“Yuji ” (=Kôgai) Found in an Ancient Tomb
of the Yin Dynasty, China

— Addition of Sasaki's Web Article: Bipaliid Land Planarians recorded in Chinese and Japanese Materia Medica —

Last update: 06-JAN-2002


By Gen-yu SASAKI and Masaharu KAWAKATSU. (Contact: gen-yu@mtc.biglobe.ne.jp)

The Japanese general name of the bipaliid land planarians is ‘kôgai-biru’. It was taken from the name of ‘kôgai’, a Japanese ornamental bodkin for women's hair used in the Edo Era. Color photos of 5 kinds of ‘Kôgai’ and a figure showing the “how to use” of this ornament are shown in the following web article. http://www.2u.biglobe.ne.jp/~gen-yu/kougai_e.html
(See also Japanese Version. http://www2u.biglobe.ne.jp/~gen-yu/kougai.html)

Recently, Sasaki found very interesting photos in color showing old Chinese “yuji ” in a webpage of the Shanghai Library in China.
(Fig.) http://www.libnet.sh.cn/szzy/zhzj/juan1htm/@

Notice. You have to install fonts for GB Code (GB 2312-80) on your computer to see Chinese characters (not photos!) in this webpage. However, if you use recent version of Internet Explorer, it will be done automatically.

Explanation of the photos is given by 4 lines of Chinese Simplified, or new Chinese characters (only use in the People's Republic of China and Singapore). Its liberal and explanatory English translation is given here.

“Yuji ” (‘gyokukei’, or ‘tama-no-kôgai’, in Japanese pronunciation).
Five “yuji”s showing in Figure (photos) are products of the Yin Dynasty (1384-1111 B.C.). An old name of Yin (‘In’ in Japanese pronunciation) is Shan (‘Shô’ in Japanese pronunciation). These “yuji ”s were found in 1976 from an ancient tomb of the Yin Dynasty at An-yang (‘Anyô’), Hena Province (‘Kanan-shô’), northeastern China (36°04'N, 114°20'E; ca.550 km N of Qingdao (=Ch'ingtao; ‘Chintao’ in Japanese pronunciation). They are fine in appearance, 10 to 19 cm long, and yellowish-brown coloration. These articles may be used for medical purpose, such as a stab needle, etc. Collection of the An-yan Ruins Museum of the Yin Dynasty, Hena Province, China.

Authors' comments.    The Yin Dynasty was built in 1384 B.C. by Pan-geng, the Yin-Wang (the First King of the Yin). It was destroyed in 1111 B.C. by We-Wang of the Zhou (or Chou; ‘Shû’ in Japanese pronunciation). By the way, the reign of  Tut-ankh-Amen in Egypt was 1358-1349 B.C. The mastery of the sea of trade route in West Asia was controlled by Assyria after the year of 1116 B.C.

According to the description of a Modern Chinese-Japanese Dictionary, the Chinese character (i.e., a word) “ji” (=‘kôgai’ in Japanese pronunciation) means an ornamental bodkin for women over 15 years old (a custom in old China). It is nearly the same in Japan in the Edo Era.

A Chinese character “yu” has two meanings (this is the same in Japan). One is a precious stone (i.e., an amphibole). Another is a prefix that indicative ‘fine’, ‘excellent’, ‘superior’, etc. The Chinese word “yuji” used in the title of this web article, indicates that this bodkin is of excellent or a superior quality.

The material of “yuji” in the Yin Dynasty (Fig.) is not described in Chinese webpage cited above. Judging form the photos, they may be bone ware. Four of them have great resemblance to a broad spit or a skewer. So-called “Acupuncture and Moxibustion” is a medical treatment developed in ancient times in China. The “Yuji” (Fig.) may also be used for a folk remedy.... In practice, a bamboo-needle, a bone-needle and a bronze-needle were used for a medical treatment in old China.

In Chinese Materia Medica, there is no relationship between the names of “ji” and “bipalid” flat worms. The first Japanese writer who employed the name of a “kôgai-biru” (i.e., a flatworm having a kôgai-shaped head) was Ryôan Terajima. He used this new Japanese name in his Materia Medica entitled ‘Wakan Sansai-Zue (1713). (See Sasaki's previous webpages cited above.)


The authors are indebted to Dr. Robert E. Ogren (Kingston, PA, U.S.A.) for his kind reading of the final English draft of the present short article.