A Brief Introduction to the Qing Daoist Canon

After the Daoist Canon of the Ming period (Zhengtong Daozang, 1445), the Daozang jiyao (Essentials of the Daoist Canon) is the most important collection of Daoist texts. It is by far the largest anthology of pre-modern Daoist texts and an indispensable source for research on Daoism in the Ming and Qing dynasties (14th-late 19th century). Although the collection is chiefly derived from the Ming Canon, it contains numerous texts that are not included there and thus is undoubtedly the most valuable collection of Daoist literature of the late imperial period. It features texts on neidan or inner alchemy, cosmology, philosophy, ritual, precepts, commentaries on Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist classics, hagiographic, topographic, epigraphic works, and much else.

The genesis of this collection is still hardly explored. According to the most common account, often presented even in recent articles and primarily based on Zhao Zongcheng’s hypothesis (see also Qing Xitai, 1996), it is believed that there are at least three different editions of the Daozang jiyao:

  1. by Peng Dingqiu (1645-1719) compiled around 1700 and containing 200 titles from the Ming Canon;
  2. by Jiang Yupu (zi Yuanting, 1755-1819), who reportedly added 79 texts not contained in the Ming Canon (Weng Dujian, 1935) during the Jiaqing era (1796-1820);
  3. by He Longxiang and Peng Hanran published in 1906 at the Erxian an of Chengdu under the name of Chongkan Daozang jiyao (New Edition of the Essentials of the Daoist Canon), containing a total of 319 titles.

However in 1955, Yoshioka Yoshitoyo in his work entitled Dōkyō kyōten shiron (Historical Studies on Daoist Scriptures) was the first scholar to affirm that there were only two editions of the Daozang jiyao (No. 2 and 3). Based on his work, Liu Ts’un-yan (1973) later also regarded the attribution of the original edition of the Daozang jiyao to Peng Dingqiu as spurious. Thanks to closer study on the content of this collection, other scholars have recently confirmed Yoshioka’s view.

Dr. Esposito’s study of the extant editions since 1993 had confirmed that the original edition by Peng Dingqiu (No. 1) is a fiction and does not exist. The edition by Jiang Yupu (No. 2) is the basis of all modern printed editions: it forms the kernel of the Chongkan Daozang jiyao of 1906 (No. 3). Several copies edited by Jiang Yupu still exist in Japan, mainland China, Taiwan, and France, which can be divided into two basic categories: “Jinbun edition” (Jinbun Kagaku Kenkyūjo, Kyoto University, Tōyō Bunko, etc.) and “Paris edition” (Bibliotheque du College de France, Diet Library of Yokyo, Beijing Baiyun Temple, etc.). The copy stored in Paris was imported from China by Paul Pelliot in 1933.

The best known version is the Chongkan Daozang jiyao by He Longxiang, Peng Hanran, and Yan Yonghe (1906). It has been reprinted numerous times by the Kaozheng and Xinwenfeng publishing houses of Taipei during the 1970s-1980s, by the Bashu shushe of Chengdu (1985, 1986, 1992, 1995), and by the Jilin renmin press of Changchun (1995). In spite of these reprints, their basis – the Daozang jiyao of Jiaqing period and the Chongkan Daozang jiyao of 1906 – has not yet been carefully analyzed by scholars.

The Daozang jiyao consists of the texts included in the Ming Daoist Canon as well as the texts from other collections which we label as extra-canonical texts. One of these collections was edited by the same Jiang Yupu before he compiled the Daozang jiyao, namely, Lüzu quanshu zhengzong, which is preserved in Japanese libraries. During recent years there have been a growing amount of researches on different versions of Lüzu quanshu, Lüzu cult, and related religious practice in the Ming-Qing dynasties.




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© 2006  Daozang jiyao Project,  Updated August, 2015