the paucity of tongue information in the text, this increased Song focus on treatments for febrile illnesses led to innovations during the following Jin-Yuan period (1115-1368 CE) which had major implications for the development of tongue diagnosis.”–Nancy Holroyde-Downing, “The Fine Art of the Tongue” in Imagining Chinese Medicine (2018), p. 169.

Our manuscript seems to be similar to the one at NLM. There is also a printed edition of our work (Preface dated 1813), but the illustrations are much less vividly colored (no copy of the printed edition in North America). This text is based on a lecture delivered by Nojo and was written down by the scribe Shijo Yamamoto, a disciple of Nojo. Yamamoto has provided a summary of the work at the beginning and an account of how the manuscript was created.

Our manuscript contains 191 hand-drawn and colored illustrations of the tongue and abdomen. An examination and diagnosis of the tongue would reveal certain diseases within the organs of the abdomen. There are 93 pairs of illustrations of diseased tongues and lips with their related diseased abdomens. Each tongue illustration includes a discussion of the tongue’s appearance and the patient’s symptoms. Each abdomen illustration has adjacent text describing the abdomen and how to touch it for diagnosis.

This copy belonged to the 20th-century Osaka medical scholar Kyohaku Tsumura, whose seal is on the inside lower cover. He penned a note in 1962 on the recto of the seventh leaf (in trans.): “I was very fortunate to have the chance to copy this precious manuscript.” Indeed, his remarkable modern copy is included, as a separate volume, with the original manuscript. The modern copy is clearly written with a fountain pen but created and illustrated with amazing verisimilitude.

The original manuscript has some minor marginal dampstaining but is in fine condition.

Price: $8,500.00

Item ID: 6816