rippercushions 16 days ago

You can only wonder how many documents like this were lost in China during the Cultural Revolution, when thousands of temples and everything else associated with the Four Olds [1] were willfully destroyed.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Olds

nl 16 days ago

It's a pretty amazing story, and shows that if you do something (like publish a book) but can't get it in front of the right people then you might as well not have done it.

> The first person to teach traditional Chinese medicine in Japan was an 8th-century Buddhist monk named Jianzhen (Ganjin in Japanese), who collected some 1,200 prescriptions in a book: Jianshangren (Holy Priest Jianzhen)'s Secret Prescription. The text was believed lost for centuries, but the authors of a recent paper published in the journal Compounds stumbled across a book published in 2009 that includes most of Jianzhen's original prescriptions.

> That's how they stumbled upon a 2009 book entitled Three Treasures Be Published. It turns out that before he left for Japan, Jianzhen gave a copy of his many prescriptions to one of his disciples, a monk named Lingyou. The text passed through 52 subsequent generations, until Lingyou's descendent, Lei Yutian, decided to organize all the prescriptions into his 2009 book.

52 generations passed down through one family is quite incredible. I'm not aware of anything else like that that has ended up published, although I could be uninformed.

  • googlryas 16 days ago

    52 generations of teachers passing it to their disciples, not 52 generations of the same family. Much easier to do since someone's son might be a little shit with no recourse but you probably aren't going to train a disciple for years and then have them turn out to be untrustworthy. This is more like a copy of some important christian manuscript getting passed down from St Peter to Pope Francis 260 times over the past 2000 years.

    • shakna 16 days ago

      > This is more like a copy of some important christian manuscript getting passed down from St Peter to Pope Francis 260 times over the past 2000 years.

      That's actually still pretty incredible. There's a reason that large document caches are our main source for the translations of the Bible, today. Preserving even religious documents through all the upheavals of time and politics, is not a small matter, even if they have a large team dedicated to it. (Which early on, was not the case).

    • nl 15 days ago

      I read it as 52 generations of the same family. It's one of the decendants who published it.

  • pseingatl 16 days ago

    "52 generations passed down through one family is quite incredible."

    I think that's the real story here.

  • Dalewyn 15 days ago

    >can't get it in front of the right people then you might as well not have done it.

    "If a tree falls in a forest but nobody is there to witness, does it make a sound?"?

krunck 16 days ago

"Lost 8th-century Japanese medical text by Buddhist monk has been found in a book published in 2009."

  • miniwark 16 days ago

    Yep it's weird. From the title only, it look like Liu et al. made a discovery, when the main protagonist is in fact Lei Yutian, the descendant of one of the disciples. Thanks must be made to his masters for preserving this recipes during 52 generations.

vharuck 16 days ago

Why call it a "Japanese medical text" if it was written by a Chinese monk and left with one of his disciples in China before leaving for Japan?

  • thatguy0900 14 days ago

    They are also claiming it as a discovery by the scholar when he found it in a book published in 2009, seems very biased overall

groffee 16 days ago

> Lost 8th century Japanese medical text by Buddhist monk has been found

..by checking the local bookstore.

Seriously, modern 'researchers' need to just take their blinkers off and especially go cross-discipline.

chips_n_fries 16 days ago

I collect old medical textbooks and I strongly believe our doctors today know less than did doctors at ~1900. Would be amazing to know what information even older medical texts contained.

  • Herodotus38 16 days ago

    I agree they probably knew more medical information, but how much of it was correct…

    There’s the famous cliche of the medical students first lecture. (Paraphrasing) The professor goes up and says “Fifty percent of what you learn here will be found to be wrong in 20 years. The problem is we don’t know which 50%.

    Read about the history of cancer research and its various themes as to the origin of cancer as a great look into just one subset of medicine.

    EDIT: Another great way to see the errors of the past is to read wikipedia articles on American presidents and read how they died. Their final diagnoses and treatments are often vague and shocking (respectively) and often people are wondering if they would have survived if they hadn't been attended to by physicians of the time, which were probably the most well-renowned. For example, Zachary Taylor or George Washington.

  • bearmode 16 days ago

    I absolutely guarantee you that they don't.

    • bitxbitxbitcoin 15 days ago

      I see a lot of people romanticizing the turn of the century 20th century. “Money was harder then” or “people had more grip strength”. This is a first time I have heard someone claim (Western) doctors were more advanced.