8 Chinese Immortals Meaning and symbolism

What Are the 8 Chinese Immortals? Meaning, Symbols and More

Last Updated on May 9, 2023 by Avia

Welcome to the mystical world of Chinese mythology, where legends and tales have been passed down for centuries. Among the many fascinating stories, eight figures stand out as Chinese symbols of immortality and divine power – the 8 Chinese Immortals. These legendary beings have captivated imaginations and inspired humans with their incredible abilities, magical powers, and unique personalities. Because these are such significant beings in Chinese culture, I thought it would be nifty to dive more deeply into the symbols and meaning of the 8 Chinese immortals.  Up for a trip to the Far East? I hope so, because this will be a trip into ancient wisdom and power. 

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning and symbolism

Avia’s Experience With the 8 Chinese Immortals

My paternal great, great, grandmother Helena was a world traveler.  No mean feat for a woman back in those days. But she was a bold, fearless woman, and her travels took her to sail the high seas to visit China.  Not only was she an accomplished traveler, she also had a keen eye for beautiful, valuable things.  So, it’s no surprise Helena procured some impressive pieces of art and brought them back to the US upon her return from her multiple visits to China.  

One of these was a set of 8 Chinese immortals sculpted in jade.  These characters fascinated me as a child. I’d spend hours admiring them. And don’t tell, but I might have put my sticky fingers on them and played with them. Eat your heart out, Barbie – I played with jade Immortals as a kid. LOL!  The 8 Chinese immortal meaning has always been close to my heart since that young age.

What Are the 8 Chinese Immortals?

The 8 Chinese Immortals are a group of legendary figures in Chinese mythology and culture, each representing a different virtue or aspect of life. These Immortals have been the subject of countless stories, artworks, and ceremonies throughout Chinese history.

Each immortal has their own unique story and symbolism. These eight immortals serve as important cultural icons embody virtues such as humility, perseverance, balance, and discipline, among many other things that inspire people today.

Chinese Immortals in Myth and Literature

Chinese immortals have been a central figure in Chinese mythology and literature for centuries. These legendary figures are believed to possess supernatural powers, eternal youth, and longevity. They are often portrayed as wandering scholars or sages who impart wisdom and guidance to those they meet.

The Eight Immortals (Ba Xian) are considered the most famous immortal beings in Chinese mythology. Each has a unique backstory contributing to their character traits and special abilities.

The Chinese immortals also appear frequently in classic literature such as “Journey to the West,” where they play a significant role in aiding the protagonist on his journey. The idea of immortality is prevalent throughout this genre of literature, with characters seeking it out through various means like magical pills or elixirs.

These myths and stories surrounding Chinese Immortals have profoundly impacted Chinese culture throughout history. Many people still believe in these legends today, incorporating them into everyday life through religious ceremonies or artwork depicting these legendary beings.

The presence of Chinese immortals within myth and literature highlights how important concepts like eternal youth, wisdom, and guidance have been valued across generations within China’s rich cultural heritage.

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning and symbolism

Chinese Immortals in Art

Chinese Immortals have been a popular subject in art throughout Chinese history. In fact, depictions of the Eight Immortals can be found in many forms of traditional Chinese art, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and textiles.

In these works of art, each Immortal is depicted with unique symbols and attributes that represent their individuality. For example, Li Tie Guai is often shown holding a gourd containing his magical life elixir, while Lü Dongbin carries a sword and rides on a white dragon.

Many artists also depict the 8 Chinese immortals interacting with one another or engaging in various activities like fishing or drinking together. These scenes offer insight into the personalities and relationships of each immortal beyond just their symbolic representations.

Chinese folk beliefs hold that possessing an image or statue of an immortal can bring good luck and blessings to its owner. This has led to countless artistic renditions featuring these mythological figures over time – much like my great grandmother’s jade 8 Chinese immortal sculptures that captured my imagination all those years ago.

Chinese Immortals in Ceremonies and Celebrations

Chinese Immortals hold a significant place in Chinese culture and are often revered during various ceremonies and celebrations. One of the most popular events that involve these immortals is the Taoist festival, which takes place on the ninth day of the lunar calendar’s ninth month.

During this festival, people across China honor Zhongli Quan, one of the eight Chinese immortals who represent longevity. People offer him incense sticks, fruits, and other offerings while praying for long life.

In addition to that, countless temples around China host grand festivals dedicated to different Chinese Immortals throughout the year. These festivals allow individuals from all backgrounds to come together and celebrate their beliefs with great enthusiasm.

Furthermore, some ceremonies involve dance performances where performers dress up as specific immortal beings such as Lü Dongbin or Zhang Guo Lao. The dancers use intricate movements to imitate these figures’ traits and abilities in front of an audience.

These ceremonies demonstrate how deeply ingrained Chinese Immortal beliefs are within traditional customs and practices still followed by many today.

Introducing the 8 Chinese Immortals, Their Meanings, and Symbols

The 8 Chinese Immortals are a group of legendary figures in Chinese mythology and folklore. Each immortal has their own unique story, symbol, and meaning that represents different aspects of human life.

He Xian Gu

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning He Xian Gu

He Xian Gu is one of the most famous Chinese Immortals. In Chinese mythology, she is often depicted as a beautiful woman with a lotus flower in her hand. She is known for her ability to play sweet music on a jade flute that can make flowers bloom and bring about good fortune.

The meaning behind He Xian Gu’s symbolism represents purity and innocence. The lotus flower symbolizes spiritual enlightenment, while the jade flute represents harmony between heaven and earth.

According to legends, He Xian Gu was born during the Tang Dynasty and lived an ascetic life before becoming immortal. She achieved immortality by consuming magical peaches from a tree that only bloomed once every 3,000 years.

He Xian Gu is also associated with fertility and longevity. Couples trying to conceive or wishing for long-lasting love often pray to her for blessings.

In art, He Xian Gu is portrayed wearing flowing robes and holding either a lotus or peach branch as well as playing her jade flute. Her image can be found in paintings, sculptures, pottery pieces, and other forms of art throughout China.

He Xian Gu’s story continues to inspire many people today because of its message of perseverance and spiritual growth towards achieving immortality physically through health/longevity and spiritually through inner peace/enlightenment.

Cao Gou Jiu

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning Cao Gou Jiu

Cao Gou Jiu is one of the 8 Chinese immortals and is also known as Cao Guojiu or Ts’ao Kuo-chiu. He was a high-ranking government official during the Song Dynasty but gave up his position to pursue spiritual enlightenment.

One of the symbols associated with Cao Gou Jiu is a jade tablet that he carries around with him. This symbolizes his dedication to knowledge and wisdom and his high status in society.

Another symbol associated with Cao Gou Jiu is the castanets that he holds. These represent his love for music and dance, which were important parts of Chinese culture during the time period in which he lived.

In some depictions, Cao Gou Jiu can be seen riding on a black mule. This represents his humility and simplicity despite having held such a high position in society.

Cao Gou Jiu is also often portrayed wearing traditional scholar robes and carrying a book or scroll. This represents his devotion to education and learning throughout all stages of life.

Cao Gou Jiu’s symbols reflect not only his personal characteristics but also those valued by Chinese society at large – knowledge, wisdom, music, humility, simplicity and education.

Li Tie Guai

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning Li Tie Guai

Li Tie Guai, also known as Iron Crutch Li, is one of the most popular Chinese immortals. He is depicted as an old limp man who uses an iron crutch for support. The meaning behind his appearance is that he represents perseverance in the face of adversity.

The iron crutch symbolizes strength and stability while also being a tool to help him overcome obstacles in his path. His limp signifies that even though he may have physical limitations, he still has spiritual strength.

Li Tie Guai is often shown carrying a gourd which represents longevity and good fortune. The gourd was believed to contain magical elixirs that could heal sickness and grant eternal youth.

Another important symbol associated with Li Tie Guai is the black dragon which he rides upon. The Chinese dragon represents power, wisdom, and protection from evil spirits.

Li Tie Guai serves as a reminder to never give up hope or stop fighting for what we believe in despite any challenges we may face along the way.

