in Many Cultures, Including Chinese and Persian
ancient China, super-centenarians were also commonplace, according to
many texts. Joseph P. Hou, Ph.D., acupuncturist, wrote in his book
“Healthy Longevity Techniques”: “According to
Chinese medical records, a doctor named Cuie Wenze of the Qin dynasty
lived to be 300 years old. Gee Yule of the later Han dynasty lived to
be 280 years old. A high ranking Taoist master monk, Hui Zhao, lived
to be 290 years old and Lo Zichange lived to be 180 years old. As
recorded in the The Chinese Encyclopedia of Materia Medica, He Nengci
of the Tang dynasty lived to be 168 years old. A Taoist master, Li
Qingyuan, lived to be 250 years old. In modern times, a traditional
Chinese medicine doctor, Lo Mingshan of Sichuan province, lived to be
124 years old.”
Hou said the Eastern key to longevity is “nourishing life,”
including not only physical nourishment, but also mental and
Shahnameh or Shahnama (“The Book of Kings”) is a Persian
epic poem written by Ferdowsi around the end of the 10th century A.D.
It tells of kings reigning 1,000 years, several hundred years, down
to 150 years, and so on.
Claims of Longevity
today, people report lifespans of some 150 or more years. These
reports often come from rural areas, however, where documentation is
scant. Documentation was probably even less valued in rural
communities more than a century ago, making it harder to prove such
example is that of Bir Narayan Chaudhary in Nepal. In 1996, Vijay
Jung Thapa visited Chaudhary in Tharu village of Aamjhoki in the
Tarai region. Chaudhary told him he was 141 years old, Thapa
wrote in an article for India Today. If this claim was true,
Chaudhary trumped the Guinness World Record holder for the longest
life ever recorded by almost 20 years.
Chaudhary didn’t have the papers to prove it. He did, however,
have collective village memory.
all the elders around remember their youth when Chaudhary (already an
elder) would talk about working in the first Nepal survey of 1888,”
Thapa wrote. “Village logic goes that he must have been more
than 21 then, since the survey was a responsible job. Chaudhary
claims to have been 33 and still a stubborn bachelor.”
people in the Caucasus region of Russia similarly claim ages reaching
even over 170 years without the documentation to back their claims.
Hou wrote: “These exceptionally long-lived people have
invariably lived humble lives, doing hard physical work or exercise,
often outdoors, from youth well into old age. Their diet is simple,
as is their social life involving families. One example is Shisali
Mislinlow who lived to be 170 years old and gardened in the
Azerbaijan region in Russia. Mislinlow’s life was never
hurried. He said, ‘I am never in a hurry, so don’t be in
a hurry to live, this is the main idea. I have been doing physical
labor for 150 years.’”
Matter of Faith?
issue of longevity in ancient times has long been connected to Taoist
practices of internal alchemy, or mind-body cultivation, in China.
Here, longevity was connected with virtue. Likewise it is intertwined
with Western spiritual beliefs as part of the Bible.
quoted first century Roman-Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus:
“Now when Noah had lived three hundred and fifty years after
the Flood … But let no one, upon comparing the lives of the
ancients with our lives, and with the few years which we now live,
think that what we have said of them is false; or make the shortness
of our lives at present an argument, that neither did they attain to
so long a duration of life, for those ancients were beloved of God,
and [lately] made by God himself; and because their food was then
fitter for the prolongation of life, might well live so great a
number of years: and besides, God afforded them a longer time of life
on account of their virtue, and the good use they made of it.”
now, modern scientists are left either to believe what ancient
records and village memory have to say about seemingly unbelievable
lifespans, or to consider the accounts exaggerations, symbolism, or
misunderstandings. For many, it’s simply a matter of faith.
Ancient People Really Have Lifespans Longer Than 200 Years? | Ancient