My character has transmigrated to a world that has some magic. She is looking to bring some basic surgery and investigation methods from her earth-like world to this world, which is roughly resembling the Yuan Dynasty.

Yuan dynasty date: (1271 - 1368)

Magic aside, since she doesn't know how to use it for a long time, here's what I thought of so far:

  • Makeup brush, charcoal powder, and a slim glass rectangle for the fingerprint.
  • Silk to stitch injuries (even internal).
  • Cloth with honey (mixed with sacred powder) to create a plaster that sticks to the wound to avoid some injuries from infection (like a band-aid).

Out of these three points, the things I have trouble with are: how to transfer the fingerprint to the slip of glass and make sure it can be conserved, how she could create a needle thin enough, and if there is a better substance than honey for the band-aid.

My questions thus are: with the technology available in ancient China how to do the lifting of the fingerprint from the surface that is dusted to the glass slip, and were smiths at that period capable to create thin or curved needles?

And also, is there a problem with honey being used as the sticky agent for the band-aid (eg: create infection...)

NB: the lifting of the fingerprint requires tape normally, but I'm unsure that it was available, so my question is how she can replace the tape to collect the fingerprint.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure [science-based] is the proper tag. I left it there as the OP's choice, but others should weigh in. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Jan 22, 2019 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding. I did a light edit on your question. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Jan 22, 2019 at 20:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @miep I have edited the question to make it clearer. Indeed, I want to know if there was something available that my heroine could use to lift the fingerprints from the surface that was dusted onto a slip of glass, and if smiths back then were capable to create needles think and curved to stitch people. $\endgroup$ Jan 22, 2019 at 20:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ We advise to wait at least 24 hours before accepting an answer, since this attracts more attention and potentially better answers from a larger set of users. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jan 22, 2019 at 20:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Cyn I wasn't done in purpose, I didn't see that the dates were removed, it must have been during one of my numerous edits to make the question clearer. Adding them back immediately. $\endgroup$ Jan 22, 2019 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


Needles: Acupuncture was well established by the time of the Yuan Dynasty. There is a dispute about how much it was used or how important it was in the overall practice of Chinese Medicine, but it definitely existed. So needles were not hard to obtain.

The first needles were made of stone but cast bronze acupuncture needles appeared "three thousand years ago in the Shang Dynasty."

From the Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BC) to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-207 BC) and to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), it was the establishing and strengthening stage of the feudal system in China. With the introduction and application of iron instruments, bian stone needles were replaced by metal medical needles. This broadened the field of acupuncture practice, bringing about a development of acupuncture by leaps and bounds. As recorded in the book Miraculous Pivot, there were nine kinds of metallic needles at that time with different shapes and usage. They are named as nine needles, including the needles for puncturing, surgical incision and massage as well. In 1968, in Mancheng County, Hebei Province, an ancient tomb of the Western Han Dynasty buried in 113 BC was excavated. Among the relics, there were four golden needles and five decaying silver ones.

Acupuncture needles tend to be thinner and shorter than sewing needles, and they do not have holes to put thread in. But given the uses named above ("surgical incision"), there is a good chance that metal needles suitable for sutures already existed. Or ones close enough that could be adapted.

Fingerprints: The dust used to illuminate fingerprints can be lifted and transferred using tape. This source also recommends using "raw cacao powder if your test surface is light; baby powder if it is dark." Talc or a similar substance is probably easy to find in ancient China. A dark powder should be simple to find or make.

For the creation of tape, my source is @pojo-guy from a comment on this answer, who says: "apply a thin layer of sticky sap to one side of the finest rice paper. Getting the sap to the right consistency to settle to a smooth coating would require some experimenting, probably thinning with alcohol (rice wine) then drying afterwards. Use cacao powder or charcoal for the powder."

Bandages: Honey sounds like a good choice. I'm sure the local doctors had plenty of plasters, both medicinal and binding.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer, overall, it's exactly what I needed to verify, however, regarding the fingerprint, I don't think that tape existed in this period, and am searching for a way for the heroine to replace the tape. $\endgroup$ Jan 22, 2019 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ Well she could bring the tape, as she's bringing other things. I looked and could not find ways to transfer the fingerprint without tape. I'm sure it exists, it would just take a longer search. I would look up histories of fingerprint analysis. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Jan 22, 2019 at 20:34
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ For tape, apply a thin layer of sticky sap to one side of the finest rice paper. Getting the sap to the right consistency to settle to a smooth coating would require some experimenting, probably thinning with alcohol (rice wine) then drying afterwards. Use cacao powder or charcoal for the powder $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Jan 22, 2019 at 20:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @pojo-guy I added your comment to my answer as the OP requested. I credited you of course. Please let me know if you'd prefer I remove it so you can include it in your own answer. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Jan 22, 2019 at 20:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @cyn no problem. I'm to lazy to do a complete answer today, so I have no objections to letting you have the credit $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Jan 22, 2019 at 23:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .