13 Dec Antique Herbal Apothecary
When you come in to our office, the first thing you will notice is a beautiful and striking Chinese herbal apothecary. The real history and purpose of this antique herbal apothecary is not clearly known to us, but it most likely belonged to a wealthy family that would have employed a personal Chinese medical doctor who would have resided on premise for the purpose of giving immediate medical care to family members and guests.
The apothecary, which is estimated to be between 100 – 150 years old, can hold 284 different Chinese medicinal herbs. There are over 400 main herbs in the Chinese materia medica, but because the private doctor would have known the family members and their lifestyles, they would have been able to predict the family’s medical needs and would have stocked the apothecary with herbs specifically to cover any possible illness that could befall the family. They wouldn’t have needed all 400 herbs.
You will also notice that the apothecary has limited space for each herb, generally speaking just enough space to provide for a few days’ worth of medicine. Because the apothecary was to be on premise for the purpose of immediate medical care, a three-day supply was all that would have been needed before someone could have been sent to town to procure more herbs if necessary.