Huangfu Duan was from Youzhou, and was born with a weird appearance. He had green eyes and long yellow beard which gave people an impression that he was not of the Han ethnic group. Thus, he was nicknamed 'Purple-bearded uncle' (紫髯伯).
Huangfu Duan served as a veterinarian in Dongchangfu. He specialises in healing wounded horses and curing them of their illnesses. He could cure 408 different types of diseases contracted by horses and was rumoured to possess the ability to bring dead horses back to life.