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Medicine chest containing various medical instruments and medicinal substances, wood / metal / ceramic / paper / bone / glass / dried animal products, maker unknown, China, c 1925

Made in China, Asia, c1925.

This Chinese medicine chest consists of a wooden cabinet with 3 shelves containing an array of weighing pans, porcelain and ceramic bowels, pestles, mixing spatulas and dispensing spoons used in the preparation of traditional Chinese medicines. In the drawer below are 13 samples of dried animal-derived material used as medicinal substances (yao), mostly in small bottles with a typed label containing a Cantonese style transliteration of the name and a brief description in English. Numerous remedi...

Summary

Object No.

96/253/1

Physical Description

Medicine chest containing various medical instruments and medicinal substances, wood / metal / ceramic / paper / bone / glass / dried animal products, maker unknown, China, c 1925

Rectangular wooden two-door cabinet; with brass catch and porcelain knob; doors hinged to sides of cabinet. Inside - divided into compartments by three sliding shelves and one drawer. Arrayed in these compartments are Chinese medical implements and medicinal substances, such as would have been used by a Chinese doctor in the early half of the 20th century. The contents include 8x porcelain/ceramic mixing bowls; 5x pestles; 19x boxes containing metal and bone instruments, eg acupuncture needles, scrapers, scoops, dispensers, lances, and tongue depressors; 12x bottles containing dried medicinal substances, including deer sinew, maggots, wasp's nest, cicada shells, etc; 2x weighing pans; 2x wooden containers and 2x other unidentified objects. At some stage the instruments have had individual labels attached to them describing their function, in Chinese and English. The boxes containing them have also had a label added, but more recently. The dried substances have been labelled with an Anglicised Chinese name and a description in English.
(-1) Medicine chest
(-2) China bowl
(-3) China bowl
(-4) China bowl
(-5) China bowl
(-6) China bowl
(-7) Ceramic bowl
(-8) Ceramic bowl
(-9) Ceramic bowl
(-10) Paper box with striped sides
(-11) Paper box with striped sides
(-12) Paper box with striped sides
(-13) Paper box with striped sides
(-14) Paper box with striped sides
(-15) Paper box with striped sides
(-16) Paper box with striped sides
(-17) Paper box with striped sides
(-18) Paper box with striped sides
(-19) Paper box with striped sides
(-20) Paper box with striped sides
(-21) Paper box with striped sides
(-22) Paper box with green sides
(-23) Paper box with green sides
(-24) Paper box with green sides
(-25) Paper box with green sides
(-26) Paper box with green sides
(-27) Paper box with green sides
(-28) Paper box with green sides
(-29) Wooden container
(-30) Wooden container
(-31) Pestle
(-32) Pestle
(-33) Pestle
(-34) Pestle
(-35) Pestle
(-36) Weighing pan
(-37) Weighing pan
(-38) Wooden burning container
(-39) Tree thing
(-40) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-41) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-42) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-43) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-44) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-45) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-46) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-47) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-48) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-49) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-50) Glass bottle containing dried medical substance
(-51) Burning tube.

Dimensions

Height

550 mm

Width

640 mm

Depth

350 mm

Production

Notes

Presumed to have been made in China

Made

c1925

History

Notes

This Chinese medicine chest and its contents were held at the Asian Studies Department of the University of Sydney since the late 1950's, and later donated to the Powerhouse Museum in 1994. They are part of a small collection of Chinese artefacts associated with traditional cultural religious and medicinal practices thought to have been collected in China in the first half of the 20th century by an Australian protestant missionary J. Whitsed Dovey (1887-1956). This chest is thought to have been part of a display and study collection used to educate missionaries about local medical practices and beliefs. Some objects demonstrate evidence of Western influence during a period of modernisation in China where the future of traditional medicine might have appeared uncertain. Following the collapse of Imperial China the missionaries had found increasing interest in their medical activities from a Nationalist government embracing Western science and enthusiastically promoting biomedicine whilst sidelining traditional Chinese medical practice in their plans for medical development.

Unschuld, Paul U, Medicine in China: A History of Ideas, California, 1985, p235-249

Owned

Asian Studies Department, University of Sydney

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Asian Studies Department, University of Sydney, 1996

Acquisition Date

16 July 1996

Cite this Object

Harvard

Medicine chest containing various medical instruments and medicinal substances, wood / metal / ceramic / paper / bone / glass / dried animal products, maker unknown, China, c 1925 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2018, <https://ma.as/150840>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/150840 |title=Medicine chest containing various medical instruments and medicinal substances, wood / metal / ceramic / paper / bone / glass / dried animal products, maker unknown, China, c 1925 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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