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The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7260.576/a (Published 02 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:576
  1. W F Bynum, professor
  1. Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London

    Shigehisa Kuriyama

    Zone Books, £20.50, pp 340

    ISBN 0 942299 88 4

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    Have you ever wondered why figures in Chinese medical writings are smooth skinned and plump, whereas Greek sculpture commonly depicted taut muscle men, their biceps and sterno-cleido-mastoids sharply outlined? Why Confucius always sports an ample belly, but the most powerful Versalian image is a lean corpse, its skin stripped away to expose its carefully dissected muscles? Why, in the West, taking the pulse is a shadowy remnant of a once vital diagnostic procedure, and why it …

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