Hashish in historic China, Half 1: Ma, plant of the Tao


CANNABIS CULTURE – Recent news of the discovery of a 2,500-year-old China brazier inspired me to continue exploring the long and controversial history of cannabis in this two-part article. The first part looks at the role of cannabis in the indigenous Han Chinese, their medical references in ancient China, and their role in Taoism. The second part, which will follow in a few weeks, will discuss the recent archaeological findings of resinous female cannabis in the Indo-European Gushi culture dating back to between 2000 and 400 BC. Living in China, including the acclaimed log cabin The news was recently the first identifiable proof that high THC cannabis was burned and inhaled.

[Auszug aus Cannabis und der Soma-Lösung, 2010]

Some botanists thought that hemp in Asia is the original home of non-domesticated cannabis. Hemp consumption goes back to the Stone Age, with hemp fiber prints found in pottery shards in Taiwan, just off the coast of mainland China, 10,000 years ago. Alongside these shards, long rod-shaped tools similar to those used later in mainland China to decode hemp were found. The famous terracotta warriors, who referred to their use and popularity over the past millennia, were equipped with hemp soles before their long stay in Terra. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Chinese were among the first to discover both the medicinal and magical properties of the plant used in these cases in the past, along with their use as a source of food, fiber and oil Lighting and colors, thousands of years back. "According to a Neolithic Chinese legend, the gods gave people a plant to meet all needs. The plant was cannabis sativa …. This claim is not that farfetched; Cannabis is certainly one of the most remarkable plants in the world "(Pooja, 2005).

… it is generally accepted that Cannabis sativa L. was around 4500 BC. It was first cultivated in China when its seed served as a grain crop. Soon after the decay of the tribes became the source for the production of hemp fibers for the production of clothing, ropes and fishing nets. However, reports of early hemp use in China are questionable either because of insufficient fiber remnants or because they relate to imprints on pottery and other items. Such cord marks were made on materials excavated in Taiwan and similarly excavated from 4000 to 3000 BC. Founded pots in the eastern Chinese province of Henan at an archeological site of the Yang Shao culture, the first civilization that produced pottery. (Sneader, 2005)

Archeologist Andrew Sherratt saw a similar indication of cannabis use in lace-ceramics in ancient China as in Europe from the same period discussed in Chapter 3. The so-called Sheng-wen horizon was associated with early cannabis use and ( in the early historical records explicit) revaluation of its narcotic properties. "(Sherratt, 1997). In relation to this comparison, it is interesting to note (and as will be discussed later in this chapter) that the recent discoveries in China began contact with Indo-European culture much earlier than previously thought. It has been suggested that "cannabis or marijuana, probably originating from northern Siberia, was a central commodity and part of the Mesozoic religious-shamanic complex that spread from Romania to China before the end of the Stone Age". (Sinclair, 2007).

Professor of Botany, Hui-Lin Li, an expert in the history of cannabis in China, notes, "The evidence … suggests that the Neolithic (Stone Age) peoples of North America were largely informed about the medicinal uses of the hemp plant. East Asia and shamanism were particularly prevalent in this northern region and also in China, and cannabis played an important role in his ritual "(Li, 1975). Similarly, Joseph Needham, an expert on Chinese history, noted "… that the hallucinogenic properties of hemp have been well known in Chinese medical and Taoist circles for two millennia or more" (Needham, 1974).

The Chinese glyph for hemp, Ma, is usually described as representing two harvested hemp plants hanging in a shed to dry. It has generally been assumed that this is the use of cannabis for fiber. In contrast, the Chinese, like most cultures, have roasted their fiber hemp on fields or in ponds and soaked the stiff stems of the plant to break down the cellulose and oil, making it easier to tear off the long stem fibers. However, if psychoactive effects are the goal, drying is the more common intercultural method used in cannabis. Professor Hui-Lin Li, in his extensively reviewed essay The Origin and Use of Cannabis in East Asia: Their Linguistic-Cultural Implications, Sets a Dual Meaning for ma (hemp); the first, "numerous or chaotic … derived from the nature of plant fibers." The second connotation was deafness or futility, which evidently stems from the properties of fruits and leaves used as infusions for medicinal purposes "(Li, 1975). This dual connotation has been noted by other scholars, and Mia Touw notes in her essay "Religious and Medical Use of Cannabis in China, India, and Tibet;

