Instruments from a Chinese acupuncture set, 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Acupuncture is a medical technique which has been practised in China for over 3000 years. It consists of the insertion into the skin of fine needles, at the points or meridians relating to the tisue or organ believed to be disordered. By inserting the needles into the paths taken by the 'chi' or 'qi', the life force which flows around the body, the paths become unblocked and harmonious energy flow and good health is restored. It is not clear whether these items were used for acupuncture or had some other medical purpose.