“It was said that 5000 years ago, in the period of Huang Di, an eminent doctor named Ma Shihuang was not only good at curing people, but also animals, especially dragons. Once a dragon circulated low in the sky. On seeing Ma Shihuang, it immediately drooped it ears, opened its mouth and wagged its tail as if in great agony. Ma Shihuang said, “thedragon is ill, I will cure it”. He took out a needle from his box and applied acupuncture on its lips and inside its mouth then gave it decoction of Radox Glycyrrhizae to drink. After treatment, the dragon rose high into the sky with all the suffering gone. Since then, quite a few appeared on the mountain slope close to the house of Ma Shihuang to ask Ma to cure their disease. One day, a dragon wasseen carrying Ma Shihuang on its back, flying into the sky to some unknown place.” (Zheng, 1996).
Acupuncture, one the oldest forms of therapy known, is believed to have evolved from the beginnings of prehistoric era to treat bodily injuries. At this point, people discovered that pressuring the painful emplacement could alleviate pain at the spot of injury. In the course of time, utensils wereshaped and used in the same order, to soothe the pain. These techniques have continued to improve and soon started to play an important role in Chinese medicine. From using hands to flints needles, and finally needles, acupuncture is dating from 7000 to 5000 B.C, indicating that Neolithic humans were familiar with the practice of inserting needles into the body to relieve pain and sickness.“Acupuncture is not the exclusive possession of the Chinese.” (Felix Mann, 1981). Egyptians in 1550 B.C used the same principle of the 12 meridians of acupuncture to alleviate the pain. The great contribution of the Chinese to acupuncture is that they developed a “fairly complete systematic method” (Felix Mann, 1981) and catalogued and described it in numerous textbooks as an important ChineseTraditional Medicine.
But how Chinese is acupuncture? How the Chinese developed this old medicine according to their philosophy and created its Chinese identity? Are its traditional features different since the Maoism revolution and an ever-growing process of globalisation?
This research will in a first part discuss the nature of acupuncture and the Chineseness of this practice, and then in a last partexplain how this traditional Chinese acupuncture altered under Mao’s Communist Party.
I) The nature of acupuncture and the Chineseness of this practice,
The first known acupuncture text is the Nei Ching Su Wen under the reign of Huang Ti “The Yellow Emperor” (accession 2697 B.C). It deals with useful and valuable information on Chinese Philosophy which are as important today as they were in2000 B.C. Acupuncture in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on three important rules: The Energy of Life “Qi”, the principle of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements. The Chineseness of acupuncture is seen through those three major principles.
“Qi”, the Energy of life, is one of the fundamental concepts of Chinese thought. It is the manifestation of every invisible force such as thegrowth of plant or the movement of a leg. There is Qi in the human body called “True Qi” and breathing and eating create it. “True Qi is a combination of what is received from the heavens and the Qi of water and food. It permeates the whole body.” (Felix Mann, 2004). In Chinese medicine, using acupuncture is called “obtaining Qi” because of the effect of “pricking the skin with a needle” (calledChen). If the needle fails to obtain the Qi, the acupuncture treatment is totally ineffective. Even if the action of acupuncture would be defined as a wave of electrical depolarisation that travels along nerves, the Chinese way of seeing it is through the Qi “flowing along the meridians, much as water flows along a river-bed or a nervous impulse along a nerve. The meridians and their smaller and...