Daoism: Daoist Literature

views updated


Compared to Buddhism, the literature of Daoist traditions remains largely unexplored. Large-scale study in this area was greatly enhanced in 1926 with the appearance of the first widely accessible reprint of the Daozang, or Daoist canon, which, at 1120 fascicles, is the largest repository of Daoist literature ever compiled. Research on Daoism prior to that time was, with few exceptions, generally confined to studies of texts such as the Laozi and Zhuangzi that are widely available in editions outside the canon. For the most part, the West has also had its understanding of the Daoist legacy shaped by what has been summarized from the writings on the subject by Buddhist polemicists and unsympathetic Chinese literati. The one-sided view of Daoist traditions that such limitations promote is easily amended when the resources of the Daozang are taken into account, together with subsidiary compilations and pertinent collections of epigraphy and manuscripts. The social and historical context of much of this material has only recently come under intensive scrutiny. Continued research on the Daoist literary heritage is likely to challenge many long-held perceptions about the nature of religious traditions in Chinese society.

The Daozang

Before 1926, very few copies of the Daoist canon were available outside of those kept in the temple archives of China. The state traditionally sponsored both the compilation and distribution of the Daozang. While it cannot be said that the newly founded Republic of China was a patron of Daoism, the reprinting of the canon between 1923 and 1926 came about only through government subvention. The former minister of education and renowned bibliophile Fu Zengxiang (18721950) was instrumental in convincing President Xu Shichang (18551939) of the scholarly value of the Daozang and to underwrite its publication by the Commercial Press of Shanghai. The copy that was selected for photographic reproduction in the 1920s and that has since been reprinted in at least three modern editions was the wood-block concertina canon housed in the Baiyun Guan (White Cloud Abbey) of Beijing, the central Daoist seminary of the People's Republic of China. It is thought that this copy of the canon was largely derived from the 1445 printing, apart from the lacunae reconstituted in 1845.

History of compilation

Among the earliest inventories of Daoist writings are those recorded in the bibliographic monograph of Ban Gu's (3292) Han shu (History of the Han) and Ge Hong's (283343) Baopuzi. It was not until the late fifth century, well after the establishment of the Shangqing and Lingbao scriptural traditions, that a single, comprehensive catalogue of Daoist texts was attempted. Lu Xiujing (406477), principal codifier of the Lingbao corpus, undertook the task on the order of Song Mingdi (r. 465472). The Sandong jingshu mulu (An index to the scriptural writings of the three caverns), which Lu presented to the emperor in 471, was said to list over twelve hundred juan (scrolls or chapters), ranging from scriptures and pharmaceutical works to talismanic diagrams. Nearly three centuries later, Tang Xuanzong (r. 712756), confident that he was the descendant of Laozi, issued a decree dispatching his envoys throughout the empire in search of all existing Daoist writings. The collection that followed was given the title Sandong qionggang (Exquisite compendium of the three caverns) and reportedly included around thirty-seven hundred or fifty-seven hundred juan. It was the first canon from which multiple copies were to be transcribed for distribution to Daoist temples. But not long after Xuanzong officially authorized this undertaking in 748, the imperial libraries of the capitals of Chang'an and Luoyang were destroyed during the An Lushan and Shi Siming rebellions, and much of the Sandong qionggang was apparently lost.

Subsequent compilations were attempted upon the command of various Song emperors, who similarly viewed their mandate as part of a larger Daoist dispensation. Song Zhenzong (r. 9981022) assigned his trusted adviser Wang Qinruo (9621025) the task of preparing a new catalogue of Daoist texts in the imperial archives. By 1016 an assistant draftsman named Zhang Junfang (fl. 10081029) was put in charge of a staff of Daoist priests to make copies of a new canon for distribution to major temples. The Da Song tiangong baozang (Precious canon of the celestial palace of the great sung; 4,565 juan ) that resulted was the first definitive edition of what has come simply to be called the Daozang.

A century later Song Huizong (r. 11011125) initiated an even more ambitious program for the compilation and dissemination of a new Daoist canon. In 1114 he issued an edict ordering all local officials, clergy, and laity to submit whatever Daoist texts they had to the capital of Kaifeng. A number of Daoist priests answered his call to help with the collation of the incoming literature. Their work culminated in the Zhenghe wanshou Daozang (Daoist canon of the longevity of the Zhenghe reign), the first canon to be printed. The blocks for nearly fifty-four hundred juan were cut sometime around 1118 to 1120. It is not known how many copies of the Daozang were subsequently made and there is also some question as to how much was lost upon the Jurchen takeover in 1127. But it appears that at least some blocks survived, for in 1188 it is reported that Jin Shizong (r. 11611189) commanded their removal from Kaifeng to the Tianchang Guan (Abbey of Celestial Perpetuity) in the central capital of the Jurchen empire, the predecessor to the Baiyun Guan in Beijing. His grandson and successor, Jin Zhangzong (r. 11901208), had the temple enlarged in 1190 and then appointed two imperial academicians to assist the abbot in reediting the canon. With the carving of additional blocks two years later, the Da Jin xuandu baozang (Precious canon of the arcane metropolis of the great Chin) totaled over sixty-four hundred juan.

In 1215 the capital of the Jurchen fell into the hands of the Mongols and it is not known how much of the enlarged canon of the Jin escaped destruction. But by 1237 work on a new edition was undertaken, sponsored this time by the local administration of Shanxi province. Two Quanzhen masters, Song Defang (11831247) and his disciple Qin Zhi'an (11881244), oversaw a staff in the hundreds. The Xuandu baozang (Precious canon of the arcane metropolis), completed in 1244, was apparently the largest ever, comprising altogether seven thousand juan. Over a hundred copies were said to have been made, but in 1281 Khubilai Khan decreed that all texts and printing blocks of the Daozang be burnt, save the Dao de jing. Fragments of the 1244 canon were nonetheless spared and, together with what remained of the Jurchen and Song canons, came to serve as the foundation of the Ming Daozang.

The canon currently in print is based on the compilation completed between 1444 and 1445 and a supplement dating to 1607. Ming Chengzu (r. 14021424) initiated the project in 1406 by appointing the forty-third Celestial Master, Zhang Yuchu (13611410), as compiler-in-chief. But the final version of the Da Ming Daozang jing (Scriptures of the Daoist canon of the great Ming) was actually completed under the guidance of Shao Yizheng, a prominent Daoist master at the court of Ming Yingzong (r. 14361449). The fiftieth Celestial Master, Zhang Guoxiang (d. 1611), supervised the preparation of a 240-juan supplement to the 5,318 juan of this edition. It is known as the Xu Daozang (Supplementary Daoist canon) of the Wanli reign (15731619), whereas the fifteenth-century core is sometimes referred to as the Zhengtong Daozang or Daoist canon of the Zhengtong reign (14361449).

