Illustration: Shen Nong Cinnabar Entry

Illustration: Shen Nong Cinnabar Entry

Herbal Classic of Shen Nong Cinnabar Entry

Herbal Classic of Shen Nong Cinnabar Entry

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

A page bears an outlined illustration of the mineral cinnabar. Chinese characters have been written and stamped in various sections of the page.


Artifact: 14th–17th century AD

Photo: 2014


This photo depicts a page from the Herbal Classic of Shen Nong (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing), a classic medical text attributed to the semi-mythological ancient Chinese physician Shen Nong (though the text is actually thought to originate around the 1st century BC, nearly 2 millennia after Shen Nong is supposed to have lived).

The text lists 365 substances with their descriptions and medicinal uses, with every item categorized into one of the following six classes: minerals, herbs, woods, animals, fruits and vegetables, and cereals. The above photo displays the entry for cinnabar in the mineral classification.

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Herbal Classic of Shen Nong

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Yang, S. (1998). The divine farmer’s materia medica: A translation of the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press.

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