Home » Articles » George Soulié de Morant, l’Acuponcture Chinoise
George Soulié de Morant,  l’Acuponcture Chinoise

George Soulié de Morant, l’Acuponcture Chinoise

Acupuncture was officially introduced into western civilization. This was done by a non-medical man, Soule de Morant, who had been French Consul in China for many years

“George Soulié de Morant was born in Paris on December 2, 1879. His father, Leon, an engineer who participated in the Mexican War, had met his mother, a French emigrée, while in New Orleans. When still a child, George became acquainted with Judith Gautier, daughter of poet Theóphile Gautier, and learned Mandarin from a highly educated Chinese whom Gautier had invited into his intellectual circle. He completed his early education with the Jesuits, intending to study medicine. However, his father’s premature death at sea prevented him from fulfilling this ambition.

Unable to pursue a medical career, but already completely fluent in Chinese, George Soulié de Morantfound a position with the Banque Lehideux, which sent him to China at the turn of the century. His almost native proficiency in the Chinese language, his appreciation of Chinese culture and his rapid adaptation to Chinese society soon led to his engagement by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was appointed French Consul for Shanghai and sent to Yunnan Prefecture. While at this post, he witnessed a cholera epidemic during which acupuncture yielded better results than the Western medicines of the time. It was thus, while still in his early twenties, that George Soulié de Morant first encountered what was to be his life’s work.

Although acupuncture was to be his central life interest, Soulié de Morant was not content to study it in isolation; he immersed himself in every aspect of Chinese culture. He became well accepted by the Chinese people, and gained entrance to the highest circles of Chinese society. Between 1901 and 1911, he witnessed the end of the Chinese empire. When he wrote the biographies of the last Empress, Ci Xi, and the revolutionary, Sun Yat-sen, it was as their contemporary. His literary output was voluminous and covered every aspect of Chinese life. Significant works on Chinese art, music, history and literature are among his more than sixty books and articles.

George Soulié de Morant remained in China until 1917, eventually becoming a judge in the French Concession in Shanghai. During his almost two decades in China, he continued to study acupuncture with the most noted practi tioners of the time, eventually receiving the highest civilian award, the Coral Globe, for his achievements. He was considered a Chinese doctor by the Chinese themselves, an unheard-of accomplishment for a foreigner, then or now.

His term in China finished, Soulié de Morant returned to France, where he began actively promoting acupuncture among the medical profession. Initially confronted with skepticism and derision that was rooted in the failure of earlier attempts to introduce acupuncture through inaccurate information, he decided to publish articles based on translations of Chinese medical texts. He chose those he thought would be of interest to physicians. He also wrote a series of essays, and then a longer article on acupuncture that was published in Science Médical Pratique in 1931. These works attracted the attention of two French physicians, Dr. Flandin and Martiny, who invited Soulié de Morant to work with them in their departments at the Bichat and Leopold Bellan Hospitals. While exact records of their studies have not survived, they obtained remarkable clinical results, and continued to experiment as Soulié de Morant pursued further study and translation.

In 1933, Mercure de France published a short article of his on Chinese pulse diagnosis, and in 1934 the same company published his first book on acupuncture, Précis de la vrai acuponcture Chinoise (Summary of the true Chinese Acupuncture). The first two volumes of the present text, l’Acuponcture Chinoise(Chinese Acupuncture) were published during 1939-1941. These texts present the culmination of Soulié de Morant’s “theory of energy” and its therapeutic manipulation byacupuncture. They stimulated a period of remarkable progress for acupuncture in France, and were the basis for their author’s nomination for the Nobel Prize in 1950.

Even though l’Acuponcture Chinoise was recognized as an important text by many French physicians, not all welcomed this new information, and some were openly hostile. Soulié de Morant suffered from their hostility, which is said to have adversely affected his health, but he remained in France, refusing a professorship that had been created for him in the United States. He suffered a stroke in the early 1950’s that left him partially paralyzed, but he learned to write with his other hand and continued his work. He died of a heart attack on May 10, 1955, just after completing l’Acuponcture Chinoise. This monumental work remains today the fundamental European testament to the art and science of acupuncture.”