Illustration: Compendium of Materia Medica Metals Page

Metals Page From the Compendium of Materia Medica

Metals Page From the Compendium of Materia Medica

license: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
source: Wikimedia Commons
author: Wellcome Images

A page from the Compendium of Materia Medica (Bencao Gangmu) bears illustrations and descriptions of four types of metal, including silver and gold. They are split into a grid and accompanied by Chinese characters detailing their medicinal uses.


Artifact: 14th–17th century AD

Photo: 2014


This page is from a 1st edition copy of Bencao Gangmu (translated “categories and principles of roots and herbs”), a 16th century AD Chinese medical text referred to in English as the Compendium of Materia Medica. The text, split into 53 volumes, contains entries on 1,892 substances and their medicinal uses.

According to Wellcome Images, the elements depicted on this page, accompanied by their medicinal uses, are asshuijin (water gold), shanjin (mountain gold), yin (silver), and xilinzhiyinare (unknown/untranslated).

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Shizhen, L., & Luo, X. (2003). Compendium of materia medica: Bencao gangmu. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.