Zhongli Quan

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Zhang Lu's painting of Zhongli Quan, early 16th centuy

Zhongli Quan (traditional Chinese: 鐘離權; simplified Chinese: 钟离权) is one of the most ancient of the Eight Immortals (some others say the oldest is Li Tieguai, Zhang Guolao, or Lü Dongbin) and the leader of the group. (Some people consider Lü Dongbin to be an informal leader.) He is also known as Zhongli of Han (Han Zhongli 漢鐘離) because he was said to be born during the Han Dynasty. He possesses a fan which has the magical ability of reviving the dead and in some stories, it also can transform stones into silver or gold.

Life[edit]

He was born in Yantai (燕台). According to legends, bright beams of light filled the labour room during his birth. After birth he did not stop crying until seven full days had passed. He was destined for greatness from the day he was born by showing features such as a broad forehead, thick ears, long eyebrows, deep eyes, red nose, square mouth, high cheeks, and scarlet lips. Stories depict that either 7 days or 7 years later he began to speak, the first sentence he uttered was, “my feet have wandered in the purple palace of the [immortals], my name is recorded in the capital of the jade emperor." Later Taoists celebrate his birthday on the fifteenth day of the fourth month of the Chinese Calendar. Following his fathers example, he became a member of the court, advancing to general of one of the armies of the Han Dynasty. During his time as general, his army fought against Tibet. In his last battle he was beaten by the Tibetans, forcing him to flee into the mountainous areas surrounding him. There he came across an old man who led him to a spiritual sanctuary where he was welcomed in and told that he could stay as long as was needed. There he learned the ways of the immortal rituals and extensive amounts of alchemy. After 3 hard days of teaching, he was dismissed and told to use his newfound powers to serve his people. When he turned back to talk to the man, he and his home had vanished. Using his power of alchemy and his magical fan, he created silver and gold coins from stones and saved people from poverty and famine.

There are 2 stories that depict how he became one of the Immortals. In the first, it was in his continuous use of the immortal powers and his magical fan that eventually caused his descent into the shimmering cloud of the immortals. In the second, he was meditating near a wall of his hermitage when all of a sudden it collapsed. Behind the wall was a jade vessel that took him as an immortal to the shimmering cloud.

In Taoism, he is known as "正陽祖師" (Zhèngyáng Zǔshī), literally the True-Yang Ancestor-Master. He is also called "Master of the Cloud-Chamber" (雲房先生 Yún Fáng Xiān Shēng) in accounts describing his encounter with Lü Dongbin before achieving immortality.

He has a rare Chinese compound surname, Zhongli (鐘離). He is one of three leaders of the group of the eight immortals.

Depiction[edit]

Usually depicted with his chest and belly bare and holding a fan made of feathers or horse hair. He is often set apart from the other immortals in pictures by wisps of hair on his temples and a beard down to his navel. He is known for his pleasing disposition, and is often painted or drawn drinking wine.

Modern depiction[edit]

In the television show Jackie Chan Adventures, Quan was shown to be the Immortal who sealed away Xiao Fung, The Wind Demon. Many paintings and drawings of him can be found on modern day porcelain pieces or fans. The Eight Immortals include Zhang Guo-lo, Lu Dongbin, Cao Guo-jo, Li Tieguai, He Xian-gu, Lan Cai-he, and Han Xian-zi. They are known for their lifestyle of "free and easy wandering" and their devotion to the downtrodden. They each represent conditions of life: youth, old age, poverty, wealth, the populace, nobility, masculinity, and femininity. They have been depicted and had storied told about them dating back to the Tang Dynasty (7th Century).

See also[edit]

Media related to Zhongli Quan at Wikimedia Commons