Hsien. Immortal beings depicted in Chinese art, literature, religion, and folklore since the 3rd cent. BCE. As bird-like people or wise old men lost in misty mountains, they could fly great distances or change their appearance at will. Among the most popular immortals is Hsi Wang Mu, Queen Mother of the West, whose famous peaches of immortality ripen once every 3,000 years. Her orchards were once raided by another renowned hsien, Sun Wukʾung, the monkey king. A Taoist group of ‘Eight Immortals’ (Pa-hsien) contains the famous Lu Tung-pen with his gourd of immortal elixir.
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