Ishinpō (医心方 ishinpō or ishinhō) is the oldest surviving Japanese medical text. It was completed in 984 by Tamba Yasuyori (also referred in some sources as Tanba no Yasuyori) and is 30 volumes in length. The work is partly based on a Chinese medical work called Zhubing Yuanhou Lun 诸病原候论 (Treatise on the Many Illnesses), compiled by Sui Dynasty writer Chao Yuanfang. Many of the texts cited in Ishinpō have been lost in China, and have only survived to the present through their inclusion in the work. It is a national treasure of Japan.
The structural organization of the text is as follows:
|2||Acupuncture and moxibustion|
|7||Surgery and internal medicine|
|24||Obstetrics and gynaecology|
|28||Human sexual behavior|
The Ishinpō preserved more than 200 important medical documents that were all Chinese in origin and no Japanese sources. The medical knowledge in the tome covered clinical treatments that drew from the ancient Chinese traditional medicine and influenced by Indian medical theories found in Buddhist scriptures as well as Taoist references (e.g. Taoist drugs). For instance, there was the so-called Scripture on Pregnancy, which outlined the physical developments and fetal movements. Scholars cite its similarity with a prescription from the old Chinese medical text called Taichan shu, which contained doctrines about the development of embryo and fetus as well as proper hygiene for pregnant women.
The Ishinpō is also notable for preserving some of the Taoist sexual manuals from the Han to the Tang dynasty. The twenty-eighth section of the Ishinpō contains a complete transcription of a Daoist text known as The Classic of Sunu which is a dialogue between the Dark Maiden and the Yellow Emperor, with the former providing advice on sexual practices to the latter.
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