Chinese Mythology

The Folk Gods and Spirits of the Middle Kingdom

LI TIEGUAI

Daoist Sickness God

Also known as Li Tieguai, Li T'ieh-Kuai, Li-Xuan, Tieguai Li

Picture of the Chinese Sickness God Li Tieguai from our Chinese mythology image library. Illustration by Chas Saunders.

Scruffy old immortal with an iron crutch

One of the Eight Immortals, he’s famously known as “Li with the Iron Crutch”.

This is an out-of-the-gutter experience. Ascetic and mystic, Li Tieguai traveled far and wide. Not caring for the public transport of the time, he liked to float whither he wished minus body.

One day, his spirit paid a visit to Laozi and learned the secrets of Immortality. He arrived back to find his body had been cremated a little prematurely and was now a heap of ashes.

In this situation you need to find a replacement body very rapidly indeed, or your chances of getting into Heaven are zilch. The best Li Tieguai could find on the spur of the moment was a dead beggar in a ditch.

Worse still, upon entry and activation, he discovered that the body was lame and needed support from an iron crutch. But beggars can’t be choosers — and Li Tieguai was thoroughly beggared.

He knew it was now or never — and, as it turned out, ‘now’ meant for ever and ever. He’d become immortal. So he made the best of it. And now, in his immortal and immutable state, he is very popular with the disabled. In fact he’s reached the status of patron deity to the sick.

Li Tieguai Facts and Figures

Name: Li Tieguai
Pronunciation: Lee Tee-yeh Gwuy
Alternative names: Li Tieguai, Li T'ieh-Kuai, Li-Xuan, Tieguai Li

Gender: Male
Type: God
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Disease & Sickness
Area of expertise: Disease, Sickness, Illness

Good/Evil Rating: NEUTRAL, may not care
Popularity index: 184

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Article last updated on April 22, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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