Organizational divisions

As the title of Lu Xiujing's catalogue of 471 suggests, Daoist writings were traditionally classified according to the "Three Caverns" (sandong ). This tripart division became a fundamental organizational feature of the Daozang. Although there has been a tendency in the past to equate these three compartments of texts with the "Three Receptacles" (sanzang ) of the Buddhist canon, the closer parallel is actually the Buddhist triyāna or sansheng ("three vehicles"). Rather than being representative of three genres of literature such as the Sūtra, Vinaya, and Abhidharma of the Three Receptacles, the Three Caverns reflect three distinct revelatory traditions. And like the Three Vehicles, the Three Caverns are viewed as a ranking of textual legacies. The Dongzhen section evolved around the Shangqing (Supreme Clarity) scriptures, the Dongxuan around the Lingbao (Numinous Treasure), and the Dongshen around the San huang (Three Sovereigns). Since this categorization gives primacy to the Shangqing traditions, it is assumed that it was devised well before Lu Xiujing compiled his catalogue, perhaps by the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth century. There is less certainty about the origins of the Four Supplements that follow the Three Caverns, what are known as the Taixuan, Taiping, Taiqing, and Zhengyi components of the canon. The term ssu-fu ("four supplements") does not seem to date before the turn of the sixth century. The first three have commonly been regarded as individual appendices to the Three Caverns, but in fact they appear to have been organized around very specific literary collections. Central to the Tai-xuan division is the Dao de jing. Likewise, the Taiping jing (Scripture on the grand pacification), the Taiqing (Grand Purity) legacy of alchemical writings, and the Zhengyi (Authentic unity), or Celestial Master heritage lie at the heart of the Taiping, Taiqing, and Zhengyi subdivisions. It may be that these four supplements were inspired by demands to establish a more cohesive body of Daoist literature vis-à-vis the rapidly developing corpus of Chinese Buddhist writings. Although the preeminence of the Shangqing revelations was apparently never in question, it seems that by the sixth century there was more awareness of the diversity of inspiration from which they arose. Liturgical texts of the Tang dynasty, moreover, seem to suggest that the arrangement of the canon corresponds to descending ranks of ordination, from the top level of Dongzhen down to the first step of the Zhengyi initiation.

Whatever the underlying significance of the organization of the Daozang, accretions over the centuries have resulted in a less than systematic presentation of texts. Each of the Three Caverns is subdivided into twelve sections: (1) original revelations, (2) divine talismans, (3) exegeses, (4) sacred diagrams, (5) histories and genealogies, (6) codes of conduct, (7) ceremonial protocols, (8) prescriptive rituals, (9) special techniques (i.e., alchemical, geomantic, numerological), (10) hagiography, (11) hymnody, and (12) memorial communications. The distribution of texts is not always in keeping with either the major headings or these subheadings. No categorical distinctions are applied to the Four Supplements and the Xu Daozang, the contents of which are as diverse as the Three Caverns.

Facets of research

Nearly half of the volumes in the canon either bear dates after 1126 or can be directly linked to new scriptural traditions developing after the Northern Song dynasty. Moreover, the prefaces of at least sixty titles in the Daozang indicate that they circulated in printed editions prior to their incorporation into the canon. Prefaces and colophons, however, are not always reliable guides to the history of a text. Fictive lineages are often invoked in order to establish the historical antiquity of newly codified writings. It is not unusual to find, for example, the provenance of a text traced directly to the founder of the Tianshi Dao (Way of the Celestial Masters), Zhang Daoling (fl. 142 ce). An even larger number of texts are simply presented as the word of divine authority. The names of the deities cited often prove critical to the identification of a text vis-à-vis established scriptural traditions. Other internal dating features that help clarify the historical and social origins of a compilation include reign titles, datable place names and official titles, as well as the titles of canonization granted by imperial decree to various patriarchs and apotheosized cultic figures. The language itself, particularly the use of specialized terminology, also helps determine the setting in which a text arose. The terminus a quo or terminus ad quem of a work can likewise be determined with the help of a number of inventories of Daoist texts.


The range of literature in the canon is as diverse as the beliefs and practices associated with Daoism since the Han dynasty. Much research to date has concentrated on the scientific significance of Daoist alchemical and pharmaceutical works. Aside from the early Shangqing and Lingbao scriptural traditions, little has been reported on the textual legacy of Daoist revelatory and cultic inspiration. The Daozang, furthermore, has yet to be fully appreciated as a valuable repository of belles-lettres in its own right. The following survey highlights a few of the texts in the canon with enduring literary and religious interest.

Revelation and ritual

As a work ostensibly transmitted from master to disciple, the Dao de jing or Laozi has long been regarded as a revelation in itself. The writings that Laozi reportedly delivered to the gatekeeper Yin Xi on his journey west have served as the inspiration for centuries of instruction on the attainment of the Dao. To the Celestial Masters, the Dao de jing seems to have functioned foremost as a code of behavior for young initiates. It is thought that the Xiang'er commentary on the Laozi (Xiang'er zhu ) discovered at Dunhuang was compiled by one of the first, if not the first, patriarch of the Celestial Masters. The commentary extrapolates not only rules of conduct but also techniques of meditative practice from the text and is the only substantial writing associated with the early Celestial Masters to survive. The apotheosis of Laozi, that is, Taishang Laojun, or Lord Lao the Most High, who appeared before the founder Zhang Daoling was said to have revealed not scriptures but the sacred registers and talismans of divine guardians. Both were essential to the demonifuge mission of the Tianshi Dao. Divine commanders on high could be summoned only by those privy to their names and capable of infusing talismanic communications with their vitality. Countless texts, including even Ge Hong's Baopuzi, purport to preserve the apotropaic talismans of the Celestial Masters. The manipulation of such talismans was and still is thought to keep spectral forces at bay. Throughout the centuries the codifiers of later revelatory and ritual writings have never forgotten the ultimate heritage of the Tianshi Dao as a healing cult. Many anthologies of ritual are based precisely on the understanding that the ultimate mission of their founders was to convey hope in the salvation of humankind from all forms of suffering.

Salvation was also the message behind one of the earliest scriptures recorded in the canon, the Taiping jing (Scripture on the grand pacification). An early version of a text by this title was apparently promoted during the Western Han in support of a faction that sought to influence the direction of the ruling house through its expertise in the interpretation of cosmological omens. What circulates as the Taiping jing can be traced in part to another faction that arose during the Eastern Han on the Shandong Peninsula. Because of the text's link with Zhang Jue, leader of the Yellow Turban peasant rebellion, and the fall of the Han empire, the Taiping jing fell out of favor for several generations. It was not until the sixth century that a new, and much larger, edition of 170 juan appeared, portions of which are preserved in the canon as well as in Dunhuang manuscripts. This edition, the provenance of which can be traced to the Shangqing axis mundi of Maoshan (in present-day Jiangsu), seems to retain many of the major themes promoted in the Han dynasty works. The text was generally regarded as the omen of a more prosperous era. While there is difficulty in distinguishing the second-century text from later accretions, it appears that one consistent feature was the hint of an apocalypse should the divine teachings recorded within not be put into effect. The sixth-century editors enlarged upon this theme by interpolating references to the promise of deliverance by a messianic figure sacred to Shangqing, Housheng Jun, or the Sage-lord to Come. Overall, however, the Taiping jing stresses the importance of creating a utopian society in the present, one in which the political, social, and economic welfare of all could be assured upon the recitation of the scripture and the keeping of behavioral precepts in accordance with the will of the heavens above. This ideal of equity is tempered in part by instructions on techniques for prolonging life, a pastime in which only a select few could indulge.

