The Eight Immortals: Lan Caihe

Lan Caihe

Lan Caihe is the most enigmatic of the Eight Immortals. This deity is often depicted in a gender ambiguous fashion, with a sweet, androgynous face, flowing tattered blue robes, and carrying a flower basket and, sometimes, castanets. They also behave in a rather eccentric way:  dressing inappropriately (woollen clothes in the summer and thin shirts in the winter); singing in the street for coins and then giving their earnings away; sleeping in odd places etc.

LanGaiHeIt is said that Lan Caihe earned their status as an immortal by caring for a beggar who turned out to be Li Tieguai. Their compassion and generosity towards one less fortunate was rewarded with immortality. Following this event, Lan Caihe was whiling away their time at a tavern when a giant stork flew through the window and settled on the table, whereupon this newly minted immortal leapt upon the bird’s back and disappeared into the sky, leaving their blue robes behind!

Lan Caihe is the patron of actors, beggars and the mentally-ill. Perhaps they should also be the patron deity of misfits and eccentrics.

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