There may be some etymological evidence supporting the idea that the Central Asians were the first to learn about the biodynamic potential of cannabis. Of the various Chinese words for hemp, ta-ma (big hemp), huo-ma, huang-ma, ban-ma (Chinese hemp) it was hu-ma or fiery hemp (as the meaning of some was interpreted) etymologists) which also meant Scythian hemp (Stuart1911), and this latter species was considered particularly effective. (Touw, 1981)

In this context, it should be noted that Ma, Hemp, appears in two letters, which also point to the preparation of cannabis for poisoning. The first comes from the Chinese symbol for "Rub", Mo, consisting of the symbols for "hand" and "hemp". This could possibly be deduced from the old technique of crumbling cannabis to powder by rubbing the dried leaves and flowers between the palms, which was considered the standard preparation method in China (Starks, 1990). Li also notes "mo, grind (connecting ma with stone)" (Li, 1975), which is reminiscent of the other ancient technique of breaking cannabis with stones, as in the production of Haoma / Soma. The linguistic root of the word haoma, hu- and soma is meaning "press" or "pound" (Taillieu, 2002).

Fig. 1: Ma – & # 39; Hemp & # 39; Although the old sources are not shredded hashish but whole dried cannabis preparations, it is also worth noting that traditional method of collecting cannabis resin is to rub the palms over the blooming sticky buds of cannabis and then scrape the resin off the palms, a technique that is popular in both Nepal and Chinese Turkestan. The proposal that hu ma originally grew in Turkistan, a place that was known until the modern times for the production of hashish, was the Taoist Adept T'ao Hun Kin (451 – 536 AD. ) Attributed. In connection with this, modern archeological evidence for the use of "hemp for textiles, ropes, fish strings and strings" at Neolithic sites was found in an area of ​​5,000 years ago (Merlin) 1972). T'ao Hun Kin was "a drug hunter and alchemist and immortal underbelly" and this would explain his interest in cannabis, because as we'll see straight away, drugs and the quest for immortality have a long common tradition history of combination.

However, the earliest indication of the use of marijuana as a medicine is traditionally in the medical compendium, the Pen Ts & # 39; ao of the legendary, around 2,800 BC. (Although this date may be highly controversial), Chinese emperor Shen-Nung suspects. The Pen Ts & # 39; ao states that cannabis was already widespread at the time of its composition: "Hemp grows on rivers and valleys in T'ai-shan, but it is now widely distributed." As an emperor, Shen-Nung was concerned that the priests were unable to effectively treat the illnesses of his subjects through magical rites and decided to find alternative remedies for the sick. Although Shen-Nung was an emperor, he was apparently an experienced farmer and had deep plant knowledge. With that in mind, Shen-Nung decided, beyond doubt, to explore the healing powers of plants, as well as being a test subject, in addition to knowledge of indigenous folk remedies. History here addresses the myth of how ancient writers claim Shen-Nung was supported in his studies by having the superhuman power to see through his abdominal wall and into his stomach, and the Emperor allowed to observe the effects of the plants with which he experimented on his digestive system! With regard to such tests using imperial methods, it is interesting to note that the Pen Ts & # 39; ao also mentions ma-pho, a term that means a sudden change of mood, such as a. B. intoxication.

