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(flourished 2nd century BC, China) Chinese alchemist. He was the first person to assert that the Daoist's ultimate goal was to achieve the status of xian, immortal sage, and he was responsible for much of the mystical content of popular Daoist thought. Claiming to be several centuries old, he gained the confidence of the great Han emperor Wudi and persuaded him that he could become immortal by praying to Zao Jun, a mythical Chinese figure who produced gold dinnerware that conferred immortality, and by eating from a vessel that had been transmuted into gold. Because of Li's influence, prayers to Zao Jun became established in Daoist ritual, and Zao Jun came to be considered the first great Daoist divinity.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Li Shaojun, visit Britannica.com.
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