The Daoist Immortal He Xiangu by Zhang Lu, early 16th century
He Xiangu, birth name He Qiong, is a Chinese mythological figure and one of the Eight Immortals in the Taoist pantheon. While she is often seen as the only female among the Eight Immortals, the sex of Lan Caihe, another of the Eight Immortals, is somewhat ambiguous. He Xiangu is believed to have lived in the Tang dynasty and was born in either Lingling District, Yongzhou, Hunan or Zengcheng District, Guangzhou, Guangdong.
According to the Xian Fo Qi Zong (仙佛奇蹤), He Xiangu was the daughter of He Tai (何泰), a man from Zengcheng, Guangdong. At birth, she had six long hairs on the crown of her head. When she was about 14 or 15, a divine personage appeared to her in a dream and instructed her to eat powdered mica so that her body might become etherealised and immune from death. She did as instructed, vowed to remain a virgin, and gradually decreased her food intake.
Wu Zetian once sent a messenger to summon He Xiangu to the imperial court, but she disappeared on the way there.
He Xiangu's lotus flower improves one's health, mental and physical. She is depicted holding a lotus flower, and sometimes with the musical instrument known as sheng, or a fenghuang to accompany her. She may also carry a bamboo ladle or fly-whisk.
- Liexian Zhuan, ii, 32, 33