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Zhang Guo-lao

by Micha F. Lindemans
One of the Ba Xian. He was a Taoist who lived during the Tang Dynasty. He held a high official post and had attracted the curiosity of the emperor who had questioned a famous Taoist master about him. This master told him that if he were to reveal Zhang's true identity he would fall dead to the ground. However, if the emperor in person were to go barefoot and bareheaded to ask Zhang forgiveness for such betrayal, Zhang could bring him back to life. The emperor promised to do so, and the Taoist master told him that Zhang was an incarnation of the primordial chaos. The master immediately fell dead to the ground. The emperor kept his promise and begged forgiveness of Zhang. He then sprinkled water over the dead body and the master was brought back to life. Soon after, Zhang became ill and withdrew to the mountains where he died somewhere between 742 and 746 CE. When his pupils opened his grave they found it empty.

Legend has it that Zhang owned a magical white donkey which was capable of travelling a thousand miles a day. This donkey could be folded like a handkerchief and carried in one's pocket. To revive it, all one had to do was sprinkle a handful of water over the handkerchief. Zhang's symbol is a fish-drum, an instrument capable of raising a loud noise.

The name of Zhang Guo-lao in traditional Chinese format.
The name of Zhang Guo-lao in traditional Chinese format.

Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Chang Kuo-lao

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