New Perspectives on Song Period (960-1279 C.E.) Commerce and Medicine from a Recently Discovered Tomb
Evening Presentation by TJ Hinrichs, Associate Professor, Department of History, Cornell University
Drinks Reception at 6:30pm Presentation at 7:00pm Closes at 8:00pm
The 2009 excavation in Shaanxi of an eleventh century tomb unearthed three well-preserved murals painted on the inner walls of the burial chamber - one portraying Buddha’s nirvana, one showing a comic theatrical performance, and the northernmost and primary one featuring the only extant depiction of a middle-period commercial pharmaceuticals workshop. Professor TJ Hinrichs will share images of the tomb and discuss how it illuminates epochal historical transformations. For example, how did the development of printing and its use by the state, the growth of commerce, and increasing social mobility impact pharmaceuticals production and trade in eleventh century China? How did these historical watersheds re-shape the daily life and religious practices of merchants, a group obscured in the literati-produced writings through which we largely know the period? What are the implications of the Song’s technological, economic and statecraft revolutions for thinking about the still-vexed comparative historical question: What is modernity?
TJ Hinrichs is an Associate Professor in Cornell University’s Department of History, and co-editor of Chinese Medicine and Healing: An Illustrated History. She is currently in residence as a Visiting Fellow with the Templeton “Science and Religion in East Asia” Project, The Science Culture Research Center, Seoul National University. A central thread running through her research and teaching is the investigation of connections between intimate experiences, such as illness and personal transformation; communal practices, such as medical training and religious rites; and broader historical shifts, such as commercialization and the spread of printing. Her forthcoming monograph, Shamans, Witchcraft, and Quarantine: The Medical Transformation of Governance and Southern Customs in Song China examines how the Song government made medicine an instrument of its activist social reform policies, and the ramifications of that process for political and medical practice.