Walks in the Apricot Forest: Sign for Chinese Medicine – Gourd

Chen Yi

PureInsight | April 25, 2005

[PureInsight.org] In ancient China, a wandering doctor of Chinese medicine would carry a gourd, which was the sign for Chinese medicine. Why so? There was a story.

According to Tai Ping Guang Ji (Extensive Records of the Taiping Era) , in the Runan area of today's Henan province, there was an official called Fei Changfang. He saw an old man coming into town to sell medicine. The old man's name was Hu Gong. He was an enlightened Taoist but nobody knew who he was. Hu Gong didn't allow people to bargain with him on the price of his medicine. After taking his medicine, any illness could be cured. Every time after Hu Gong sold his medicine, he would tell the buyer what would be vomited after taking his medicine and on which day the illness would be cured, and every time it came true. Hu Gong could earn tens of thousands of coins every day, but he would give them away to those poor people on the street, leaving only thirty to fifty coins for himself. He always hung an empty gourd on the ceiling of his house, and after sunset, he would jump into the gourd when nobody was watching. One day Fei Changfang was sitting in a room on the second story of his house, and he happened to see Hu Gong jumping into the gourd. He knew that Hu Gong was not an ordinary man. He began to clean Hu Gong's room everyday and supply him with food. Hu Gong accepted everything. Fei continued to clean the room and provide food for Hu quietly for a long time, not daring to ask for anything from Hu Gong.

Hu Gong could tell that Fei Changfang was very sincere, so he told Fei one day, "Come here tonight when nobody is around." Fei Changfang came. Hu Gong told him, "After you see me jumping into the gourd, follow me." Fei Changfang did as he was told, indeed he found himself already in the gourd without knowing it. But he didn't feel that he was in a gourd. Seeing layers and layers of buildings and towers, and pavilions built in the air, he found himself in a paradise. Later on Hu Gong gave Fei Changfang a roll of sealed incantations and said, "With this you can drive demons away, serve as the deities' long term messenger, and also cure illnesses and remove misfortune."

From then on, to commemorate Hu Gong, Fei Changfang hung a gourd and practiced Chinese medicine, and became a famous doctor of his era. Therefore one of the names of Chinese medicine is "Xuan Hu (Hanging a gourd)."

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2005/4/11/31906.html

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