A Survey of the Role of Buddhism in Medical Knowledge Exchange between Iran and China in Ancient Era

Document Type: Original Article


History department, Shahid Bahonar university of Kerman,


Ancient Iran, due to its geographical vastness, hosted various religions freely practicing their beliefs at local or national scales. Supported by the rich or the courtiers, such religions could play significant roles locally or nationwide. Buddhism has been especially addressed in both Iran and Non-Iranian territories. Considering the significant role of Iranians in spreading Buddhism in Eastern nations and specifically China, the questions raised here are “what role have Iranian Buddhists played in conveying Iranian medical knowledge to China? and To what extent has Chinese medicine been influenced by Iranian medical tradition?” Based on a prescriptive/analytical perspective, one may come to know that the relation between Iranian and Chinese medical traditions has been reciprocal in which Iranian medical scholars gained Chinese medical knowledge from Buddhists and spread Iranian medical traditions in China through authoring specialized books. Buddhists’ acquaintance with Mani and his followers who practiced medicine,  paved the way for this knowledge exchange.