Li Tieh-Kuai

Li Tieh-Kuai


Li Tieguai; Iron Crutch Li; Tekkai; Tieh-Kuai



Li Tieh-Kuai is among the Taoist Eight Immortals, perhaps the most ancient of the eight. Once upon a time, centuries ago, he was a great shaman who spent much time soul journeying, until one day he experienced the shaman’s nightmare. Li Tieh-Kuai journeyed in the most traditional shamanic manner: by lying down in a trance state and sending his soul out of his body. To those unfamiliar with the process, he would look comatose, even dead, until his soul returned to reanimate his body. If the body is moved, disturbed or worse, then the soul cannot return but is forced to wander incorporeally. Li Tieh-Kuai had a disciple who routinely guarded his body while he soul-journeyed. However, during one fateful soul journey, the disciple was called home to his mother’s deathbed. The trance lasted seven days. Road-cleaners found his body, presumed him dead and had him cremated. When Li Tieh-Kuai’s soul flew home; there was no body to rejoin. Li Tieh-Kuai’s soul searched desperately for a recently deceased body to enter. Only one fresh cadaver was available and so Li Tieh-Kuai, once strong, powerful and handsome was forced to occupy the body of an old lame beggar.

Li Tieh-Kuai is among the most beloved of the Eight Immortals. He is invoked for healing, longevity and fertility (especially for sons).


He looks like a frail old beggar leaning on an iron staff or crutch but don’t be fooled: he is very sturdy and if annoyed wields his crutch as a weapon.


He appears as beggar leaning on his crutch, often accompanied by a young boy carrying a gourd containing the elixir of life.


His iron crutch and a pilgrim’s gourd, from which a scroll escapes indicating his power to leave the body

Sacred animals:

Deer; crab; bat


  • Eight Immortals;
  • Primal Woman of the Nine Heavens


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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