the origin and life of this Immortal several different
accounts are given. One states that his family name was
Chung-li, and that he lived in the Han dynasty, being
therefore called Han Chung-li. His cognomen was Ch’üan,
his literary appellation Chi Tao, and his pseudonyms Ho-ho
Tzŭ and Wang-yang Tzŭ; his style Yün-fang.
was born in the district of Hsien-yang Hsien (a
sub-prefecture of the ancient capital Hsi-an Fu) in Shensi.
He became Marshal of the Empire in the cyclic year 2496. In
his old age he became a hermit on Yang-chio Shan, thirty li
north-east of I-ch’êng Hsien in the prefecture of P’ing-yang
Fu in Shansi. He is referred to by the title of King-emperor
of the True Active Principle.
account describes Chung-li Ch’üan as merely a
vice-marshal in the service of Duke Chou Hsiao. He was
defeated in battle, and escaped to Chung-nan Shan, where he
met the Five Heroes, the Flowers of the East, who instructed
him in the doctrine of immortality. At the end of the
T’ang dynasty Han Chung-li taught this same science of
immortality to Lü Tung-pin and took the pompous title of
the Only Independent One Under Heaven.
versions state that Han Chung-li is not the name of a
person, but of a country; that he was a Taoist priest Chung
Li-tzŭ; and that he was a beggar, Chung-li by name, who
gave to one Lao Chih a pill of immortality. No sooner had
the latter swallowed it than he went mad, left his wife, and
ascended to Heaven.
a great famine he transmuted copper and pewter into silver
by amalgamating them with some mysterious drug. This
treasure he distributed among the poor, and thousands of
lives were thus saved.
day, while he was meditating, the stone wall of his dwelling
in the mountains was rent asunder, and a jade casket exposed
to view. This was found to contain secret information as to
how to become an Immortal.
he had followed these instructions for some time, his room
was filled with many-coloured clouds, music was heard, and a
celestial stork came and bore him away on its back to the
regions of immortality.
is sometimes represented holding his feather-fan, Yü-mao
Shan; at other times the peach of immortality. Since his
admission to the ranks of the gods, he has appeared on earth
at various times as the messenger of Heaven. On one of these
occasions he met Lü Yen.