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The Daozang (Chinese: 道藏; pinyin: Dàozàng; Wade–Giles: Tao Tsang) is a large canon of Taoist writings, consisting of around 1,400 texts that were seen as continuing traditions first embodied by the Daodejing, Zhuangzi, and Liezi. The canon was assembled by monks c. 400 CE in an attempt to bring together these disparate yet consonant teachings, and it included commentaries and expositions from various masters on material found in the aforementioned core texts of Taoism. The anthology consisted of three divisions (known as grottoes) based on what were seen at that time in Southern China as Taoism's primary focuses: meditation, ritual, and exorcism. These three grottoes were ranked by skill level—with exorcism being the lowest and meditation the highest—and used for the initiation of Taoist masters.

In addition to the Three Grottoes, there were the "Four Supplements" that were added to the canon c. 500 CE. Three were primarily sourced from the older core texts, with the other taken from a separate, established philosophical tradition known as Tianshi Dao.

Unlike many spiritual and religious canons, the Daozang is not considered to be highly organized. Although at present the core divisions have been preserved, substantial forks in the ordering and arrangement of the constituent texts have arisen due to the later addition of commentaries, revelations and texts further elaborating upon earlier iterations.


  1. The First Daozang
    • During the era of Northern and Southern dynasties, this was the first time of an effort was made to compile and categorised scriptures and texts from across China by Lu Xiujing and occurred around 471 and consisted of roughly 1,228 scrolls.
  2. The Second Daozang
    • In 748, the Tang emperor Tang Xuan-Zong who was a devoted Taoist (the royal family claimed to be the descendants of Laozi) sent clergy to collect more scriptures and texts that expanded the Taoist Canon.
  3. The Third Daozang
    • Around 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 more than 4500 scrolls and was known as Yunji Qiqian.
  4. The Fourth Daozang
    • In 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 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 Taoist 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 Taoist 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 Taoist master.

Each of the Three Grottoes contains 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 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.