Lost Wisdom

Traditional Chinese pharmacy in Hanwang (Deyang, Sichuan)., Elosua Miguel

This photo was taken in the town of Hanwang (汉旺镇), Sichuan province, in March 2013. This is the last Chinese medicine pharmacy that remains in the village. All over the country, pharmacy chain stores, hospital pharmacies and even electronic commerce are taking over what was once a family trade (shidai xingyi – 世代行医). One of the reasons behind this trend is that many Chinese herbs are now sold in formulas. Hundreds of plants are used for medicinal concoctions, some of them handpicked in the nearby mountains. Herbal formulas may contain up to 12 different ingredients, taken in the form of teas, powders, pills, or syrups. The practitioner makes a diagnosis by examining the patient’s symptoms and checking her heart rate and pulse. He prepares the prescription accordingly in the workshop. This man’s wisdom will not be handed down to the next generation, for his only son moved to the city to study business, finding a white-collar job upon graduation.

Traditional Chinese pharmacy, Elosua Miguel


Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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