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LAOZI , a quasi-historical figure who came to be revered as a supreme godhead in Chinese Daoist and popular religious traditions. His divinity is understood to be both transcendent and immanent. The Dao de jing, also known simply as the Laozi, is traditionally attributed to him. By mid-Han times (206 bce220 ce), this text and the Zhuangzi (c. fourth to third century bce) were regarded as the cornerstones of early Daoist thought.

Lao Dan, the Teacher of Confucius

There is no textual evidence that the Dao de jing itself existed prior to about 250 bce, although various sayings in the text were in circulation somewhat earlier. It is thought that those who valued this literary heritage as an alternative to the teachings associated with Confucius began to attribute it only retrospectively to a Laozi. The source of inspiration for this hypothetical spokesman was a presumably historical figure known only as Lao Dan, "Old Dan." According to the Li ji (Book of rites; c. 100 bce), Lao Dan's reputation as an expert on mourning rituals was well established. On four occasions, Confucius is reported to have responded to inquiries about ritual procedure by quoting Lao Dan. It was knowledge he had apparently gained firsthand, for Confucius recalls how he had once assisted Lao Dan in a burial service. Lao Dan, on the other hand, is quoted as addressing Confucius by his given name, Qiu, a liberty only those with considerable seniority would have taken. It is no mere coincidence that those at odds with the Confucian tradition should have found a spokesman in someone said to be a mentor of Confucius, for Lao Dan is in fact the only teacher of Confucius about whom there is any documentation.

Unlike the Li ji, texts outside the Confucian legacy drew on an oral tradition that emphasized the humiliation rather than the enlightenment of Confucius before his teachers. Chief among his detractors was none other than Lao Dan. The Zhuangzi, which is the earliest text to speak of Lao Dan and Laozi as one, appears to have taken the lead in presenting this version of the education of Confucius. There is one allusion to Confucius as a pupil of Lao Dan in the neipian ("inner chapters") of this text. The passage is particularly significant, for the inner chapters are the only portion ascribable to a Zhuangzi (c. 320 bce), and the characterizations given here for both Lao Dan and Confucius differ substantially from those recorded in the Li ji. Lao Dan is no longer presented as a specialist in ritual protocol, nor is Confucius regarded as an exemplar of his teachings. Rather, Lao Dan here counsels a way of life that Confucius is thought too dull to master.

This difference between Confucius and Lao Dan is expanded upon in the waipian ("outer chapters") of the Zhuangzi, the product of heterogeneous authorship. Seven episodes supposedly document instances when Confucius sought advice from Lao Dan on various principles of the Dao. In one of the passages, Lao Dan is identified for the first time as an archivist in retirement from the court of Zhou (c. 1046221 bce). On each encounter, Confucius is invariably made to look the fool, slow to grasp the subtleties of the Dao. Internal evidence suggests that some of these accounts were perhaps not composed until after the beginning of the Han dynasty. It may have been only a few decades earlier that this reputed superior of Confucius became associated with the Dao de jing. Although the text is never mentioned by title in the Zhuangzi, the outer chapters do draw occasionally on its sayings and twice ascribe them to Lao Dan. Both the Han Feizi (third century bce) and Huainanzi (c. 130 bce) are more specific, and attribute citations from a Laozi text to Lao Dan. By the first century bce, the legend that Laozi was the author of the Dao de jing had entered the annals of Chinese history as accepted fact.

Li Er and the Journey West

Sima Qian (14586 bce) is the first known to have attempted a biography of Laozi. His Shi ji (Records of the historian, c. 90 bce) gives Laozi's full name as Li Er or Li Dan. The Li clan is identified as native to Hu district, modern Luyi near the eastern border of Henan province. In specifying the surname Li, Sima appears to have had no authority other than an imperial tutor named Li who traced his ancestry to Laozi. Only two episodes are recorded from the life of Laozi. One appears to have drawn on the legacy of both the Li ji and Zhuangzi. Confucius is said to have sought out Laozi explicitly for instruction on ritual (li), a venture that left him befuddled as well as in awe of the archivist. The second episode centers on Laozi's disappearance. It is said that after living in the domains under Zhou rule for a considerable time, Laozi took his leave when he perceived the imminent downfall of the regime. Heading west, he left the central plains of China, but at the Hangu Pass he was detained by a gatekeeper named Yin Xi and asked to compose a text on the concepts of dao and de.

