He Xiangu

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is He.
Zhang Lu's painting of He Xiangu riding on a celestial crane, early 16th century
He Xiangu
Chinese 何仙姑
He Qiong
Traditional Chinese 何瓊
Simplified Chinese 何琼

He Xiangu, birth name He Qiong, is a Chinese mythological figure and one of the Eight Immortals in the Taoist pantheon. While she is often seen as the only female among the Eight Immortals, the sex of Lan Caihe, another of the Eight Immortals, is somewhat ambiguous.[1] He Xiangu is believed to have lived in the Tang dynasty and was born in either Lingling District, Yongzhou, Hunan or Zengcheng District, Guangzhou, Guangdong.

Legend[edit]

According to the Xian Fo Qi Zong (仙佛奇蹤), He Xiangu was the daughter of He Tai (何泰), a man from Zengcheng District, Guangzhou, Guangdong. At birth, she had six long hairs on the crown of her head. When she was about 14 or 15, a divine personage appeared to her in a dream and instructed her to eat powdered mica so that her body might become etherealised and immune from death. She did as instructed and also vowed to remain a virgin. She also gradually decreased her food intake.

Wu Zetian once sent a messenger to summon He Xiangu to the imperial court, but she disappeared on the way there.

One day during the Jinglong era (707–710 CE) in the reign of Emperor Zhongzong of the Tang dynasty, she ascended to Heaven in broad daylight and became an immortal.[2]

Depiction[edit]

He Xiangu's lotus flower improves one's health, mental and physical. She is depicted holding a lotus flower, and sometimes with the musical instrument known as sheng, or a fenghuang to accompany her. She may also carry a bamboo |ladle or fly-whisk.

Modern depictions[edit]

In the television show Jackie Chan Adventures, He Xiangu was shown to be the Immortal who sealed away Tso Lan, The Moon Demon.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Eight Immortals (1916)
  2. ^ Liexian Zhuan, ii, 32, 33