Founding the pharmacy and establishing the hall name of TRT


 When it came to the reign of Emperor Chongzhen, the familiar bell rings of Doctor Yue no longer sounded.


With the development of the Yues generation after generation, they also accumulated a certain amount of fortune and established their own pharmacy. As time went by, the pharmacy became much more noted and its space was increasingly enlarged. People cordially called it “the Yue’s Old Pharmacy.”


In the chaotic days of the third year of the reign of Emperor Chongzhen (1629 A.D.), the Yues had a new generation, Yue Xianyang, whose assumed name was “Zunyu.” The Yues placed their hope on this name, expecting that he could display their medical skills, carry forward their tradition - practicing medicine to promote health and help people, as well as live in a time of peace and prosperity.


The seventeenth year of the reign of Emperor Chongzhen (1644 A.D.) witnessed the end of the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty’s entering of the pass and establishing of the political power. And for the Yue family, when it came to the generation of Yue Xianyang, there was also a great leap forward: Yue Xianyang entered the imperial hospital and became a clerk. At that time clerk generally belonged to the ninth grade of official rank or sub-ninth grade. The imperial physician, clerk, academician and medical assistant are all called imperial doctors. Clerk was superordinate to medical assistant and academician and subordinate to imperial physician; it corresponds to today’s associate chief physician. Yue Xianyang made full use of the favorable conditions in the imperial hospital and studied a lot of medical classics and previous royal medical records. In particular, he appraised and sorted out many ancient prescriptions, proved recipes and secret royal prescriptions, confirmed their indications, clarified their separate functions and compatibility and identified their side effects, laying a solid foundation for the development of TRT.


Yue Xianyang had four sons, the eldest son Yue Fengxiang, the second son Yue Fengyi, the third son Yue Fengming and the youngest, Yue Fengqi. Also called Wugang, the third son Yue Fengming was born in the eighteenth year of the reign of Emperor Shunzhi (the year of Xinchou, 1661 A.D.). Yue Xianyang liked Yue Fengming very much. However, as the saying goes, the more you love somone, the more you reproach him. Yue Xianyang was very strict with his third son. Besides the medical knowledge, he often taught him lessons about life and the good and evil cases in the world; he also told him about his own life experience, but Yue Fengming, who was still young, could not fully understood.


One day when the sky cleared after a shower, he looked up at the rainbow in the sky and suddenly saw the horizontal inscribed board with words written in gold on the black background, which was the Yue’s hall name. At that moment, some past events appeared before his eyes: when he was still a child, he heard his father Yue Xianyang said that the Yues had already built a fortune and for further development, they would need to establish a hall name.


In the traditional Chinese culture, the hall name is originally the title of the surname, the clan or the family. As the hall name is related with the place of origin of the surname, it is also called the “prefecture’s name” or “general name of the hall.” The hall name is often inscribed in a board and hung in the ancestral hall or before the mansion house. Later the function of the hall name is greatly extended. Some are used to show respect for ancestors and some are evolved into names of scholars’ studies. In a word, many notable families, great clans and scholarly families have their own hall names.


One day in the eighth year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1669 A.D.), the Yue’s house was suddenly bustling with crowds of people gathering with laughter. In the festival atmosphere, a horizontal inscribed board was hung high in the hall. On the background with black paint, there were three big and golden Chinese characters, Tong Ren Tang. According to Yue Xianyang, “‘Tong Ren’ can be used to name the hall. I appreciate its meaning of Gong and Ya (meaning fair and just) and want to record it.” Later, people endowed more connotations to the words “Tong Ren”, including “common pursuit of benevolence and virtue”, “acting fairly to all men” and calling the people in the same camp “Tong Ren” etc. Yue Xianyang appreciated its meaning of “Gong and Ya”, which is also the essence of “Tong Ren.” About “Ya,” there is such explanation in Er Ya, “Ya means righteousness and righteousness means being fair and just. Although the languages in different places are different, they all mean being fair and just.” As to “Gong,” it means the whole world as one community, a concept held in esteem in Confucian values.


As the Yues practiced medicine for generations and had acquired some fame, there were often patients who visited them for treatment and medicine and cordially called them “the Yue’s Old Pharmacy.” Since there was the inscribed board of “Tong Ren Tang,” father often sat under the board and diagnosed diseases for patients attracted by its reputation. He was also often seen dispensing medicines under the board. With his proficient medical skills, he made up the prescription by strictly conforming to the recipe with great care. In addition, with his identity of being an imperial physician and his medical ethics of extending the same treatment to all regardless of being rich or poor, close or distant, many people even took “Tong Ren Tang” as the name of a hospital or pharmacy as time went by.