Objects of common use are the symbol to criticize the Maoist dictatorship, incontrovertible testimonies of the cultural resistance that daily commits the human community to prevent that millenary traditions be erased by a modernity descended as cement casting from the sky. Some wooden chamber pots, assembled as library shelves, sided by the brushes sound women use daily to wash them: a voiced magic formula the artist listens since his childhood. Nevertheless brushing and washing, the history deposits cultural and organic sediments on the inner walls of the chamber pots: the sign of an indelible rural and millenary identity, but a precious mineral for the Traditional Chinese Medicine as well. A social and economic metaphor of Chinese history: on one side the modernity attempt in purifying the marks of an uncomfortable past, alienating the individual conscience, imposing rules on the personal performance, stealing identitary space from traditions; on the other side, the impulse of resistance that never retreats within the collective unconscious of familiar habits, of a Chinese ancient knowledge that continues to blend the far echoes of Confucianism and Daoism, at the shadow of the communist ghost and with the gaze charmed by the Asian style capitalism.
Keyword: ren zhong bai (人中白)
Urine crystallizes when in contact with the wooden chamber pots and it forms a pale turquoise-like mineral sediment, known as ren zhong bai (人中白). For Traditional Chinese Medicine, this mineral is able to attenuate the effects of a too hot qi, balancing the element fire, contrasting the yin element weakness (cold, dark, night, moon, north, west, earth, water), rebalancing the yang element (hot, light, day, sun, south, east, sky, fire). Ren zhong bai properties are “salty, cool, influencing lungs, heart, bladder meridians”, its actions “ reduce the body heat, lessened the pathogenic fire, remove liquids stagnation”, its medical prescriptions curate “hematemesis (stomach bleeding), nose bleed, tuberculosis, lungs asthenia, aphta, pharyngitis”. Traditional Chinese Medicine imposes the precaution to use it just after having exposed it to wind and dew for two years. This ancient medical knowledge also prescribes the urine therapy, already known in ancient Egypt and India, an experience of self-healing called amaroli (‘immortality’) in Sanskrit and shibambu (‘Shiva’s water’), life nectar, mother of all ayurvedic medicaments.
Harriet Beinfield, Efrem Korngold, Between Heaven and Earth. A Guide to Chinese Medicine, New York 1992.