In Chinese cosmology, the universe consists of two elements, the yang, which is the strong, active, positive male force and yin, the weak, passive and negative feminine influence. In the individual, when these forces are in balance, the body is healthy, but too much of one or not enough of the other and the result is disease. Using marijuana on such a disease was difficult because it had both male and female plants and contained both yin and yang. Shen-Nung found that it was the female plant that contained the strongest medicine as it had a very high Yin source and prescribed Chu-ma (female hemp as opposed to ma, hemp) for the treatment of absenteeism. Constipation, malaria, beriberi, rheumatism and menstrual cramps. The "father of Chinese medicine," Shen-Nung, was so impressed with the soothing effects of Chu-ma that he considered it one of the superior elixirs of immortality. The association of hemp with immortality in China seemed to be fairly widespread. In myths of China and Japan, MacKenzie refers to a "Rip Van Winkle story" in which two men who wandered between the mountains met two pretty girls. They were entertained by them and fed on a preparation of hemp. Seven generations passed while they enjoyed the company of girls. "(Mackenzie, 1923).

Hemp (Old Persian and Sanskrit-Bangha) was cultivated in China and Iran in a distant time. A drug made from semen is designed to prolong life and inspire those who participate in prophecy after seeing visions and dreaming dreams. (MacKenzie, 1923)

Fig. 2: Emperor Shen Nung, by the author.

From the time of Shen-Nung, Chinese doctors continued to prescribe marijuana, and when they became acquainted with the effects of the plant, new discoveries were made about their properties, such as those in the year 200 AD well-known Chinese surgeon, Hua T & oo; o. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Hua T & oo; o has performed such complex operations as "organ transplantation, bowel resection, laparotomy (incisions in the loins), and thoracotomies (incisions in the chest)" (Abel 1980). In addition, these dangerous and complicated surgeries have been made painless by an anesthetic made of cannabis resin and wine, known as Ma-yo. An excerpt from his biography gives us a descriptive account of how this ancient medical sage used cannabis in these procedures.

… when the disease was present in places where the cautery needle or medical fluids were unable to act, for example, in the bones, stomach or intestines, he administered a hemp preparation [ma-yo] and in the course of a few minutes, an insensibility developed, as if one had fallen into drunkenness or been deprived of life. Then, depending on the case, he performed the opening, the incision, or the amputation and alleviated the cause of the disease; then he applied the handkerchiefs with sutures and applied liniments. After a certain number of days, the patient realizes that he has recovered without experiencing the slightest pain during the operation.

Throughout ancient times, medicine has been shaped by all sorts of magical connotations in people's minds. Therefore, it is not surprising that "the Chinese Pharmacopoeia Rh-Ya, which dates back to the 15th century BC Chr. Was compiled. contains the earliest reference to cannabis for shamanistic purposes "(Langenheim, 2003). Ancient Chinese shamans symbolically demonstrated their awareness of the medicinal powers of cannabis by carving snakes into a hemp stalk and using it as a wand for healing ceremonies. In terms of shamanism, it should be noted that China's ancient use of cannabis flowers and leaves was not limited to medicine: "… in ancient China … medicine had its origins in magic. Medicine men practiced wizards "(Li, 1978). Emperor Shen-Nung explained that cannabis goes beyond medical use: "If taken for an extended period of time, it can communicate with spirits and lighten the body." In this regard, it is interesting to note that The use of the glyph for hemp appears in combination with other signs in glyphs with supernatural connotations, such as Mo Devil, and this gives clear indications of the awareness of the use of cannabis in Chinese magic, which, as we discuss briefly, Cannabis had a long tradition in. "In these early periods, the use of cannabis as a hallucinogen was undoubtedly associated with Chinese shamanism" (Schultes and Hoffman, 1992).

Around 200 BC In the Chinese market, a number of new aromatic plants and resins appeared, accompanied by a new kind of incense burner, known as Boshanlu (po-shan-lu), & Zauberberg & # 39; coal basins, and have these braziers was specifically associated with cannabis use. Not surprisingly, for several centuries this method became very popular and cannabis "appears in various … recipes for attaining visionary powers" (Needham, 1974). Referring to the mythological origins of such braziers, Frederick Dannaway has suggested that the "strange episode about the Daoist liturgy of the" theft "of a censer has similarities with the ritual" theft "of Soma" (Dannaway, 2009).

