The Oldest Man in History?



Li Ching Yuen

Meet Li Ching-Yuen. This curly-fingernailed badman may be one of the longest living humans in history.

Although his true age of death is uncertain and unverified there is reason to believe he lived to the grand old age of 256 years.

Popping out of his mother in 1677 (or 1736 – this is where the speculation lies) and holding out until 1933, Li Ching-Yuen beats the longest confirmed lifespan of Jeanne Calment (122) by a minimum of 75 years, an average full lifespan. Born in the Szechuan Province he began his life as a herbalist. From the age of 10 he spent his time gathering herbs in the mountains; I like to picture him strutting through the beautiful Chinese wildlife puffing on a peacepipe and bouncing along to this:

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I know that’s an existence I wouldn’t mind experiencing.

Supposedly he survived on a diet of rice wine and the herbs he picked, including Lingzhi, Goji berry, and Wild Ginseng, the latter of which you can find in many an energy drink these days.

Now this dude got around, apparently surviving 23 wives and producing 200 descendants within his lifetime. Reportedly he stood at 7 feet tall and had a “ruddy complexion”, which obviously went down well with the women. Gold diggers of the time were out of luck, even if an 18 year old money-grabbing delinquent had married him when he was at the ripe age of 100, they would have to have lived to at least 115 to get what they wanted – sorry ladies.

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Packing in da ‘erbz at the age of 71, Li Ching-Yuen joined the Chinese Army as a teacher of martial arts and tactical advisor but it seems he returned to his hermetic life in the wild as supposedly when he was 130 he met a man in the mountains who taught him the secrets to true longevity. This man is said to have been over 500 years old, although I can imagine after living alone in the mountains for centuries you’d lose track of time and your mind a little bit, so we’ll assume (as dangerous as that may be) that it’s an exaggeration. He taught Li Ching-Yuen the art of Baguazhang (a Chinese martial art most recently demonstrated by Ling Xiaoyu, the girl with pigtails off of Tekken) and claimed that the practice of this and other breathing instructions and movement training, “every day, regularly, correctly and with sincerity – for 120 years” was the key to living for half a millennium.

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No-one can really be sure how long Li Ching-Yuen actually lived for, but it seems that we can be pretty sure it was a hell of a long time. In 1928 lots of old men from his village claimed that when they were young boys, their grandfathers knew him, and that he was a grown man even then.

If living to a ridiculous age is something you’re interested in, here’s some advice from the man himself;

Have a tranquil mind,

Sit like a Tortoise,

Walk sprightly like a Pigeon,

And sleep like a Dog.

So what are you waiting for? Go forth my Tortoises, Pigeons and Dogs – and if you’re not gonna live your life to the full, at least extend it in the hope of a few more sporadic moments of joy.

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