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Daozang (Chinese: 道藏pinyin: Dào Zàng; Wade-Giles: Tao Tsang), meaning "Treasury of Dao" or "Daoist Canon", consists of around 1400 texts that were collected circa C.E. 400 (quite some time after the Dao De Jing and Zhuang Zi which are the core Daoist texts). They were collected by Daoist monks of the period in an attempt to bring together all of the teachings of Daoism, including all the commentaries and expositions of the various masters from the original teachings found in the Dao De Jing and Zhuang Zi. It was split into Three Grottoes, which mirrors the Buddhist Tripitaka (three baskets) division. These three divisions were based on the main focus of Daoism in Southern China during the time it was made, namely; meditation, ritual, and exorcism.

These Three Grottoes were used as levels for the initiation of Daoist masters, from lowest (exorcism) to highest (meditation).

As well as the Three Grottoes there were Four Supplements that were added to the Canon circa C.E. 500. These were mainly taken from older core Daoist texts (e.g. [Dao De Jing]) apart from one which was taken from an already established and separate philosophy known as Tianshi Dao (Way of the Heavenly Masters).

Although the above can give the appearance that the Canon is highly organized, this is far from the truth. Although the present-day Canon does preserve the core divisions, there are substantial forks in the arrangement due to the later addition of commentaries, revelations and texts elaborating upon the core divisions.



  1. The First Daozang
    • This was the first time an attempt was made to bring together all the teachings and texts from across China and occurred circa C.E. 400 and consisted of roughly 1,200 scrolls
  2. The Second Daozang
    • In C.E. 748 the Tang emperor Tang Xuan-Zong (claimed to be a descendant of Laozi), sent monks to collect further teachings to add to the Canon.
  3. The Third Daozang
    • Around C.E. 1016 of the Song dynasty, the Daozang was revised and many texts collected during the Tang dynasty were removed. This third Daozang consisted of approximately 4500 scrolls.
  4. The Fourth Daozang
    • In C.E. 1444 of the Ming dynasty, a final version was produced consisting of approximately 5300 scrolls.

Many new Daozang were published.

Constituent Parts


Three Grottoes (sandong) 三洞 C.E. 400

  1. Authenticity Grotto (Dongzhen) 洞真部: Texts of Supreme Purity (Shangqing) tradition
    • This grotto is concerned mainly with meditation and is the highest phase of initiation for a Daoist master.
  2. Mystery Grotto (Dongxuan) 洞玄部: Texts of Sacred Treasure (Lingbao) tradition
    • This grotto is concerned mainly with rituals and is the middle phase of initiation for a Daoist master.
  3. Spirit Grotto (Dongshen) 洞神部: Texts of Three Sovereigns (Sanhuang) tradition
    • This grotto is concerned mainly with exorcisms and is the lowest phase of initiation for a Daoist master.

Each of the above Three Grottoes then has the following 12 chapters

  1. Main texts (Benwen) 本文類
  2. Talismans (Shenfu) 神符類
  3. Commentaries (Yujue) 玉訣類
  4. Diagrams and illustrations (Lingtu) 靈圖類
  5. Histories and genealogies (Pulu) 譜錄類
  6. Precepts (Jielu) 戒律類
  7. Ceremonies (Weiyi) 威儀類
  8. Rituals (Fangfa) 方法類
  9. Practices (Zhongshu) 像術(衆術)類
  10. Biographies (Jizhuan) 記傳類
  11. Hymns (Zansong) 讚頌類
  12. Memorials (Biaozou) 表奏類

Four Supplements C.E. 500

  1. Great Mystery (Taixuan) 太玄部: Based on the Dao De Jing
  2. Great Peace (Taiping) 太平部: Based on the Taiping Jing
  3. Great Purity (Taiqing) 太清部: Based on the Taiqing Jing and other alchemical texts
  4. Orthodox One (Zhengyi) 正一(正乙)部: Based on the Way of the Celestial Masters (Tianshi Dao) tradition.

External links


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