Taoist schools

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

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.

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.

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

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

16th and 17th centuries: Wuliu.

Other schools[9]

Newest schools:

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.


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