You are here > Home > Quick Navigation > Religions & Beliefs > Taoism

An Overview of Taoist Sects

Taoism was formally established at the end of Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), with the emergence of Taiping Tao and Wudoumi Tao as its indication. Apart from the above two sects, other sects such as Shangqing (upper clear) and Lingbao (quick and precious) also appeared in the Jin Dynasty (265-420) and the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-581). During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, Taoism underwent a continuous reform led by Ge Hong, Kou Qianzhi, Lu Xiujing and Tao Hongjing, and finally, together with Buddhism, became one of China's orthodox religions. In the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) periods, due to the adoration of the ruling class, Taoism was further developed, with many new sects coming into being. Since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Quanzhen (totally true) Sect and Zhengyi (exact one) Sect have gradually become the two main sects of Taoism.

Although Taoism is basically divided into two main sects -- Zhengyi and Quanzhen, each of which has many branches. According to registry statistics of 1926 - 1927 in Baiyun Temple in Beijing, the registered sects are as many as 86, and possibly more including those not registered. Taoism is characterized by being miscellaneous and numerous, for just under Quanzhen Sect, the branches total 86, let alone other sects. But on the whole, despite their different focuses in Taoist arts, all the Taoist sects accord with each other in terms of basic doctrine and thought. Therefore, generally speaking, all of them can be categorized into either Zhengyi Sect or Quanzhen Sect.

Zhengyi Tao originates from Wudoumi Tao, with Tianshi (heavenly master) Tao as its precursor. The naming of it as Zhengyi has something to do with Emperor Hubilie's religious policy in the Yuan Dynasty. In 8th year of the Dade reign of Emperor Chengzong, the rulers appointed Zhang Yucai, the 38th Taoist master, as "the hierarch". From then on, Tianshi Tao was renamed as Zhengyi Tao. Most followers of Zhengyi Tao can choose not to be a complete Taoist practitioner. Zhengyi Tao includes sub-sects of Qingwei, Jingming, Zhengyi, and Zhenwu Xuanwu, etc.

Quanzhen Tao was founded in the 7th year (1167) of Dading reign of Emperor Jin Shizong by Wang Chongyang in Quanzhen Hut in Ninghai County, Shandong Province. Wang Chongyang was an expert in Confucianism, Taoism as well as Buddhism, and he put forward the theory of three religions of the same origin. Later, his seven students (North True Seven) further improved this sect. Famous branches of Quanzhen Tao are Wuzu (five ancestors), Ziyang (purple sun) of South Wuzu sects. Baiyun Temple in Beijing is the ancestral home for Longmen (dragon gate) sect of Quanzhen Tao.

Quick Navigation

New Article