Mayway Shoot: Exploring the Origin of Chinese Herbal Medicine

“In the sky there is no distinction of East and West; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.” — Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C. From the Western perspective the East often appears delightfully mysterious, inexplicably profound, shrouded in centuries of layered tradition. As a thousand-year-old industry, Chinese herbal medicine falls into this category; it has been used for centuries to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases in the East. It consists mainly of natural medicines made from herbal, animal, mineral substances. Yet, despite its long history, the word “Chinese medicine” appeared only after Western medicine was introduced into China. Mayway is a Chinese herbal medicine company that operates in both USA (Oakland, California) and China (Anguo, Heibei Province, which is the known as the “Medicine Capital”). I had the opportunity to work with Mayway to build a corporate image library for the face of their Plumflower brand (new website link coming soon). It was a fantastic and visual story to photograph, covering the people behind the herb production, from farmers to scientists. It is ultimately a story about the convergence of ancient knowledge and modern-day scientific innovation as plant life is transformed into medicine. After the founding of New China in 1949, plenty of research has been made in various fields such as botany, identification science, chemistry, pharmacology and clinical medicine, providing scientific basis to identify the source and authenticity of herbal medicines as well as their function scheme. As Mayway shows us, Chinese herbal medicine is grounded in history and tradition but at the same time it is also very much a part of the modern-day green movement  — it is natural and the very picture of cross-cultural innovation.

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