Immortals in a Forest Clearing

Wang Yuanxun

Qing dynasty (1644-1912), About 1775

How do you know an Immortal when you meet one? In China it is easy as they all have special attributes. For example, the gentleman on the right is Li Tieguai. As he is lame, he is always shown with a crutch and also with a gourd over his back that contains magic vapors. The lady in the middle is Ho Xianku. She is usually shown holding a lotus blossom, but here her emblem appears to be a piece of cinnabar, one of the sources of immortality. The figure on the left is Lan Zaihe. She always wears a blue gown and is shown carrying a basket of auspicious flowers. These are three of the usual Eight Immortals in Chinese Daoist beliefs.