tieguai li

In Ancient Greece you had Hermaphroditos, but all across the world, in Ancient China, you also had this sweet li'l dude… uh, chick by the name of Lan Caihe.

See, what makes him/her really badass is that he is actually a hermaphrodite. Fo’ shiz. No one knows if s/he is either male or female, and all these lazy artist people just go, gah. I'mma paint him/her as either one and be done with it - see above.

Anyhow, Lan Caihe was somethin’ of a child prodigy, ‘cause he showed his family that he could memorize longass chunks of poetry, which is kind of like memorizing all of Shakespeare’s sonnets or whatever. But his mum died, his dad re-married, and yeah yeah, the evil stepmum came and treated him badly, so life really sucked for this little guy. I mean, girl.

Anyhow, he met this lame beggar bringing someone back to life - and yup, you guessed it - it’s our homie Tieguai Li. Lan Caihe was real smart, so he asked Li to make him immortal, going, “Oh please please please please!” So Li was all, “k, but you gotta meet me at the River Viewing Pavilion,” because Chinese people love Pavilions, and they totally had to include one in this story.

K, so Lan Caihe and a group of people went to meet Li at the Pavilion, and Li was all, “You wanna be immortal? You jump on the raft.”

But the raft was just some tiny leaf. Everyone was all, man, this sucks balls, but Caihe was all, I really wanna do this 'cause it means escaping from my step-mum and shiz. So he jumped.

The leaf became so huge-ass, and it rose into the sky with Caihe, with Li accompanying him/her. That’s how they became bros. Or siblings, whichever.

Lan Caihe is famous for having a pair of Jade Clappers, which is kinda like the equivalent of a beat-box. S/He can rap faster than 50 cent or Kanye West, 'cause his clappers help him/her out with the beat. S/He’s also the patron saint of florists, and represents the outsiders of society, y'know, those who fall through the cracks. S/He loves his/her wine, so you can invite him/her to your dance party, and maybe h/she’ll deejay for you.

How cool is that?

Anyway, there are variations in this legend. Some other says he was drinking wine in a restaurant and saw some pretty pink clouds so whoosh! He jumped up on them and was spirited away. There are lots more variations of how he came to be, and some even say that it wasn’t Tieguai Li but Han Zhongli [another immortal we’ll look at later] who dared him to.

The 8 Immortals Cross the Sea

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If you think the 8 immortlas couldn’t get any cooler, you’re wrong. They’re so bad-ass, they even made a journey across the sea. Drunk. I mean, we call people and say stupid things when drunk. Or we text. Or we make a fool out of ourselves. But the 8 immortals got so drunk, they decided to cross the sea because they felt like it. Awesome, huh?

Anyway, they got drunk because they’d just been to one of the Peach Banquets of the Queen Mother, and her parties are like, the best, because you get to hang out with all the immortlas and get the best food there. Cool, huh? So the 8 immortals thought they’d try to cross the Eastern Sea, and to make it more fun, they decided to use their own special magic powers to do it instead of using good old somersault clouds.

(Back in the day, all immortals summoned clouds so they could float wherever they wanted.)

So anyways, Lu Dongbin tossed his sword and it became a boat, Tieguai Li’s crutch became a piece of wood, Han Xiangzi’s basket got bigger and bigger so he could sit on it, and He Xiangu did that to her lotus, too.

Think that’s all? Think again!

Lan Caihe took his Jade Boards and made them into a canoe, Cao Guojiu took his imperial jade tablets and changed it into a raft, Zhongli Quan used his banana leaf, and of course, Zhang Guolao used his donkey.

They then started to cross the sea, but Lan Caihe had a pair of Jade Clappers that were so brilliant and - SHINY! - that lit up the entire Dragon Palace below. The Dragon Crown Prince was all, “WHASSAT? I must like, totally check it out and shiz,” and so he went up to the surface with his troops, and stole Lan Caihe’s Jade Clappers, and locked up our poor immortal.

So then he told his Dad, who was the Dragon King, “Hey Dad, I caught an immortal and stole his clappers!” And like any old Dad, the Dragon King was all, “Awesomesauce! I’m so proud of you, and you can totally have the par-tay you wanted.”

Anyway, the immortals soon noticed that Caihe was missing - I mean, hello, he’s like, the only androgynous one around, and so they were like, kay where did he go? And Lu Dongbin was all, I’ll go look so he dived into the sea. 

Lu Dongbin basically said, “Hey, pissheads! Gimme back my friend or I’ll beat you up!”

The Dragon Prince heard and was all, “Puh-lease. You’re goin’ down like your friend.”

They fought, and the Dragon Prince hid somewhere, but Lu Dongbin used his magic gourd - which is this ancient Chinese bottle - to boil the sea, and finally, the Dragon King was all, “Fine, you can have your stupid friend back, but we’re keepin’ the clappers, k?”