The common denominator between the practices prescribed for attaining longevity in the Taiping jing and in the Shangqing scriptures is a large body of macrobiotic literature that is traditionally associated with the fangshi or technocrats of Chinese society. The titles of many of these works are recorded in early hagiographies. Central to these guides on the pursuit of a life everlasting is the ability to gain communion with the gods residing within one's own body as well as with those on high. One of the earliest and more provocative instruction manuals on gaining communication with the corporeal hierarchy is the Huangting jing (Scripture of the Yellow Court). The innate ambiguities of this lengthy verse composed in heptasyllabic meter were apparently thought to be at least partially resolved upon repeated recitation. A revised and less arcane version of the Huangting jing was reportedly among those texts conveyed to Yang Xi (b. 330), the prime recipient of the Shangqing revelations during the years 364 to 370. The most comprehensive record of Shangqing beliefs and practices was made over a century later by the eminent Daoist master Tao Hongjing (456536). The Zhengao (Declarations of the perfected) that he edited is largely intended to be a verbatim account of the instructions given Yang during the visits of divine transcendents. Central to the expectations of those promoting the new dispensation of Shangqing was the imminent descent of a messiah who could replace the disorder of their age with order. The eschatological scenario for the advent of a savior by the name of Li Hong is set forth in the Shangqing housheng daojun lieji (Annals of the Lord of the Tao, the sage-to-come of Shangqing). The vision of Li Hong's epiphany continued to inspire a number of messianic movements as reflected, for example, in the Dongyuan shenzhou jing (A scripture of spirit spells from the caverned abyss), a composite work dating from the fifth and sixth centuries that has its analogues in the newly compiled dhāraī sūtras of that era.

The Shangqing visionaries worked not only toward the restoration of terrestrial order but also toward their own promotion into the ranks of the divine. The methods by which their eschatological hopes could be realized ranged from the rigid control of diet to stringent respiratory exercises and experimentation with pharmaceutical compounds. But the main sustenance for adepts pursuing such a regimen were the vital forces of the sun, moon, and stars. It was thought that the regular and concentrated absorption of these powerful sources of radiance would lead ultimately to one's cosmic transmigration. Feeding on the illumination of astral bodies is among the most fundamental techniques of the Daoist master (central to his private meditative sessions as well as his liturgical performances) and is by and large a technique of visualization, the skill of which is the concern of many manuals predating the Shangqing revelations. Those texts in which the ultimate goal specified is ascent to the celestial realm of Taiqing are commonly regarded as part of a Taiqing scriptural tradition, the origins of which remain unclear. The teachings of these Taiqing manuals were incorporated into both the Shangqing revelations and the slightly later scriptural tradition known as Lingbao. The prolongation of life through the ingestion of astral essences is, for example, a lesson in the Taishang Lingbao wufu xu (Prolegomena on the five talismans of the numinous treasure of the most high), a text originally dating to the late third century and recycled by spokesmen for the Lingbao tradition in the late fourth century.

The major recipient of the Lingbao revelations was Ge Chaofu, a nephew of Ge Hong. In the 390s, Ge Chaofu began ascribing the origin of some twenty-seven Lingbao scriptures to his grand-uncle Ge Xuan (164244). This set of sacred writings actually owes its inspiration to not only the centuries-old arcana of southern Chinese religious practice and the more recent Shangqing innovations, but also to the Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions of the Nanjing area. The message of Lingbao, as epitomized in the Duren jing (Scripture on the salvation of mankind), was that all could ultimately be released from the cycle of suffering and ascend to the celestial realm by adhering to the teachings of the Yuanshi Tianzun, or Celestial Worthy of Primordial Commencement. The foremost contribution of the Lingbao tradition was in fact a whole program of liturgical services to be performed on behalf of the living and dead. Equally significant was the articulation of a code of behavior to be followed by the faithful in their struggle to escape the bonds of the mundane realm. As with the Shangqing tradition, a systematic presentation of the Lingbao corpus came some time after the original revelations. What is preserved in the canon from this syncretic development is due to the efforts of Lu Xiujing, the compiler of the first known catalogue of Daoist writings.

Expansion on the Lingbao rituals continued for centuries, as is reflected, for example, in the Wushang huanglu dazhai licheng yi (Protocols on the establishment of the great Zhai retreats of the Yellow Register), a compilation based on the writings of Lu, as well as two major Tang liturgists, Zhang Wanfu (fl. 711) and Du Guangting (850933), and the Song Daoist masters Liu Yongguang (11341206) and Jiang Shuyu (11561217). Du Guangting was by far the most prolific Tang liturgist, for in addition to editing a number of Lingbao codes, he also compiled the protocols for various ordination rituals, including those marking the bestowal of the Dao de jing and the divine registers of Shangqing and Zhengyi. He issued, moreover, a series of ritual texts associated with the Scripture of Spirit Spells, as well as with the archaic practice of casting propitiatory prayers inscribed on metal or wood into caves and streams. The diversity of Du's contributions reflects in general the trend of his age toward a consolidation and systematization of diverse ritual practices in which the Daoist priesthood was engaged.

The editorial enterprises of the Tang dynasty soon yielded to a new wave of scriptural innovation during the Song dynasty. The creation of more innovative ritual traditions was apparently stimulated in large part by Song Huizong's patronage of Daoist masters. Among the most influential at his court was Lin Lingsu (10761120) of Wenzhou (in present-day Zhejiang). Lin convinced the emperor that he was the incarnation of Changsheng Dadi (Great Sovereign of Long Life) and, as such, was responsible for the salvation of all under his domain. To this end, Lin drew on the soteriological features of the Lingbao legacy and the messianic expectations of the Shangqing tradition to devise what he called the Shenxiao (Divine Empyrean) dispensation. The Gaoshang shenxiao zongshi shoujing shi (Formulary for the transmission of scriptures according to the patriarchs of the exalted divine empyrean) is a record of the evolution of the Shenxiao scriptures from their origins as cosmic script to their bestowal upon the Grand Sovereign himself. Large ritual compendia were eventually compiled based on this new scriptural heritage, with the Duren jing uniformly established as the central focus. Among the largest of such corpora are those associated with the teachings of Ning Benli (11011181), also of Wenzhou, namely the Shangqing Lingbao dafa (Great rites of the Shangqing Lingbao legacy), compiled by a disciple named Wang Qizhen, and the Lingbao lingjiao jidu jinshu (Golden writings on salvation, based on the instructions conveyed by the Lingbao legacy), edited originally by Lin Weifu (12391302) of Wenzhou.

Another scriptural tradition codified during Song Huizong's reign was the Tianxin Zhengfa (Authentic Rites of the Celestial Heart), the origins of which were traced to the discovery in 994 of sacred texts at Huagai Shan (in present-day Jiangxi). One of the Daoist masters working on the compilation of a new canon at Kaifeng, Yuan Miaozong (fl. 10861116) sought to make amends for a lack of talismanic healing rituals by compiling the Taishang zhuguo jiumin zongzhen biyao (Secret essentials of the most high on assembling the perfected for the relief of the state and delivery of the people). At the heart of this corpus are the instructions on the application of the three talismans central to the Tianxin legacy: San'guang (Three Sources of Radiance; i.e., sun, moon, and stars); Zhenwu (Perfected Martial Lord); and Tiangang (Celestial Mainstay; i.e., Ursa Major).