The text Laozi completed was reported to have contained altogether five thousand words filling two folios. That Sima Qian incorporates this legend on the origins of the Dao de jing into Laozi's biography suggests that the text was fairly well established by his time. The earliest extant versions of a De jing and a Dao jing were in fact found among silk manuscripts unearthed in 1973 at a Han tomb known as Mawangdui, located outside modern Changsha in Hunan province. One of the manuscripts appears to have been made sometime prior to 195 bce and the other sometime between 180 and 168 bce, both predating Sima's Shi ji by a century or so.

Apocryphal though the attribution to Laozi may be, the Dao de jing became a fundamental text not only for students of pre-Han thought but also for those who came to venerate Laozi as a divine being. Sima himself says no more about the history of the text or its following. He appears instead to have been genuinely puzzled as to the true identity of Laozi and what writings he may have left behind. His main conclusion seems to be that Laozi was a recluse who, according to popular traditions, may have had a life span of 160 to over 200 years. Such supernatural longevity Laozi presumably attained by an ascetic cultivation of the Dao. So although Sima does not ascribe a divine status to Laozi, he does retain in his account the suggestion of otherworldly characteristics. This motif and that of the journey west, with its apocalyptic implications of the fall of the Zhou, came to be two of the predominant features in the lore that developed around Laozi.

Laozi and Yin Xi, Master and Disciple

Among the earliest texts to expand upon Sima's account is the Liexian zhuan (Lives of the immortals), ascribed to Liu Xiang (776 bce). This work, the current redaction of which dates to no earlier than the second century ce, includes separate entries for Laozi and the gatekeeper Yin Xi. As the exemplary disciple of Laozi, Yin was also eventually revered as a Daoist patriarch. The Liexian zhuan makes special note of how master and disciple were each aware of the other's uniqueness. Not only did Yin Xi reportedly recognize Laozi as a zhenren ("true man"), but Laozi is also said to have seen in Yin the rare qualities that made him deserving of instruction.

The master-disciple relationship between them served as a model for generations. According to the hagiographic lore, Yin begged to accompany Laozi on his westward trek. This he could not do, he was told, until he had cultivated the Dao as his master had. Thus it seems that the supernatural qualities that had permitted Laozi to undertake his vast travels abroad were regarded as equally within the reach of his disciple. After an appropriate period of concentrated study, Yin had but to await his master's summons at the Qingyang marketplace in what came to be known as the Sichuan city of Chengdu. The Qingyang Gong (Palace of the Blue Lamb), newly restored in Chengdu, stands today in testimony to this ideal discipleship.

The Divinization of Laozi

An equally important shrine in the history of the veneration of Laozi lies far to the northeast of Chengdu, at Luyi, his putative birthplace. It is at this site, the Taiqing Gong (Palace of Grand Clarity), that Emperor Huan (r. 147167) of the Latter Han dynasty is known to have authorized sacrifices to Laozi in the years 165166. Commemorating the imperial offerings is the Inscription on Laozi (Laozi ming ), composed by a contemporary local magistrate named Bian Shao. While Bian honors Laozi as a native son of his district, he goes far beyond Sima's Shi ji to convey for the first time something about popular beliefs regarding his apotheosis. He describes Laozi as coeval with primordial chaos, from which he emerged prior to the evolution of the universe itself. After a series of cosmic metamorphoses, Laozi is said to have finally achieved an incarnate form and thus to have begun his descent as savior to the mortal realm. He then became, according to Bian, counselor to successive generations of the great sage-kings of China. It is clear from Bian's inscription that by the late Han, Laozi was viewed as a cosmic force capable of multiple reincarnations in the role of preceptor to the ruling elite. The messianic purpose of his descent became the single most important theme in Laozi's divinization, one that subsequently served all classes of Chinese society, from emperor to revolutionary.

Laozi as Buddha

At the time that Emperor Huan ordered sacrifices at Luyi, he also presided over an elaborate ritual at court held in honor of both Laozi and the Buddha. An academician named Xiang Kai was moved to comment on this service in a memorial that he submitted to the throne in 166. Xiang alludes in his address to a belief that Laozi transformed himself into the Buddha after having ventured west of his homeland. Thus did the legend of Laozi's disappearance at Hangu Pass lead to the claim that the Buddha was none other than Laozi, and that his journey was a mission to convert all mortals to the "way of the Dao." This is what came to be known as the huahu ("conversion of barbarians") theory. Initially, the proposal that Laozi was the Buddha seems to have reflected no more than an amalgamation of Daoist and Buddhist traditions in their formative stages. But as the Buddhist heritage became better articulated and more firmly established on Chinese soil, this notion served as a point of dispute.

