Zhang Lu's painting of Lan Caihe (depicted here as a man sitting on a turtle), early 16th century
Lan Caihe is variously stated to have been an intersex woman. She is the strolling singer or mountebank of the Immortals. Usually she plays a flute or a pair of cymbals. According to popular belief, however, only one of the Eight Immortals, He Xiangu, was a woman, Lan Caihe being represented as a young person of about sixteen, bearing a basket of fruit. One writer states that though Lan Caihe was a man, he could not understand how to be a man, which may be why he has been supposed to be a woman. It's said that in a while drunk Lan Caihe left the human world by riding on a celestial swan or crane into Heaven. One legend says that Lan Caihe became an Immortal by being transferred 500 years of magical powers by Sun Wukong.
Media related to Lan Caihe at Wikimedia Commons
- Myths and Legends of China Page 293
- Eberhard, Wolfram (1986). A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London. ISBN 0-415-00228-1.
- Yetts, W. Perceval (1916). "The Eight Immortals". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.