Chinese medicine

Acupuncture, needles (1)



Chinese medicine, in contrast to the Western, hardly developed technical aids. Neither in diagnostics nor in therapeutics found instruments or devices input. An exception is the acupuncture needles, which were developed from lancets. The method is old-fashioned: around 2640 BC, with the discovery of copper, metal needles were used for the first time. Previously, stone needles (quartz fragments) and bones were known. Later, gold and silver needles were added. The needles became finer in the course of their development, their application to the patient less painful - length and caliber changed according to indication and epoch ...
Originally 9 different types were in use:
1. chisel needle 1.6 inches in length,
2. round needle 1.6 inches,
3. Arrowhead Needle 3.5 inches,
4. Lance Tip Needle 1.6 inches,
5. Sword Needle 4.0 inches,
6. Round Tip Needle 1.6 inches,
7. Hair Needle 3.6 inches,
8. Long-needle 7.0 inches,
9. Gross Needle 4.0 inches.

Each of these needles was shaped differently and used differently.
- The handle of the classic needle is made of copper, the tip of steel - the combination of these metals is important to achieve the desired medical effect.
- The copper wire of the handle is twirled, in a clockwise direction - as a sign of the undisturbed relation between man and the environment.
- The handle must end in a ring that is made of copper - the circle as a symbol of the sky. In practice, the ring serves to fix the moxibustion herb (Artemisia vulgaris).

While old acupuncture statues are often shown in museums, an old needle is rarely exhibited. The British Museum shows a lacquered case containing acupuncture needles in Japan [Engelbert KAEMPFER (1651-1716)] estate. There are occasional cases in the trade in which the Chinese doctors kept the silver needles: the simplest containers made of bamboo, but also complex, collapsible fabric lining of silk with woven bat symbols ...


The western influence on the government in Beijing led in 18./19. Century to a repression of traditional medicine in China. In 1929, the TCM under Kuo Men Tan was even banned by the political leadership of the country as "old stuff"! It was not until the late 1950s, when it became clear that the health of the population was no longer secure, that Mao Tse Tung began a period of recollection of his own culture. This recollection gave TCM a new lease of life and even created (abroad!) New forms of acupuncture such as ear, skull and hand acupuncture, which were quickly adopted in China. With the advent of highly infectious diseases (hepatitis B, AIDS) in China around 1970, the time of non-sterilized needles in their romantic cases ended - the needle boxes had become obsolete and have since appeared at the flea markets ...
Presented is a felt-covered tinny (?) Case bought in 2001 on a street market in Beijing. Probably dated to the mid-20th century, it contains a variety of differently crafted needles, mainly Cloud & Dragon type needles with steel points and twisted copper handles.


Link to a company that sells needles: