The Eight Immortals: Han Xiangzi

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Han Xiangzi (韓湘子) is believed to have been the great-nephew of Han Yu, a Tang Dynasty politician, poet and Confucian scholar.

It is said he studied Taoist magical arts under the guidance of Lu Dongbin, rejecting his uncle’s plans to have him enter government service. Han Yu, who raised Han Ziangzi after the death of the latter’s parents, married his nephew to the daugher of another scholar. However, Han Xiangzi left his family to join Lu Dongbin and Zhongli Quan in order to cultivate himself according to Daoist doctrine.

Han Xiangzi eventually became immortal, but his uncle was adamant that he give up Daoism. During a banquet in honour of Han Yu’s birthday, Han Xiangzi magically produced a bouquet of peonies. On the petals of the flowers appeared the following verse, in gold:

Clouds shroud Qin Peak, where is my abode?

Snow is piled on Languan (Blue Pass), and my horse will not push on

Han XiangziYears later, when Han Yu was banished by the Emperor Xianzong to Chaozhou, his journey to that city was impeded by heavy snowfall  on Languan. Recalling Han Xiangzi’s prophecy, Han Yu wept, but his great-nephew miraculously appeared before him and swept the snow away. It was then that Han Yu converted to Daoism.

 

Han Xiangzi is usually depicted playing or holding a dizi (Chinese flute). He is the patron deity of flautists.

 

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