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Eight Famous Taoist Immortals

Eight Famous Taoist Immortals

Ch'uan is said to have discovered the Elixir of life. His symbol is the peach, an emblem of longevity. He is also depicted as carrying a fan with which he could revive the dead.

Chang Kuo Lao

A recluse with mystic powers. He is said to have had a mule that could carry him a thousand miles in a day, which he could fold up like a piece of paper and put in his wallet. When again required he had simply to sprinkle it with water and it resumed its normal proportions. His symbols are a musical instrument made of bamboo, called the Yu Ku, and the feather of the Phoenix, the bird of immortality.

Lu Tung-pin

A Taoist scholar and recluse, who received the secret of immortality from Chung-li K'uan. During his probation he is described as having to undergo ten temptations, upon the overcoming of which he was given a sword possessing supernatural powers. With this he rid the country of dragons and other monsters that infested it. His symbols are the sword and the Taoist fly-brush.

Ts'ao Kuo-chiu

A military commander who turned hermit. Once when meditating, the wall of his cave was rent asunder, disclosing a casket of jade containing a scroll upon which were written the secrets of immortality and of the transmutation of metals. As he followed the instructions given therein the cave became filled with luminous clouds out of which came a stork, upon whose back he was transported to the Happy Land of Immortality. He is the patron saint of the drama, and his symbols are a pair of castanets and a feather fan.

T'ieh-Kuai Li

A beggar with a crutch. He is said to have been a disciple of Lao-Tzu, who summoned him to Heaven, instructing him to leave his body in the care of a pupil. During his absence the pupil was summoned to the bedside of his dying mother, and the body in his charge, being considered dead, was consigned to the flames. Li T'ieh-Kuai, on returning, found only a heap of ashes, so he entered the body of a beggar who had just died and in this continued his life. His symbols are a pilgrim's gourd, containing magical medicines with which he healed many of the sick, and a crab. He is sometimes represented as accompanied by a deer. He is the patron saint of Apothecaries.

Han Hsang-Tzu

Scholar, poet and student of transcendental lore. He is said to have been able to make flowers grow before the eyes of the beholders. He was a pupil of Lu Tung-pin, and was instructed by him to climb a peach tree, whereupon he fell from its branches and became immortal. He is the patron saint of musicians, and his symbol is the flute, which he is usually represented as playing.

Lan Ts'ai-ho

Sometimes dressed as a male and sometimes as a female. A wondering minstrel, whose songs told about the unreality of this fleeting life and the delusiveness of earthly pleasures. Always dressed in colorful robes, and wore only one shoe. At the end of earthly life, Lan ts'ai-ho disappeared into a cloud. Lan Ts'ai-ho's symbol is a basket of flowers, and is the patron saint of florists.

Ho Hsien-Ku

Called the Immortal Maiden. In a vision she was instructed that if she ate mother-of-pearl she would gradually become immortal. She lived in the mountains and became more and more ethereal, floating from peak to peak. At last, dispensing with earthly food, she attained her quest. Her symbol is the lotus, the flower of open-heartedness. She is a patron of female Taoists.