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Model showing men requesting a prescription from a Taoist medical god, China, 1800-1911

A kneeling man prays to a Taoist medicine god on behalf of a patient. A question regarding the patient’s health or illness is placed upon the altar at the foot of the statue of the god. Two men are holding a forked piece of wood, known as a planchette, over a shallow container full of sand. Once the question has been put to the god, joss-paper is burnt and the planchette is pressed into the sand and turned rapidly. The resulting pattern written into the sand is believed to be a prescription from the god. The man on the right copies the prescription on to a sheet of paper for the worshipper to take to a pharmacy.

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    Glossary: Traditional Chinese Medicine

    Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical tradition originating in China, but now used worldwide. Treatments include herbal medicine, massage and acupuncture, which are combined to create a therapy tailored to the patient.

    Glossary: diorama

    A model with three-dimensional objects, often sculpture, with a realistic painted background.