Ma Jixing first brought attention to this text, and in 1988 published the following story about its discovery:
Regarding the rediscovery of FXJ
At the end of the 19th century, the family of Zhang Wonan of Wei County in Hebei practiced medicine, and kept an expansive collection of medical texts. After hearing rumors of the excavation of the Dunhuang scrolls, Zhang Wonan went in search of them, and purchased one scroll from the Daoist monk protecting the caves. The name of the text was FXJ. It was relatively intact and complete, and started with images of the three emperors, four spirits, and twenty-eight constellations. Zhang Wonan saw this as a treasure. After his death it was passed on to his grandson, the physician Zhang Dachang (style Weijing). Zhang Dachang frequently used the formulas and theory recorded in this text to treat illnesses with excellent results, and instructed his disciple with the text and created two copies.
Unfortunately the scroll was destroyed during the cultural revolution period in 1966, and only the hand-copies fortunately remain. In 1974 Zhang Dachang mailed a hand-copy to the Chinese Medicine Research Institute in his role as a barefoot doctor. At first it did not raise any interest, and later it came into my hands. I repeatedly researched and verified that the writing conventions, taboo terms, medicinal names and dosages, individual’s names, formula names, book names, chapter names, as well as disease names, formula composition characteristics, the text’s structure and style, all demonstrated that this could not be a contemporary forgery.
The latest possible date of creation could not be later than prior to the beginning of the Song Dynasty, and for this reason (?) I have written up initial appraisal material. In order to solicit more opinions from other experts in the fields of literature and history, in 1975 I prepared an annotated copy of the text, with an explanation of its circumstances, and requested the guidance of professors Zhang Zhenglang and Li Xueqin of the Academy of Social Sciences. After their appraisal, in their conclusion they stated: “This book is not a modern forgery, nor can it be a product from as early as the (Northern and Southern Dynasties) Liang Dynasty. As an example of a hand-copy of an ancient text, it is necessary to preserve it.”
At this time Comrade Wang Xuetai of my institute also expressed great interest in the text, and for this express purpose traveled directly to Zhang Dachang’s place in Wei County to perform an inspection. He was further able to obtain a separate hand-copy preserved at Zhang Dachang’s disciple’s place.
In the preparation of this book I specially engaged Director Wang to compare and collate these two copies.
Dun Huang Gu Yi Ji Kao Shi 敦煌古醫籍考釋 (Commentary and Research on Ancient Medical Texts Excavated in Dunhuang, Ma Jixing 馬繼興, ed., Nanchang: Jiangxi Kexue Jishu Chubanshe, 1988, p. 4)