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The Eye of Shangri-La was an ancient Chinese artifact that contained a diamond that was said to contain an Elixir of the Pool of Eternal Life; the Elixir inside would not only resurrect the dead, but would also render resurrected individuals immortal.


The origins of the Eye were lost to time, and the first recorded discovery of its existence was in 1940, when it was smuggled out of China by the British Intelligence.

Delivery to China

The Eye stayed in the possession of the British government for at least seven years, before it was decided to return the artifact to its homeland. One agent known as Benjamin Fry had stopped by the estate of two former MI6 agents, the married couple Rick and Evelyn O'Connell, and had stated that they were to courier the Eye to the Shanghai Museum, as a gesture of goodwill towards the Chinese during the troublesome post-war period. At first, the two former agents had been reluctant to accept their assignment, as they had declared that they were retired and would no longer accept missions. Fry insisted that they must courier the Eye or it might be stolen, to which the couple had decided to accept their mission, under the guise of visiting Jonathan Carnahan, Evelyn's brother, who owned a nightclub in Shanghai.

The O'Connells had reached Shanghai to visit the Shanghai museum and deliver the Eye to Roger Wilson, a professor that worked alongside of the Chinese people. Wilson was also the mentor, colleague, and professor of the O'Connells' son Alex, who Wilson had helped when Alex wished to drop out of school to seek experience in the field. The O'Connells gave the Eye to Wilson, who betrayed the couple by pointing his gun at them and presenting them to his colleagues, General Yang and Colonel Choi, two members of a paramilitary force that was dedicated to restoring China to its former power by resurrecting an ancient warlord known as Emperor Han, whose sarcophagus had been found and placed on display in the Shanghai Museum.

Wilson had been paid enough money by the two militants to bribe off the Foreign Offices. Yang had ordered Evelyn to read the inscription on the Eye, which stated that only a drop of blood from the purest of heart could open the Eye; at this, Wilson pointed his pistol at Rick O'Connell, and Evelyn protested against it, revealing to Yang that she was a suitable candidate to open the Eye, for only the purest of heart, Yang said, would sacrifice their own lives to save those of their loved ones. Choi managed to take out her dagger and cut Evelyn's finger, pouring her blood on the Eye. The metallic latticework on the Eye uncoiled in the form of tiny, metallic snakes and revealed a fist-sized blue diamond that contained the Elixir, which was to be used on the Emperor's remains in the sarcophagus. Soon after, a skirmish broke out and the Elixir contained in the Eye was spilled onto a terra-cotta figure that contained the Emperor's remains. The figure broke up, revealing a stony figure from within: the Emperor Han himself. The Emperor came to life, allying himself with Yang, killing Wilson, and escaping the museum, leaving Shanghai.

The Journey to Shangri-La

The O’Connell family, having chased the Emperor through the streets of Shanghai in the hopes of catching him, missed their chance as he had escaped. Along with a new ally named Lin, the family chose to travel by plane through the Himalayas and seek help from Lin’s mother, the sorceress Zi Yuan, in Shangri-La. Arriving at the Gateway to Shangri-La, a hidden monastery within the mountains, the group had to place the diamond atop a spire in the monastery; the Eye would then project a beam that would show the rest of the trail.

However, the forces of General Yang arrived, and during the battle the Emperor used the Eye and thus learned the path to Shangri-La. An avalanche was then triggered by explosives set by the O’Connells, which temporarily incapacitated their foes while themselves were kept safe by three benevolent Yeti summoned by Lin, who informed them that Yang, his troops, and the Emperor himself would use the knowledge of Shangri-La's location for evil. During the fight, Jonathan Carnahan snatched the diamond, keeping it for himself without telling the others.

Return to Shanghai

The Eye stayed in Jonathan’s possession until they had reached Shanghai, when Jonathan decided to sell his nightclub and travel to Peru, hoping to avoid future entanglements with mummies. Jonathan took the diamond with him, planning to gain fortunes with it, but was unaware that the Eye still contained the Elixir that brought the dead to life, and that shortly after his relocation to Peru, mummies had been found there.


The Eye of Shangri-La consisted of a blue diamond that was dressed in a lattice of golden snakes with an oval plaque on its side with a Mandarin inscription. The Eye itself was said to have come from the mythical land of Shangri-La, and was said to contain waters from the Pool of Eternal Life, a body of water in Shangri-La that, fables told, could bring drinkers or bathers of its waters immortality.

Within the crystal was some water from the Pool of Eternal Life, which was located in Shangri-La. The inscription placed on the Eye stated that only a drop of blood from the “pure-of-heart” could open the stone. If the blood of such a person were to touch the Eye, the lattices on the gem would slip away, revealing crystals within that would open like a flower to reveal a blue diamond.


Behind the Scenes

Conceptual artwork for the Eye of Shangri-La was done by Matt Codd and Patrick Desgreniers.