The middle or close of the seventh century to the middle of the eighth century A.D. has been designated as the time period associated with Chang Kuo. On Chungt’iao Shan, which is located in the Pingyang Fu prefecture of Shansi, he led a reclusive life as a hermit. Even though he was summoned to Court on several occasions by Emperors T’ai Tsung and Kao Tsung of the T’ang dynasty, he declined to go there every single time. When Empress Wu (A.D. 684–705) persisted in getting him to leave his hideaway, he finally gave in and agreed to do so. However, as he approached the entrance of the Temple of the Jealous Woman, he was assassinated. His corpse had already started to rot and was being devoured by worms when, lo and behold! On the mountains of Hêng Chou in P’ing-yang Fu, he was found once more, and this time he was alive and in good health. He travelled thousands of miles in a single day on a white mule, which, when the voyage was over, he folded up like a sheet of paper and stored in his wallet. He travelled thousands of miles in a single day on a white mule. When he needed its assistance once again, all he had to do was spit water over the package from his lips, and the creature immediately adopted the form that was appropriate for it. At all times, he did magnificent acts of necromancy, and he said that in a past incarnation, he had served as the Grand Minister to the Emperor Yao (2357–2255 B.C.). This individual was a magician.
In the twenty-third year (A.D. 735) of the reign period K’ai Yüan of Emperor Hsüan Tsung of the T’ang dynasty, he was called to Lo-yang in Honan, where he was elected Chief of the Imperial Academy and given the honourable title of Very Perspicacious Teacher. This occurred during the T’ang dynasty’s K’ai Yüan.
It was at this time that the well-known Taoist Yeh Fa-shan rose to prominence at the Imperial Court due to his proficiency in necromancy. As a result, he enjoyed a great deal of favour there. The Emperor questioned him about the identity of this Chang Kuo Lao, who is often referred to with the adjective Lao, which means “old.” The magician responded, “I know, but if I were to tell your Majesty I would fall dead at your feet. Therefore, 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 that came out of primaeval chaos.” No sooner had he spoken
As he had promised, Hsüan Tsung went to Chang Kuo without covering his head or feet and beseeched him to pardon him for the indiscretion he had committed. After that, the latter sprayed some water on Fa-face, shan’s and he came back to life. Soon after that, Chang became ill and eventually went to the Hêng Chou Mountains, where he passed away about the year A.D. 742–746. After opening his tomb, his followers discovered that there was no one there.
The majority of the time, he is seen mounted on his white mule, with his back either to the animal’s head or its tail. He has either a peach of immortality or a phoenix feather in his possession.
During his discussions with Ming Huang, Emperor of China, in the year A.D. In the year 723, while Chang Kuo was still alive, he “entertained the Emperor with a variety of magical acts, such as becoming himself invisible, sipping from a cup of aconite, and falling birds or flowers by pointing at them.” He turned down the chance to marry an imperial princess, and he also turned down the opportunity to have his picture hung in the Hall of Worthies.
In the nuptial room, you’ll often see a depiction of Chang Kuo sitting on a donkey while presenting a descendant to the newly married couple. This scene takes place in ancient times. Even though it is said that during his lifetime he did not encourage others to engage in necromancy or marriage-related activities, an elderly ascetic being credited with bringing joy to couples already married and facilitating the birth of children is a bit of a paradox. However, the explanation may have something to do with the fantastic necromantic feats this individual accomplished.