Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Asian History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Asian History Asian History Forum - China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia-Pacific Region


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old March 20th, 2017, 04:19 AM   #1
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2016
From: Haryana, India
Posts: 1,535
Blog Entries: 5
Where was Variolation first used?


The following is a quote from Alberuni's India which describes something that seems to be some kind of variolation against small pox:

"After the small-pox has broken out, they recognise from certain signs whether it is virulent or not. Against the virulent small-pox they use a method of treatment by which they destroy only one single limb of the body, but do not kill. They use as medicine cloves, which they give to the patient to drink, together with gold dust; and, besides, the males tie the cloves, which are similar to date-kernels, to their necks. If these precautions are taken, perhaps nine people out of ten will be proof against this malady."

Is this the earliest reference to this practice? Some historians such as Andre Wink seem to be of the opinion that variolation first began in India around 11th century AD and was brought to China by Buddhist monks via Tibet. (Al-Hind, Vol. II, pp. 166)

The first documented use of variolation in China is not seen before late 17th century:

Click the image to open in full size.

In spite of all this, it seems to be the popular opinion that variolation originated in China. For example, I read in Wikipedia and my Immunology textbook that variolation against smallpox was developed by the Chinese and thence spread to all of Eurasia. Why is this so?

Last edited by Bhrigu; March 20th, 2017 at 04:25 AM.
Bhrigu is offline  
Remove Ads
Old March 20th, 2017, 04:25 AM   #2

tornada's Avatar
Wind Lord
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: India
Posts: 14,631
Blog Entries: 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhrigu View Post
The following is a quote from Alberuni's India which describes something which seems to be some kind of variolation against small pox:

"After the small-pox has broken out, they recognise from certain signs whether it is virulent or not. Against the virulent small-pox they use a method of treatment by which they destroy only one single limb of the body, but do not kill. They use as medicine cloves, which they give to the patient to drink, together with gold dust; and, besides, the males tie the cloves, which are similar to date-kernels, to their necks. If these precautions are taken, perhaps nine people out of ten will be proof against this malady."

Is this the earliest reference to this practice? Some historians such as Andre Wink seem to be of the opinion that variolation first began in India around 11th century AD and was brought to China by Buddhist monks via Tibet. (Al-Hind, Vol. II, pp. 166)

The first documented use of variolation in China is not seen before late 17th century:

Click the image to open in full size.

In spite of all this, it seems to be the popular opinion that variolation originated in China. For example, I read in Wikipedia and my Immunology textbook that variolation against smallpox was developed by the Chinese and thence spread to all of Eurasia. Why is this so?
If you're relying on Wink, do recall if Wink gave a citation for the claim? Usually its best to try and follow the references if there's a point you want to follow up.

If China does not have a very ancient record of this practice, then historical opinion may have been influenced by some other form of evidence. For instance, if Indian texts referring to the practice noted it to have originated in China (ideally the reference would be close to the oldest known record of the practice, but it need not be a given. Competence and reliability of the source would matter).

I'd be happy to take a stab at this if you could give me a more definite lead, ie the specific reference to Wink that you've got in mind.
tornada is offline  
Old March 20th, 2017, 07:50 AM   #3
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2016
From: Haryana, India
Posts: 1,535
Blog Entries: 5

Quote:
I'd be happy to take a stab at this if you could give me a more definite lead, ie the specific reference to Wink that you've got in mind.
Actually I did provide the specific reference to Wink in the OP. He cites Fenner et al (1988) which has to say this on the topic:

Click the image to open in full size.

I am not aware of any Indian sources ascribing the invention of variolation to the Chinese; in fact, there are not even any Indian sources that mention variolation as a practice before modern times. Most of the accounts are actually European.

Last edited by Bhrigu; March 20th, 2017 at 08:00 AM.
Bhrigu is offline  
Old March 20th, 2017, 10:04 AM   #4

tornada's Avatar
Wind Lord
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: India
Posts: 14,631
Blog Entries: 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhrigu View Post
Actually I did provide the specific reference to Wink in the OP. He cites Fenner et al (1988) which has to say this on the topic:

Click the image to open in full size.

I am not aware of any Indian sources ascribing the invention of variolation to the Chinese; in fact, there are not even any Indian sources that mention variolation as a practice before modern times. Most of the accounts are actually European.
I apologize. For some reason that image file didn't load last time I checked in and I missed the : so I assumed you were just referencing the work.

I can see the problem you're having. The cited source doesn't seem to have link up with what Wink said it does. From what I know of Wink's work, this probably wasn't a major claim so it is possible at some point he screwed up the research a little on this issue.

A couple of clarifications - the citation Wink gave, since I can't access it myself, does it only give author and book or a specific page citation? I'm assuming it did, and what you've posted in your second book is what you found in that page. Nonetheless if you have access to the book, try looking a couple of pages up and down, and even do a generalized word search (if you have the soft copy) to see what turns up.

If you can't do this, which I admit is possible if you have limited access, you might want to consider sending him an email pointing out what you found (basically these two posts you've got). Books tend to be large projects, and minor errors of this sort can creep in. If it is an error, Professor Wink will probably appreciate you spotting it. If it isn't, maybe he could answer the question. Alternatively it is possible that the process originated in India. It may or may not have independent origins in China.

