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LRCCS Noon Lecture Series | Scent from Afar: Aromatics, Healing, and the Making of Olfactory Knowledge in Tang and Song China

Yan Liu, Associate Professor of History, SUNY Buffalo
Tuesday, April 9, 2024
12:00-1:00 PM
Room 1010 Weiser Hall Map
Attend in person or via Zoom. Zoom registration at

Among the rich variety of substances that flowed into Middle Period China, aromatics (Chi. xiang) figured prominently, including saffron from Kashmir, camphor from Sumatra, and frankincense from Arabia. Introduced by envoys, monks, and traders via both overland and maritime routes, these fragrant materials acquired diverse virtues in Chinese medical, religious, and culinary culture. By focusing on the medicinal uses of these articles in Tang and Song China with attention to the role of smell in healing, this talk reveals the dynamic process of producing new olfactory knowledge and sensorial experience upon cross-cultural exchange.

Yan Liu is an associate professor in History at SUNY, Buffalo. He specializes in the history of medicine in premodern China, with a focus on material practices of medicine, religious healing, the history of the senses, and the global circulation of knowledge. His first book, "Healing with Poisons: Potent Medicines in Medieval China," was published by the University of Washington Press in 2021 (open access available), and won the 2023 William H. Welch Medal from the American Association for the History of Medicine. His second book explores a transcultural history of aromatics and the production of olfactory knowledge in Tang and Song China.

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Asia, China, History
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, International Institute, Asian Languages and Cultures