Remarkable Women in Ancient China (11)- Bao Qian Guang

Who is she:

  • More commonly known as Bao Gu (Aunt Bao), she is one of the four greatest female physicians in ancient China 
  • Wife to Ge Hong, a renowned Daoist, physician and pharmacist. Both she and her husband were worshipped later as immortals. 

Notable Life Events:

  • Born sometime in the Jin dynasty (266 to 420 AD) to a prestigious family of scholar-officials believing in Daoism. 
  • Her father arranged for her marriage with Ge Hong after he became her father’s student to learn the craft of creating pills* which was usually a Daoist practice in ancient China  
  • After marriage, she started practicing medicine together with her husband and was particularly renowned for moxibustion. 
  • In 319 AD, her father built her a Daoist temple for her to practice medicine in now Guangzhou 
  • Her husband passed in 343 AD and she went to the Daoist temple her father built her to live and practice medicine with her student Wang Chu Ping (worshipped as Wong Die Seen or Immortal Wong in Hong Kong, I had deliberately switched to Cantonese phonetic spelling here) 

Why is she remarkable:

  • While I think being one of the four greatest female physicians is remarkable enough in itself, she was the second among the four greatest female physicians in terms of chronological order of birth so I was choosing by both expedient of information available and an interesting life (my initial research turned up one of the other four but I didn’t feel like her life was that interesting at all) 
  • I was, of course, drawn to the folklore bent of her life 

Moonlake’s thoughts on her: 

Very hard to see through to her personality based on the information available but at least I feel like she lived a fulfilling married life with both of them practicing medicine and believing in Daoism. Since marriage was the only destination for a respectful woman in those days, I would guess that made her at least content. 

*In ancient China, pills were not always created for common medical practice, the most notable example being the pursuit of immortality of Emperors with the Immortal Pill(s) 

Published by moonlakeku

intermediate Chinese fantasy writer working on her debut series

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