An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Chunyu Yi 淳于意 or Taicang Gong 太倉公

Sep 9, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Taicang Gong 太倉公 "Grand Master of the Granary" or Canggong 倉公 "Master of the Granary, personal name Chunyu Yi 淳于意 (216-150 BCE) and also known as Chunyu Gong 淳于公 "Master Chunyu", was a famous physician at the beginning of the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE).

He once occupied the post of the overseer of the capital granary (taicang 太倉) of the state of Qin 秦 (221-206 BCE) and is therefore known whith the name Tai Cang Gong. He had great interest in medicine from his early years and obtained an education by Gongcheng Yangqing 公乘陽慶 and Gongsun Guang 公孫光. He was so good that he soon surpassed his teachers. His main field was the analysis of the pulse, but he resorted to all different methods of healing, like broths, pills, herbs, acupuncture, cooling, moxibustion, and so on.

He is said to have even been able to revive the death, but he was strictly opposed of the Daoists' methods of product concoctions of the five minerals in order to achieve immortality.

During the reign of Emperor Wen 漢文帝 (r. 180-157 BCE) he was incarcerated because he refused to heal the rich and mighty. Master Cang was only released when his daughter Chunyu Tiying 淳于緹縈 sold herself as a state slave (guanbi 官婢).

Chunyi Yi compiled a handbook of 25 examination methods, the Zhenji 診籍 that included a lot of concrete case studies in the shape of a dialoge between doctor and patient. It has survived in the history Shiji 史記 and is the earliest Chinese document on medical care.

Cang Xiuliang 倉修良, ed. (1996), Hanshu cidian 漢書辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 425.