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by Micha F. Lindemans
A being who has attained physical immortality in religious Taoism. A Xian is no longer subject to the "world of dust" and is a master in various magical skills.

According to the great alchemist Ko Gong, there are three categories of immortals. The celestial immortals who dwell either in the Taoist Heaven, one the isles of immortals (Peng-lai) which are situated in the eastern sea, or in the Kun-lun mountains towards the West. The second category are the terrestrial immortals who live in the mountains or forests. The last category are the immortals who have separated from their dead body (shi-jie).

The immortals are often portrayed riding on a crane. Cranes are a symbol of immortality and according to ancient belief they may live for a thousand years or longer. Over the centuries various famous and venerated historical personalities were admitted to the ranks of the immortals. The best known are the Ba Xian (the eight immortals. Amulets and charms bearing the symbols of the Xian are believed to bring good fortune.

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