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Thread: Wulin doctors - great healers, and not one of them worked for royalty?

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Default Wulin doctors - great healers, and not one of them worked for royalty?

    Wuxia Fiction has its share of extraordinary physicians whose skill at healing the sick and wounded is as uncanny as the great wulin warriors' ability to kill and wound. So incredible was the skill and knowledge of these men of medicine that they could heal injuries and illnesses that were generally considered incurable in their world, and would probably be incurable even with modern medicine in the real world.

    Yet strangely, no wuxia physician ever served as the royal doctor for an imperial regime. The Chinese emperors had in their courts experts of healing who had been recruited from throughout their domain and tested through the rigors of the civil service examination. The responsibility of these medical experts was sublime (e.g. preserving the health of the Son of Heaven and his family), so their skills must have been superlative.

    Therefore, it's odd that Divine Healer Sit (DGSD), the Indian Monk (ROCH), Wu Ching Ngau (HSDS), etc., never served as royal physicians. With Dr. Wu, we can understand that he had a personal rule about not treating patients who were not Ming Cult members (and in any case, he'd never serve the Mongol-ruled Yuan regime), but Dr. Sit would have had no problems serving the Northern Sung emperor, and I imagine the Indian Monk *could* have served as Deun Chi Hing's personal physician when Deun was still the sovereign of Dali.

    Yet we never hear of these great healers being recruited for the position of royal doctor. Why not?

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    Senior Member Ian Liew's Avatar
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    Maybe the courts were usually viewed as corrupt during the wuxia times, or the doctors preferred the freedom granted away from the confines of court? Most of them also owed their upbringing to wulin, and probably felt they belonged to wulin more than anywhere else. Most of them were also notoriously difficult to get along with and would not have happily taken on a subservient role. What would they seek in court anyway? They have all the prestige they need in wulin.

    Another doctor who would fit this description is Dr Ping from Smiling Proud Wanderer.

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    The reason is probably similar to why all these heroes rather wander aimlessly rather than secure some imperial job. They have no need for what the courts provide them, and instead would be tied down by imperial obligations.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Liew View Post
    Maybe the courts were usually viewed as corrupt during the wuxia times, or the doctors preferred the freedom granted away from the confines of court? Most of them also owed their upbringing to wulin, and probably felt they belonged to wulin more than anywhere else. Most of them were also notoriously difficult to get along with and would not have happily taken on a subservient role. What would they seek in court anyway? They have all the prestige they need in wulin.

    Another doctor who would fit this description is Dr Ping from Smiling Proud Wanderer.
    Quote Originally Posted by tape View Post
    The reason is probably similar to why all these heroes rather wander aimlessly rather than secure some imperial job. They have no need for what the courts provide them, and instead would be tied down by imperial obligations.
    I don't think anybody in wulin could pay them as well as the emperor could. Then again, these people often cared little for money. I have yet to see a wulin doctor demand monetary payment for his services.

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    Money has always been a weird issue in wulin. There's plenty of times where characters are strapped for cash, and plenty of villains and terrible people to Robin Hood from, but it's rarely done.

    I think the most egregious example is in "The Return of Luk Siu Fung", where as late as episode 30ish (when the REAL plot points should be developing), we have Simon the Snowblower having to pawn his sword because he can't afford a coat for his wife! Are we to believe a ruthless assassin wouldn't kill/rob some random evil merchant in order to save his wife?

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    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    There has always been an innate snobbery wulin people had towards people who worked for the government.

    I guess a modern equivalent would be how some artists consider commercial artist to be sellouts.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tape View Post
    Money has always been a weird issue in wulin. There's plenty of times where characters are strapped for cash, and plenty of villains and terrible people to Robin Hood from, but it's rarely done.

    I think the most egregious example is in "The Return of Luk Siu Fung", where as late as episode 30ish (when the REAL plot points should be developing), we have Simon the Snowblower having to pawn his sword because he can't afford a coat for his wife! Are we to believe a ruthless assassin wouldn't kill/rob some random evil merchant in order to save his wife?
    Sai Mun Chui Sheut was a special case: he had that overriding sense of pride/honor that would not allow him to stoop to such things. He felt ashamed enough that he had to pawn his precious sword.

    Don't forget, however, that in that adaptation, he finally gave in and actually robbed the store owner of the coat at swordpoint. That's how desperate he had gotten.

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