An Examination on the Historical Distribution and Transformation of Cinnabar Localities Through Chinese Materia Medica Works

Shiyuan WANG

Abstract


The distribution and transformation of cinnabar localities in the history of China as reflected in Chinese materia medica works has been a dynamic process. In the Pre-Qin Period and Qin-Han Dynasties, mining clustered around the few cinnabar localities that were scattered. During Wei, Jin, and the Southern and Northern Dynasties, the number of cinnabar localities gradually increased, and there was a shift of production center. In Tang-Song Dynasties, localities containing cinnabar were more explicitly identified and significantly expanded in size; the tendency toward a shift of production center became more obvious. During Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, the size of cinnabar localities continued to expand a little. The increasing expansion of the localities and the gradual shift of production center was the result of the interplay of many factors including the medicinal attributes and functions of cinnabar, society’s demand for cinnabar, mining technologies, the attributes of cinnabar as a natural resource and its religious and cultural functions. An in-depth examination and understanding of the pattern of distribution and transformation of cinnabar localities through Chinese materia medica works would offer better guidance for present-day mining of cinnabar and selection of authentic herbal medicine.

Keywords


Chinese materia medica works; cinnabar localities; historical distribution; transformation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/%25x

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