Taoist schools

Taoism is a religion with many schools or denominations, of which none occupies a position of orthodoxy.[1] Taoist branches usually build their identity around a set of scriptures, that are manuals of ritual practices.[2] Scriptures are considered "breathwork", that is "configurations of energy" (qi), embodiments of "celestial patterns" (tianwen),[3] or "revelations of structures" (li).[4]

The earliest Taoist schools emerged during the late Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 CE).[5] They blossomed especially in the region of Shu, modern-day Sichuan.[6] From the 12th and 13th century onwards several smaller branches merged in larger ones, but in turn side-schools developed around the large traditions.[7] In modern times the existing schools tend to be classified under few overarching headings, in most cases two: Quanzhen Taoism and Zhengyi Taoism.

A monk of the Quanzhen school of Mount Tai, in Shandong.
HK TaiHang TaipingQingjiao 2010 TinHauTemple
Taiping dajiao ritual based on the Taipingjing performed at a Tianhou temple in Hong Kong.
HK FanlingDaJiuRepresentatives
Taoist ritual in Fanling Wai.

Chronology of major schools[8]

Eastern Han period (25–220) to Tang period (618-907): development of the Taiping, Celestial Masters and Zhengyi schools.

Eastern Jin period (317–420) and Southern dynasties period (420-589): development of the Shangqing and Lingbao branches.

  • Shangqing Taoism (上清派 Shàngqīng pài, "School of the Highest Clarity")
    • Maoshan Taoism (茅山宗 Máoshān zōng, "Maoshan Lineage" or "Maoshan Church")
  • Lingbao Taoism (靈寳派 Língbǎo pài, "School of the Numinous Treasure")
  • Louguan Taoism (樓觀派 Lóuguān pài or 樓觀道 Lóuguān dào, "School [or Way] of the Contemplation Place")

Jurchen Jin period (1115–1234): development of the Quanzhen branch.

  • Quanzhen Taoism (全真道 Quánzhēn dào, "Way of the Fulfilled Virtue")
  • Zhenda Taoism (真大道 Zhēndà dào, "True Wide Way")
  • Taiyi Taoism (太一道 Tàiyī dào, "Way of the Great Oneness")

Southern Song period (1127–1279): Tianxin, Shenxiao, Qingwei, Donghua and Jingming branches.

  • Tianxin Taoism (天心派 Tiānxīn pài, "School of the Heavenly Heart")
  • Shenxiao Taoism (神霄派 Shénxiāo pài, "School of the Divine Empyrean")
  • Qingwei Taoism (清微派 Qīngwēi pài, "School of the Pristine Simplicity")
  • Donghua Taoism (東華派 Dōnghuá pài, "School of the Eastern Flower")
  • Jingming Taoism (淨明道 Jìngmíng dào, "Way of the Pure Light")

16th and 17th centuries: Wuliu.

Other schools[9]

  • Bojia Taoism (帛家道 Bójiā dào)
  • Lijia Taoism (李家道 Lijiā dào)
  • Longhu Church or Lineage (龍虎宗 Lónghǔ zōng)
  • Gezao Church or Lineage (閣皂宗 Gézào zōng)
  • Jindan Taoism (金丹派 Jīndān pài) or Southern Church (南宗 Nán zōng)
  • Beidi Taoism (北帝派 Běidì pài)
  • Laoshan or Lao Huashan Taoism (老華山派 Lǎo huàshān pài)
  • Jiu Gongshan Taoism (九宮山派 Jiǔ gōngshān pài)
  • Xuan Taoism (玄教 Xuán jiào)
  • Longmen Taoism (龍門派 Lóngmén pài)
  • Namo Taoism (南無派 Námó pài)
  • Suishan Taoism (隨山派 Suíshān pài)
  • Yuxian Taoism (遇仙派 Yùxian pài)
  • Yushan Taoism (嵛山派 Yúshān pài)
  • Qingjing Taoism (清靜派 Qīngjìng pài)
  • Sanfeng Taoism (三豐派 Sānfēng pài)
  • Wudang Taoism (武當道 Wǔdāng dào) or Wudang Benshan Taoism (武當本山派 Wǔdāng běnshān pài)
  • Jinshan Taoism (金山派 Jīnshān pài) or Laoshan Taoism (嶗山派 Láoshān pài)
  • ChunYang Taoism (纯阳派 chunyang pài)

Newest schools:

  • Dong Taoism or Eastern Taoism (東派 Dōng pài), Neidan Dong Taoism (内丹東派 Nèidān dōng pài)
  • Xi Taoism or Western Taoism (西派 Xi pài), Neidan Xi Taoism (内丹西派 Nèidān xi pài)

See also


  1. ^ Qing Xitai, 1994.
  2. ^ Andersen, Reiter. 2005.
  3. ^ Andersen, Reiter. 2005. p. 77
  4. ^ Andersen, Reiter. 2005. p. 78
  5. ^ Qing Xitai, 1994.
  6. ^ Qing Xitai, 1994.
  7. ^ Qing Xitai, 1994.
  8. ^ Qing Xitai, 1994.
  9. ^ Qing Xitai, 1994.


  • Poul Andersen, Florian C. Reiter. Scriptures, Schools and Forms of Practice in Daoism: A Berlin Symposium. Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005. ISBN 344705171X
  • Qing Xitai (1994) 卿希泰. Zhongguo daojiao 中國道教, vol. 1, pp. 77–83. Shanghai: Zhishi chubanshe. Online.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.