He Xiangu

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Zhang Lu's painting of He Xiangu on a flying crane, early 16th century

He Xiangu (何仙姑), also named He Qiong (何瓊), is the only female deity among the Eight Immortals. The gender of her fellow immortal Lan Caihe is somewhat ambiguous.[1]

She was from Yong Prefecture (today Linglin County) during the Tang Dynasty, or from a wealthy and generous family in Zēngchéng County (增城縣), Guangdong.

Legend[edit]

He Xiangu was the daughter of Ho T‘ai, of the town of Tsêng-ch‘êng, in the prefecture of 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, in order that her body might become etherealized and immune from death. So she swallowed it, and also vowed to remain a virgin.

Later on by slow degrees she gave up taking ordinary food.

The Empress Wu dispatched a messenger to summon her to attend at the palace, but on the way there, she disappeared.

One day during the Jinglong (景龍) period (about 707 CE), she ascended to heaven in broad daylight, and became a Xian (Taoist Immortal).[2]

Depiction[edit]

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

Modern depictions[edit]

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

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Eight Immortals (1916)
  2. ^ Lieh Hsien Chuan, ii, 32, 33