Li Ching-Yuen or Li Ching-Yun (simplified Chinese: 李清云; traditional Chinese: 李清雲; pinyin: Lǐ Qīngyún) (claimed 1677/1736? – 6 May 1933) was a Chinese herbalist who it was claimed by others to have lived to be 256. He claimed to be born in 1736, which would have made him 197 at the time of his death (citation needed).
Li Ching-Yuen was born at an uncertain date in Qijiang Xian, Sichuan, Qing Empire. He spent most of his life in the mountains and was skilled in Qigong. He worked as a herbalist and selling herbs and lived off a diet with rice wine.
It was after this he relocated to Kai Xian and there Li supposedly, at 72 years of age, in 1749, joined the army of provincial Commander-in-Chief Yeuh Jong Chyi, as a teacher of martial arts and as a tactical advisor.
He died from natural causes on 6 May 1933 in Kai Xian, Sichuan, Republic of China and was survived by his 24th wife, a woman of 60 years. Li supposedly produced over 200 descendants during his life span, surviving 23 wives. Other sources credit him with 180 descendants, over 11 generations, living at the time of his death and 14 marriages.
After his death, the aforementioned Yang Sen wrote a report about him, A Factual Account of the 250 Year-Old Good-Luck Man (一个250岁长寿老人的真实记载), in which he described Li's appearance: "He has good eyesight and a brisk stride; Li stands seven feet tall, has very long fingernails, and a ruddy complexion."
Timeline of lifespan according to General Yang Sen
in Qijiang County, Sichuan province, in the year 1677 Li Qingyun was born. By age thirteen he had embarked upon a life of gathering herbs in the mountains with three elders. At age fifty-one, he served as a tactical and topography advisor in the army of General Yu Zhongqi.
When seventy-eight he retired from his military career after fighting in a battle at Golden River, and returned to a life of gathering herbs on Snow Mountain in Sichuan province. Due to his military service in the army of General Yu Zhongqi, the imperial government sent a document congratulating Li on his one hundredth year of life, as was subsequently done on his 150th and 200th birthdays.
In 1908, Li Qingyun and his disciple Yang Hexuan published a book, The Secrets of Li Qingyun’s Immortality.
In 1920, General Xiong Yanghe interviewed Li (both men were from the village of Chenjiachang of Wan County in Sichuan province), publishing an article about it in the Nanjing University paper that same year.
Then in 1927, General Yang Sen invited Li to Wanxian, where the first known photographs of Li were taken. Word spread throughout China of Li Qingyun, and Yang Sen's commander, General Chiang Kai-shek, requested Li to visit Nanjing. However, when Yang Sen's envoys arrived at Li’s hometown of Chenjiachang, they were told by Li’s wife and disciples that he had died in nature, offering no more information. So, his actual date of death and location has never been verified. Li Ching-Yuen died in Kai County in 1933.
In 1928, Dean Wu Chung-chien of the Department of Education at Min Kuo University, discovered the imperial documents showing these birthday wishes to Li Qingyun. His discovery was first reported in the two leading Chinese newspapers of that period, North China Daily News and Shanghai Declaration News, and then maybe one year later, potentially in 1929 by The New York Times and Time magazine. Both of these theoretical Western publications also might have reported the death of Li Qingyun in May 1933.