Walks in the Apricot Forest: Quisqualis Fruit


PureInsight | May 5, 2003

[In Chinese, "Apricot Forest" is another term for the medical community. For more details see: http://www.pureinsight.org/pi/articles/2003/1/23/1368.html]

Quisqualis Plant with Blossoms (top) and Fruit (bottom left)

[PureInsight.org] Legend has it that Shi Jun Zi (quisqualis fruit) was named after an ancient Chinese medical doctor with a surname Guo and first name Shi Jun. This quisqualis fruit was renowned for destroying parasites and removing stagnant food in a person's digestive system. [Note: "Zi" is often appended at the end of an object's name to indicate that it is an object, or to round up the pronunciation.] The legend was recorded in an ancient Chinese pharmaceutical reference book entitled, Kai Bao Materia Medica (Treasures of Herbs).

Shi Jun Zi (or Quisqualis Fruit) is also known as Liu Qiu Zi in Chinese. It is a deciduous vine-like shrub that blossoms in the summer with perfuming fragrance and red petals. The dried ripe fruit of Quisqualis resembles coconut. It is sweet in flavor, warm in nature and is used as an herbal medicine to expel intestinal parasites and to remove stagnant food from the digestive system.


Quisqualis Blossoms                              Quisqualis Fruits

An section in the well-known Chinese novel,

Flowers in A Mirror
[1], describes Tang Au's travels to foreign countries and meeting a female scholar named Lan Yin ("Voice of the Orchid"), who suffers from stomach bloating. Tang Au makes a diagnosis: "This bloating is a sign of stagnant food, resulting from untreated infantile parasitic contamination. As the number of parasites increases, your stomach becomes swollen." Tang Au recommends her taking quisqualis fruit to destroy the parasites and remove the stagnant food. He says, "I will tell you a secret family prescription. Take parched quisqualis fruits with stone-like Omphalia five to six times in succession and all parasites will be expelled." Lan Yin followed the prescription and was quickly cured.

Because Jun Zi [in Shi Jun Zi] in Chinese means "gentleman," and "gentleman and beauty" are often used together to create contrasts in poems or couplets, Shi Jun Zi often appears in couplets, such as the following one. [Note: "Gentleman Blossom" means Shi Jun Zi blossom]

Gentleman blossom, white at dawn, red at noon, and purple at dusk.
Beauty herb; blue in spring, green in summer, and golden in autumn.

The upper part of the couplet describes the changing colors of Shi Jun Zi blossoms in one day whereas the second line describes the changing colors of the beauty herb in different seasons. This simple couplet vividly describes the unique characteristics of changing colors of these two herbs.

[1] Flowers in A Mirror, is a novel by Li Ruzhen (1763-1830 A.D.) and tells the story of a Taoist fairy named "Fairy of the Hundred Flowers" that has fallen from grace and tries to gain back her immortality. Li, himself failing to attain a higher examination degree, uses allegories to describe the state of a human being between appearance and reality, the temporal and the eternal. This background gives the whole novel a touch of fantasy, fleeing from reality like the banished fairy that travels to strange countries. [Flowers in a mirror are unreal, symbolizing the fantasy nature of the novel.] Coming back to China, the fairy encounters the Tang empress Wu Zetian and passes an examination to be reunited with her earthly father, Tang Au. The description of a woman's dynasty makes this very personal novel appear like an attack on the social conditions in traditional China, like a kind of feminist pamphlet. But looking more closely at the end of the story, the fantasy of a woman's realm has to cede to the reinstating of the Confucian traditions. Braking out of his own society, the worldly author, unsuccessful, has to come back to reality.

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/3/21/20901.html

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