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Ho Hsien Ku

A maiden holding in her hand a magic lotus-blossom, the flower of open-heartedness, or the peach of immortality given her by L Tung-pin in the mountain-gorge as a symbol of identity, playing at times the shng or reed-organ, or drinking winethis is the picture the Chinese paint of the Immortal Ho Hsien Ku.

She was the daughter of Ho Tai, a native of Tsng-chng Hsien in Kuangtung. Others say her father was a shopkeeper at Ling-ling in Hunan. She lived in the time of the usurping empress Wu (A.D. 684705) of the Tang dynasty. At her birth six hairs were found growing on the crown of her head, and the account says she never had any more, though the pictures represent her with a full head of hair. She elected to live on Yn-mu Ling, twenty li west of Tsng-chng Hsien. On that mountain was found a stone called yn-mu shih, mother-of-pearl. In a dream she saw a spirit who ordered her to powder and eat one of these stones, by doing which she could acquire both agility and immortality. She complied with this injunction, and also vowed herself to a life of virginity. Her days were thenceforth passed in floating from one peak to another, bringing home at night to her mother the fruits she collected on the mountain. She gradually found that she had no need to eat in order to live. Her fame having reached the ears of the Empress, she was invited to Court, but while journeying thither suddenly disappeared from mortal view and became an Immortal. She is said to have been seen again in A.D. 750 floating upon a cloud of many colours at the temple of Ma Ku, the famous female Taoist magician, and again, some years later, in the city of Canton.

She is represented as an extremely beautiful maiden, and is remarkable as occupying so prominent a position in a cult in which no system of female asceticism is developed.

 

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