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Taoist Canon

Dao Zang (Taoist Canon) is the most important ancient book of Taoism. It originally referred to the collection of Taoist writings. The storage place of Taoist canons was called as Zang at the end of the 6th century. People began to call all Taoist canons as Dao Zang in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In fact, Dao Zang is a huge cultural project, as its compilation lasted more than one thousand years and dozens of versions were produced. During the past one thousand years or more, Dao Zang was compiled again and again. However, there is always a strong inheritance of the contents and thoughts among them. Though there are so many versions of Dao Zang during the long history, only one kind existed in fact and later versions were just the supplements of the previous one.

The development of Dao Zang indirectly reflects the rise and decline of China's history. During the peaceful period, many scholars and Taoists came out boldly and compiled Dao Zang with the support of emperors, aristocrats or rich and powerful people. Though they had different purposes, among which some were to respect and develop Taoism, some were for their pious belief and some were for the political stableness, they actually made indelible contributions to the compilation and preservation of traditional culture to a certain extent.

The compilation of Dao Zang can be divided into three phases. The first phase is from the Western Jin Dynasty (the 4th century) to the Anlushan Rebellion of the Tang Dynasty (the 8th century); the second phase is from the Tang Dynasty Suzong reign (the 8th century) to the Northern Song Huizong reign (the 11th century); and the third phase is from the Southern Song Xiaozong reign (the 12th century) to the Ming Dynasty Shenzong reign (the 16th century).

So Dao Zang available now was basically compiled during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It has 5,485 volumes and 121,589 pages. Dao Zang prevalent today has 4 versions.

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