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Li Tie-guai

by Micha F. Lindemans
Li Tie-uai ("Li with the Iron Crutch") is one of the Ba Xian, the eight immortals of Taoist mythology. The iron crutch was given to him by Xi Wang-mu after she healed an abscess on his leg. She also taught him how to became immortal. His other attribute is a pumpkin containing a magic potion.

There is a different story of how Li came to have a crippled leg. Lao-zi had descended from Heaven to initiate Li in the Taoist teachings. Soon after Li had attained immortality, he left his body to travel to the sacred Mount Hua-hsan. He charged one of his pupils with the task of guarding his body in his absence. A special instruction to this pupil was to burn his body if he did not return within seven days. On the sixth day, however, the pupil received a message that his mother was dying. To fulfill his duty as a son he had to return home, but he also had to guard Li's body. The pupil burned the body and went home. On the seventh day, Li returned but found his body burned to ashes. He was forced to enter the body of a dead beggar, a man with a crippled leg, among other deformities. Li did not want to live that way but Lao-zi begged him to accept his fate, and gave Li a crutch to help him walk.

The name of Li Tie-guai in traditional Chinese format.
The name of Li Tie-guai in traditional Chinese format.

Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Li T'ieh-kuai

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