Daoist (Taoist) immortals are considered "patron saints" of the Daoist belief. Images of them can be found in porcelain, wood, ivory and metal reproductions as well as in paintings. They were representative of typical individuals and represented wealth and poverty, old age and youth, male and female. The Chinese believed that average human beings could, through hard study, learn the secrets of nature and become immortal. These immortals were idolized and respected for their wisdom, humor, and moral lessons and became legends that almost everyone common person was intimently aware of. Normally, only eight immortals are officially recognized, but legends describe several more, some of which we have described below.
Cao Guo Jiu
His name is Jiu and his surname is Cao. He was born in the Sung dynasty, son of a military commander and was an uncle of the emperor. Fearing that he might be involved in trouble caused by his brother's ill behavior, he went to the mountains to learn the doctrines of Daoism. Afterwards, led by Hang Zhong Li and Lu Dong Bin, he joined the society of the celestial beings. He wears an official court headdress and carries a pair of castanets as his trademark symbol. He is considered the "patron saint" of the theatre.
He Xian Gu
She was a native of Guangzhou (Canton) in the Tang dynasty, where she lived near the Yun Mu River. When she was fourteen to fifteen years old, she became a celestial being as a result of taking the Daoist medicine of mother-of-pearl powder. She disappeared one day when on her way to the court of the Empress Wu (AD 690-705) who had sent for her. She was revered for the long distances she travelled to pick dainty bamboo shoots for her mother who as very ill. Some say that she was a Daoist Nun during the Sung dynasty. Literates and officials often make inquiries of her on their future and destiny. She carries a lotus flower or seed pod as her trademark.
Lan Cai He
His name was first mentioned in Shen Fen's "The Celestial Being's Biographies, The Sequel" of the Tang dynasty. He often wears worn-out clothing. He usually holds a bamboo clapper and acts as though he is a common begger. For a living, he often begs for handouts in the busiest areas of the town, singing loudly while as if intoxicated. He was considered "semi-crazed by many. He travels far and wide with great ease. His trademark is a bamboo basket as he is considered the "patron saint" of gardeners.