- —Yao the Ancient One.[src]
Yao was born in the 1430's, in the mystic city of Kamar-Taj, a village in the Himalayas area now known as Tibet. Originally, the youth was a peaceful farmer, like his fellow villagers. But he encountered an older villager named Kaluu. Kaluu shared with the youth his knowledge of magic, and they began exploring the secrets of sorcery together, even learning the secrets of immortality. Together they cast a spell that removed disease, poverty, and suffering from their village and granted its people immortality.
Yao wanted to continue to use his magic to help the village, but Kaluu wanted to build a vast empire, and organized the men of Kamar-Taj into an army by magically controlling their minds. Yao attempted to warn the village, but Kaluu used his magic to incapacitate the boy, paralyzing him and setting him on public display. Kaluu began his conquests, and the youth called upon mystical forces while in his paralytic state, ultimately banishing Kaluu to the dimension of Cyttorak. Kaluu's spell additionally revoked the immortality of Kamar-Taj, so Yao sought the Cup of Eternity and thus began aging at a greatly slowed rate.
Still a boy, Yao decided to seek out an order of ancient magic users known as the Ancient Ones in order to devote his entire life to their goal of combating evil sorcerers. The youth eventually became even more skilled than his colleagues, and grew in power so great that he was the first mortal of Earth to meet with Eternity, the sentient embodiment of the universe, who presented him with the Amulet of Agamotto and charged him to become the Earth dimension's "first" Sorcerer Supreme. The Ancient One remained in this capacity for countless years, outliving almost all other members of his order.
Finding a Replacement
During his wanderings, Yao discovered the temple of Cyttorak in Korea and fought Dormammu to a standstill (the first time this had been done). During their final fight in London he succeeded in banishing Dormammu and shielding the Earth against his evil influence. He finally settled himself in Tibet where he met Doctor Anthony Druid. Posing as the High Lama, the Ancient One tested his abilities to pass on his powers to a successor by granting powers to Dr. Druid.
Many years later, the Ancient One was sought by Baron Karl Mordo who desired to be his pupil. The Ancient One realized his need for a successor and agreed to tutor Mordo. Although he recognized Mordo's evil ambitions in his mind, he decided that he could do his best convert Mordo to the service of good, or at least keep him in check. Some time later, Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange, M.D., a gifted but arrogant and somewhat amoral surgeon, suffered injuries to his hands in an automobile accident, which inflicted injuries on their network of nerves that prevented him from holding surgical tools with the complete steadiness that surgery requires of its practitioners. After squandering a multimillion-dollar fortune in vain efforts to restore his hands's pre-injury steadiness, Strange sought the services of the Ancient One for his own purposes. But he soon found himself attempting to save the Ancient One from a plot that Mordo was attempting to execute. The Ancient One dismissed Mordo but explained that he had used this as a test for Strange, who agreed to stay as the Ancient One's new pupil. Strange trained with the Ancient One for many years before leaving to set up his own residence in New York, though he still relied on the Ancient One's guidance.
By the modern age of heroes, Doctor Strange had become a well-known mystic operating from his Sanctum in Greenwich Village. He occasionally required the help of the Ancient One as of one his earliest recorded cases was in assisting a corrupt businessman who was plagued by recurring nightmares. Strange soon discovered that the man was being haunted by the being known as Nightmare, ruler of the Dimension of Dreams and entered this dimension to fix it. Nightmare attempted to trap him there, leaving his physical body undefended while the man, afraid that the secret of his crimes had been found out, would try to kill Strange. The Ancient One sensed Strange calling out for his aid from Nightmare's dimension, and using Strange's amulet, transfixed the would-be murderer, saving his student. This allowed Strange time to escape and confront the man.
Baron Mordo soon resurfaced and used his powers to try and eliminate the Ancient One. Baron Mordo controlled the Ancient One's assistant to poison the Ancient One, sensing his master in trouble, Strange battled Mordo in his ectoplasmic form, preventing Mordo from ending the Ancient One's life.
Some years after Strange had left Tibet, the Ancient One and Doctor Strange teamed up to combat the evil demon, Zom. In order to defeat Zom, the Ancient One made it appear as if Zom had killed him and seemed to transfer his magical ability into Strange. In actuality, the Ancient One activated the potential for further magical ability in Strange which had remained latent.
Later still, the Ancient One was taken prisoner by the so-called Living Buddha and minor demons called the Shadowmen, all of which were serving the extradimensional demon Shuma-Gorath. The Ancient One was made to serve as a gateway for bringing the demon to Earth, but he retained enough power to make his own mind the only conduit through which Shuma-Gorath could travel. Knowing likewise that he had long outlived his own natural life expectancy, he prompted his disciple, Doctor Strange, to "kill" him by destroying the portion of his mind which constituted his ego, his sense of self, and thus to end his corporeal existence. This Doctor Strange did, even though he was racked by guilt over having had to do so; the death of Yao the Ancient One instantly freed his astral form and allowed him to will it to become one with the Universe, i.e. one with Eternity, which he immediately did. The Ancient One thus died in the Crypts of Kaa-U, in his native Tibet, where the bodies of all the deceased Sorcerers Supreme of the Earth continuum are interred, thereby preventing the rise of Shuma-Gorath. Once the Ancient One's spirit had unified with everything, he came to Doctor Strange, assuaging the doctor's guilt over having had to end his own master's life, and bestowing on his pupil the mantle of the realm's new Sorcerer Supreme.
