The 8 Immortals
Chung Li- Chuan
Chung-Li Chuan is one of the most ancient of the 8 immortals and sometimes said to be their leader. He always carries a magic fan and possesses the power to raise the dead and cure the sick. He is the symbol of long life.
Elder Zhang Guo- Thought to be based on an actual historical figure, Zhang Guo is often depicted as an old man because he claimed to be several hundred years old. He is most often depicted as an old man riding a donkey (usually backwards). Legand has it that the donkey could carry him several thousand miles a day and that he could fold up the donkey and carry him in his wallet or a small box. However by sprinkling water from his mouth over the donkey, it would revive again. Legend has it that when his disciples visited his tomb after death, they found it empty.
Lu Dong- Pin
Lu Dong- Pin was said to be a Daoist scholar who loved helping others cultivate their Dao. Though known as a ladies' man who also had a love for alcohol he is one of the most widely known immortals. He is said to carry a magic sword with him that he used to slay demons. He sometimes also has a fly-whisker that is said to cure illness.
Royal Uncle Cao
Royal Uncle Cao is generally depicted with a jade tablet that is said to be able to purify the environment. Sometimes he is also shown with castantets or a feather fan. He is said to have been connected with the Sung Imperial family, but left in shame when his brother, who everyone was afraid to stand up to killed a man. He is also the patron saint of actors.
Iron Crutch Li
Li T’ieh Guai (Iron-crutch Li) is sometimes said to be the most popular or powerful of the 8 immortals. Though depicted as a dirty old man or a begger who walks with the help of an iron crutch, he is very compassionate towards the poor and needy. He is also believed to bestow wisdom and is sometimes said to be accompanied by a deer.
Philosopher Han Xiang was said to be the nephew of a prominent statesman who wanted him to give up Daoism and study Confucianism. However he demonstrated the power of the Dao by pouring endless cups of wine from a gourd. He is said to be a very happy immortal who is often shown playing the flute.
Lan T'Sai Ho
Lan T’sai Ho is sometime depicted either as a young boy, a woman, or sexually ambiguous. Regardless, he/she often goes about wearing only one shoe and wears few clothes during winter but lots of clothes during the summer. In some traditions he/she also sings songs that can predict the future. Often in a drunken stupor, he/she was supposedly carried off to heaven on the back of a large crane or swan.
Immortal Woman He
Immortal woman He (He Xiangu)- the only (for sure) woman of the group, she carries a magic lotus blossom and is called the Immortal Maiden (she vowed to remain a virgin). She is the patron immortal of family and luck in marriage.