The best testimony to the diversity of healing ritual from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries is the Daofa huiyuan (A corpus of Daoist rites), compiled after 1356. The most voluminous work in the canon, this corpus is devoted largely to what are known as leifa ("thunder rites"), based on the practice of quelling demonic forces through the absorption and projection of thunder pneumas. The opening chapters of the work are derived from one of the later Thunder Ritual traditions called Qingwei (Purified Tenuity), codified in part by Zhao Yizhen (d. 1382). Many rituals that evoke the authority of the Zhengyi tradition appear to reflect the influence of the thirty-ninth Celestial Master Zhang Sicheng (d. 1343). Most outstanding of all are the ritual instructions to be enacted on behalf of various astral deities and cultic figures such as the martial lord Guan Yu (d. 219). These therapeutic rites were prescribed for a wide range of ailments, from conjunctivitis to manifestations of possessing spirits. Many attest, moreover, to a long tradition of collaboration between Daoist masters and spirit-mediums.


Not unlike Confucian and Buddhist biographical accounts, Daoist hagiographies were compiled primarily as commemorative works, usually with a didactic message in mind. The lives of transcendents were generally intended to instruct on the paths by which one's divine destiny might be realized, as well as on the rewards inherent in venerating those who gained entry into the celestial ranks. The visionary Yang Xi was reportedly conveyed the full biographies of a number of divine transcendents with whom he was in communication, but only a few survive. Some of his contacts are memorialized in the Liexian zhuan (Lives of the immortals), traditionally attributed to Liu Xiang (776 bce) but apparently based on several centuries of oral tradition surrounding various local cults.

More extensive hagiographic accounts were compiled during the Tang dynasty, most notably by Du Guangting. One work of his, the Yongcheng jixian lu (A record of the transcendents assembled at Yongcheng), is entirely devoted to the lives of divine women, starting with an account of the cosmic evolution of the primordial goddess who gave birth to the historical Laozi. Du Guangting was above all a good storyteller and, as his Daojiao lingyan ji (An account of the divine efficacy of the teachings of the Dao) and Shenxian ganyu zhuan (A record of inspirational encounters with divine transcendents) further attest, he was most interested in recording accounts of sacred phenomena. Such works, together with Buddhist miracle tales, contributed significantly to the development of the narrative in Chinese literary history.

By far the most comprehensive hagiographic work in the canon is one compiled by a specialist in Thunder Ritual named Zhao Daoyi (fl. 12971307), the Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian (A Comprehensive mirror on successive generations of perfected transcendents and those who embody the Dao). Largely derivative of earlier works, this text preserves much material that has otherwise been lost. Among more specialized works is the Xuanpin lu (A record of the ranks of the sublime) edited by a prominent literatus named Zhang Yu (1283c. 1356). The author, who was himself temporarily in residence at Maoshan, dedicates a large portion of his text to the Shangqing heritage, from Yang Xi to the twenty-fifth patriarch Liu Hunkang (10351108). A separate account of the Zhengyi patriarchs, the Han Tianshi shijia (A genealogy of the Celestial Masters since the Han), is a composite work, based on editions dating from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. The imprimatur of the fiftieth Celestial Master, Zhang Guoxiang (d. 1611), is found not only in this text but in the latest hagiography of the canon, the Soushen ji (In search of the sacred), edited by Luo Maodeng (fl. 15931598). Also a composite work, this text opens with the biographies of Confucius, Śākyamuni, and Taishang Laojun. Most predominate thereafter are the accounts of apotheosized cultic figures from south of the Yangtze. The dates of birth and ascension recorded in many of these entries give some indication as to the annual cycle of festival days authorized by church and state.

Several hagiographic works honor the Quanzhen heritage founded by Wang Zhe (11131170). One of the earliest is the Jinlian zhengzong ji (An account of the true lineage of the golden lotus), completed in 1241 by Qin Zhi'an, editor of the 1244 canon. This work was apparently lost in the book burning of 1281 and only recovered in the Ming. It was unknown to the compilers of a similar hagiography, the Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan (An illustrated biographical account of the transcendent origins of the true lineage of the golden lotus). Liu Zhixuan and Xie Xichan completed this text in 1326, according to what written documents and stone inscriptions remained. They differ with Qin in attributing the origins of Quanzhen teachings to Laozi, but there is unanimity on the following four patriarchs: Donghua Dijun (Sovereign Lord of Eastern Florescence), Zhongli Quan, Lü Yan (b. 798?), and Liu Cao (fl. 1050). Central to both works are the hagiographies of the founder Wang and his seven disciples, known to the tradition as the Seven Perfected Ones (qi zhen ) of Quanzhen: Ma Yu (11231183), Tan Chuduan (11231185), Liu Chuxuan (11471203), Qiu Chuji (11481227), Wang Chuyi (11421217), Hao Datong (11401212), and the single matriarch, Sun Bu'er (11191183).

Among hagiographies for individual Quanzhen patriarchs is an anonymous compilation in tribute to Wang Chuyi, the Tixuan zhenren xianyi lu (A record of the marvels manifested by the perfected who embodies sublimity). The nineteen episodes in this text offer a rare view of the therapeutic mission of Quanzhen masters, in the roles of healer, rain-maker, and demon queller. Even more well-known is the patriarch Qiu Chuji, whose journey into Central Asia for an audience with Chinggis Khan is commemorated in the Changchun zhenren xiyou ji (The journey to the west of the perfected Changchun). Qiu's disciple Li Zhichang (11931256) completed this work in 1228, following Qiu's death at the Tianchang Abbey in Beijing. The transcendent Lü Yan, conventionally credited with Wang Zhe's enlightenment, is the subject of a lengthy chronicle by Miao Shanshi (fl. 1324), the Chunyang dijun shenhua miaotong ji (Annals of the wondrous communications and divine transformations of the sovereign lord Chunyang). As with similar narrative sequences, this text appears to have evolved from centuries of storytelling traditions that also found their expression in temple wall paintings.

Most numerous of the hagiographies focused on local cults are those dedicated to Xu Sun (239292?), whose career as a healer and subduer of malevolent dragons was established from Sichuan east to the central Jiangxi River valleys. The earliest text to survive intact is the Xiaodao Wu Xu er zhenjun zhuan (A Hagiography of Wu and Xu, the two perfected lords of the filial way). Xu's association in this account with Wu Meng, the legendary exemplar of filiality, attests to an early ritual tradition that evolved around his cult in Jiangxi, apparently a Tang variation on Lingbao liturgy. The Yulong ji (An anthology of jade beneficence), a later work compiled by the well-known specialist in Thunder Rites, Bai Yuchan (fl. 12091224), reveals the extent to which Song Huizong patronized this cult as a symbol of unity in the face of the Jurchen invasions. Veneration of Xu Sun eventually led to the development of a nationalistic cult known as the Jingming Dao (Way of Purity and Perspicacity), generally thought to have been founded by Liu Yu (12571308), an abbot of the Yulong Guan, an abbey established in Jiangxi at the putative site of Xu's ascension. Liu's disciple Huang Yuanji (12701324) edited the Jingming zhong xiao quanshu (A comprehensive compilation on the Jingming tradition of loyalty and filiality), the biographies of which exemplify the role of Xu's disciples as guarantors of political stability. The traditional attributes of zhong (loyalty) and xiao (filiality) are reinterpreted in this context as metaphors for submission to authority and the suppression of rebellion. Shrines to Xu are still maintained in Taiwan today and, even more remarkably, the Yulong Abbey is officially designated as a historical monument worthy of preservation.

