In­her­i­tor of ejiao se­crets spreads TCM around the world

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By HAO NAN hao­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

An an­nual ejiao fes­ti­val kicked off in Dong’e county, Shan­dong prov­ince, on Dec 21, the eve of the win­ter sol­stice, to pro­mote the don­key hide gelatin.

The fes­ti­val is co-or­ga­nized by Dong’e Ejiao Co Ltd and the county gov­ern­ment. “We have hosted the event since 2007, aim­ing to fur­ther pub­li­cize the nu­tri­tion value of ejiao and the im­por­tance of tak­ing ton­ics in the win­ter sol­stice,” said Qin Yufeng, CEO of Dong’e Ejiao Co Ltd, the largest pro­ducer of ejiao prod­ucts.

The win­ter sol­stice, or dongzhi, is an im­por­tant so­lar term in the Chi­nese lu­nar cal­en­dar. Ac­cord­ing to the tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine prin­ci­ples, dongzhi is the best time for eat­ing ton­ics, such as ejiao, which is a type of TCM made from don­key hide. Ejiao is one of the top three ton­ics in TCM and can help im­prove blood cir­cu­la­tion and boost en­ergy lev­els. The other two valu­able ton­ics are gin­seng and deer antler.

The county of Dong’e first pro­duced ejiao, or don­key hide gelatin. The county’s un­der­ground wa­ter con­tains rich amounts of zinc, iron, cal­cium and mag­ne­sium as well as min­er­als that im­prove the ef­fec­tive­ness of ejiao.

From the Han Dy­nasty (206 BC-AD 220) to the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911), Dong’e ejiao served as a trib­ute to the royal fam­i­lies. Ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal records, Em­peror Taizong of the Tang Dy­nasty (AD 618-907) loved ejiao so much that he sealed up a well in Dong’e and or­dered it opened only dur­ing the win­ter sol­stice to col­lect the wa­ter for ejiao pro­duc­tion.

Em­press Dowa­ger Cixi, one of the most pow­er­ful and con­tro­ver­sial fe­male fig­ures in Chi­nese history, also en­joyed eat­ing ejiao prod­ucts to main­tain her health.

In 1855, Cixi, who was then a con­cu­bine of Qing Em­peror Xian­feng, be­came preg­nant. And she was in dan­ger of mis­car­riage.

A Dong’e doc­tor was cred­ited with saving her baby by us­ing ejiao in his treat­ment of her. The baby later be­came the Tongzhi Em­peror.

Ejiao was ex­ported to for­eign coun­tries through the an­cient Silk Road that con­nected China with the old Ro­man Em­pire, be­com­ing the ear­li­est Chi­nese health and beauty prod­uct to en­ter in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

The TCM tonic was also among the prized pos­ses­sions that Ital­ian merchant Marco Polo brought back to his coun­try af­ter he trav­eled to China in the late 13th cen­tury.

The ejiao making method is a na­tional-class in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage with a history of nearly 3,000 years. Qin is the in­her­i­tor of this in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage item.

Tra­di­tional ejiao pro­duc­tion meth­ods have ex­tremely high re­quire­ments for wa­ter, time, skills and qual­ity of the don­key hide. It re­quires col­lect­ing wa­ter at mid­night of the win­ter sol­stice, us­ing golden pots and sil­ver-made spat­u­las. Ninety-nine steps are also re­quired to make the high­est qual­ity ejiao. The whole process takes about nine days and nights.

Be­fore 2007, the method had been lost for about 100 years.

That year, Qin and his ap­pren­tices re­mas­tered the pro­duc­tion tech­niques.

“Ejiao re­flects unique Chi­nese wis­dom and civ­i­liza­tion.

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