The Story of the Yellow Crane Tower

The Yellow Crane Tower.

A notable story depicts Lu Dongbin and the Yellow Crane Tower, one of the four most famous buildings in the Jiangnan region. (Image: via Wikipedia)

Many legendary stories by the famous Chinese Taoist Immortal Lu Dongbin have been passed down through history. However, one notable story occurred in the city of Wuhan, located in Hubei Province. This story depicts Lu Dongbin and the Yellow Crane Tower, one of the four most famous buildings in the Jiangnan region.

Lu Dongbin once traveled to Wuhan City and enjoyed a few drinks in a local tavern. After that, he became a regular patron of the tavern for nearly half a year. He took his favorite drinks, but he never paid a single penny for them. The tavern owner, Xin, had not asked him for any payment.

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One day, Lu Dongbin said to Xin: “I have not been able to pay the money owed to you for the wine I’ve consumed. So to repay you, I want to draw a crane for you, and when anyone comes here to drink, call the crane, and it will dance for you. With this, you can become wealthy within a few years.”

Yellow Crane Tower by Xia Yong, Yuan Dynasty.
Yellow Crane Tower by Xia Yong, Yuan Dynasty. (Image: via Wikipedia)

Drawing a crane

Lu Dongbin used an orange peel to draw a crane on the tavern’s wall. Upon completion, he said goodbye to everyone and then left.

From then on, whenever someone came to the tavern to drink, Xin would call the crane to dance. Guests from near and far came to watch the crane dance, and Xin’s tavern business became increasingly prosperous. Within a few years, Xin becomes a famous, wealthy man in Wuhan.

One day, Lu Dongbin came back to visit Xin. When Xin saw Lu Dongbin, he rushed to thank him and invited him to drink.

Lu Dongbin asked: “How is your business?” Xin replied: “I have made more than enough money.”

Upon hearing this, Lu Dongbin played his bamboo flute three times. After that, the crane flew from the wall to Lu Dongbin, who then boarded the crane and flew into the air.

The crane flew from the wall to Lu Dongbin, who then boarded the crane and flew into the air.
The crane flew from the wall to Lu Dongbin, who then boarded the crane and flew into the air. (Image: Ondřej Prosický via Dreamstime)

The Yellow Crane Tower

To commemorate this magical event, Xin built a tower on the spot where Lu Dongbin left riding on the crane. He named it the Yellow Crane Tower. A famous poem found in Chinese literature has also depicted the story of the Yellow Crane Tower.

Xin thought Lu Dongbin was placed there as part of his destiny to make him rich. But, upon reflection, maybe it was for him to enlighten to the Tao, return to his original nature, and become an immortal.

Translated by Wendy Hyuang and edited by Maria

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