A number of other hagiographic accounts testify to the popularity of local cults at various sacred mountain sites, including Lu Shan on the northern border of Jiangxi, once a popular missionary resort, and Huagai Shan, the source of the Tianxin revelations. Most well-known perhaps is the guardian of Wudang Shan (in present-day Hubei), referred to as Xuanwu (Dark Martial Lord) or Zhenwu (Perfected Martial Lord). How early this deity associated with the north was enshrined in China is not known, but well over three hundred shrines are established in his name on Taiwan today. Xuanwu's role as defender of the Song empire against the Western Xia invasions and other threats is commemorated in the Xuantian shangdi qisheng lu (An account of the revelations conveyed to the sages by the supreme sovereign of the dark celestial realm). A composite work, it is derived largely from the textual counterpart to the wall paintings of a shrine dedicated to the Martial Lord by Song Renzong in 1057. A later anthology reveals in turn that many literati of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries promoted Xuanwu as the special guardian of the Mongol empire. Similarly, the Da Ming Xuantian shangdi ruiying tulu (An illustrated account of the auspicious responses of the supreme sovereign of the dark celestial realm during the great Ming) is a collection of encomia dating from 1405 to 1418 that honor the deity's role in establishing the mandate of the Ming.

Topography, epigraphy, and historiography

The chorography of sacred space, in the heavens above, on the earth below, and in the subterranean caverns beyond, is the subject of many works in the Daoist canon. Certainly among the most renowned of such texts from antiquity is the Wuyue zhenxing tu (Mappings of the true form of the Five Sacred Peaks), talismanic variations of which were introduced into the Lingbao textual corpus. The apotropaic value of these diagrams was recognized by Ge Hong and inspired Daoist liturgists for many generations later. The Five Sacred Peaks also serve as a crucial point of reference in Du Guangting's Dongtian fudi yuedu mingshan ji (A record of the celebrated mountains, conduits, sacred peaks, munificent terrains, and caverned heavens). In addition to mapping out the wuyue ("five [sacred] peaks," e.g., Tai Shan in the east, Heng Shan in the south, Song Shan in the center, Hua Shan in the west, and Heng Shan in the north) and the interlocking network of ranges, Du identifies ten major and thirty-six supplementary dongtian or subterranean chambers, as well as seventy-two sites traversed by various transcendents and the twenty-four original parishes established by Zhang Daoling in western Sichuan.

Larger descriptive topographies date from the Song to Ming. The canon preserves individual records for three of the Five Sacred Peaks. That compiled in commemoration of the Sacred Peak of the East, Dai shi (A history of Dai), was presented to Ming Shenzong (r. 15731619) on New Year's Day of 1587. In compiling this work the editor, Zha Zhilong (fl. 15541586), sought to reinforce the ritual obligations of the court toward Tai Shan, devoting large portions of the text to the history of imperial sacrifices and various temple compounds, as well as the supernatural phenomena witnessed at the site from 78 bce to 1586.

Earlier and less ambitious accounts are available for the sacred peaks of the west and south. The Xiyue Huashan zhi (A treatise on Hua Shan, sacred peak of the West) is attributed to a Wang Chuyi, not to be confused with the Quanzhen patriarch of the same name. This text, derived in part from the Huashan ji (A record of Hua Shan) dating to the Tang, may in fact be the work of the author of an 1183 preface, Liu Dayong. Unlike the treatise on Tai Shan, there is little discussion of ritual traditions in propitiation of the spirits embodied in the mountain. Instead, the compiler was far more interested in recounting stories about supramundane forces and in identifying indigenous plants and minerals with magical properties.

The Nanyue zongsheng ji (An anthology on the collective highlights of the sacred peak of the south) is wholly devoted to the history of Daoist sanctuaries on Heng Shan. The edition of this text in the Daozang is an extract from a fuller account of sacred shrines, including Daoist, Buddhist, and folk, that is printed in the Buddhist canon. Chen Tianfu (fl. 11311163), who completed this text in 1163, relies in part on the Nanyue xiaolu (A short account of the sacred peak of the south) compiled by Li Chongzhao in 902. Of considerable interest are Chen's own contributions on the history of rituals on behalf of the emperor's longevity and national prosperity. As the inventory of canonizations reveals, Song Huizong was a particularly avid patron of the shrines at Heng Shan.

Five topographies in the canon celebrate mountain ranges in Zhejiang, the most famous of which is Tiantai Shan. Central to the Tiantaishan zhi (A treatise on the Tiantai Mountains) is the history of the Tongbo Abbey, located on a peak of that name. It was for centuries the most prominent temple compound in the Tiantai range. Built originally for the Daoist master Sima Chengzhen (647735), the Tongbo Guan reportedly once housed one of the largest collections of Daoist texts in the country. With the fall of Kaifeng and the reestablishment of the Song mandate at Hangzhou, the temple became an even more important talisman of the state and was evidently at the height of its glory in 1168, following thirty-seven years of construction activity. It later served as a haven for refugees during the fall of the Mongol regime and by 1367 went up in flames.

To the sacred font of the Shangqing revelations is dedicated the largest topography in the canon, the Maoshan zhi (A treatise on Maoshan). The forty-fifth Shangqing patriarch, Liu Dabin (fl. 13171328), completed this text in 1328, at a time when the site enjoyed a renewal of royal patronage. His account opens with a comprehensive collection of imperial communications concerning Maoshan, dating from 1 bce to 1319 ce. Other outstanding features include the hagiographies of the three eponymous transcendents surnamed Mao as well as the ranks of Shangqing patriarchs and matriarchs, the history of various shrines and hermitages, an anthology of stone inscriptions dating from 520 to 1314, and a large selection of prose and prosody sustaining the sanctity of the region.

The Daozang also preserves a few works solely comprised of texts carved on stone. Most notable are the anthologies of epigraphy prepared on behalf of the Quanzhen heritage. The largest is the Ganshui xianyuan lu (An account of the origins of transcendents at Ganshui) compiled by the Quanzhen archivist Li Daoqian. The title refers to the Ganhe Garrison (in present-day Shaanxi), where the founder Wang Zhe reportedly achieved enlightenment in 1159. Most numerous are the tomb inscriptions commemorating worthies ranging from Wang Zhe to a contemporary of the editor. Another anthology, the Gongguan beizhi (Epigraphic memorials of palaces and abbeys), is devoted largely to the early history of the Baiyun Guan in Beijing. One inscription marks the conclusion of a massive renovation of the Tianchang Guan, as the earlier abbey was known, in 1179. Also included is the proclamation issued upon the completion of the Jin canon at the Tianchang Guan in 1191.

Zhu Xiangxian (fl. 12791308) of Maoshan is the editor of two works commemorating the site where Laozi reputedly left behind the Dao de jing in answer to the gatekeeper Yin Xi's pleas for instruction. One is a set of hagiographic inscriptions entitled Zhongnanshan shuojing tai lidai zhenxian beiji (An epigraphic record of the successive generations of perfected transcendents at the pavilion for the recitation of scripture on Zhongnan Shan). Zhu composed these accounts and had them inscribed on stone following a pilgrimage in 1279 to the Lou Guan (Tiered Abbey) established in honor of Yin Xi's discipleship. He derived much of his data from an earlier work compiled by Yin Wencao (d. 688), a Daoist master who apparently regarded himself as a descendant of Yin Xi. The second work compiled by Zhu, the Gu Louguan ziyun yanqing ji (An anthology from the abundant felicity of purple clouds at the tiered abbey of antiquity), includes inscriptions on the history of the shrine dating from 625 to 1303.

