The Eight Immortals of the Taoist Pantheon of Gods

The Eight Immortals (Ba xian) are eight saints of the Taoist pantheon of Gods, who are painted in many temples, public places, and restaurants. They are typically depicted crossing the sea on a boat.

Eight Immortals from left to right: Zhong Li Quan, Lu Dong Bin, Cao Guo Jiu, Zhang Guo Lao, Lan Cai He, Li Tie Guai, Han Xiang Zi, and He Xian Gu.

Listed below are the 8 Immortals.

Lu DongBin: A famous Taoist patriarch, a legendary historical figure, and the patron of literature and hairdressers. He is depicted with a magical sword that disperses evil. Lu Dongbin is often considered the chief of the immortals (while the true chief is Zhongli Quan).

Li TieGuai: A doctor and scientist, defender of the sickly, and the patron of magicians and astrologers. He is depicted with a magic calabash with medicine, and an iron stick. He looks like a one-legged beggar with a dirty face, unkempt beard, and a gold hoop on his head. The Jade Emperor gave him immortality for his many noble deeds.

Zhong Li Quan: The patron of soldiers. He is depicted with a magical fan (that can raise the dead) and the elixir of immortality. He looks like a tall man with curly hair, whose entire body is tattooed. He is one of the oldest of the Eight Immortals, who is considered their chief. He was a general during the Han Dynasty. He was taught Taoist alchemy, martial arts, and healing.

Han Xiang Zi: He is a philosopher. He is portrayed as a handsome and cheerful young man who plays the magic flute, which makes everything bloom. He was given feminine traits for his beauty. He is considered the patron of musicians. He left his job as an official in the government, and went to seek the truth in Tao. Once he demonstrated the power of Tao by drinking a lot of wine and not getting drunk. He knew magic - he could make wine from water and grow flowers in the winter.

Cao Guo Jiu: Known as a representative of the ruling Song Dynasty. He is depicted in a red uniform, with a hat of a high-ranking official, and with a jade tablet that purifies all around and gives the right to enter the palace. Sometimes he is painted with rattles in his hands. He is the patron of actors and mimes.

Zhang Guo Lao: A magician. He is painted sitting backwards on a magic mule, with bamboo rattles in his hands. He has a long white beard. He is the patron of the elderly, and a perfect teacher/master. According to legend, he is an incarnation of a white bat. Zhang Guo Lao is associated with a real person who lived during the Tang Dynasty.

Lan Cai He: A woman or man (sometimes considered a hermaphrodite) with a bamboo basket of flowers that express immortality (chrysanthemum). He/she is the patron of gardeners. Lan Caihe is the most extravagant character of the Eight Immortals, a kind of holy fool. He/she is always singing, writing poetry, drinking wine, and always cheerful. Legend has it that he/she once got all the immortals drunk.

He Xian Gu: A woman with a lotus flower or a basket of flowers, and a flute. She is the patroness of hearth. At fifteen, He Xiangu met Lu Dongbin, who started to court her, actually wanting to bring her into the Tao. Having received teachings from him, she became able to fly through the mountains and gather wild fruit, earning a living for her and her mother. Lu Dongbin gave her a magic peach from the island of the Immortals, and taught her how to control the energies using the feminine Yin.

Statue of Eight Immortals or Ba Xian

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