This is his email id.
awink@wisc.edu

Best of luck, and if I might say this: its a really interesting thing you've caught.
tornada is offline  
Old March 20th, 2017, 11:38 AM   #5
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2013
From: China
Posts: 4,333

i don't know what if it is culture difference. when i read the words, the eye attractive ones are "extant" "available" "written"--meaning--directly related, not implications, not stries. such counterexamples unluckily presented in the quotations about india: neither drinking nor wearing cloves are variolation, not even on an implication level--- the whole point of variolation is to let one weakly get infected---but the disease(smallpox) do not mainly spread by polluted drinking materials (infact, cannot, unless the dust float into one's nose)! (patients get infected through nose or their skin during the treatment of chinese variolation methods)

hence, such assertion "The first documented use of variolation in China is not seen before late 17th century" is wrong in the first place. it is wrong in many ways. for example, the Zhang's book was the 'first' of 'available' ones which survived to date. is it the 'first' to document such a method? we do not know. also, Zhang's book described several 'extant' variolation methods for *real* and *practical* medical application. we should differ it from other kind of possible descriptions of variolations, such as implications on variolation, which dates back to northern song of china.

anyway Wink said about the monks only because of a so told myth.
he cited Fenner's Smallpox and its Eradication, pp253 (chp 6). Fenner told a story about a Budda worshiper devoted to cure the disease who got the idea when she "wandered" in a mountain in tibet. since it was in tibet, since the woman is a budda worshiper, Fenner cited another guy who suggested it should be the monks.
a long chain of "evidences"
unfortunately, there is no such goddess on variolation of chinese who worships budda, and nobody actually goes to tibet for inspirations simply because the most famous buddhism mountains are located in han chinese populated area.
just a romantic story (tibet got a lot of romantic stories)

Last edited by heylouis; March 20th, 2017 at 11:45 AM.
heylouis is online now  
Old March 20th, 2017, 03:31 PM   #6

Ighayere's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 847

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhrigu View Post
Actually I did provide the specific reference to Wink in the OP. He cites Fenner et al (1988) which has to say this on the topic:

Click the image to open in full size.

I am not aware of any Indian sources ascribing the invention of variolation to the Chinese; in fact, there are not even any Indian sources that mention variolation as a practice before modern times. Most of the accounts are actually European.
Not knowledgeable enough about variolation in ancient China to answer the question but I just want to point out that the idea of variolation spreading "from Europe via the Balkans, and probably with Arab slave traders to eastern and western Africa" isn't likely at all. Not surprisingly, the author cites nothing at all here, probably because he didn't do any actual research and just decided to make something up.

Variolation was practiced in many parts of Africa that had no direct contact with Arabs or even with any Muslim Africans.

You mentioned the wikipedia article on variolation in your opening post. I wouldn't put too much stock in that article as it presently is, since it asserts that variolation was - besides its Chinese origin - also of Middle Eastern origin without citing any direct sources which show this.
Ighayere is offline  
Old March 20th, 2017, 03:48 PM   #7

Ighayere's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 847

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhrigu View Post
The following is a quote from Alberuni's India which describes something that seems to be some kind of variolation against small pox:

"After the small-pox has broken out, they recognise from certain signs whether it is virulent or not. Against the virulent small-pox they use a method of treatment by which they destroy only one single limb of the body, but do not kill. They use as medicine cloves, which they give to the patient to drink, together with gold dust; and, besides, the males tie the cloves, which are similar to date-kernels, to their necks. If these precautions are taken, perhaps nine people out of ten will be proof against this malady."

Is this the earliest reference to this practice? Some historians such as Andre Wink seem to be of the opinion that variolation first began in India around 11th century AD and was brought to China by Buddhist monks via Tibet. (Al-Hind, Vol. II, pp. 166)

The first documented use of variolation in China is not seen before late 17th century:

Click the image to open in full size.

In spite of all this, it seems to be the popular opinion that variolation originated in China. For example, I read in Wikipedia and my Immunology textbook that variolation against smallpox was developed by the Chinese and thence spread to all of Eurasia. Why is this so?

So I've done a bit more searching, and the claim that Zhang Lu's book was the first time the Chinese documented the use of variolation is false. Read this article ("The myth of the medical breakthrough: smallpox, vaccination, and Jenner reconsidered"):

https://www.researchgate.net/publica...r_reconsidered

The Chinese did it in the 10th century.
Ighayere is offline  
Old March 20th, 2017, 04:00 PM   #8

Ighayere's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 847

Never mind what I said immediately above. Apparently the tenth century case isn't considered definite proof because it was only written about centuries later:

Quote:
The earliest hints of the practice of inoculation for smallpox in China come during the 10th century.[4] A Song dynasty (9601279) chancellor of China, Wang Dan (9571017), lost his eldest son to smallpox and sought a means to spare the rest of his family from the disease, so he summoned physicians, wise men, and magicians from all across the empire to convene at the capital in Kaifeng and share ideas on how to cure patients of it until the gods sent a divine man from Mt. O-mei who carried out inoculation. However, the sinologist Joseph Needham states that this information comes from the Zhongdou xinfa (種痘心法) written in 1808 by Zhu Yiliang, centuries after the alleged events.[4]
The first clear and credible reference to smallpox inoculation in China comes from Wan Quan's (14991582) Douzhen xinfa (痘疹心法) of 1549, which states that some women unexpectedly menstruate during the procedure, yet his text did not give details on techniques of inoculation.[5] Inoculation was first vividly described by Yu Chang in his book Yuyi cao (寓意草), or Notes on My Judgment, published in 1643
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inoculation#China
Ighayere is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Asian History

Tags
start, variolation



Thread Tools
Display Modes


Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.