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Cupping kit, Japan, 1981-1990

Dry cupping is used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. It stimulates the flow of the energy known as qi in the body. A good flow of qi is essential for wellbeing and health. The glass cups are placed on the skin. A pump sucks out the air, creating a vacuum. Acupuncture and moxibustion also stimulate qi. Cupping has been used in different cultures. Until the mid-1800s, it was commonly used in Europe as a method of blood letting known as wet cupping. In wet cupping, the cupping glasses drew the blood from the skin after it had been cut. Blood letting died out when humoural understanding of the body declined. Dry cupping is still a popular practice.

Object number:

2002-478

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    Glossary: cupping set

    Set of instruments to practice cupping. The purpose of cupping was to draw what was considered to be bad matter in the blood toward selected places in the body at the surface of the skin, away from vital organs.

    Glossary: cupping

    The application of a heated cup to the skin, creating a slight vacuum , which causes swelling of the tissues beneath and an increase in the flow of blood to the area. This was thought to draw out harmful excess blood from diseased organs nearby and so promote healing.

    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.