Medicine During the KHITAN
Medicine During the KHITAN

Ambagiyan of the Yila tribe, a descendant from Eastern Xu, was the first to head the tribe, Khitan, in 901 BC and then heightened to khan by declaring the Khitan state in 917 BC. The Khitan land spread from the coast of Pacific ocean to the Altai Mountains and from the Great Wall of China to Kherlen northern valley. The Khitans were far more advanced in regards to socio-economic development, knowledge and material based potential, compared to its predecessors including the Hunnu, Xianbi, Nirun, and Turkic people. Observations by researchers and archaeologists show that the Khitan culture was influenced heavily by nomadic and fanning cultures. This included veterinary services among the semi nomadic population, treatment of the people and the making of herbal medicines. In the Khitan state, the advanced development of single or combined drugs in medicine was used not only for specific healing and treatment, but also commonly utilized in daily life.

The Khitan state benefitted through trade with other states, including, tea and some medicine brought from the Later Zhou Dynasty (951-960 BC), white deposit and white porcelain from Shinchgulai tribe, and camel, sable and squirrel from Zu-bu tribe. From archeological findings, it can be seen that development in medical science during the Khitan were primarily based on drugs and substances created from minerals. Widely used were stone-based poisons among the nomadic population of that time. The tomb of a woman from the Liao Dynasty was found among ancient remains in the Southern Banner of Ulaan Tsav, Inner Mongolia in 1981. Researchers concluded it to be the last surviving tomb of the Liao Dynasty. Though the internal organs were dispersed and rotten, the skeleton remained in good shape with little to no damage, and included some blood cells and visible fibers. Medical researchers assessed the age of the woman to be around 25. The most finding was that of the substance “arsen”, identified in the stomach of that woman corpse, amounting to ~ 100 gram. The Khitans were skilled in the preservation of corpses and the identification of arsen in the stomach undoubtedly pertains to the burial customs of the Khitans. The Khitans removed, cleaned and filled the intestines with aromatic medicines, salt and vitriol then sewed it into the bodies of prominent citizens after death. Fine bamboo tubes were inserted into the bodies to draw all the remaining blood allowing the bodies to then be covered with gold and silver and the arms and legs wrapped with the brassy string. These methods show the Khitans to have considerable knowledge and skill on the chemistry of medicinal substances. As mentioned earlier, Mongolians used to use heavy chemicals like arsen to develop medicine and it was used widely by close to eight tribes and neighboring tribe like Tiking. The head of Tiking tribe was Khan Kadir Byuruk. Kadir means great and mighty in Arabian language. It was also noted that from ancient times, a powerful medicine called “kadir” has been named as “khujir”or “khajir”, a Mongolian medicine these days. The Khitan people and their dependent tribes used Mongolian medicine commonly, including the ancient treatment methods of moxibustion, bloodletting and acupuncture. These treatment methods were noted by “Urasut, Telengut, and Kushtemi as they knew much about Mongolian medicine and known to utilize Mongolian methods of treatment.Mongolians were very familiar with singular and more complex forms of medicines and their knowledge was well known and widely used in neighboring tribes.

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