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1. The body revealed. The contribution of forensic medicine to knowledge and representation of the skeleton in China

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Chapter Summary

The representations of the body that have been examined in a Chinese medical context are limited to the external contour of the body, the skeleton or the contour of the different organs within the torso. The Western type of representation corresponding to a dissection of an internal part of the body is unknown in China, apart from the drawings in the Manchu anatomy which were based on Western engravings. The skeleton was the domain of the ostensor's constant observation. The source of error came from the divisions of the bones because firstly, the transmission of knowledge was carried out by texts without illustration and by masters who had not seen skeletons for themselves, and secondly because the skeleton was observed from the outside of the body, which meant that a protuberance could be mistaken for a separate bone.

Keywords: Chinese medical context; human body; ostensor's constant observation; skeleton; Western forensic medicine



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