So the immortals were all, WOOHOO! Our homie is back, but Caihe was real sad, because the Jade Clappers were his weapon, and he was now the only immortal among them who doesn’t have one, so the others were all, hmm, we totally gotta get it back. They talked and talked, and Lu Dongbin went down to get the clappers.

He dueled with the Dragon Prince again, but with He Xiangu’s help, she captured him, and he was killed. Then, the Dragon King was all, WTF? This immortal is way too strong, and so he sent his second son into battle. The second son also died anyways, so it was a major bummer.

Now the Dragon King was real pissed off, so he got all his troops, which were basically like, seafood in armour [you know, fish, crabs, and prawns and shiz,] and the 8 immortals gave it all they got. And they fought and fought and fought, and the immortals basically whooped their asses! Woo! The Dragon King then asked the other Dragon King [of the South, he was the Dragon King of the East] for help, and they were like, “Man, we should totally use the power of the sea to get rid of these immortals,” and so they went to work. They created this HUGE tsunami and tried to flood all the immortals, but Zhang Guolao was all, “HEY GUYS! WAKE UP, we’re all going to dieeee!” So the immortals woke up and flew off in time.

Anyway, they got real pissed off and were all, “Okay, if they can do a tsunami, we’ll toss a hugeass mountain into the sea.” So they got a hold of Mount Tai, and smashed it into the sea. Uh-oh. It was about this time that Guan Yin came and she was all, “Guys, I totally have a peaceful solution to this, listen to me, ‘cause this fighting is going to go on forever, y'know?” The 8 immortals were all, “Wut?” And she was like, “Kay, Caihe can have his clappers back, but he has to give 2 parts of it to the Dragon King 'cause he lost 2 sons.” They thought about it, and were all, “Hey, that’s totally fair,” and agreed.

Of course, after that, they made their way through the sea safely. Awww yeah.

This legend is also real popular, 'cause it’s about people working together, using their special abilities for a common goal, somethin’ we don’t see much of nowadays. It’s also a real cool story because of the epic battles between two worlds, too, and you could also pick your favourite immortal. For me, I’m real torn, 'cause I really do like all of them. Anyway, that’s about it about the 8 immortals [for now, until I get a hold of the rest of their stories] and next week, we’ll be talkin’ 'bout some of my favourite Chinese writers.

See you then!

Now this dude here is one of the 8 immortals, and he was the first one, which means he was the most badass.

You know, in other pantheons all the gods are gods by default, because they are the shiz when they come into being, but it’s not so here for our homie, Tie Guai Li.

He’s also known as Iron Crutch Li, and besides helping him walk, his crutch doubles as a kickass weapon in battle when he and his other 7 homies cross the sea, but that’s for a later post.

So anyway, this dude here was born mortal, which means he’s totally like us, and it gives us a kind of hope that we can live forever. Or something like that. I mean, all the heavenly peaches you can eat? Count me in! He was the son of a farmer, and during one particularly bad harvest [there was a drought] his father killed himself and his mother wept till she went blind. When this shit hit the fan, Li was all, damn I neeeda do somethin’ to save my family, yo, and he went round begging.

People all round him were really stingy, so he took to stealing. He got so good at it, but that didn’t mean he didn’t get caught ‘cause people avoided him like the plague [you’ll see what I mean, later]. One night, when he tried to steal a wok, he met this bearded old man with a staff who was all, “Dude! What’re you doing? You better put that wok back right now.”

And Li was all, k 'cause he was sorry for stealin’ so much.

And the immortal gave him a gourd with magic pills and told him to heal the sick instead of taking stuff from people. A totally rad improvement, I must say.

So Li practised the way and became all badass and shit, and he even had a disciple. Li could even astral project his body so he could go on looooong journeys. Awesome. He was going to Mount Hua and he told his disciple to take care of his body, but if he ain’t back after 7 days, the body’s gotta go, yo.

And so on the 6th day, the disciple’s mum had died, so he had to go back home to take care of shiz, but he also had to take care of his master’s shiz, and he was in a real pickle here, so he was all, fuck this shit, I’m burning the body, and that’s what he did.

So when Li came back he was all, Dude, wait, what? There ain’t no body left! So he took the body of an old beggar instead, and was all, “Wow this is some suckage. I’m lame, fat, old and ugly. Geez.” But Lao Zi appeared and was all, “Dude. If you’re like, totally immortal, you’d look beyond appearances. Just saying.”

So Li was all, yeah yeah, and kept this body. No wonder he’s pissed off all the time.

But hey, this guy is so awesome, 'cause he’s like this magic healer, patron saint of the sick and all. So if you get a flu or something, be sure to give him a ring, and maybe he’ll swing by to help.

Give it up for this miracle worker here.