The Famous Physician Bian Que-名医扁鹊


Bian Que, originally from Zheng in Bohai County (now Renqiu, Hebei Province), was known as a distinguished physician during the Spring and Autumn period in ancient China. He was also referred to as Lu Yi, as he was believed to have hailed from Lu Yi (present-day Changqing, Shandong Province) in the State of Qi.

In his youth, Bian Que worked as an innkeeper, serving as the manager for over a decade. During this time, he encountered an elderly traveler named Chang Sang Jun, who frequently stayed at the inn. Recognizing Chang Sang Jun’s expertise in medicine, Bian Que showed him utmost respect, which moved Chang Sang Jun deeply. In gratitude, Chang Sang Jun imparted his secret medical knowledge to Bian Que. Armed with this knowledge, Bian Que embarked on a journey across various states, practicing medicine and refining his skills.

Bian Que excelled in diagnosing illnesses through observation and pulse-taking, and he became renowned for his ability to revive seemingly incurable patients. His medical prowess earned him the moniker “Bian Que,” which symbolized the hope he brought to the sick, akin to the joyous news delivered by a magpie (a symbol of good fortune in Chinese culture).

Throughout his travels, Bian Que offered medical services tailored to the needs of different regions. For instance, in the State of Zhao, he specialized in treating women’s ailments, earning the title of a gynecologist. In the capital of the Zhou dynasty, he focused on treating conditions related to the senses, such as deafness and blindness, becoming known as an ophthalmologist and otolaryngologist.

One notable incident occurred when Bian Que arrived in the State of Guo and encountered the impending burial of the crown prince. Sensing that the prince was not truly deceased, Bian Que intervened and successfully revived him, earning widespread acclaim for his miraculous healing abilities.

In the State of Qi, Bian Que offered his services to King Huan of Cai, who initially dismissed his warnings about a serious illness. Despite Bian Que’s repeated attempts to persuade the king to seek treatment, the king’s condition worsened, ultimately leading to his demise. Disheartened by the king’s refusal to heed his advice, Bian Que departed for the State of Qin.

In Qin, Bian Que became known for his expertise in pediatric medicine, catering to the locals’ fondness for children. When King Wu of Qin fell ill, Bian Que was summoned to treat him. However, the court physician, Li Hai, feeling threatened by Bian Que’s skills, conspired to assassinate him, leading to Bian Que’s untimely demise.

After his death, Bian Que was honored by the prince of Guo, who recognized his contributions to medicine and arranged for his proper burial, ensuring that his legacy lived on.