Li Ching-Yuen

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Li Ching-Yuen
Li chingYuen.jpeg
Born Claimed 1677 or 1736
Sichuan, Qing Empire
Died May 6, 1933
Sichuan, Republic of China
Cause of death Natural causes
Known for Extreme longevity claim and spiritual practices by means of herbs

Li Ching-Yuen or Li Ching-Yun (simplified Chinese: 李清云; traditional Chinese: 李清雲; pinyin: Lǐ Qīngyún; died May 6, 1933) was a Chinese herbalist who supposedly lived to be over 256 years old.[1][2] He claimed to be born in 1736, while disputed records suggest 1677. Both alleged lifespans of 197 and 256 years far exceed the longest confirmed lifespan of 122 years and 164 days of the French woman Jeanne Calment. His true date of birth was never determined. He was reported to be a martial artist, herbalist and tactical advisor.


Whereas Li Ching-Yuen himself claimed to have been born in 1736, Wu Chung-chieh, a professor of the Chengdu University, asserts that Li was born in 1677 in Qijiang County, Sichuan province.[citation needed] According to a 1930 New York Times article, Wu discovered Imperial Chinese government records from 1827 congratulating Li on his 150th birthday,[3] and further documents later congratulating him on his 200th birthday in 1877. In 1928, a New York Times correspondent wrote that many of the old men in Li's neighborhood asserted that their grandfathers knew him when they were boys, and that he at that time was a grown man.[4]

One of Li Ching-Yuen disciples, the Taijiquan Master Da Liu told of his master's story: when 130 years-old Master Li would have encountered in the mountains an older hermit, over 500 years old, who taught him Baguazhang and a set of Qigong with breathing instructions, movements training coordinated with specific sounds, and dietary recommendations. Da Liu reports that his master said that his longevity "is due to the fact that he performed the exercises every day – regularly, correctly, and with sincerity – for 120 years."[5] Returning home, he died a year later, some say of natural causes; others claim that he said to friends: "I have done all I have to do in this world. I will now go home." After Li's death, General Yang Sen investigated the truth about his claimed background and age and wrote a report about his findings that was later published.[citation needed]

He worked as an herbalist, selling lingzhi, goji berry, wild ginseng, he shou wu and gotu kola along with other Chinese herbs, and lived off a diet of these herbs and rice wine.[6] Li had also supposedly produced over 200 descendants during his life span, surviving 23 wives.[7][8]


The article "Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog", from the May 15, 1933 issue of Time reports on his history, and includes Li Ching-Yuen's answer to the secret of a long life:[3]

  • Tranquil mind
  • Sit like a tortoise
  • Walk sprightly like a pigeon
  • Sleep like a dog

Written reports[edit]

Yang Jwing-Ming, in his book Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow/Brain Washing Qigong, says that Li Ching-Yuen was a Chinese herbalist skilled in Qigong who spent most of his life in the mountains. In 1927, the National Revolutionary Army General Yang Sen (揚森), invited him to his residence in Wann Hsien, Szechuan province, where the picture shown in this article was taken.[9]

Chinese General Yang Sen wrote a report about him, A Factual Account of the 250 Year-Old Good-Luck Man (一个250岁长寿老人的真实记载), in which he described Li Ching Yuen's appearance: "He has good eyesight and a brisk stride; Li stands seven feet tall, has very long fingernails, and a ruddy complexion."[10]

Stuart Alve Olson's 2002 book "Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal: The Eight Essential Exercises of Master Li Ching Yuen" teaches the practice of the "Eight Brocade Qigong" learned with the Taijiquan Master T. T. Liang (Liang Tung Tsai), who learned it from the General Yang Sen.[11]

According to legend, Li Ching Yuen was the creator of Jiulong Baguazhang (or Nine Dragons Baguazhang).

The Taoist Master Liu Pai Lin (劉百齡), who lived in São Paulo, Brazil from 1975 until 2000, had in his classroom another photograph of Master Li Ching Yuen unknown to the West. In this photo his face is clearly visible, as are his long and curled fingernails.[12] Master Liu had met him personally in China, and considered him as one of his Masters. He used to say that Master Li answered to him that the fundamental taoist practice is to learn to keep the "Emptiness" (Wuji). Master Liu's son, Master Liu Chih Ming, teaches the 12 Silks Qigong in CEMETRAC, as transmitted by Master Li.

There are additional photos of Master Li Ching Yuen in a 1986 article in a Qigong specialist publication.[13]

Many cultures around the world, particularly in India, Tibet and China, tell of remarkable longevity achieved by spiritual (yogic and taoist) adepts. Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi with Immortal sage, Babaji and Peter Kelder's The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth being examples.[14][15]


  1. ^ "史上第一長壽!256歲的李青雲 長壽秘訣只有一個字". Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  2. ^ "256歲娶24妻 李慶遠長壽秘訣公開 | 即時新聞 | 20130927 | 蘋果日報". 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  3. ^ a b "Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog". Time. May 15, 2012. 
  4. ^ Ettington, Martin K. (2008). Immortality: A History and How to Guide: Or How to Live to 150 Years and Beyond. Martin Ettington. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-4404-6493-5. 
  5. ^ Liu, Da (1983). Taoist Health Exercise Book. Putnam. 
  6. ^ Castleman, Michael; Saul Hendler, Sheldon (1991). The healing herbs: the ultimate guide to the curative power of nature's medicines. Rodale Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-87857-934-1. 
  7. ^ Harris, Timothy (2009). Living to 100 and Beyond. ACTEX Publications. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-56698-699-1. 
  8. ^ Miami Herald (October 12, 1929). "Living forever". The Evening Independent. 
  9. ^ Jwing-Ming, Yang (1989). Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow/Brain Washing Chi Kung: The Secret of Youth (PDF). YMAA Publication Centre. ISBN 0-940871-06-8. 
  10. ^ Sen, Yang. A Factual Account of the 250 Year-Old Good-Luck Man. Taipei, TW: Chinese and Foreign Literature Storehouse. 
  11. ^ Olson, Stuart Alve (2002). Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal: The Eight Essential Exercises of Master Li Ching-Yuen. Healing Arts Press. ISBN 0-89281-945-6. 
  12. ^ Lin, Liu Pai; Hayashi, Yoshitsugu; Shioda, Kenichi (1995). Taoist Chi Kung Secret Transmission. たま出版. ISBN 4-88481-426-6. 
  13. ^ 1986年《氣功雜誌第6 期》現住常州市成全巷24號的開縣籍八十七歲老人劉成勛先生在上發表回憶李的文章。
  14. ^ Kelder, Peter (1998). The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth. Bantam Doubleday Dell. ISBN 0-385-49162-X. 
  15. ^ Reid, Daniel (1994). The Complete Book of Chinese Health and Healing. Shambhala. ISBN 1-57062-071-7. 

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