By the early fourth century, debates between a prominent Buddhist monk named Bo Yuan (d. 304) and the polemicist Wang Fou appear to have inspired the first full treatise on Laozi as the Buddha. Following his defeat in these debates, Wang is said to have composed the Laozi huahu jing (Scripture on Laozi's conversion of the barbarians). Not surprisingly, those who sought to assert the preeminence of Laozi took every opportunity to enlarge upon the legacy of the huahu myth. Such efforts did not go unchallenged. Twice during the Tang dynasty huahu literature was proscribed by imperial command. The decrees were clearly issued at times when defenders of the Buddha's uniqueness held the upper hand at court. Their influence was felt even more strongly during the Mongol regime, when formal debates on the subject were conducted before the throne. The success of the Buddhist monks over the Daoist priests led, in 1281, to the burning of all Daoist texts deemed forgeries. Officially, only the Dao de jing itself was to be spared.

Laozi as a Messiah

The vision of Laozi as a messiah, moving freely between the celestial and mundane realms, inspired a large body of sacred literature. Just as the motives of the authors of these texts varied, so too did their conceptions of what was meant by a deified Laozi. One of the earliest and most enigmatic sources to take up the soteriological theme is the Laozi bianhua jing (Scripture on the transformations of Laozi). This text was among the manuscripts recovered by Sir Aurel Stein in 1907 at Dunhuang in Gansu province. Although fragmentary, the work can be identified as the tract of a popular sect in the Chengdu region, dating to the end of the second century ce.

The Laozi bianhua jing reflects some of the same beliefs articulated in the contemporary Inscription of Bian Shao. Laozi is seen as coeval with primordial chaos, circulating in advance of the creation of the universe. He is portrayed as the ultimate manifestation of spontaneity (ziran ), the source of the Dao itself, and as the "sovereign lord" (dijun ) of the spirit realm. Such is his transubstantiality that Laozi, according to this text, not only nourishes his own vital principle within the cosmos, but also emerges at various times as an imperial counselor. His series of corporeal transformations is enumerated from legendary times down to the year 155. The final passage appears to be a sermon of Laozi himself, addressed to the faithful masses awaiting his reappearance. He promises them relief from all their tribulations and at the same time vows to overthrow the Han. Precisely what politico-religious sect produced this text is not known, but it was unmistakably intended to set the scene for the reincarnation of Laozi in a charismatic figure who harbored dynastic aspirations. This messianic vision of Laozi's imminent physical transformation continued to inspire generations of rebel leaders, most notably those who also bore the surname Li.

In the Name of Laozi

The documents available on the early Celestial Master tradition (Tianshi Dao), which originated in the same area of Sichuan province as the sect associated with the Bianhua jing, suggest a distinctly different view of Laozi. To the founder, Zhang Daoling (c. 142), and his successors, Laozi was known as Lord Lao the Most High (Taishang Laojun). Although Lord Lao was thought capable of manifesting himself at times of political unrest, the Celestial Masters apparently never entertained the possibility of his reincarnation. Rather than assume a worldly identity, Lord Lao was seen as a transmitter of sacred talismans and registers and, eventually, newly revealed scriptures. He thereby designated the Celestial Masters as his personal envoys and gave them alone responsibility for restoring order on earth.

As agents of their Lord Lao, the Celestial Masters themselves often assumed the role of imperial preceptor that Laozi was traditionally thought to have fulfilled for the sage-kings. Thus Zhang Lu (c. 190220) and Kou Qianzhi (d. 448), for example, served the monarchs of the Wei and Northern Wei regimes, respectively. Crucial to their success as counselors to the throne was the emperor's perception of his own divine rank. It was advantageous, in other words, to identify the head of state as a deity incarnate, just as Kou proclaimed the emperor Taiwu (r. 424452) to be the Taiping Zhenjun ("true lord of grand peace"). As the influence of the Celestial Masters declined, the Tang imperial lineage, surnamed Li, laid claim to being the direct descendants of Laozi. In support of this assertion, there seems to have been a renewed interest during the Tang in witnessing the epiphanies of Lord Lao.

