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Confluences of Medicine in Medieval JapanBuddhist Healing, Chinese Knowledge, Islamic Formulas, and Wounds of War$
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Andrew Edmund Goble

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835002

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835002.001.0001

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Leprosy, Buddhist Karmic Illness, and Song Medicine

Leprosy, Buddhist Karmic Illness, and Song Medicine

Chapter:
(p.67) Chapter 4 Leprosy, Buddhist Karmic Illness, and Song Medicine
Source:
Confluences of Medicine in Medieval Japan
Author(s):

Andrew Edmund Goble

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824835002.003.0004

This chapter focuses on the disease of rai or leprosy, as a medical issue. Leprosy was one of the most socially, religiously, and medically complex afflictions in medieval Japan. Prior scholarship has given much attention to leprosy as a social and religious matter—examining issues of discrimination and marginalization and aspects of Buddhist teachings, particularly the notion of karma, that may have justified some discrimination. The first medical description of rai—the symptoms, the nature of the affliction, and the treatments to be used—is provided by Kajiwara Shōzen in Ton'ishō and Man'anpō. This chapter considers Shōzen's initial understanding of the Buddhist etiology of leprosy as a karmic illness as seen in his two medical texts. It shows that the issue of rai is more complex than generally represented and that ideas of rai found in Song-era Chinese medicine led to a substantial reassessment of the disease that invalidated some previous assumptions about it.

Keywords:   rai, leprosy, medieval Japan, karma, treatments, Kajiwara Shōzen, Ton'ishō, Man'anpō, karmic illness, Chinese medicine

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