The Monkey and the Inkpot: natural history and its transformations in early modern China

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Harvard University Press, Feb 15, 2010 - 250 pages
This is the story of a Chinese doctor, his book, and the creatures that danced within its pages. The Monkey and the Inkpot introduces natural history in sixteenth-century China through the iconic Bencao gangmu (Systematic materia medica) of Li Shizhen (1518 - 1593). In the first book-length study in English of Li's text, Carla Nappi reveals a "cabinet of curiosities" of gems, beasts, and oddities whose author was devoted to using natural history to guide the application of natural and artificial objects as medical drugs.
 

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Contents

A Curious Instinct A Taste for Ink
1
Birth of a Naturalist
12
Anatomy of a Naturalist
33
Here Be Dragons A Readers Guide to the Bencao gangmu
50
Elements of Change
69
Sprouts of Change
83
Bodies of Change
96
Creatures of Change
111
Rot and Rebirth The Afterlife and Reincarnation of a Naturalist
136
Li Shizhen Lidai zhujia bencao Bencao works through the ages
151
Contents of the Bencao gangmu Systematic materia medica
155
Notes
159
Glossary of Chinese Characters
207
Index
229
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About the author (2010)

Carla Nappi is Assistant Professor of History at the University of British Columbia

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