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Brief Account of Development of Chinese Tuina

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Updated: Monday, Aug 24,2009, 10:26:02 AM
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Chinese Tuina was called massage or Mosuo in ancient times. The term Tuina was first seen in the Ming Dynasty. Chinese Tuina is a therapeutic approach guided by the theory of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and used to treat diseases through massagtcmwell.com

Chinese Tuina was called massage or Mosuo in ancient times. The term Tuina was first seen in the Ming Dynasty. Chinese Tuina is a therapeutic approach guided by the theory of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and used to treat diseases through massag...

Chinese Tuina was called massage or Mosuo in ancient times. The term Tuinawas first seen in the Ming Dynasty. Chinese Tuina is a therapeutic approach guided by the theory of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and used to treat diseases through massage manipulations or by means of some massage tools applied to certain parts or points on the human body surface. It belongs to the category of external treatment in TCM. Tuinais an important component of Chinese medicine, which is very effective in curing and preventing diseases and has made great contributions to thriving and prosperity of the Chinese nation.

Brief Account of Development of Chinese Tuina

Tuinaoriginated from labor, and labor was the first essentials for the survival of the human beings. In the prehistoric age the human beings hunted and opened up wastelands to fill their belly, broke branches and piled up stones to build their shelters, sewed leather and made clothes to keep themselves warm and trudged very far to look for living stuff. While doing so, injuries such as fractures, contusions and strains happened to them constantly. In this case man would instinctively press with hands to stop bleeding and rub to eliminate swelling and pains. After long-term accumulation, the ancient people gradually understood and summed up some primitive Tuina methods, which later became one of the commonly used techniques in treating diseases.

The period from the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties to the time when Qin Shihuang (the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty) united China is called the prior-Qin period in Chinese history. It was recorded in the literatures that in this period there had been a lot of medicinal books circulating among the people. Unfortunately all the books were lost later in wars. Of the great many treatises on medicine compiled by hundreds of scholars, only very a few had been kept down. Therefore the knowledge of the achievements in tuina of this period is mainly from the two important archaeological discoveries, the unearthed oracle inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Yin-Shang Dynasty and the records of the medical books from the tombs of the Han Dynasty in Mawangdui, Changsha. The people of the Yin-Shang Dynasty were superstitious and they chiefly used prayer and sacrifice to eliminate illnesses and misfortunes when they were ill. So although there were a lot of records about diseases in the oracle inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells, only very few on treatment with medicines could be seen. Yet in these inscriptions there were many words about tuina therapy, which showed that besides sacrifice, the people of the Yin-Shang Dynasty mainly used tuina to treat diseases. Tuina was their creation and they were very skillful in applying it.

Among the medical books written on silk unearthed in Mawangdui, the book Wushi'er Bingfang (Fifty Two Medical Prescriptions) mostly involved treatment of diseases with tuina. Tuina therapy in this book had two striking characteristics. One was the record about medicated tuina and ointment tuina, which were the earliest methods in the development of tuina in spite of being simple in making. The other was the record of plenty of tuina tools with distinguished features. For example, the taper wood tool used for treating hernia, the copper coin for infantile convulsion and the most characteristic medicated towel. The towel was used to treat certain sexual disorders and for health preservation, which could be counted as a great invention in the history of tuina. In fact, the earliest and most primitive tuina tool was Bianshi (a kind of prepared stone), which had many kinds, and each kind had its own functions. Therefore, it could be concluded that Bianshi was not only used for acupuncture, but also for tuina. The utilization of tuina tools made tuina therapy more effective.


The Qin and Han Dynasties were an important period in the development of tuina. It was recorded in the book, Hanshu-Yiwenzhi-Fangjilve (Han Book, Literature and Arts, Methods and Skills) that Huangdi Qibo Anrno Shijuan (Ten Volumes on Tuina of Huangdi and Qibo) and Huangdi Neijing ( Huangcli's Canon of Medicine), short for Neijing, came out at the same time. The former was the first monograph on massage in Chinese Tuina history, and the latter was the earliest great TCM works in existence. In classification, Huangdi Qibo Anmo Shijuan must have mainly concentrated on tuina, and by medical origin it was surely one branch of the same source with Huangdi Neijing, which was the other branch. Huangdi Neijing mainly recorded the theories of TCM and acupuncture, while Huangdi Qibo Anmo Shijuan was chiefly about tuina and health care. It was a pity that the great works of ten volumes on Tuina was unable to survive wars so that nowadays we could not have an all-round understanding of the development of tuina in the time before the Western Han Dynasty. Little to our relief, there were some literatures on tuina in Huangdi's Canon of Medicine.

It could be seen through a comprehensive view of Neijing that the unique therapeutic system of tuina had been formed in the Qin and Han period. Many paragraphs in the book were the theoretical summarization of tuina treatment from the Yin-Shang Dynasty. It was pointed out in Neijing that Chinese Tuina originated from and formed in the central region, equivalent to today's Luoyang area of Henan Province, which was the border of the Yin-Shang people at that time. That tallied with the contents of tuina described in the oracle inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Yin-Shang Dynasty. Inspection, listening and smelling, interrogation and palpation diagnoses are the most important diagnostic methods of tuina. In Neijing there were many parts about the application of tuina manipulations to palpation diagnosis, which improved the accuracy of diagnosing diseases. Neiring fully affirmed the therapeutic effect of tuina and held that tuina had the function of promoting qi to activate blood, eliminating cold to stop pain, dredging the meridians and reducing fever to tranquilize the mind.

Tags: Tuina

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