Laozi as a Focus of History

The histories of the faith that survive in the Daoist canon (Daozang ) are remarkably uniform in that they are organized as chronicles of Laozi's unending transmigrations. An early example of this annalistic approach is found in the Lidai chongdao ji (A record of historical reverence for the Dao), compiled by the preeminent ritual specialist Du Guangting (850933) in 884. The Tang portion of this chronicle is devoted primarily to a record of Laozi's providential manifestations, from the founding of the dynasty to the suppression of the Huang Chao rebellion (c. 878884).

Later historians also sought to link the vitality of their age to the beneficence of Laozi. Jia Shanxiang (c. 1086), for example, paid special tribute to the favors Lord Lao granted during the early part of the Song dynasty. He wrote his lengthy treatise, the Youlong zhuan (Like unto a dragon), while stationed at the Palace of Grand Clarity in Luyi, the site to which Laozi reputedly made many return visits following his "historical" birth there. While Jia writes extensively about the mythical manifestations of Laozi, it is to his incarnation as Li Er that he devotes an unprecedented amount of detail, much of it parallel to the legends surrounding the Buddha. Just as Śākyamuni was, according to some traditions, born of his mother's right armpit, so was Laozi said to have emerged from his mother's left armpit. Laozi was also conceived to be equally precocious for, according to legend, he, too, took his first steps immediately after birth. The latter episode is among those given further elaboration in the Hunyuan sheng ji (A chronicle of the sage from the primordiality of chaos), compiled a century later. The compiler of this work, Xie Shouhao (11341212), extends the chronology of Laozi's manifestations down to the end of the Northern Song dynasty (9601126) and offers a thoughtful commentary on many controversial points such as the huahu theory.

Of note in the writings of both Jia and Xie is the wide range of revealed literature associated with the successive rebirths of Laozi. Chronicles of this type also typically record the honorary titles bestowed upon Lord Lao by imperial decree, thus calling attention to the periods when state patronage was at its height. The title of Xie's work is in fact based on the epithet granted Laozi in 1014.

Laozi Embodied

The feature of the hagiographic lore that came to serve as a primary focus of Daoist meditative practice is the process by which Laozi came to his earthly incarnation. An early account of his "historical" nativity appears in the late second-century Laozi bianhua jing. There it is said that by a metamorphosis of his spirit (shen ), Laozi assumed the form of his mother and then within her womb, after a long gestation, he achieved carnal form. This concept of Laozi as his own mother is ultimately derived from the Dao de jing, where the Dao that bears a name is said to be the mother of all things. It is understood, in other words, that Laozi is the body of the Dao itself. The transformations he undergoes prior to his incarnation are thought to be analogous to the evolutionary stages of the universe. Laozi arises from primordial chaos as the Dao incarnate to become the mother of all things, the source of creation. The reenactment of this process of Laozi's birth is precisely what lies at the heart of the early manuals on meditative practices associated with "nourishing the vital principle" (yangxing ). Just as Laozi, the embodiment of the Dao, is himself perceived to be a microcosm of the universe, so too does the Daoist adept view his own body as a vast kingdom. Within this internal landscape, the adept strives to transform his vital forces into the image of a newborn babe, a homunculus modeled after Laozi.

In the legacy of neidan, physiological alchemy, this creation has come to be referred to as the enchymoma, or inner macrobiogen. The generation of an enchymoma is achieved by a variety of psycho-physiological means, including respiratory exercises, visualization procedures, and controlled sexual practices. It is as if the adept strives to replicate within his body the elixir of immortality that alchemical reaction vessels were designed to produce. Consequently, to attain physiological rejuvenation through the enchymoma is to attain longevity and to become impervious to any external threats from demonic sources. Some manuals spell out even higher goals, including liberation from the bonds of mundane existence and promotion to the ranks of heavenly transcendents.

Such techniques of regeneration are also commonly applied by a Daoist priest in the liturgies, such as the Jiao ceremony, held on behalf of the living and dead he serves. By re-creating the "sovereign lord" embryo within, the priest promotes not only his own transcendent status but that of his entire parish as well. Thus does the embodiment of the cosmogonic image of Laozi lead to the salvation of all.