Fig. 3: Incense burner of Boshanlu

Boshanlu incense burners were sculpted in the form of mountain peaks that tower over waves and are the habitation of the immortals. These were essential objects in the rooms of the scholars of that time. As the incense burned, the smoke rose through the perforations in the lid like an enchanted, fragrant mist engulfing miniature mountain peaks. A scholar focusing on his inner eye could imagine that he was mentally traveling to the Magic Mountain to go with the Immortals. A text from the 4th century indicates the long-term popularity of this technique. "For those who start practicing the Tao, it is not necessary to go to the mountains …. Some with purifying incense and sprinkling and sweeping are also able to call down the immortals. The followers of Lady Wei … and the Hsu … are of this nature. "

Analysis of the ashes of these burners confirmed the use of a variety of fragrant plants, some of which had medicinal properties or "magical" properties that allowed communication with spirits. "The burnt incense was a hallucinogenic" holy herb "- what we know as marijuana – the intoxicating smoke of the burning incense would rise from the canyon-like openings between the mountains, evoking the illusion of this mythical landscape. "" For these psychedelic experiences in ancient Taoism, a closed space would have been necessary and exactly the "Pure Chamber" of the oldest Taoist rites … "(Needham, 1974). Joseph Needham, an expert on Chinese history, also reports that the Taoist mystics allegedly added "hallucinogenic smoke" to their incense burners … The addition of hemp (ta-ma, huo-ma, cannabis sativa The content of incense burners is clearly listed in a Taoist collection, Wu Shang Pi Yao (Foundations of Matchless Books), which must be submitted before + 570 …. "(Needham, 1974).

This shamanic relationship with cannabis apparently lasted for several centuries among the Taoists, and it is not surprising that "the Taoist technique of ecstasy is of shamanic origin and structure" (Eliade, 1984). The magical use of cannabis was not limited to smoking. In Chen Kao, "Yang Hsi … describes his own experience with the Chhu Shen Wan (Pill of Beginning Immortals), which contains a lot of hemp" (Needham, 1974). A Taoist priest who died in the 5th century BC Seed buds of cannabis said that "sorcerer technicians (Shu Chia) say that consuming them with ginseng provides a supernatural knowledge of future events." "… [O] Add a nice example from the 6th century from a Wu Tsang Ching (Handbook of the Five Guts). "If you want to order demonic apparitions to present yourself, you should constantly eat the inflorescences of the hemp plant" (Needham, 1976).

As Needham explains, cannabis was one of the determinants of Taoist philosophy:

The chain of events that led to the founding of Mao Shan … as the first permanent center of Taoist practice began in 349 or earlier, with visits by immortals to a young man named Yang His … in a series of visions. Yang appeared a true pantheon of celestial officials, including Ms. Wei … and the … Mao [Brothers] …. In the course of these interviews, Yang, almost certainly supported by cannabis, wrote a series of sacred texts written by the immortals assuring him that both in their own supernatural area and in oral explanations and answers to Yang's questions on various aspects of the invisible Be up-to-date. He valued and disseminated these scriptures as the basis for a new Taoist faith that stood higher than the "vulgar" sects of his time. (Needham, 1976)

Hakim Bey also notes that the "early Taoist tradition of Mao Shan or the Supreme Clarity" school has a plethora of shamanic survival rates, including the intriguing fact that the Mao Shan revelations this should have been under the influence of a & # 39; hemp cord incense & # 39; took place "(Bey, et al., 2004).

In addition, Taoism has the honor of being (as far as I know) the only religion that personifies cannabis as a deity. In the T'ang era, there was a cult of Ma Ku or "Miss Hemp". It was on Mt. T'ien T'ai, a place known as the Abyss of Miss Hemp. A statue of her stood there in sung times … Ma Ku was portrayed as a pretty girl of the Taoist "Grotto Fairy" type, but with bird claws instead of feet. In the poetry of the angels, she is often associated with important motifs associated with Mao Shan's meditation techniques, which revolve around the images of time distortion. (Bey et al., 2004)

Fig. 4- Ma Ku

Ma Ku, literally " hemp lady," was a Taoist "immortal" who had close ties to the "elixir of life" and recalled that cannabis was considered one of the supreme elders of the immortality of Shen Nung millennia ago before, and it seemed like it had enjoyed that reputation in the intervening centuries. "… the Taoist dreamed of ascending to heaven after so many years of asceticism and of taking an elixir of life from various rare herbs" (Suzuki, 1961).

