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Chung-li Chan

Regarding 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 Chan, his literary appellation Chi Tao, and his pseudonyms Ho-ho Tzŭ and Wang-yang Tzŭ; his style Yn-fang.

He 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-chng Hsien in the prefecture of Ping-yang Fu in Shansi. He is referred to by the title of King-emperor of the True Active Principle.

Another account describes Chung-li Chan 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 Tang dynasty Han Chung-li taught this same science of immortality to L Tung-pin and took the pompous title of the Only Independent One Under Heaven.

Other 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.

During 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.

One 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.

When 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.

He is sometimes represented holding his feather-fan, Y-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 L Yen.


The Great Wall of China The Forbidden City
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