By Zeynep Aydin
In this meeting, Zeynep presented the paper "The Origins of Uyghur Medicine: Debates and Perspectives" published in 2015. This was then followed by a lively discussion that touched on Uyghur history, medicine, science, and its place in the global context.
Uyghur medicine refers to the traditional medicine of the people residing in the oases of the Taklamakan desert in the North-West corner of modern China. Due to historical and geographical reasons, the ancestors of the modern Uyghurs had extensive contact with Greco-Roman civilization even beginning in the 4th century BCE, and continuing with different extent until the 6th century CE. Thus, the knowledge of Greek humoral medicine spread to the Uyghur regions. When Arab-Persian medicine arrived along with Islam in the 10th century, it met both Buddhist medicine and the developed folk medicine. In this paper, we argue that “Greco-Roman”, “Arab-Persian” and “Uyghur” medicines are all of essentially the same system under holistic humoral medicine. We further assert that “Traditional European Medicine” is based on the same tradition, and, while it was discarded in the West, it has been substantially preserved by the Uyghurs. We also consider the implications of making the two millennial tradition of Uyghur medicine the object of modern scientific research in China.