Elder Zhang Guo

From Academic Kids

Missing image
1916-21c.jpg
A woodcut of Zhang Guo, carrying a fish-drum.


Elder Zhang Guo (Template:Zh-cpw) is one of the Eight Immortals. He is known as Master Comprehension-of-Profundity (通玄先生 Tōngzhào Xiānshēng).

He lived as an occultist-alchemist (方士) on Mount Tiáo (條山) in Heng Prefecture (恒州 Héngzhōu) during the Tang Dynasty. By the time of Empress Wu (684–705), he claimed to be several hundred years old. He also declared that he had been Grand Minister to the Emperor Yao during a previous existence.

He makes liquor from herbs and shrubs as a hobby. Members of the Eight Immortals love to drink his home-made liquor which they believe to have healing or medicinal properties.

Empress Wu summoned him to leave the mountain, so he feigned death. He is the personification of a white bat. He rides a white donkey backward. He carries a phoenix-feather or a peach of immortality.

Emperor Xuanzong attempted to give him an office with the title of Silvery Blue Guanglu Minister (銀青光祿大夫).

He was the most eccentric of the eight immortals, as one can see from the kung fu style that was dedicated to him — which includes moves such as delivering a kick during a back flip, or bending so far back that your shoulders touch the ground!

Tales

In the twenty-third year (A.D. 735) of the reign-period K'ai Yüan of the Emperor Hsüan Tsung of the Tang dynasty, he was called to Luoyang in Henan, and elected Chief of the Imperial Academy, with the honourable title of "Very Perspicacious Teacher".

It was just at this time that the famous Taoist Yeh Fa-shan, thanks to his skill in necromancy, was in great favour at Court. The Emperor asked him who this Chang Kuo Lao (he usually has the epithet Lao, 'old,' added to his name) was. "I know," replied the magician; "but if I were to tell your Majesty I should fall dead at your feet, so I dare not speak unless your Majesty will promise that you will go with bare feet and bare head to ask Chang Kuo to forgive you, in which case I should immediately revive." Hsüan Tsung having promised, Fa-shan then said: "Chang Kuo is a white spiritual bat which came out of primeval chaos." No sooner had he spoken than he dropped dead at the Emperor's feet.

Hsüan Tsung, with bare head and feet, went to Chang Kuo as he had promised, and begged forgiveness for his indiscretion. The latter then sprinkled water on Fa-shan's face and he revived. Soon after Chang fell sick and returned to die in the Hêng Chou Mountains. When his disciples opened his tomb, they found it empty.

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