The historical works in the Daozang do not match the size and scope of those in the Buddhist canon. There are a large number of brief historical surveys embedded in various texts, composed generally to establish the ultimate antiquity and thus authority of a scriptural tradition. The earliest separately compiled history in the Daoist canon is the Lidai diwang chongdao ji (A record of reverence for the Dao on the part of sovereign rulers over successive generations) of Du Guangting. The opening summary of the pre-Tang era is little more than a statistical analysis of the number of temples established and Daoist masters ordained from one period of state patronage to the next. The discussions thereafter focus on the role of Taishang Laojun as the ancestral guardian of the Tang, especially his defense of the empire during the uprising of Huang Chao (d. 884).

The unifying feature of all later histories in the canon continues to be the providential manifestations of Lord Lao. Prototypes of this historiographic approach include the early writings on huahu ("converting the barbarians") that were essentially chronicles of Laozi's incarnations as the supreme preceptor of all peoples. To write a history of the faith was, in other words, to write a hagiography of Lord Lao as the messiah. This approach is exemplified in Jia Shanxiang's (fl. 1086) Youlong zhuan (Like unto a dragon), the title of which is drawn from Confucius's putative characterization of Laozi as recorded in the Shi ji (Records of the historian) of Sima Qian (14586 bce). Jia concentrates on Lord Lao's role as instructor to the ruling house and the history of the Taiqing Gong (Palace of Grand Clarity, in present-day Luyi, Henan province), the reputed birthplace of the "historical" Laozi.

Nearly a century later, Xie Shouhao (11341212), a prominent Daoist master at the site of the Xu Sun cult in Jiangxi, presented an even more comprehensive chronicle to Song Guangzong (r. 11901194). In compiling the Hunyuan shengji (A chronicle of the sage from the primordiality of chaos), Xie sought to correct the inconsistencies in Jia's account by drawing on a wider range of readings from the sanjiao, or "three teachings" (i.e., Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism). Xie's work is an invaluable source of citations from works no longer extant, such as the early chronicle on Lord Lao compiled by Yin Wencao. He is also particularly attentive to the history of the compilation of the canon. Among those who found Xie's work indispensable was the hagiographer Zhao Daoyi.

Literary Collections and Dialogic Treatises

Among the most informative sources on the beliefs and practices of Daoist masters are their collected writings, editions of which were commonly prepared by devotees. The prime example is of course Tao Hongjing's assiduous collation of Yang Xi's revelatory verse. The writings of Wu Yun (d. 778), an ordained Zhengyi master often summoned by Tang Xuanzong, were brought together more expeditiously. According to a preface by Quan Deyu (759818), a scribe named Wang Yan rescued what remained of the master's writings and presented them to the imperial archives. The edition in the canon, the Zongxuan xiansheng wenji (A literary anthology of Master Zongxuan) is that which a disciple Shao Yixuan conveyed to Quan. Among Wu's most well-known compositions is a sequence of verse entitled Buxu ci (Lyrics on pacing the Void) and a lengthy essay arguing that divine transcendence can indeed be learned. The history of a second Tang anthology in the canon, the collected works of the renowned Du Guangting entitled Guangcheng ji (An anthology of Guangcheng), is more obscure. It, too, is a valuable resource on the ritual activities of Daoist masters whose reputations made them favorites at court.

By far the most numerous of literary collections in the canon are those compiled after the Tang. A vast corpus, for example, has evolved around the semi-legendary Lü Yan, claimed as the patriarch of both the Quanzhen and Nanzong (Southern Heritage) traditions. A substantial collection of verse conventionally ascribed to him in truth probably dates no earlier than the thirteenth century. One anthology, the Chunyang zhenren huncheng ji (An anthology of the perfected on arising from turbulence), was prepared by He Zhiyuan, a disciple of Song Defang. He was among those assigned to work on the Canon of 1244, the opportunity of which no doubt led to this edition. What he claimed to be the product of Lü's divine inspiration appears instead to reflect the literary legacy of Wang Zhe and his disciples.

Over a half-dozen works alone purport to be the teachings and writings of founder Wang. A number of the texts were compiled in direct tribute to Ma Yu's discipleship under Wang. The master's basic pedagogy was apparently to recite a verse that would provoke a response from his devotees. Two works, the Chongyang jiaohua ji (An anthology on the proselytism of Chongyang) and the Chongyang fenli shihua ji (An anthology of Chongyang on the ten transformations according to the sectioning of a pear), preserve hundreds of these missives between Wang and Ma. The exchange began, according to legend, when Wang locked himself up for one hundred days on the grounds of his hosts Ma and wife Sun Bu'er and communicated with them merely by submitting a gift of food, often a section of pear, accompanied by instruction in verse. There is unfortunately no comparable record of Sun's responses, although late editions of her writings available outside the canon suggest that at least a few considered her to have been equally literate.

Other texts in the canon reveal that Wang was also willing to entertain the questions of his disciples. Records of such question-and-answer sessions, known as yulu or dialogic treatises, were as popular with the Quanzhen masters as with their Chan Buddhist counterparts. A somewhat redundant example of this genre, the Chongyang shou Danyang erhshisi jue (Twenty-four lessons conveyed by Chongyang to Danyang), is composed of a series of questions and answers attributed to Ma and his master Wang. Among the lessons taught is that the devotee should speak very little, control all emotions, and minimize anxiety and cravings. Further details on Wang's instruction are found in the Chongyang lijiao shiwu lun (Fifteen discourses on the teachings set forth by Chongyang). Moderation in all things appears to be the central message of this dialogue. According to the concluding statement ascribed to Wang, departure from the mundane realm was to be accomplished mentally, not physically. The closing simile, obviously borrowed from the Buddhist translator and exegete Kumarajiva, is that one's body is like the root-stock of a lotus mired in mud, whereas one's heart-mind is suspended in space as the lotus blossom itself.

The writings associated with Ma Yu are even more numerous than those of his master. Aside from three works based on exchanges with Wang, there are altogether six separate collections of prose and prosody printed under his name in the canon. One compilation, the Dongxuan jinyu ji (An anthology of the gold and jade of Dongxuan), includes a particularly revealing verse that exhorts Buddhist monks and Daoist masters to come together in accord and do away with slander. Another work, the Jianwu ji (An anthology on gradual enlightenment), features onomatopoeic verses that were apparently designed to illustrate, as the title implies, that enlightenment is a gradual process. A significant number of Ma's verses are expressly dedicated to female adepts, including his wife Sun. All men and women of the Dao, he urges, would best bring under control their yima xinyuan, or "horse of the will and monkey of the mind."

Qiu Chuji, the youngest disciple of Wang and eventually the most renowned, has comparably fewer writings to his name in the canon. The Changchunzi Panxi ji (An anthology of Changchunzi from the Pan tributary) preserves compositions dating both from Qiu's seclusion in the upper reaches of the Yellow River valley as well as from his later ritual activities at Qixia (in present-day Shandong). Among his verses are commemorations of various jiao fetes over which he had presided, personal communications to Jin Shizong (r. 11611189), and instructions on meditative practices. In addition to Li Zhichang's account of Qiu's later years, the Xuanfeng qinghui lu (A record of a felicitous convocation on the sublime spirit of the Dao), ascribed to Yelü Chucai (11891243), provides a record of the sermons delivered before his patron, Chinggis Khan.