Now a being that is almost cosmic in nature, the Ancient One is spending his time as a servant and messenger to Eternity, leaving behind his once-disciple as the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth.
Some time later, during a period when Doctor Strange had fallen from grace for using dark powers, the Ancient One's spirit appeared to Jericho Drumm and his spirit brother Daniel through the Eye of Agamotto, bestowing upon them the title and station of Sorcerer Supreme in place of Strange. When Strange used his powers to continue defending the universe despite it not being his duty anymore and proved that he would not to succumb to the dark magic he was using, the Ancient One appeared on the battlefield and gave Strange the Eye of Agamotto back, restoring his title of Sorcerer Supreme once more.
Years later, when the interdimensional army called the Empirikul invaded Earth and destroyed nearly all magic, Doctor Strange and his friends travelled around the world to recover the last small bits of magic that remained in artifacts. One of these artifacts was the Ancient One's corporeal skull, which Doctor Strange stole from the temple in Tibet and crushed up to make into a magical dust that he later used to blind the Empirkul's leader, the Imperator.
Powers and Abilities
As Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, the Ancient One possessed a greater knowledge and mastery of the mystic arts than anyone else on Earth. He was born with a great talent for sorcery, and he has fulfilled that potential through extremely long years of study and training, living for more than 500 years.
The Ancient One has the ability to tap this universe's infinite store of ambient magical energy and manipulate the magical power for a variety of effects and purposes. The skill derives from three major sources: personal powers of the mind/soul/body, powers gained by tapping the universe's ambient magical energy and employing it for specific effects, and, finally, powers gained through the tapping of extra-dimensional energy by invoking entities or objects of power existing in tangential mystical dimensions. (The latter means of power is usually gained by reciting incantations.) Some of these effects include:
- Forming magical energy bolts with a high degree of potency and control and erecting energy shields or screens with a high degree of durability to both physical and magical damage.
- The art of astral projection, the mental ability to separate the astral self (the sheath of the soul, or life essence) from his physical self, and in this form traverse through space unbounded by physical laws but fully retaining human consciousness. The astral form is invisible, intangible, and incapable of being harmed except by the most rigorous of mystical means. The astral form only possesses those magical powers residing in the sorcerer's mind: thought casting, psychokinesis, etc. He has such mastery that he can remain in astral form for up to 24 hours and even more before there is corporeal deterioration of his physical form. The physical form is quite vulnerable to attack when the astral form is absent. If harm were to befall the physical form while in astral form, the astral form would be stranded in the wraith-like state. While the astral form is absent, the physical form remains in an inert death-like trance.
- Thought-casting over short or vast distances in a manner virtually identical with telepathy. The entire Earth was within the reach of the Ancient One's mind, providing he knew where to contact the specific mind he is seeking. He could simultaneously communicate with more than a dozen minds at a time.
- Utilizing local magical energy to teleport across the face of the Earth or into a mystical dimension (certain higher dimensions beyond height, width, depth, etc. where the physical laws can be based on magic rather than science). Oddly enough, teleportation within a dimension is more taxing than teleportation between dimensions. Such expenditure of energy leaves all sorcerers mystically debilitated for a varying length of time, making teleportation a dangerous and seldom used ability. Physical teleportation across time rather than space is the most power-draining feat of them all.
The Ancient One had a vast knowledge of mystical spells and incantations invoking the names and aspects of various extra-dimensional objects and beings of power. Through these incantations, the Mage is able to call upon these extra-dimensional power sources for very specific effects without taxing the personal abilities.
Aside of the above-mentioned manipulations, he has been known to use such spells capable of opening dimensional gateways, levitating, creating life-like illusions, mesmerizing others, and casting a spell of silence, preventing subjects from speaking of certain matters or subjects.
The full extent of the powers and abilities of the Ancient One's non-corporeal form after his "death" and becoming one with Eternity are unknown. In his prime, the Ancient One was a master of the martial arts. For many years prior to his death, his advanced age (he lived to be more than 500 years old) impaired his abilities to the point where he could no longer engage in physical combat. Although the magical powers of the Ancient One are as vast as they were hundreds of years ago, his physical abilities were, in his extreme old age, greatly impaired. The Ancient One had also acquired and created many mystical artifacts, including the Eye and the Amulet of Agamotto, the Crystal Orb of Agamotto, the Book of The Vishanti and the Cloak of Levitation -- all which are now owned by Doctor Strange.
Yao was a skilled magician and sorcerer.
Throughout his life, Yao possessed the normal human strength of his height, build, and age who engaged in moderate regular exercise.
In his extreme old age, when he was approaching or had surpassed the age of five hundred years, Yao the Ancient One was unable to perform any major feats of sorcery without placing great physical strain upon himself.
- In 1937, Logan encountered a mystic accompanied by a young boy carrying a stick. The mystic strongly resembled the Ancient One; some have speculated that the boy was Stick.
- 134 appearance(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 36 minor appearance(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 51 mention(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 44 image(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 7 quotation(s) by or about Yao (Earth-616)
- 6 item(s) used/owned by Yao (Earth-616)