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Know Your RemediesPharmacy and Culture in Early Modern China$
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He Bian

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179049

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179049.001.0001

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Eating Exotica

Eating Exotica

(p.153) 6 Eating Exotica
Know Your Remedies

He Bian

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the marginal literati authors whose knowledge of exotica drew from both official sources and the marketplace. It shows how Qing China entered the nineteenth century with not one but many competing claims to knowledge that would trigger a new round of negotiation over pharmaceutical objecthood in the modern era. For someone residing in an urban center with ready access to the marketplace, exotic objects were not just something one might have heard of or read about, but tangible specimens to collect, examine, and (in many cases) ingest. This chapter thus follows one author’s journey through the Qing world of goods to shed light on new directions in the bencao tradition. To conclude, the chapter discusses the political significance of this vernacular sphere of knowledge and the double-edged meaning of curiosity.

Keywords:   Qing China, pharmaceutical objecthood, exotica, Qing marketplace, bencao, modern era

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