All but a fraction of the collected writings associated with the other select members in Wang's circle are lost. The single anthology of Tan Chuduan's teachings in the canon arose directly from the initiative of the junior patriarch Liu Chuxuan. Of the five anthologies attributed to Liu, only one survives, although a dialogic treatise compiled by his disciples reveals somewhat more about his career. Liu's sayings, many of which were inspired by lines in the Dao de jing, were reportedly so popular as to have become part of the local culture of his circuit. The two paragons of filial piety, Wang Chuyi and Hao Datong, are remembered with one anthology each. The Yunguang ji (An anthology from Yunguang), named for the cavern in which Wang secluded himself for nine years, is a valuable supplement to the hagiographic Xianyi lu. The one edition of Hao's teachings to be preserved attests to his training as a diviner and abiding interest in the Yijing.

The influence of the early Quanzhen patriarchs is easily measured by the volume of writings that emerged from later generations. Among those whose teachings expanded upon this legacy are Qiu's successor Yin Zhiping (11691251), Liu's disciple Yu Daoxian (11681232), and Hao's disciple Wang Zhijin (11781263). Later syncretists for whom there is ample record in the canon include Li Daochun (fl. 1290), Miao Shanshi (fl. 1324), Wang Jie (fl. 1310), Chen Zhixu (fl. 13291336), Wang Weiyi (fl. 12941304), and Zhao Yizhen (d. 1382). Many of these figures drew equally from the Quanzhen and Nanzong traditions. The fullest documentation on the latter is to be found in late encyclopedic anthologies of the Daozang.

Encyclopedic anthologies

The earliest comprehensive encyclopedic work in the canon is the Wushang biyao (The essentials of unsurpassed arcana). Only two-thirds of the original one hundred juan survives of this anonymous compilation. Citations from a wide selection of texts are organized under 288 headings, ranging from cosmology and sacred topography to the protocols for transmitting divine scriptures and instructions on meditative practices. The origins of this text are revealed in a Buddhist, not Daoist, compilation, namely the Xu gaoseng zhuan (Supplementary biographies of exalted monks) of Daoxuan (596667), which states that Zhou Wudi (r. 561578) ordered its compilation following his pacification of the state of Northern Qi in 577. It is thought that work began on this vast anthology as early as 574, when Wudi issued a decree establishing the Tongdao Guan (Abbey of Communication with the Dao) as a symbol of the anticipated political and ideological reunification of the empire. The text is not only an invaluable resource for citations from the original Shangqing and Lingbao revelations, but also for the later codifications they inspired.

Two smaller compendia were compiled a century later by a relatively unknown recluse named Wang Xuanhe (fl. 683). The larger of the works, the Sandong zhunang (Pearl bag of the three caverns) is organized under thirty-four categories dealing with various aspects of conduct befitting an adept and includes extracts from a number of texts on contemplative pursuits that are otherwise lost. The second corpus attributed to Wang is the Shangqing daolei shixiang (A categorical survey of the Dao of Shangqing), which specializes in citations dealing with six types of sacred quarters, from private retreats to the cosmic chambers of revealed literature.

A much larger encyclopedic anthology, the Yunji qiqian (Seven lots from the book-pack of the clouds), was compiled by Zhang Junfang, inspired apparently by his assignment to oversee the copying of a new canon on the order of Song Zhenzong. Zhang states in his preface that his intention was to prepare a reference work for the emperor's personal use. But since the Yunji qiqian was not completed until 1028 or 1029, it was obviously presented to his successor Renzong (r. 10231053). The writings Zhang selected for this work date from the earliest revelations to the first decades of the eleventh century. Recorded, for example, in the opening essays on cosmogony and scriptural transmission are unique copies of the prefaces composed for the first catalogues of Shangqing and Lingbao literature. Additional subheadings include sacred topography, behavioral precepts, ritual purification, visualization techniques, and hagiography. Notably absent are any instructions on liturgical procedure, a subject that Zhang clearly considered to be beyond the scope of this corpus.

Two remarkable collections of writings treating "inner alchemy" (neidan ) appeared during the Southern Song period. The first in print was the Dao shu (Pivot of the Dao) compiled by the bibliophile Zeng Cao (fl. 11311155). Among the rare texts Zeng records is the Baiwen pian (A folio of one-hundred questions), based on a putative exchange between Lü Yan and his mentor, the late Han transcendent Zhongli Quan. The entire last chapter is devoted to the Lingbao pian (A folio on Lingbao), a variant edition of the Lingbao bifa (Conclusive rites of Lingbao), which was also compiled as a tribute to this legendary discipleship. A related theoretical work on the cultivation of the jindan (metallous enchymoma), the Zhong Lü chuandao ji (An Anthology on Zhong [li]'s transmission of the Dao to Lü), is found in both the Dao shu and a later Song collectaneum of neidan literature, the Xiuzhen shishu (Ten writings on the cultivation of perfection). This anonymously compiled anthology also includes many texts associated with the Nanzong, or Southern Heritage, the "five patriarchs" (wuzu ) of which are: Liu Cao (d. ca. 1050), Zhang Boduan (d. 1082), Shi Tai (d. 1158), Xue Zixian (d. 1191), and Chen Nan (d. 1213). The establishment of this patriarchy appears to be a rather late innovation inspired by the legacy of the Seven Perfected of Quanzhen. By the early fourteenth century a number of texts began to assert that Liu conveyed the teachings of the venerable Zhongli Quan and Lü Yan to both Wang Zhe in the north and Zhang Boduan in the south.

Zhang Boduan is popularly regarded as the "founder" of Nanzong. His writings were initially viewed as treatises on waidan, "exterior," or laboratory, alchemy. More recent research suggests that they fall, rather, into the mainstream of neidan literature. An edition of the major corpus attributed to him, the Wuzhen pian (Folios on the apprehension of perfection), is recorded in the Xiuzhen shishu, with a preface by Zhang dating to 1075. The same anthology also includes variant editions of similar lyrical sequences ascribed to Shi Tai, Xue Zixian, and Chen Nan. But by far the most dominant in the Xiuzhen shishu are the writings of Chen's putative disciple, the renowned Thunder Ritual specialist Bai Yuchan. Nearly half of the text is devoted to a record of his instructions on jindan and Thunder Ritual traditions, as well as his liturgical activities in Fujian and his accounts of the Xu Sun cult in central Jiangxi. It may be that the Xiuzhen shishu was compiled by devotees of Bai, for the latest work included is a set of texts on jindan by Xiao Tingzhi (fl. 1260), a second-generation disciple.

Other Sources

While the Daozang is the most comprehensive collection of Daoist literature, it is by no means the only source available. Among the number of publications issued during the Qing dynasty, the next largest corpus is the Daozang jiyao (An edition of essentials from Daoist canon). The reedition of this work in 1906 includes 287 titles, compared to nearly fifteen hundred in the canon. Over half of the titles are found in the Daozang as well, but this anthology also contains works otherwise unknown, including tracts attributed to Sun Bu'er and Liu Cao, as well as the writings of later syncretists such as Wu Shouyang (d. 1644).

