Sui Tang Studies 隋唐史研究


Ceramics fired at the Tang period Changsha 長沙 kilns in Hunan, discovered on the Belitung wreck, an Arabo-Indian ship wrecked off Belitung Island in about 826 CE and carrying cargo seemingly bound for Western Asia.


– “Yang Liangyao’s Mission of 785 to the Caliph of Baghdād: Evidence of an Early Sino-Arabic Power Alliance?”, Bulletin d’École Française d’Extrême Orient 101 (2015), 177-241.

Intro (PDF)

– “China’s Gate to the Indian Ocean – Iranian and Arab Long-distance Traders”, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 76:1 (2016), 135-179.

– “Buddhismus als Mittel der Herrschaftslegitimation von Wu Zetian 武則天 (reg. 690–705), der einzigen Frau der chinesischen Geschichte mit dem Kaisertitel” (Buddhism as a Means for the Legitimation of the Rule of  Wu Zetian (r. 690-705), the Only Woman in Chinese History to Hold the Title Emperor), in Arno Strohmeyer (Hrsg.), Religion und Politik – historische und systematische Dimensionen eines aktuellen Spannungsverhältnisses (forthcoming 2017)

Huihui yaofang 回回藥方


An Encyclopedia of Arabic Hospital Medicine from Mongol China: Translation and Interpretation

By Paul D. Buell and Eugene N. Anderson


Few documents express an era and an overlap of cultures in the way that the present text does. It is based in the Arabic Medicine of the Middle Ages, but is in Chinese even if including short descriptions in Arabic script. It also, as will be evident below, is a text that is not just purely Arabic Medicine but one in which Arabic Medicine has become assimilated to a Chinese environment which itself is already assimilated. Our present text is also in its medicinals and formulae indicative of a massively-extended environment in which all kinds of medicinals were traded and used over expansive spaces and associated with complex networks focused over land and sea.
Above all, the Huihui yaofang (HHYF), “Muslim Medicinal Recipes,” or perhaps better, medicinal recipes of “western medicine,” as will be seen from a detailed analysis of its contents had best be thought of as a product of the Mongol Age even if the present text is Ming. The Mongol era was a time of unprecedented cultural exchange, we have only to remember figures such as Marco Polo and Rabban Sauma, who went the other way, to Europe, to gain a grasp of what went on.

The name HHYF now applies to the 15% that survives of a once 3200 page Arabic-medicine hospital manual of a type known from Cairo, for example, and other places in the Islamic medical world. It was compiled in its present form between 1398 and 1408 but certainly based upon a version from the Mongol Yuan 元 Dynasty that is probably to be associated with a Syrian medical family resident in China. The text itself may have been based on a translation of a Persian-language work, or several such texts, although the present HHYF shows an effort to integrate Chinese and Arabic medical ideas and is much more than just a translation. Whoever was involved, they probably included not only Syrians but Turkic-speakers as is shown by the forms of the Chinese transcriptions of words and terms added tp the Arabic-script entries.

The original work was in 36 chapters (juan 卷) plus two tables of contents of which three content chapters (juan 12, 30, 34) survive along with the table of contents for the second half of the encyclopedia. This means, that with juan 12 from the first part we have precise details about the contents of more than half the book (in this case 20 juan). Internal cross-references provide addition indications of what there once was, including a separate, detailed discussion of specific materia medica and a discussion of the types of doses called from in the text.

Each of the three content chapters is organized around one or more disease categories. The largest is the detailed discussion of “wind” (feng 風 or feng 瘋) ailments, a completely Chinese concept but transferrable, with various subcategories. It occupies all of juan 12, Similar is the section on “various symptoms,” which occupies all juan 30. By contrast, Juan 34 is comprised of shorter discussions of wounds from metal objects, of broken bones, including a highly interesting section on head wounds and skull fractures, the practice of cauterization, scalds and burns, wounds from blows, and bites, called by the text the most dangerous kind of wound since the mouth is so dirty.

Supporting recipes and the accompanying theory discussions presented in the chapters are numerous quotations from the various Arabic medical authorities. These include, and this is unique for East Asia, as noted, Zhalinuxi 扎里奴思 (i.e. Galen[os]), but also, among others, Rufus of Ephesus, Paul of Aegina, Hippocrates, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, and, of course, the great purely Arabic authorities such as Ibn Sīnā whose work was increasingly important at about the time that the HHYF was being written and used. The HHYF, although in Chinese, is unique, as noted also, in its Arabic-script entries for the names of medicinals and for key terminology. These are not just given in Arabic-script but are also provided in Chinese transliteration entries as read by informants, in this case, judging by the pronunciation employed for primarily Persian-language texts, Turkic informants with a heavily palatalized pronunciation of the original standard Persian and Arabic.

Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies

Vol I:
Early Global Interconnectivity across the Indian Ocean World:
Commercial Structures and Exchanges
Edited by Angela Schottenhammer

Bibliography of Vol. I


Vol II:
Early Global Interconnectivity across the Indian Ocean World:
Exchange of Ideas, Religions, and Technologies
Edited by Angela Schottenhammer

Bibliography of Vol. II

Yang Liangyaos Reise


Recently published:

Angela Schottenhammer: Yang Liangyaos Reise von 785 n. Chr. zum Kalifen von Bagdad

Angela Schottenhammer:
Yang Liangyaos Reise von 785 n.Chr. zum Kalifen von Bagdad: Eine Mission im Zeichen einer frühen sino-arabischen Mächteallianz?
Ostasien-Verlag 2014 (Gelbe Erde 10)



Yuan Studies 元史研究

Recovery of Traditional Technologies: A Comparative Study of Past and Present Fermentation and Associated distillation Technologies in Eurasia and their Roots

Special issue of Crossroads – Studies on the History of Exchange Relations in the East Asian World

The Huihui yaofang 回回藥方: An Encyclopedia of Arabic Hospital Medicine from Mongol China

China’s Maritime Commerce and Naval Activities in Northeast Asia during the “Yuan-Ming Rupture”

PhD project sponsored by Ghent University, Belgium (2012-2016)

“Huihui Medicine and Medicinal Drugs in Yuan China”, paper presented on the International Workshop “Eurasian Influences on Yuan China: Cross-cultural Transmissions in the 13th and 14th centuries”; Binghamton University, Downtown Centre Campus, 20.-21.11.2009, Binghamton, NY, USA (sponsored by the Chiang-Ching-Kuo Foundation, Taipei)


  • Recovery of Traditional Technologies I: A Comparative Study of Past and Present Fermentation and Associated Distillation Technologies in Eurasia and Their Roots, Crossroads – Studies on the History of Exchange Relations in the East Asian World 14 (2016), 1-

Book chapters:

  • “Huihui Medicine and Medicinal Drugs in Yuan China”, in Proceedings of the International Workshop Eurasian Influences on Yuan China: Cross-cultural transmissions in the 13th and 14th centuries (Singapore: NUS Press, 2013), chpt. 4, 75-102.
  • „Westasiatisch-muslimische (Huihui 回回) Medizin und Ärzte im yuanzeitlichen China (13./14. Jh.)“, in Michael Borgolte, Matthias Tischler (Hrsg.), Migration als transkulturelle Verflechtung im mittelalterlichen Jahrtausend. Europa, Ostasien und Afrika im Vergleich (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 2012), 34-53.
  • „Vom mongolischen Teilreich zum neuen Reich der Mitte“, in Thomas Ertl (Hrsg.), Die Welt, 1250 bis 1500 (The World 1250 to 1500) (Essen: Magnusverlag 2009),  355382. Globalgeschichte. Die Welt 1000–2000 (Global History. The World 1000–2000).

Ming Qing Studies 明清研究

“The East Asian ‘Mediterranean’, c. 1500-1800:
A New Quality in the Development of its Neighbouring Countries

Research project has been sponsored by the VW-Foundation, May 2002 – July 2009
(see also under “projects”)

Equine Medicine and Surgery – A Chinese Manuscript from 1824 (Daoguang 4)

馬往書 by 苗集澤

馬往書 by 苗集澤

馬往書 by 苗集澤

Monograph/Handbook project:

China’s Administration of Maritime Trade: From the Maritime Trade Office (shibo si) to the Customs House (haiguan). [This monograph is designed as a handbook for China’s maritime trade administration during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, including extensive lists of persons in office] Continue reading

Global History 世界史

Crossroads Research Centre – History of Interaction in the East Asian, Eurasian, Indian Ocean & Asia-Pacific Worlds

This research focus investigates on the variety of interactions, communication and exchange relations in the macro-region of Eurasia, East Asia, the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Worlds across both land and sea routes. Major emphasis will be placed on the transfer of science and technologies, commodity and product exchange, trade, cultural aspects in their widest interpretation, religions, as well as migration and the organisation and functioning of networks.

We will analyse continental and maritime exchange and transfer of knowledge, ideas, products and people, including forms of migration. To this end, we will particularly investigate forms of interaction that have been important in both the past and the present, such as military (including geographical knowledge as portrayed in maps; weapons, horses, or provisions); medical knowledge and medicinal products, including diseases; aspects of culture (such as food, music) and religion (such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam); and historical naval enterprises and maritime commerce.

A milestone of our research lies in the parallel comparative analysis of both archaeological and textual evidence and a cross-cultural inter-disciplinary approach. The use of a wide range of sources from archaeological findings to texts, documents, and pictorial material, to linguistic evidence, will be a hallmark of the approach. Continue reading