Hsiang Tzŭ, who is depicted with a bouquet of flowers
or a basket of peaches of immortality, is stated to have
been a grand-nephew of Han Yü (A.D. 768–824), the great
statesman, philosopher, and poet of the T’ang dynasty, and
an ardent votary of transcendental study. His own name was
Ch’ing Fu. The child was entrusted to his uncle to be
educated and prepared for the public examinations. He
excelled his teacher in intelligence and the performance of
wonderful feats, such as the production from a little earth
in a flower-pot of some marvellous flowering plants, on the
leaves of which were written in letters of gold some verses
to this effect:
The clouds hide Mount Ch’in Ling.
Where is your abode?
The snow is deep on Lan Kuan;
Your horse refuses to advance.
is the meaning of these verses?” asked Han Yü. “You
will see,” replied Han Hsiang Tzŭ.
time afterward Han Yü was sent in disgrace to the
prefecture of Ch’ao-chou Fu in Kuangtung. When he reached
the foot of Lan Kuan the snow was so deep that he could not
go on. Han Hsiang Tzŭ appeared, and, sweeping away the
snow, made a path for him. Han Yü then understood the
prophecy in his pupil’s verses. When Han Hsiang Tzŭ
was leaving his uncle, he gave him the following in verse:
Many indeed are the eminent men who have served their country, but
which of them surpasses you in his knowledge of literature?
When you have reached a high position, you will be buried in
a damp and foggy land.
Yü also gave his pupil a farewell verse:
How many here below allow themselves to be inebriated by the love
of honours and pelf! Alone and watchful you persevere in the
right path. But a time will come when, taking your flight to
the sky, you will open in the ethereal blue a luminous
Yü was depressed at the thought of the damp climate of his
place of exile. “I fear there is no doubt,” he said,
“that I shall die without seeing my family again.”
Hsiang Tzŭ consoled him, gave him a prescription, and
said: “Not only will you return in perfect health to the
bosom of your family, but you will be reinstated in your
former offices.” All this took place exactly as he had
Another account states that he became the disciple of Lü Tung-pin, and,
having been carried up to the supernatural peach-tree of the
genii, fell from its branches, but during his descent
attained to the state of immortality. Still another version
says that he was killed by the fall, was transformed, and
then underwent the various experiences with Han Yü already