Spring Brings New Flowers for Materia Medica Culture
On February 17th-19th, while the northern part of the country remained shrouded in ice and snow, spring was already in the air in Nanning; the plants and trees were flourishing and the flowers were as red as fire. In commemoration of 500 days before the 500th anniversary of Li Shizhen, the Guangxi Medical Botanical Garden and Hong Kong Baptist University launched the "First Forum of Materia Medica Culture and the Inauguration of the Nationally-Certified AAAAA Status of the Guangxi Medical Botanical Garden". Held at the world's largest botanical garden dedicated to medicinal plants, the forum was an impressive event dedicated to the "transmission of materia medica culture, building a healthy China". Over 200 Chinese and foreign scholars were in attendance, including experts from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, and 12 overseas nations. More than 500 guests attended the opening ceremony, including over 200 scientists, teachers and students from the Guangxi TCM University and over 80 high-level artists and performers.
To commemorate the 500 anniversary of Li Shizhen in 2018, Hong Kong Baptist University launched a “Materia Medica Cultural Project” beginning in 2014, featuring academic forums, publications, and a multimedia outreach through movies and television. Thanks to the hard work of colleagues around the world, the once obscure topic of materia medica has become a hot trend, with interest brewing worldwide.
In the middle of this lively event, the new book "Zhongzhen Discusses Materia Medica" was officially launched. "Zhongzhen Discusses Materia Medica" represents the first talk show television series by a Chinese medicine expert. In a lively multimedia format, Professor Zhao Zhongzhen shares his rich knowledge gained through decades of research and expeditions around the world; in the brief period of a few months, the series has attracted over 10 million views. To satisfy the interests of the audience, the book "Zhongzhen Discusses Materia Medica" was published in a traditional Chinese version on the basis of the talk show, and a simplified Chinese version will soon be published by the China Traditional Chinese Medicine Publishing House. At the same time, an online platform for materia medica culture will be launched.
To expand "Zhongzhen Discusses Materia Medica", the Hong Kong TV station TVB is broadcasting a series of highly acclaimed short films titled "The World Discusses Materia Medica", which were previewed to the delight of the audience. With the feedback, support, and encouragement of experts and industry across the world, the series aims to use a popular style to promote the culture of Chinese medicine and disseminate knowledge about high quality herbal medicines. Featuring the renowned Hong Kong host Ms. Chen Fusheng, the series will grow from 80 episodes to 500 episodes, and will be broadcast across Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, and overseas. In addition to Chinese, it will feature English subtitles.
The First Forum of Materia Medica Culture and the 15th Meeting of the Materia Medica Study Group was the core academic event of the weekend. The Chinese medical expert and academician Yao Xingsheng from the Chinese Engineering Institute took the stage to begin, and was followed by nearly 40 scholars from abroad who shared their views on the development of materia medica. This forum was based on the plans set in 2011 in Hong Kong at the founding of the Chinese materia medica study group. The organization's focus is to promote research and exchange on materia medica studies and to promote the transmission of materia medica culture. Thus far, the materia medica study group has organized many diverse meetings of high-level experts for academic exchange, and has given rise to a highly active WeChat group of 500 members.
The same evening, the "The First Forum of Materia Medica Culture Arts Performance" showcased colorful performances of song and dance, highlighting the minority cultures of Guangxi and the culture of Chinese medicine. Composed by Professor Zhao Zhongzhen and Director Lu Jun of the Chinese Cultural Research Institution, the "Song of Materia Medica" was performed in a moving rendition by the Hong Kong singer Wu Xiangsheng, and followed up by the song "I am Chinese", leaving the audience feeling as one.
In this magnificent setting in Nanning, the worldwide influence of Li Shizhen and the "Compendium of Materia Medica" was evident. Before the conclusion of the forum, members reaffirmed their dedication to transmitting the culture of Chinese medicine with a series of activities to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Li Shizhen. By working together, the study of Chinese medicine can spread to reach the world, enriching humanity and blossoming around the planet.
Contributions from Dr. Zhaoyu Dai (Hong Kong) and Mr Eric Brand (Hong Kong) are gratefully acknowledged.
（戴 昭宇 執筆）