One of Man’s biggest fascination is the concept of longevity beyond the 70 or 80 years of the typical human lifespan.
The longest verified human lifespan in recorded history is that of Jeanne Louise Calment, who passed away in her native France in 1997 at the age of 122.
However, the most unusual case of human longevity is that of Chinese resident Li Ching-Yuen (also known as Li Ching-Yun).
Li Ching-Yuen, a resident of Kaihsien, in the Province of Szechwan, started appearing in U.S. newspaper accounts in the 1920s accompanied by claims that he had been born in either 1677 or 1736. When Li Ching-Yuen finally died in 1933, at a reputed age of either 197 or 256.
A Chinese dispatch from Chung-king telling of Mr. Li’s death said he attributed his longevity to peace of mind and that it was his belief every one could live at least a century by attaining inward calm.
Professor Wu Chung-chien, dean of the department of education in Minkuo University, had found records showing Li was born in 1677 and that the Imperial Chinese Government congratulated him on his 150th and 200th birthdays.
According to one version of The New York Times in 1928, Li’s married life had him bury twenty-three wives and claimed he was living with his twenty-fourth, a woman of 60. Another account, which in 1928 credited him with 180 living descendants, comprising eleven generations.
Unfortunately, Chinese births in 1677-1736 were poorly documented and we will never have complete assurance to this claim.