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The Eight Immortals

The Eight Immortals in the Legend are eight immortals that are best known among the people including seven men and one lady. They are Han Zhongli (Zhong Liquan), Zhang Guolao, Han Xiangzi, Tie Guaili, Cao Guojiu, Lu Dongbin, Lan Caihe and He Xiangu. The story about The Eight Immortals appeared long ago. There were Drawing of the Eight Immortals and Story of the Eight Immortals in the Tang Dynasty, but the names of the characters were not decided yet. It was until in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), after Wu Yuantai's novel Journey to the East, the eight characters were finally decided.

It says that the Eight Immortals separately represent male, female, the old, the young, the rich, the noble, the poor, and the humble Chinese. The talismans that they use, which are called Hidden Eight Immortals, all have the certain meanings. Zhang Guolao's drum can augur life. Lu Dongbin's sword can subdue the evil. Han Xingzi's flute can cause growth. He Xiangu's Water Lily can cultivate people through meditation. Tie Guaili's gourd can help the needy and relieve the distressed. Zhong Liquan's fan can bring the dead back to life. Cao Guojiu's jade board can purify the environment. Lan Caihe's basket of flowers can communicate with gods.

The Eight Immortals are the gods who punish evildoers and encourage people to do good, help those in distress and aid those in peril. There are a lot of folk tales about them. The most famous ones are The Eight Immortals Celebrate the Birthday and The Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea. The Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea tells that a god invites the Eight Immortals to take part in a party and appreciate peonies. On the way back, the Dragon King of the East Sea stops them and both sides begin a furious dispute. At last, the Eight Immortals and their friends take out their talismans and win. Then they get across the sea. The legend of the Eight Immortals is one of the most moving Chinese ancient stories. It now has become the idioms and literary quotation commonly used by people. Especially among ordinary people, it has great influence, and some customs even spread to the inshore areas of Japan.

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