'Manchu anatomy': Anatomical knowledge and the Jesuits in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century China

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Abstract

SummaryBeginning in the last decade of the seventeenth century, the French Jesuits Joachim Bouvet and Dominique Parrenin instructed the Kangxi Emperor in contemporary anatomical knowledge. Parrenin's instruction resulted in a Manchu anatomical atlas containing Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood. This paper uses this case to examine the role of anatomy in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European understandings of China and its medicine. I argue that the authority which Bouvet and Parrenin afforded anatomical knowledge gained from dissection informed their comparisons of Chinese and European medical learning. I also examine ways in which illustrations of this atlas were made to demonstrate the certainty of European anatomy and its applicability to Chinese bodies. Production of the 'Manchu Anatomy' was thus an important moment in the process through which anatomy became a category in European understandings of China and its medicine during and after the eighteenth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-44
Number of pages22
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • History

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