2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226


Confucian Identity and Social Interaction: Physicians in Early Ming Suzhou

Xiao-meng Liu

Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong

In the early Ming period, the number of physicians in Suzhou Prefecture grew rapidly. This article examines physicians’ lives in terms of their social interactions and networks. Based on different career patterns, two interconnected groups can be roughly identified: medical officials in the imperial court and recluse physicians. In the late Yuan and early Ming period, medicine gradually became a major career choice allowing men to make a living and to practice the benevolence of Confucianism. Although career patterns and lifestyles differed, they shared an ideal of the Confucian physician and kept intimate social contacts with well-known literati and high officials, which gave them a high reputation in society. This type of social network and Confucian ideal gradually prevailed in Suzhou and was inherited by later generations, which contributed greatly to the long prosperity of physicians in Suzhou.


Keywords: Suzhou, imperial court physicians, recluse physicians, Confucian physicians,
social interaction