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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The Eight Immortals (I)"

The Eight Immortals (I)

His wife said: “My husband is not at home. I can give you nothing.”

The Taoist answered: “I do not want your gold and silver, I want you. Sit down beside me on the mat, and we will fly up into the air and you shall find your husband again!”

Hereupon the woman grew angry and struck at him with a cudgel.

Then Hang Siang Dsi changed himself into his true form, stepped on a shining cloud and was carried aloft. His wife looked after him and wept loudly; but he had disappeared and was not seen again.

The eighth Immortal is a girl and was called Ho Sian Gu. She was a peasant’s daughter, and though her step-mother treated her harshly she remained respectful and industrious. She loved to give alms, though her step-mother tried to prevent her. Yet she was never angry, even when her step-mother beat her. She had sworn not to marry, and at last her step-mother did not know what to do with her. One day, while she was cooking rice, Grandfather Du came and delivered her. She was still holding the rice-spoon in her hand as she ascended into the air. In the heavens she was appointed to sweep up the fallen flowers at the Southern Gate of Heaven.

Note: The legends of the Eight Immortals, regarded as one group, do not go back further than the Manchu dynasty, though individual ones among them were known before. Some of the Immortals, like Han Siang Dsi, are historic personages, others purely mythical. In the present day they play an important part in art and in the art-crafts. Their emblems also occur frequently: Dschung Li Kuan is represented with a fan. Dschang Go has a bamboo drum with two drum-sticks (and his donkey). Lu Dung Bin has a sword and a flower-basket on his back. Tsau Guo Gui has two small boards, (Yin Yang Ban), which he can throw into the air. Li Tia Guai has the bottle-gourd, out of which emerges a bat, the emblem of good fortune. Lan Tsai Ho, who is also pictured as a woman, has a flute. Han Siang Dsi has a flower-basket and a dibble. Ho Sian Gu has a spoon, usually formed in the shape of a lotus-flower.

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