Lan Cai

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning Lan Cai

Lan Cai is one of the most well-known Chinese immortals, often depicted as a beautiful woman holding a flower basket. Her name means “Orchid Fairy,” and she represents beauty, grace, and elegance.

In art, Lan Cai is often shown with butterflies flying around her head or an orchid blooming in her hair. This symbolizes the fragility and fleeting nature of beauty.

According to legend, Lan Cai was once a mortal woman who had been mistreated by her husband’s family. She ran away from home and sought refuge in the mountains, where she practiced Taoist magic until she became immortal.

Lan Cai is associated with kindness towards animals and humans alike. In some depictions, she holds a small bird in her hand or has deer standing at her feet. This shows that true beauty comes from within – it radiates outwards to those around us.

Lan Cai embodies the importance of inner peace, self-care, and compassion for others while reminding us that true beauty lies beyond our physical appearances alone.

Lü Dongbin

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning Lu Dongbin

Lü Dongbin is believed to have lived during the Tang Dynasty and was known for his expertise in swordsmanship and scholarly pursuits.

As an immortal, Lü Dongbin represents courage, wisdom, and spiritual enlightenment. His symbol is a green dragonfly, which is often depicted hovering near him in artwork. The dragonfly represents transformation and adaptability – two qualities that are essential for anyone seeking spiritual growth.

In many depictions of Lü Dongbin, he holds a sword or wears a Taoist scarf around his neck. Both symbols represent his skill as a swordsman and scholar, respectively. The sword also symbolizes cutting through ignorance and attachment, while the scarf represents inner peace achieved through meditation.

According to legend, Lü Dongbin was once tested by an old woman who offered him wine despite knowing he was a teetotaler. After drinking it anyway out of politeness, he discovered that the wine contained no alcohol but had instead purified his spirit.

Today, people still seek guidance from Lü Dongbin when they face challenges on their spiritual journey or need help with academic pursuits. They believe connecting with this wise immortal can help them attain greater wisdom and understanding about themselves and their world.

Han Xiang Zi

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning Han Ziang Zi

Han Xiang Zi is one of the 8 Chinese immortals that represent music and joy. He is often depicted playing a flute or holding a lotus flower, representing his love for music and nature. The story behind Han Xiang Zi’s immortality involves him being the nephew of an immortal Taoist named Lü Dongbin.

Han Xiang Zi was initially born into a family of musicians but later became interested in Taoism under the guidance of his uncle. He became immortal through years of dedicated practice and spiritual enlightenment.

In Chinese culture, Han Xiang Zi represents musical talent, happiness, and joyfulness. His image can be found in many celebrations, such as weddings, where he is believed to bring good fortune to those involved.

The Lotus flower held by Han Xiang Zi symbolizes purity and enlightenment – characteristics valued highly in Taoism. Similarly, the sound produced by his flute represents harmony with nature and peace within oneself.

Han Xiang Zi remains an important figure in Chinese folklore due to his association with music and positivity- two aspects that continue to inspire people even today!

Zhang Guo Lao

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning Zhang Guo Lao

Zhang Guo Lao is one of the most recognizable Chinese immortals, often depicted as an old man riding on a donkey. His name literally translates to “Old Zhang who Crosses Rivers,” which is fitting since he was said to have crossed rivers without using boats.

As for his symbols, Zhang Guo Lao is often depicted holding a peach or wearing a hat made from leaves. The peach symbolizes longevity and immortality, while the leaf hat represents simplicity and humility.

Zhang Guo Lao’s story also has several interesting elements that add to his overall meaning. Legend has it that he was once a mortal man who became immortal after consuming magical herbs. He was known for his love of music and would often play tunes on his flute to attract followers.

Zhang Guo Lao represents wisdom, kindness, and the pursuit of immortality through spiritual means rather than material wealth or power. His symbols serve as reminders of these values and inspire those who seek enlightenment in their own lives.

Zhongli Quan

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning Zhongli Quan

Zhongli Quan is one of the most popular Chinese immortals, often depicted as an old man with a fan and a peach. He is also known as “Chung-li Ch’uan” or “Zhong Liquan”.

