TRT was designaed by Emperor Yongzheng with imperial order to serve the royal court

2010-02-10

 To this day medicines manufactured by TRT like shan litong wan and zijin troches are still kept in the Palace Museum. These medicines, though produced over one hundred years ago, still have their original features and have not deteriorated. None of those who see them do not marvel at the magical power of the traditional Chinese medicine and the high quality of TRT medicine.

 

The medicine archive of the palace of the Qing Dynasty still keeps Formula Recipes for Pills, Powders, Plasters and Small Pills of TRT dated on July 14 of the eleventh year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1885 A.D.). At the beginning of the book wrote the TRT Recipe of the Pill, Powder, Ointment and Small Pill. The book was mounted with yellow silk fabric, proving that it was authentically used for the royal purposes. A total of 102 kinds of medicines used for internal medicine, surgical department, gynecology, pediatrics, department of traumatology, laryngology and ophthalmology are included in the book.

 

The fact that Formula Recipes for Pills, Powders, Plasters and Small Pills of TRT was transcribed and kept in the imperial hospital naturally proved that the medicine of TRT had reached the high standard for “imperial use”; it also showed the trust of the supreme ruling class in the medicine of TRT. In addition, some medicines which were evidently produced by TRT were, however, included into the Patent Medicine of the Imperial Hospital, especially shan litong wan with such notes added: “this recipe is passed on by an unusual person. It has fast, great effect and can be taken orally or applied externally.”

 

Statistics show that in the Contents of Medicines of TRT reprinted in the second year of the reign of Emperor Xuantong of the Qing Dynasty (1909 A.D.), there were a total of 495 Chinese patent medicines and of which 425 kinds were recorded in the imperial pharmacy of the palace of the Qing Dynasty with great details, including their indications, functions and formula etc.

 

The medicine of TRT was first adopted for imperial use in the palace in the first year of the reign of Emperor Yongzheng. Emperor Yongzheng authorized TRT to offerg up medicinal materials to the imperial pharmacy and prepare patent medicines necessary for the royal court on behalf of the imperial pharmacy, which was then called “undertaking official medicines” or “serving the royal court”.

 

In the feudal royal society, if a pharmacy was chosen to serve the royal court, it showed that this pharmacy had the greatest strength and the most reliable reputation and would stand high in public favor. After TRT opened for business, it began to serve the royal court from the first year of the reign of Emperor Yongzheng and went through the reigns of eight emperors from Qianlong, Jiaqing, Daoguang, Xianfeng, Tongzhi, Guangxu to Xuantong, independently undertaking official medicines for a total of 188 years.

 

The royal pharmacy of the Qing Dynasty was divided into external pharmacy and internal pharmacy. The external pharmacy was responsible for providing medicine for eunuchs and supervisors in various palaces, while the internal pharmacy was responsible for offering medicine for the emperor, his empress and imperial concubines as well as manufacturing and decocting medicines. Since it was called the royal pharmacy, there must be high standards set for the medicinal materials, which were “authentic, high-quality and pure.” Each time when the medicines were restocked, they shall be inspected by two clerks in the royal pharmacy. Sometimes, many of the medicinal materials shall first be checked by the emperor and then be submitted to the pharmacy for storage. To ensure perfect safety, full-time personnel working between the court and TRT were appointed; they were called “druggists.”

 

The druggist was an important figure. His responsibility was to get a voucher or a list of medicines needed in the court from the royal pharmacy and submit it to the head of TRT, who shall prepare the medicine in person according to the requirement. The druggist then delivered the medicine to the official designated by the royal pharmacy. In the course of this transaction the medicine shall not be handled by other officials to avoid confusion. In addition, the responsibility could also be easily ascertained if any problems occurred. All the medicinal materials submitted should be cleanly processed and of high quality; and they were accepted by the royal pharmacy only after the quality and quantity were strictly checked. If there was any problem with the quality or any delay, the medicines would be immediately rejected and the druggist would even be punished. In this case, the joint liability of the guarantor of TRT shall also be investigated. Fortunately such things had never happened. This was also an important reason why TRT could offer up royal medicines for at least 188 years.

 

Here is a way of serving the royal court. Whenever the emperor was on a tour of inspection or went hunting, the royal pharmacy would give a pasted list to TRT in adance. TRT then prepared all the medicines within the designated period of time according to the requirement of the royal pharmacy. According to the record of the archive of the Qing Dynasty, in the spring of the forty-eighth year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1783 A.D.), Emperor Qianlong went to Rehe for hunting and needed to take medicines like chewing tablets, pills and powder with him. As the medicines in the royal pharmacy were not complete, the pharmacy delivered a pasted list to TRT and ordered that the medicine on the list be delivered before August 31. In the list there were 7 kinds of precious medicine including bezoar, borneol, musk, vermilion, realgar and rhinoceros horn powder and 27 kinds of common but authentic medicinal materials like fuling, licorice root, chrysanthemum, Chinese angelica and fructus aurantii etc., and there were another 34 kinds of Chinese patent medicines like celestial medicinal tea, pill of Agastachis for restoring health, pill of six drugs with rehmannia, hugu mugua pill and maiwei dihuang pill etc. The quantity of each kind of medicine like bezoar, borneol, musk, vermilion and realgar on the list was not large, just 5 qian. The weight of common medicinal materials like fuling and folium perillae was just 1 to 2 jin. This indicated that these medicines were just offered to dignitaries of high social status like the emperor.

 

Sometimes, the royal pharmacy would summon the staff of TRT to manufacture medicine in the court, which was called “dispensing prescriptions in the court.” In the documents during the reign of Emperor Guangxu, there were accounts of the staff of TRT who were summoned to the Summer Palace to dispense the “anti-neoplasm pill”, decoct the plaster and cut herbal medicine in small pieces ready for decoction. In this case, usually there were officials of the royal pharmacy and doctors by the side to supervise and ensure that the manufacturing was according to the quality standards and technical flow of the royal pharmacy. This was also a precious chance for TRT to further learn about the pharmaceutical standards and rules of the court, thus greatly enhancing the pharmaceutical standards of TRT.