Perhaps one of the most neglected resources for Daoist literature is epigraphy. Aside from the few, mainly Quanzhen, collections in the canon, there is a wide range of stone and bronze inscriptions pertinent to the history of the faith. An anthology of epigraphy compiled by Wang Chang (17251806), for example, includes a transcription of the Taishang Laojun riyong miaojing (A wondrous scripture of Lord Lao and most high for daily use) carved on stone in 1352 at the Pavilion for the Recitation of Scriptures in Shaanxi. A variant redaction of this text is found in the Daozang and, at 141 words, is among the shortest works in the canon. It is essentially a code of conduct based on many traditional Chinese attributes such as filiality. Study of epigraphic documents will soon be greatly facilitated by the imminent publication of a comprehensive anthology of inscriptions bearing on the history of Daoism, a project begun by Chen Yuan and now being completed by Chen Zhichao at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

Scriptures and related sacred writings found in various archives constitute another essential source of Daoist literature. The Dunhuang manuscripts preserved in a number of libraries worldwide, for example, include texts that clarify the early history of several scriptural codifications. One such work, of which only a portion survives in the canon, is the Benji jing (Scripture on the original juncture). Over seventy fragments of this text are in the British and French archives of Dunhuang manuscripts. One of the compilers is known to have taken part in debates before the court of Tang Gaozu (r. 618626) on the issue of whether the Buddha was a disciple of the Dao. The text itself, designed apparently in part to support this theory, seems to have taken its inspiration from discussions on the cosmogonic concept of pūrvakoi (Chin., benji ) in the Madhyamāgama and Sayuktāgama, Chinese translations of which appeared in the fourth and fifth centuries. Parables in one section of the Benji jing, moreover, were evidently drawn from the Dharmapada. The text reached the height of its popularity during the reign of Tang Xuanzong, who ordered all Daoist priests not only to copy it out but also to recite and lecture on it during official religious festivals. In short, the lessons within were thought to lead to the salvation of the state as well as of the individual.

Later collections of manuscripts and rare blockprints also have much to reveal about the continuity and change in Daoist traditions. Among published works is the Zhuang Lin xu Daozang (Supplementary Daoist canon of the Zhuang and Lin clans) edited by Michael Saso, a collection of Daoist works largely gathered from a Zhengyi fraternity in Xinzhu of north Taiwan. These texts, as well as those recovered by Kristofer Schipper in the Tainan area of south Taiwan, suggest a remarkable continuum of Daoist liturgical practice. A scripture dedicated to Tianfei (i.e., Mazu) in the Schipper Archives of Paris, for example, proves to be a variant of a text in the canon dating to 14091412. The manuscript version conveys an image of this well-known Fujianese patroness of seafarers that accommodates a folk vision of her as an avatāra of Guanyin. Tianfei's assimilation to this all-compassionate bodhisattva is promoted in popular narratives on the life of the goddess compiled during the late Ming dynasty. Just as she continues to inspire poets, novelists, and even scriptwriters in this age, so, too, has much of the Daoist literature both in and outside the canon left its mark on centuries of Chinese belles-lettres. Further study of this literature can only disclose how deeply the Daoist heritage pervades all aspects of Chinese society.

See Also

Alchemy, article on Chinese Alchemy; Du Guangting; Fangshi; Ge Hong; Laozi; Lu Xiujing; Millenarianism, article on Chinese Millenarian Movements; Sima Chengzhen; Tao Hongjing; Wang Zhe; Xian; Zhang Dao-ling; Zhang Jue.


Baldrian-Hussein, Farzeen. Procédés secrets au joyau magique: Traité d'alchimie taoïste du onzième siècle. Paris, 1984. An investigation into the textual history of the Lingbao bifa, with a full translation.

Boltz, Judith Magee. "In Homage to T'ien-fei." Journal of the American Oriental Society 106 (1986). A study of the Tianfei scripture in the canon, collated with manuscripts in the Schipper Archives.

Boltz, Judith Magee. A Survey of Taoist Literature, Tenth to Seventeenth Centuries. Berkeley, 1987. An introduction to over two hundred titles in the Daoist canon from revelation and ritual to encyclopedic anthologies.

Chavannes, Édouard. Le jet des dragons. Paris, 1916. A remarkable study of the tradition of casting prayers inscribed on stone or metal into caves and waterways, including an annotated translation of a ritual manual compiled by Du Guangting (850933).

Ch'en Kuo-fu. Tao-tsang yüan-liu k'ao (1949). 2d ed. Beijing, 1963. A pioneering work in the history of the Daoist canon.

Kandel, Barbara. Taiping jing: The Origin and Transmission of the "Scripture on General Welfare"; The History of an Unofficial Text. Hamburg, 1979. A brief study on the history of texts circulating under the title Taiping jing.

Lagerwey, John. Wu-shang pi-yao: somme taoïste du sixième siècle. Paris, 1981. A detailed analysis of the organization and contents of the sixth-century anthology of Daoist literature entitled Wushang biyao.

Loon, Piet van der. Taoist Books in the Libraries of the Sung Period. London, 1984. An analytic index to Daoist writings cited in private and official Song bibliographies dating from 945 to 1345, with introductory essays on the history of these compilations and the Daoist canon.

Maspero, Henri. Le taoïsme et les religions chinoises. Paris, 1971. Translated by Frank A. Kierman, Jr., as Taoism and Chinese Religion (Amherst, 1981). A collection of essays on the origins of Daoist practices, drawn largely from the early literature on various macrobiotic techniques.

Naundorf, Gert, et al., eds. Religion und Philosophie in Ostasien. Würzburg, 1985. Contributions include studies on neidan and the Taiping jing.

Needham, Joseph, and Lu Gwei-Djen. Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 5, pt. 5. Cambridge, U.K., 1983. A broad survey of instructions on neidan (physiological alchemy) and other macrobiotic techniques in the Daoist canon and subsidiary collections.

Robinet, Isabelle. Méditation taoïste. Paris, 1979. An introduction to early manuals on techniques of visualization such as the Huangting jing.

Robinet, Isabelle. La révélation du Shangging dans l'histoire du taoïsme. 2 vols. Paris, 1984. A comprehensive study of the origins and development of the Shangqing scriptural legacy.

Schipper, Kristofer. Le Fen-teng: Rituel taoïste. Paris, 1975. An annotated translation of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Daoist ritual texts in illustration of a continuum of Lingbao liturgy since at least the Song dynasty.

Schipper, Kristofer. Le corps taoïste. Paris, 1982. An introduction to Daoist beliefs and practices with a special emphasis on teachings concerning the hierarchies of gods within and without.

Strickmann, Michel. Le taoïsme du Mao Chan: Chronique d'une révélation. Paris, 1981. On the social history of the Shang-qing scriptural tradition, with special attention to its messianic eschatology.

Strickmann, Michel, ed. Tantric and Taoist Studies in Honour of R. A. Stein, vol. 2. Mélanges chinoise et bouddhique, vol. 21. Brussels, 1983. Includes studies on ritual investiture, the early Shangqing and Lingbao textual legacies, and a Shenxiao soteriological meditation technique.

Waley, Arthur, trans. The Travels of an Alchemist. London, 1931. A study and translation of Changchun xiyou ji by Li Zhichang (11931256), on the journey west of the Quanzhen patriarch Qiu Chuji (11481227).

Welch, Holmes, and Anna Seidel, eds. Facets of Taoism. New Haven, 1979. Includes studies on the origins of the Daozang, the Taiping jing, and the Shangqing revelations.

Wu Chi-yu, ed. Pen-chi ching: Livre du terme originel. Paris, 1960. Textual history of the early seventh-century Daoist scripture Benji jing, inspired in part by Chinese translations of Mahāyāna texts.

Yoshioka Yoshitoyo. Dōkyō kyōten shiron. Tokyo, 1952.

Judith Magee Boltz (1987 and 2005)