3300 B.C. physician signets witness the first application of cupping in mesopotamia.
A book from 1550 B.C. describes cupping therapy in Egypt, while first written records in China existed.
The basic principle of cupping is creating a local vacuum on the skin of the patient. Technically, there are two things needed. Firstly one needs an airproof vessel and secondly a mechanism to produce such a vacuum in that vessel. Since cupping therapy was spread amongst various cultures, realization of it was very different. Scraped out animal horns or bamboo served as cupping vessels initially. Vacuum was produced in various kinds, too. One way was to create a hole in the vessel, such that the therapist could establish a vacuum with his own mouth. Another possibility was to put something burning within the vessel and subsequently on the skin. The combustion process consumes air in the vessel which in turn leads to a decrease in pressure.
Initially cupping therapy was a conventional diverting procedure. This kind of procedure is based on the model of humorism, which dominated medicine over a long period of time. The basic idea behind this theory is, that certain differently concentrated fluids occure in the human body. Physical comfort is then dependent on the ratio of mentioned fluids. Famous representatives of humorism are Galen and Hipprokates. Now to influence the ratio one created a wound on the body and subsequently applied cupping therapy. This is called bloody cupping.