The peach represents longevity and is said to grant immortality to those who eat it. Zhongli Quan carries this symbol of eternal youth in his hand, making him a powerful figure in Chinese mythology.

He is also associated with the element of fire, which represents transformation and change. This symbolizes that he can help people overcome obstacles in their lives by transforming negative energy into positive outcomes.

Zhongli Quan’s fan is another significant symbol that he carries as it serves as a tool for dispersing clouds, representing clarity of thought and wisdom. Taoist sages have used the fan for centuries to signify spiritual awakening.

In addition to these symbols, Zhongli Quan embodies gracefulness and elegance through his posture and movements. This reflects his ability to align himself with universal forces while still maintaining a yin-yang balance.

Zhongli Quan’s symbols represent strength, longevity, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment and gracefulness – all qualities that one might wish for on their journey towards self-realization.

Ways to Connect With the Chinese Immortals

Connecting with the meaning of the 8 Chinese immortals can be spiritual practice whether you’re interested in Chinese mythology and culture or not.  Their meaning and energy need no translation. Here are some ways to connect with these legendary figures:


One way to connect with the Chinese Immortals is through meditation. You can focus your meditation on one specific immortal, or attempt to connect with all eight at once.


Another way to honor and connect with the immortals is through offerings such as incense, candles, Chinese flowers, or other symbolic items that represent their individual attributes.

Feng Shui

Incorporating feng shui principles into your home or workspace can help attract positive energy associated with each of the eight immortals.


Learning more about each of the 8 Chinese Immortals can deepen your connection and understanding of their individual characteristics and stories.

Artistic expression 

Creating artwork inspired by the Immortals can be a creative way to honor them and express your admiration for their qualities.

Whether you choose to meditate, make offerings, incorporate feng shui practices, study their history, or express yourself through art – connecting with the Chinese Immortals is a unique way to explore spirituality while learning about an important aspect of China’s cultural heritage.

8 Chinese Immortals Meaning and symbolism

Frequently Asked Questions About the 8 Chinese Immortals

Curious about the 8 Chinese Immortals? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about these legendary figures.

Who were the 8 Chinese Immortals?

The 8 Chinese Immortals, also known as the Eight Immortals, are a group of legendary beings in Chinese mythology. They are said to have achieved immortality through different means and represent various aspects of human nature.

What does each of the Chinese Immortals symbolize?

Each of the eight immortals has unique symbols and meanings associated with them. For example, He Xian Gu represents femininity and purity, while Cao Gou Jiu is associated with fortune and longevity.

Are there any festivals or celebrations dedicated to the 8 Chinese Immortals?

Yes! The birthday of one of the most popular immortals, Zhongli Quan, is celebrated on March 3rd in China. Additionally, they play an important role in Taoist ceremonies throughout the year.

Can you worship or connect with the 8 Chinese Immortals?

Yes! Many people believe that by connecting with these powerful beings, they can receive blessings for things like health, wealth, and long life. You can make offerings at their temples or create your own personal shrine at home.

Do all stories about each immortal match across different sources?

Nope! Like many ancient myths and legends from around the world, stories about each immortal vary depending on who’s telling them. There may be slight differences in how certain events unfolded or what specific symbols represent for each character.

Conclusion About the 8 Chinese Immortals Meaning

The 8 Chinese Immortals represent a fascinating aspect of Chinese mythology and culture. Each immortal has its own unique meaning and symbol that is deeply rooted in Chinese beliefs and traditions. To be sure, these immortals hold valuable lessons for us all.

Whether you are interested in learning more about Chinese mythology or simply enjoy exploring different cultures, the 8 Chinese Immortals offer a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. By connecting with these divine beings through art, ceremonies, or meditation practices, we can tap into their wisdom and guidance for our own spiritual journeys.

As we continue to explore the symbolism and significance of the 8 Chinese Immortals, let us remember to approach them with reverence and respect as powerful deities worthy of our admiration. May their stories inspire us to live our lives with purpose, courage, compassion, and joy.

Mighty brightly,

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