The Magical ‘Scanning Mirror’ Cured Illnesses

Ultrasound equipment on display.

Ultrasound and other modern equipment can only scan the human body, but stories from ancient China tell of a mirror capable of both scanning and healing. (Image: Wideonet via Dreamstime)

In ancient times, there were stories of a “scanning mirror” that could see inside the body and heal people. In today’s modern society, there are several different types of medical scanning devices that are able to look at the body, including: 

  • MRI – An instrument that uses strong magnetic fields to produce images. 
  • CT – A sensitive diagnostic tool used to image many diseases and injuries. 
  • PET/CT – Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) is a diagnostic tool.  
  • X-ray – A well-recognized diagnostic tool producing images of tissues, bones, and organs. 
  • Ultrasound – High-frequency waves that look at organs typically in the pelvis.  
  • Bone densitometry (DEXA) – A mineral bone density scanner to diagnose osteoporosis.   
  • Fluoroscopy – Real-time X-ray images to look inside the body with a fluoroscope. 

All of these impressive machines and diagnostic techniques appear to be a manifestation of scientific progress. But the ancient “scanning mirror” could do all this and more.

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One day during the first year of the reign of Emperor Dezong of the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 785-805), some fishermen were at the mouth of the Songjiang River and Taihu Lake in Suzhou, carrying small nets to fish.  

Fishermen netted a "scanning mirror."
Fishermen were out on the river casting nets. (Image: Pavalache Stelian via Dreamstime)

Fishermen net a ‘scanning mirror’

There were at least 10 fishermen in several boats. For most of the day, they did not catch any fish, but only a small mirror was found in the net. The fishermen were annoyed that they didn’t catch any fish, so they threw the mirror back into the water. Moving the boat elsewhere and casting the net, they netted the mirror again. The fishermen felt very confused, and one of them took the mirror and looked at it carefully. 

The mirror was about seven or eight inches long.  When the man looked at it, he saw bones and internal organs. Then, he used it to look at his stomach and found that internally it was so ulcerated that it made him nauseous and he fainted. The other fishermen were taken aback and looked for themselves. They all reacted badly with shock, vomiting and passing out where they stood after using the mirror to scan their bodies. The last fisherman dared not use the mirror anymore, and threw it into the water. 

After a long time, the fishermen who fainted on the ground woke up. The last fisherman helped his friends stand up, and they supported each other back home. Everyone thought the mirror was a monster.  

The next day, after finishing the netting, they sailed out to fish again. They caught several times more fish than usual. However, those fishermen who had suffered from diseases in the past were all healed after using the mirror to look at themselves. So they asked the elders about the mirror. Some said that this mirror appeared once hundreds of years ago and someone had seen it before. However, the elders didn’t know what kind of wizard owned it. 

The next day, the fishermen who used the scanning mirror had been healed and also caught several times more fish than usual.
The next day, the fishermen who used the scanning mirror had been healed and also caught several times more fish than usual. (Image: Tanya Polovik via Dreamstime)

The “scanning mirror” that the fishermen caught not only had a see-through function, but also a healing function. The “scanning mirror” displayed people’s bones and internal organs, and it healed diseases at the same time. It was very different from today’s equipment. 

We all know that although today’s scientifically accurate body scanning equipment can see through the human body, it does not have the ability to perform treatments. Not only that, because of the irradiation during usage, these types of scanning devices are more or less harmful to the human body. 

Perhaps people would think that this story is a legend. But since people can create machines that can see through the body today, why do we think that there couldn’t be something like the “scanning mirror” in ancient times? In fact, ancient technology was very advanced, because the ancient people created technology in a different way.

Translated by Patty Zhang and edited by Helen

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