Dao Zang(Taoist Canon) is the most important ancient book of Taoism. It originally referred to the collection of Taoist writings. The storage place of Taoist canons was called asZangat the end of the 6thcentury. People began to call all Taoist canons asDao Zangin the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In fact,Dao Zangis a huge cultural project, as its compilation lasted more than one thousand years and dozens of versions were produced. During the past one thousand years or more,Dao Zangwas compiled again and again. However, there is always a strong inheritance of the contents and thoughts among them. Though there are so many versions ofDao Zangduring the long history, only one kind existed in fact and later versions were just the supplements of the previous one.
The development ofDao Zangindirectly reflects the rise and decline of China's history. During the peaceful period, many scholars and Taoists came out boldly and compiledDao Zangwith the support of emperors, aristocrats or rich and powerful people. Though they had different purposes, among which some were to respect and develop Taoism, some were for their pious belief and some were for the political stableness, they actually made indelible contributions to the compilation and preservation of traditional culture to a certain extent.
The compilation ofDao Zangcan be divided into three phases. The first phase is from the Western Jin Dynasty (the 4thcentury) to the Anlushan Rebellion of the Tang Dynasty (the 8thcentury); the second phase is from the Tang Dynasty Suzong reign (the 8thcentury) to the Northern Song Huizong reign (the 11thcentury); and the third phase is from the Southern Song Xiaozong reign (the 12thcentury) to the Ming Dynasty Shenzong reign (the 16thcentury).
SoDao Zangavailable now was basically compiled during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It has 5,485 volumes and 121,589 pages.Dao Zangprevalent today has 4 versions.