Patterns of Devotion

The importance of the Dao de jing in various scriptural guides to the Daoist way of life cannot be overemphasized. In a preface to his analysis of the work, the thirty-ninth Celestial Master Zhang Sicheng (d. 1343) laments the fact that many who regarded themselves as disciples of Lord Lao had no understanding of his teachings. Many such commentaries to the Dao de jing were compiled upon imperial command, following the model of the emperor's personal exegesis. The opaque language of the text easily lent itself to countless reinterpretations and metaphorical applications.

As early as the Han dynasty, the Dao de jing was apparently recited not only for magico-religious purposes, but also as a guide to deportment. Additionally, a number of separate tracts appeared, offering advice to the adept on how to conduct one's life in accordance with the principles of the Dao de jing, namely, limited activity (wuwei ), pure quiescence (qingjing ), and noncontention (buzheng ). According to hagiographic lore, it was not unusual for exemplars of these principles to find themselves bearing witness to an epiphany of Laozi, an experience that in turn frequently presaged their own spiritual transcendence. From at least the thirteenth century, Laozi was ritually evoked as the primary patriarch of the Quanzhen lineage on the putative date of his birth, the fifteenth day of the second lunar month. It was also customary, according to the Quanzhen tradition established by Wang Zhe (11121170), to call upon Lord Lao to preside over ritual commemorations of immortals sacred to the lineage. These ceremonies no doubt drew large crowds of clergy and laity alike.

To the individual lay believer, Laozi appears to have offered a wide range of solace. The texts of stone inscriptions preserved from the sixth to the thirteenth century attest to the various demands devotees put on their compassionate messiah. Two inscriptions dating to the Northern Qi (550577), which mark the crafting of an image of Laozi, express the hope that the deceased will be granted ascent to the heavenly realm. By the Tang dynasty, many images and shrines to Laozi had been created as talismans to ensure the welfare of the emperor, reflecting thereby the close relation between church and state.

Large quantities of newly revealed scriptures written in the name of Taishang Laojun took equal account of both this-worldly and otherworldly concerns. These texts, especially popular during the Tang and Song, purport to be the Lord Lao's personal instructions on everything from the art of prolonging life to the quelling of all the malevolent forces thought to threaten humankind. As was the case with the Dao de jing, it was believed that the full efficacy of the new scriptures could only be realized after repeated recitation. To Laozi were also attributed very specific behavioral codes, designed to reinforce traditional Chinese values as well as to promote the goals of a utopian, socialist society. Laozi, in other words, was a source of inspiration for many special interests from all levels of society. During waves of spiritual innovation, many shrines to Lord Lao arose throughout the countryside, while others were restored or enlarged. Worshipers at these shrines were often rewarded by visions of their Lord, appearing in response to individual pleas for divine intervention. According to one inscription dated 1215, Lord Lao was expressly evoked by Daoist priests in an elaborate ritual to exorcise a victim of possessing spirits.

Images of Laozi

In his Baopuzi, a compilation of southern Chinese religious beliefs and practices, Ge Hong (283343) offers one of the earliest descriptions of Laozi's appearance. According to a passage in the neipian ("inner chapters"), one was to envision Lord Lao as a figure nine chi (about seven feet) tall, invested with cloudlike garments of five colors, a multitiered cap, and a sharp sword. Among the distinctive facial features he is reputed to have are a prominent nose, extended eyebrows, and long ears, a physiognomy typically signifying longevity. Ge Hong concludes that the ability to call forth this vision of Lord Lao gave one assurance of divine omniscience, as well as everlasting life.

Later resources propose a far more elaborate scheme of visualization. For example, nearly an entire chapter of a seventh-century anthology, the Sandong zhunang (A satchel of pearls from the three caverns) of Wang Xuanhe (fl. 682), is devoted to citations on the salient features of supramundane beings. Among the more notable passages is one from the Huahu jing that asserts that Laozi is endowed with seventy-two distinguishing attributes, an obvious parallel to the Buddha's thirty-two lakaa. The specification of these divine features varies according to the meditation guide quoted. One manual speaks of meditating on the nine transformations of Laozi, the last and most imposing of which bears all seventy-two attributes. In this ultimate vision, the cosmogonic body of Laozi is said to emerge as a radiant simulacrum of the heavens above and earth below.

