Anqi Sheng

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Anqi Sheng (Chinese: 安期生; Wade–Giles: An-ch’i Shêng) was a Chinese immortal and wizard, said to be already over 1,000 years old at the time of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor.

He was said to inhabit Mount Penglai, which until now scholars debate where the real island is. Anqi appears to have been a taoist wizard, and possessed the power of rendering himself visible or invisible at pleasure. According to the Daoist hagiography Liexian Zhuan, Qin Shi Huang spoke with him for three entire days (including nights), and offered Anqi jade and gold. Qin Shi Huang feared death and sought for immortality but without success. In 219 BC, he sent an expedition under Xu Fu, to find Anqi and to bring with him the elixir of life, whose purpose is to grant immortality or eternal youth whoever has it. When Xu Fu reports a sea creature is blocking their path, Qin Shi Huang sent archers to kill it. In 210 BC, Xu Fu continued his journey. Legend says he found Japan instead, proclaimed himself king and never returned. The Records of the Grand Historian chronicles that Li Shaojun 李少君 visited him during his travels. There is no records, however, where they met or Mount Penglai itself. In 130 BC, Emperor Wu of Han also sent an expedition to find Anqi, which proved unsuccessful.

As to now, there is a debate on the real location of Mount Penglai and the existence of Anqi Sheng.

Anqi holds an important place in the Taiqing and Shangqing Schools.

References[edit]

  • This article incorporates material from Herbert Giles's A Chinese Biographical Dictionary (London: Arthur Probsthain, 1898), which is now in the public domain.
  • Fabrizio Pregadio. The Encyclopedia of Taoism. Routledge, 2008.