This stamp is one from China in 1962 – that much I gleaned from it being stuck on the China page of the Trusty Stamp Album and having 1962 printed in the bottom right corner. Great detective work, huh?
Searching online for “China postage stamps 1962” led me to some beautiful images, including one of a set of eight stamps – this one included – labelled as showing Ancient Scientists. Some more creative searching and then the credit has to go to a book which gets some references on Google but which I feel very likely to buy… The Representation of Science and Scientists on Postage Stamps by Christopher B Yardley.
The book tells me that this image is most likely Sun Szu-Miao (simplified to Simiao) who lived between 581 and 682. That in itself makes him awesome as I’m not sure how many people anywhere lived to be 101 back in the 6th century…
So who was Sun Szu-Miao? Now known as the King Of Medicine, he was the thinker, philosophiser and practitioner of medicine and surgery whose books went on to influence practice for centuries. His two books included 7300 recipes / mixes for medicines and he wrote what is sometimes called the ‘Chinese Hippocractic Oath’. It’s a beautiful statement which I’ve copied below and which is good advice to any of us, doctors or not:
“A Great Physician should not pay attention to status, wealth or age; neither should he question whether the particular person is attractive or unattractive, whether he is an enemy or friend, whether he is a Chinese or a foreigner, or finally, whether he is uneducated or educated. He should meet everyone on equal grounds. He should always act as if he were thinking of his close relatives.”