The Man Who Lived 256 Years

Li Ching-Yun
Li Ching-Yun

When the Chinese herbalist, Li Ching-Yun passed away in 1933, news of his death traveled all around the world. But what was so special about this humble man? According to him, he had lived for 197 years, but if we are to believe official documents, it’s actually 256 years.

The words he lived by were simple: “Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog.”

Li Ching-Yun was reported to have had 23 wives and 180 descendants. He spent the first 100 years of his life gathering herbs. His diet consisted mainly of rice, tea and herbal potions. According to Li, wild fruits were beneficial for the organs, blood-thinning and brain stimulation.

How could there be a 59-year difference between his official date of birth and the date which he himself announced? It may sound strange, but researchers believe that the old man had merely forgotten his actual date of birth.

Unfortunately, not much is known of his biography. He was born in 1677 in the province of Szechwan in China. By the age of ten he was already literate and had traveled to Tibet, Annam, Siam, Kansu, Shansi, and Manchuria to gather herbs. He continued to do so for the next 100 years and after that, he began selling them.

In 1748, at the age of 71, Li Ching-Yun moved to another part of China to join the army as a martial arts and strategy teacher. In 1927, after 179 years of living, Li visited the 43-year-old general of the Szechwan province. The general was quite impressed with the youthfulness of Li.

“He had good vision and a spring in his step. He was seven feet tall and had long nails and a reddish face,” the general described his 250-year-old guest.

Details of his death are unknown. Some say he died naturally, while others claim he said the following on his deathbed: “I did everything that was necessary in this world. Now I’m going home”, and after that, he moved on to afterworld.

In 1930, a professor from the Chengdu University discovered documents from the Imperial Chinese Government, according to which, Li Ching-Yun was congratulated for his 150th and 200th birthdays.

Some believe that the Chinese herbalist managed to live that long because he had mastered a unique way of meditating, while others attribute his longevity to life in the mountains.

If the information of his date of birth is true, then Li should be called the longest living human being on Earth, although scientists in the West are skeptic about this. Officially, the oldest person in the world is thought to be the French woman Jeanne Calment who died in 1997 at the age of 122.

However, masters of ancient Chinese practices all claim that whether Li Ching-Yun was a real person or just a myth, his life is source of inspiration.