"Excreted and left untreated? Human and animal waste: from Dunhuang to Laozi."
East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine
International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine
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Sterckx, R. "Excreted and left untreated? Human and animal waste: from Dunhuang to Laozi.". East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.85672
Texts from pre-imperial and early imperial China are replete with dietary information and regimens for nourishing the body. Sources have far less to say about the body’s effluvia and the waste and muck that is shed and excreted by human and non-human animals. This article studies references to excreta and excretion in early China. Excreta were deemed noxious yet also beneficial, they were to be discarded yet also reused. Latrines were liminal zones, operating at the intersection of social propriety and physical and moral danger and rejection. What accumulated in the concealed domestic space of the latrine and pigpen ended up as sought-after fertilizer. By bringing together evidence across a wide range of textual and material sources -- from latrines, to pigs, to a line in the Laozi 老子and its commentaries— this article traces excretory experience and matter through its cycle from defecation to regeneration.
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This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.85672
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/338264
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