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Knowledge Building on Nature and Body: Hot Springs in Premodern Chinese Sources. An Overview

Fei Huang

Pages 47 - 80

Knowledge about hot springs can be a key way of understanding how the interrelationship between nature and the human body operates both locally and globally. Based on the historical records from epistemological, geographical, ritual, medical, and literary perspectives, and in the global context of early modern Sino-Western exchanges, this article elaborates on some of the ways in which hot springs have been imagined and reconfigured within China and beyond. Each of these perspectives provides some hints of how knowledge about hot springs has been shaped, transmitted, circulated, and translated through encounters between highly structured forms of knowledge and bodily knowledge articulated by both intellectual elites and non-elite groups locally and globally. These multiple fields of knowledge concerning nature and the human body serve as an important but subtle undercurrent to understandings of customs, health, and pleasure within the everyday life of premodern Chinese society and its environment.

Keywords: hot springs, collective bathing, knowledge of nature, bodily knowledge, public bathhouses, medical bathing, early modern Sino-Western exchanges.


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