Talk:Eight Immortals

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I recall that quite a few dramas(TW, HK, SG, CN??) were made about the Eight Immortals. I can't remember exactly the titles or when they were broadcasted, though. There's a vague memory of one drama where it was shown how each of them became Immortals.


I've read what may be a good summary of each immortal [[1] - link dead]. The eight representated qualities/conditions/situations are age or youth, masculinity or femininity, poverty or wealth, nobility or commonness. Do they each corresponde nicely to an immortal?

Name Quality
He Femininity (woman!)
Zhongli Masculinity (as a soldier)
Lan Youth (girlish boy or vice versa)
Zhang Age (the oldest)
Cao Nobility (as an empress's relative)
Li Poverty (handicapped pauper)
Han Commonness?
 ? -- the only one left is wealth,
but he definitely doesn't symbolize that.

If we can clear this out, we could add this concise description to the list (which should be concise). Of course, the dichotomy may be be one trait per immortal, but some immortals may possess more than one. For example, Cao seems to be both wealth and nobility. --Menchi (Talk)â 06:32, 13 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I'm reading Braziller's Japanese Ghosts & Demons and it has a chapter "Sennin: The Immortals of Taoism" which says (page 58):

According to legend, the immortals were at one time historical personages who achieved transcendence by refining body and mind. In addition to serving as an inspiration to human souls striving for inner peace or for everlasting life, the immortals fucntioned as guardians of Taoism. In time, a group of "Eight Immortals" was created, modelled after the Eighteeen Arhats of Buddhism. The individiual members of the "Eight Immortals" varied, but each had a legend surrounding his life and transmutation into immortality.

This suggests there was never one fixed set of 8 Immortals. There are actually 497 immortals all listed in Yu-hsiang lieh-hsien ch'uan-chuun written y Liu Hsiang (77-76BC - this doesn't seem right) and expanded by Wang Shih-chen (1528-1590). Gama (and his 3 legged frog) and Tekkai are named as being amongst these but it isn't immediately clear what the complete line up of the 8 Immortals is - if there is a definitive list. I'd suggest a separate entry for the hsien. Currently Hsien is a redirect but looking at what links there it should be easy enough to use for our purposes. Thoughts?
The main references seems to be: Henri Maspero. Taoism and Chinese Religion. Amherst, MA (1981) (Emperor 21:01, 5 August 2006 (UTC))
From Braziller (page 60): "In both China and Japan, depcitions of Gama were often paired with another sennin named Tekkai (T'ieh-kuai in Chinese); they are both at times included in the group of 'Eight Immortals'". This is also confirmed by this page [2] which includes common depictions of them (which crop up a lot). This page [3] gives Gama's Chinese name Liu Hai or Liu Har and his three-legged frog is Ch'an Chu. I'll get around to starting an entry but I suspect someone else will have to sort out the various charactes. (Emperor 23:38, 8 August 2006 (UTC))


The book I mentioned above says that Sennin is just the Japanese equivalent of the word hsien or hsien-jen - immortals. The current entry on this suggests they are something different but states no sources. I've requested some and see the talk page for more discussion. If it can't be proved Sennin should probably either be turned into the hsien entry I mention above or turned into a redirect to that article (my prefered). (Emperor 21:01, 5 August 2006 (UTC))