According to one legend there was once a boy called Zhao Yen who, as a child, was told the had only nineteen more years to live. He was advised to go to a certain field on a certain day and bring with him a jar of wine and dried meat. In that particular field he would notice two men playing draughts under a mulberry tree. He should offer them wine and meat, but under no account answer any of their questions. Zhao Yen followed that advise. When the men had partaken of the wine and meat, they discussed how they might best thank the boy for his hospitality. In the end they decided to reverse the digits of the number of years the boy could be expected to live, thus changing 19 into 91. He was later told that one of the players had been the God of the North Pole, who determines the day on which people are born, and the God of the South Pole, who fixes the dates of death.
Shou-xing came to be known as Shou-lao in later popular belief. He is also called Nan-ji-Xian-weng ("the Old Man of the South Pole").