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Heniantang Herbal Medicine Shop

There’s a saying: “Heniantang stood there earlier than the Caishikou Street.” The Heniantang Herbal Medicine Shop enjoys much fame; many people came to Caishikou just to make up a prescription of Chinese herbal medicine. Heniantang was established in 1525, the fourth year of Jiajing reign of the Ming Dynasty. Its name came from the poetic sentence of the ancient book Huainanzi–”  The bird crane has longevity of a thousand years, so it can have enough time to travel though the universe.” Heniantang is the herbal medicine shop that has the longest recorded history, two centuries earlier than Tongrentang, another famous shop headquartered in Beijing. The founder of Heniantang was Ding Henan, a famous Hui poet of the period between the late Yuan and early Ming Dynasty Ding wrote the work Ding Henian Poem Collection. He provided free medical care to the poor, and offered free medicines to the needy during the plaque spell. In his Fangji Xue, an ancient medical literature about medicine prescription, Zhang Jingyue (1583-1640A.D.), one of the trail blazers of Chinese ancient medicine, wrote that: “People scrambled to Heniantang for aid.”

A popular folk saying goes that: “ Go to Tongrentang to buy pills, power, ointment and pellet; and go to Henrentang to buy decoction and yinpian(prepared herbal medicine in small pieces). Even many foreigners who attended Xian tour would came to Heniantang exclusively to buy some medicines home. In 2005, Zhai Luguang, the 86-year-old shop assiant of Heniantang, recalled in an interview that: “ The shop gained its fame and credit from its emphasis its quality, which arouse a hot travel routh Beijing-Xian tour.  In those early days, Heniantang persisted to a strict or even rigor rule in laying in each stock of herbal medicines. For example, when choosing trhe agalloch eaglewood, they would pour all the medicine into water ro get rid of the floating ones; and for precious medical meterials such as ginseng and deer’s antler, they only accept the goods from the designated druggist from the Changbaishan Mountain.”

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