Something could be achieved by following the mythological connection with hemp lady Ma Ku, the goddess of the slopes of the Thai Shan, where the plant should be collected on the seventh day of the seventh month, a day of sitting, and banquets in Taoist communities. (Needham, 1974)

In this regard, the Taoist philosopher told Wang Yuan (146-168 AD) to invite Ma Ku to a feast on the day of the seventh-day seventh-day hemp collection boundless on gold plates and stacked in jade cups. There were rare delicacies, many of which were made of flowers and fruits and whose scent permeated the air inside and out. "Wang served the guests a strong liqueur from the" heavenly kitchen "and warned that he was" unfit for ordinary drinking habits ". " According to the old account, everyone was drunk and wanted more. Some sources believe that the said elixir was a special wine made from cannabis. A Chinese poem about Ma ku by Ts & # 39; ao T & ang; clearly recalls the beauty of burgeoning cannabis:

Blue Lad transmits the word and asks her to return:

His report reports that Miss Hemp's "jade dust leaves" have opened.

The Guard [Blue-grey] Sea has become dust –

All other matters can be disregarded:

You climb Dragon and Crane and come to watch the flowers.

The "Blue Boy" is a Taoist deity, and the poem describes him summoning all the fairies and immortals to witness the blossoming of Ma Ku's flowers. "Apparently, the writers of literature argued about the identity of this 'Jade Stamen and Stamp' flower, suggesting that the truth was only understood by a few who knew how to use hemp flowers cultivated until they exercise (as described). " Whiskers such as ice threads with sewn-on golden grains "(Bey et al., 2004). Perhaps this may suggest that Taoist gardeners rediscovered the secrets of separating male and female cannabis plants for the production of resinous seedless cannabis, called sinsemillia. This cultivation technique was probably developed much later.

Considering that Shen-Nung's references in Pen Ts & # 39; ao are believed to have been around 2,800 BC. There were references to the ability of cannabis to communicate with ghosts in the tenth century AD In China, we are discussing the shamanic and cultural exploitation of a plant spanning over 3,500 years. A beautiful quatrain from the classic "Great Lord of Long Life", probably around 300 BC. Written, gives a clear idea of ​​the importance of cannabis for the mystics of ancient China:

First a yin, then a yang

No one knows what I'm doing

Jade buds from holy hemp

For the one who lives apart

The Chinese love affair with cannabis eventually became sour, as Mia Touw explained; " During the Han dynasty, shamanism steadily declined and became as indecent as undoubtedly the practice of using cannabis as a hallucinogen" (Touw, 1981). Others have experienced this decline through the rise of the more moralistic philosophy of Confucianism. Alternatively, Hui-Lin Li concluded, "The cessation of cannabis use may be attributed simply to its inadequacy of Chinese temperament and traditions" (Li, 1975). Although it should be noted that Liu's statement does not consider the plant's popularity among Chinese shamans and Taoists over three millennia ago.

Mark Merlin offers another possible reason for the possible contempt of Chinese culture for what was once considered a "pleasure-giver," suggesting that the use of cannabis for intoxicating purposes by barbarians in western North China is likely to be a large part of prejudice declared against the plant in ancient China. Any habits of the warlike barbarians who constantly and viciously harassed the more sedentary Chinese civilization were emphatically rejected "(Merlin, 1972). Recent discoveries in China regarding the Indo-European Gushi culture and its use of high-quality cannabis in China, which will be discussed in my next article, could give considerable weight to Merlin's speculation of more than thirty years ago …