Who were the “Eight Immortals”
The term ‘Eight Immortals’ is in a matter of speaking used for happiness. They represent the imaginary idea of perfect happiness. They also represent all kinds of people—old, young, male, female, civil, military, rich, poor, afflicted, cultured, noble. Also, they are representative of early, middle, and later historical periods.
The power of each immortal can be transferred to an object and grant life or destroy evil.
[In The Forbidden Kingdom, Jackie Chan plays the character Lu Yan, who is supposed to be one of the Eight Immortals,]
The legend of the Eight Immortals dates back to the Sung dynasty (A.D. 960–1280), some, of the group, seem to have been previously mentioned as Immortals in the Taoist legends. They are also known as the Eight Healers.
The Immortals are:
- He Xiangu (何仙姑), generally seen as the only female of the group, often depicted holding a lotus flower.
- Cao Guojiu (曹國舅), related to a Song dynasty emperor before he became an immortal.
- Li Tieguai (李鐵拐), considered to be mentally disturbed and associated with medicine and easing the suffering of the sick and needy, identified by his iron crutch and Calabash bottle.
- Lan Caihe (藍采和), an immortal of ambiguous gender considered the patron of florists and gardeners.
- Lü Dongbin (呂洞賓), a scholar and poet considered to be the leader of the Eight Immortals.
- Han Xiangzi (韓湘子), a flute artist.
- Zhang Guolao (張果老), a fangshi associated with old age.
- Zhongli Quan (鍾離權), associated with death and the power to create silver and gold, depicted holding a fan.
Children Books on Chinese Myths and Legends