Yi fang kao [The Study of Medical Formulas]. Kun WU.

“Had Far-Reaching Influence”

Yi fang kao [The Study of Medical Formulas].

142; 68; 75; 75; 90; 66 folding leaves (28 leaves, including title, in manuscript). Six vols. 8vo, orig. brown wrappers, new stitching. [China]: Prefaces dated 1584-86.

First edition. “Presented here is a six juan Wanli edition of Yi fang kao (The study of medical formulas) by Wu Kun (1552-1620). The inscription on juan 1 reads: ‘Written by Wu Kun of Shexian and read by his friend Huang Ji.’ Wu Kun, also known as Shanfu and Hegao Shanren, a native of Shexian, Anhui, was a famous Ming physician, medical author, and theorist, and an avid bibliophile. His four main works were Su wen Wu zhu (Wu’s annotated translation of Huangdi’s Inner Canon: Basic questions), Mai yu (Study on pulse), Zhen fang liu ji (Six collections of acupuncture prescriptions), and this work…

“According to his preface, Wu Kun decided on a career in medicine at the age of 15. By the time this work was published he had spent 18 years in his profession. During his medical practice, he was grieved by the deficiency in physicians’ knowledge and by how little was known of current and ancient formulas. He collected and selected formulas on various specialties from ancient works and records, such as internal and external medicine, women’s and children’s health, and emotional ailments. He selected some 780 formulas and grouped them according to 24 categories of diseases…

“He arranged the formulas in 72 groups, based on the illnesses they were to treat: seven in juan 1; ten each in juan 2 and 3; 17 in juan 4; 20 in juan 5; and eight in juan 6. Each formula is followed by discussion of diagnosis, cause, onset, and process of an illness; various treatments of different schools; and famous formulas. Each formula is given a name, with information on its composition, functions, compatibility of medicines, methods of taking medicines, increasing or decreasing dosage, and so forth. These are detailed explanations and analyses. Only juan 1 has the name of Huang Ji, who read the text. Juan 2-6 list the names of the printers: Jiang Zhonggu, Fang Yuanzhen, Wang Yuede, Wang Shi, and Wu Zizhan…

“The text is clear and the writing is well arranged. This is a comprehensive and systematic compilation of prescriptions, which has had far-reaching influence. There were a number of different editions.”–from the Library of Congress webpage (LC has several reprints but not this first edition).

Very good set, preserved in a wooden box made for Dr. Yasuaki (Kosho) Nakano (1874-1947). Later, this set entered the library of Dr. Riichiro Saiki (1862-1953), of Kyoto, who has placed his ownership label on each upper wrapper. Dr. Saiki was a major bibliophile of his time, and published two catalogues of his library, in 1917 and 1933. His library was purchased by Shibunkaku of Kyoto and dispersed. Both owners have placed their seals in each volume.

Each volume has been beautifully remargined in the gutters. As in the case of so many Chinese books, 28 leaves — mostly indices — have been supplied in manuscript at an early date. There is some worming throughout.

❧ All the copies listed by WorldCat in the United States appear to be later editions.

Price: $47,500.00

Item ID: 7723