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Cultural Artifact Analysis

Needle puncture or acupuncture is a European term coined by Willem Rhyne, who was a Dutch physician, after they visited Nagasaki during the 17th century. The Chinese explains acupuncture using the character ‘Chen’, which is literally translated to mean pricking with a needle; the system describes the graphic technique of the medicinal style. This therapeutic model has been practiced for about 2,000, but some scholars claim that it has been in use in China, for more than 4,000 years (Lewith 1). The origin of Chinese’s therapies is a fascinating tale, and acupuncture is a facet of the medical practices. During the practice of acupuncture, acupuncture needles are very important tools, which replaced the usage of Bian stones, pottery and stone needles.
In recent years, the Chinese among other Asian groups shifted from the use of the primitive needles, after the discovery of metal needles. The set of needles comprises of a classical nine needles, which include the arrowhead needle that is used for surface piercing; an encompassing needle, which is used for massaging purposes, a rounded needle used for pressing or knocking and a three boundary needle used for the puncturing of a blood vessel (Lewith 1). Other types of the classical set of needles include the sword-like needles used for the draining of swellings, a sharp round-shaped needle used for rapid puncturing, a long needle for piercing thick muscle areas, a filliform needle and the large number applied for the puncturing of aching joints. The main variant of the needles used in acupuncture practice, today is the filliform needle, mainly because most of the other needle types have been replaced by more sophisticated medical instruments. For example, the usage of the sword-like needle has been replaced by that of the scalpel, which works better and, which is more efficient (Lewith 1).
Context development
Different studies and authors note that acupuncture as a therapeutic technique has been taking ground and is becoming more and more, widely accepted as a medical practice that resolves different medical conditions (Beukes 01). Throughout the western world, acupuncture has received increased usage and acceptance as a therapeutic system that helps in the relief of pain and healing different illnesses. The therapy is also used for the prevention of diseases and the promotion of overall wellbeing and healthy (Roman 1). However, western medicine has had a difficult time trying to comprehend the focus of traditional Chinese’s medicine, mainly because it is grounded on paradigms that are totally different from those of Western medicine (Roman 1).     The therapy has gained ground at developed and developing countries as well. For example, from the case of Namibia, Beukes notes that the practice has been widely accepted, and many people prefer it instead of conventional western medicine (01). The therapy is commonly used for – difficult to handle – diseases like stroke, arthritis, protrusion of lumbar vertebrae disc and migraines. To prove the established nature of acupuncture in Namibia, Beukes gives the statistics that, at the Windhoek based Katutura State Hospital, a number between 40 and 50 patients are treated using the therapy everyday (01).
For this reason, although  the therapy has been received well and used together with, or as a substitute for western medicine in other cases, little attention has been channeled towards understanding the working of the needles, which are the main therapeutic instruments. Therefore, mentioning or seeing an acupuncture needle can be regarded an ordinary, everyday event. Further, little study and research has been channeled towards exploring what the use of needles for therapeutic purposes reveals about the larger cultural practices of acupuncture and the values it is grounded upon.
According to Beukes, the practice has been widely accepted as a therapeutic system that works in the alleviation of pain and disease, but little information has been offered to the users of these services, about the concepts underlying its success and the effects it yields in the bodies of the patients (01). For this reason, little information can be gathered from the western and other nations where the therapy is used, but the information can be gathered through an in-depth analysis of the therapy in Chinese and Japanese cultures.
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