A villager from Sichuan province, out fishing in the wild waters near Chengdu, hauled up a very strange thing on Tuesday. It is yellow in color, weighs 6.5kg, its body is 30-40cm wide, there is a long root/tail attached to the body and it is covered in black barnacles.
As of yet, we cannot be sure what the thing actually is, whether it is indeed a carbon-based life form, living or dead, organic or synthetic. The fisherman believes it may be the rare “Taisui” lingzhi mushroom, used in Chinese medicine and also in art as a symbol of longevity. We happen to know that before you declare something to be a mythical mushroom, you had better run a few tests first. In 2012 a Xi’an TV news reporter mistakenly introduced viewers to the fungus which actually turned out to be a sex toy.
The Compendium of Materia Medica, written by Li Shizhen during the Ming dynasty, lists the medicinal qualities of the lingzhi mushroom. The lingzhi was later eaten by Qing dynasty emperors, who believed it would prolong their life and bring great fortune to their dynasty.
Legend has it that Qin Shi Huang, the first Qin emperor who united China in 221 BC and later made himself some pretty neat Terracotta Warriors, greatly feared death and sought to discover the elixir of life. He tried out many medicines searching for immortality including lingzhi. Supposedly his quest for eternal life caught up with him and he died of mercury poisoning, given to him by his court alchemists and physicians.
If the monster from the deep does turn out to be a 6.5kg lingzhi mushroom then it could bring a handsome profit to the fisherman. There are many, like the ancient Qin emperor, who believe strongly in Chinese medicine. A variety of capsules, liquid extracts and slices of the dried mushroom can be purchased easily online if you want to try your hand at attaining some immortality.
by Daniel Cunningham