LE-Past Chinese Mushroom

From Wikipedia Lingzhi (mushroom) (see my comment)

The word lingzhi (靈芝) was first recorded in a fu (賦; “rhapsody; prose-poem”) by the Han dynasty polymath Zhang Heng (CE 78–139). His Xijing fu (西京賦) (Western Metropolis Rhapsody) contains a description of the 104 BCE Jianzhang Palace of Emperor Wu of Han that parallels lingzhi with shijun (石菌; “rock mushroom”): “Raising huge breakers, lifting waves, That drenched the stone mushrooms on the high bank, And soaked the magic fungus on vermeil boughs.”[18] The commentary by Xue Zong (d. 237) notes that these fungi were eaten as drugs of immortality.

The Shennong bencao jing (Divine Farmer’s Classic of Pharmaceutics) of c.200–250 CE, classifies zhi into six color categories, each of which is believed to benefit the qi, or “life force”, in a different part of the body: qingzhi (青芝; “Green Mushroom”) for the liver, chizhi (赤芝; “Red Mushroom”) for the heart, huangzhi (黃芝; “Yellow Mushroom”) for the spleen, baizhi (白芝; “White Mushroom”) for the lungs, heizhi (黑芝; “Black Mushroom”) for the kidneys, and zizhi (紫芝; “Purple Mushroom”) for the Essence. Commentators identify the red chizhi, or danzhi (丹芝; “cinnabar mushroom”), as the lingzhi.

Chi Zhi (Ganoderma rubra) is bitter and balanced. It mainly treats binding in the chest, boosts the heart qi, supplements the center, sharpens the wits, and [causes people] not to forget [i.e., improves the memory]. Protracted taking may make the body light, prevent senility, and prolong life so as to make one an immortal. Its other name is Dan Zhi (Cinnabar Ganoderma). It grows in mountains and valleys.[19][20]

Chinese texts have recorded medicinal uses of lingzhi for more than 2,000 years, a few sources erroneously claim its use can be traced back more than 4,000 years.[21]

The (1596) Bencao Gangmu (Compendium of Materia Medica) has a Zhi (芝) category that includes six types of zhi (calling the green, red, yellow, white, black, and purple mushrooms of the Shennong bencao jing the liuzhi (六芝; “six mushrooms”) and sixteen other fungi, mushrooms, and lichens, including mu’er (木耳; “wood ear”; “cloud ear fungus“, Auricularia auricula-judae). The author Li Shizhen classified these six differently colored zhi as xiancao (仙草; “immortality herbs”), and described the effects of chizhi (“red mushroom”): {{Quote|text=It positively affects the life-energy, or Qi of the heart, repairing the chest area and benefiting those with a knotted and tight chest. Taken over a long period of time, the agility of the body will not cease, and the years are lengthened to those of the Immortal Fairies.[22][23]

Stuart and Smith’s classic study of Chinese herbology describes the zhi.

芝 (Chih) is defined in the classics as the plant of immortality, and it is therefore always considered to be a felicitous one. It is said to absorb the earthy vapors and to leave a heavenly atmosphere. For this reason, it is called 靈芝 (Ling-chih.) It is large and of a branched form, and probably represents Clavaria or Sparassis. Its form is likened to that of coral.[24]

The Bencao Gangmu does not list lingzhi as a variety of zhi, but as an alternate name for the shi’er (石耳; “stone ear”, Umbilicaria esculenta) lichen. According to Stuart and Smith,

[The 石耳 Shih-erh is] edible, and has all of the good qualities of the 芝 (Chih), it is also being used in the treatment of gravel, and said to benefit virility. It is specially used in hemorrhage from the bowels and prolapse of the rectum. While the name of this would indicate that it was one of the Auriculariales, the fact that the name 靈芝 (Ling-chih) is also given to it might place it among the Clavariaceae.[24]

In Chinese art, the lingzhi symbolizes great health and longevity, as depicted in the imperial Forbidden City and Summer Palace.[25] It was a talisman for luck in the traditional culture of China, and the goddess of healing Guanyin is sometimes depicted holding a lingzhi mushroom.[23]

Author: Geezer

Under educated, abnormally curious, gutsy coward. 65yr or so, ( it keeps changing). Traded money for time even though money is freedom. Went sailling (sail a little work on boat a lot).