A variation on this visualization technique is found in an anonymous account of the Lord Lao of the early eleventh century, the Hunyuan huangdi sheng ji (A chronicle of the sage and majestic sovereign from the primordiality of chaos). Two meditative techniques prescribed in this text invite comparison with the changing conceptualizations of the Buddha's dharmakāya. The initial procedure is based on a recall of each of the seventy-two attributes of Laozi's "ritual body," or fashen, which is the standard translation of the term dharmakāya. The focus of the second type of meditation is on the "true body" or zhenshen of Laozi, as he is perceived suspended in the cosmos, utterly tranquil, beyond all transmigrations. The Hunyuan huangdi sheng ji also discusses the settings in which the ever-radiant Lord Lao may be envisioned, for example, seated Buddha-fashion on a lotus throne or in command of a jade chariot harnessed to divine dragons. The vividness of these descriptions suggests that they may very well have served as guides to those who crafted images of Laozi or painted temple murals.

Later hagiographic accounts supplement the teachings on visualization with reports on the miraculous impressions of Lord Lao upon both natural and manmade landmarks. Although these visions commonly proved to be equally ephemeral, their memory was often reportedly preserved in works of art. Details on early icons are otherwise scarce, for even in the epigraphic records little more is specified than the choice of material to be worked, such as stone, jade, or clay. A Tang dynasty rendition of Laozi in stone, now housed in the Shanxi Provincial Museum of Taiyuan, is one of the few such images to survive. The right hand of this seated figure, dating to 719, holds a short-handled fan in the shape of a palm leaf. This type of fan became the defining feature of the Lord Lao as he is most commonly depicted in a grouping of the Celestial Worthies of the Three Clarities (Sanqing Tianzun). A remarkable representation of this trinity in wood is once more on view in the upper story of the rear pavilion at the Baiyun Guan (White Cloud Abbey) in Beijing, a Quanzhen shrine that is now home to the Chinese Daoist Association.

See Also

Confucius; Daoism; Ge Hong; Jiao; Kou Qianzhi; Millenarianism, article on Chinese Millenarian Movements; Wang Zhe; Zhang Daoling; Zhang Lu.


Tao Te Ching, rev. ed., translated by D. C. Lau (Hong Kong, 1982), includes a translation of the Wang Bi text of the Laozi, together with a rendition based on the Mawangdui manuscripts. Of special interest in this work are Lau's introductions on Laozi and the Mawangdui texts, and two appendixes on "The Problem of Authorship" and "The Nature of the Work." Chuang-tzu; The Seven Inner Chapters and Other Writings from the Book Chuang-tzu, translated by A. C. Graham (London, 1981), includes a thoughtful analysis of the passages that bear on Laozi's encounters with Confucius. Annotated translations of Liu Xiang's biographies of Laozi and Yin Xi are found in Le Liesien tchouan: Biographies légendaires des Immortels taoïstes de l'antiquité, edited and translated by Max Kaltenmark (Beijing, 1953). Anna K. Seidel's La divinisation de Lao tseu, dans le taoïsme des Han (Paris, 1969) is an invaluable monograph based on a critical reading of the Laozi ming and the Laozi bianhua jing. For a comprehensive study of the huahu issue from the second to the sixth century, Erik Zürcher's The Buddhist Conquest of China, 2 vols. (1959; Leiden, 1972), remains unsurpassed. Outstanding documentation of the techniques for prolonging life with which Laozi became associated is available in Henri Maspero's Le taoïsme et les religions chinoises (Paris, 1971), translated by Frank A. Kierman, Jr., as Taoism and Chinese Religion (Amherst, Mass., 1981). Norman J. Girardot's Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism (Berkeley, 1983) examines the mythology of Laozi's transformations as it pertains to early cosmogonic theory. His analysis is based in large part on Seidel's work, taken together with Kristofer Schipper's "The Taoist Body," History of Religions 17 (1978): 355386. Schipper offers a more detailed interpretation of Laozi's "cosmogonic body" in Le corps taoïste (Paris, 1982). Extensive documentation of the neidan tradition is found in Joseph Needham and Lu Gwei-Djen's Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 5, pt. 5 (Cambridge, 1983). For a survey of pertinent hagiographies, historical chronologies, and exegeses on the Dao de jing, see my A Survey of Taoist Literature, Tenth to Seventeenth Centuries (Berkeley, 1987).

Judith Magee Boltz (1987)