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The Development of Imperial Medicine

Before the Qin Dynasty (before 221B.C.)

Before the Western Zhou Dynasty (16th-771B.C.), physicians were those who only served the emperor, known as imperial physicians. It was not until the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256B.C.) when the folk healer emerged. The title of imperial physician and minister of imperial physicians appeared in the Warring States (475-221B.C.), which made a borderline between the imperial physicians and folk healers. During that time there were intense conflicts between witch-doctors and healers,and the healers'  social status was much lower.In the Zhou Dynasty, the highest-ranked medical administrator was named "physician manager" in charge of administration of medical affairs, supervision of the physicians and healers and medical examination of healers. The secondary administrator was called "herbal supplier", responsible for storing and supplying medicinal substances. The third one was called "herbal secretary", in charge of management of the medical documents. The fourth one was called “apprentice”,doing odds and ends and nursing patients.

According to different duties, there were four kinds of physicians, namely dietitians, physicians of internal medicine, traumato-orthopedics, healers of external medicine and veterinarians.


Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C.-220)

Since the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-207) the court had regular medical officials responsible for medical affairs all over the country and imperial family. Those who served the imperial family were called imperial physicians. 

During the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220), the minister of imperial physicians was still the top administrator, under his command there were supervisor of imperial physicians, imperial physicians, herbal manager, deputy herbal manager and so on. In Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), there were about 300 imperial medical staff, and a complete medical serving system for emperors and their families were shaped.






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