Biography of the Dragon-like Heavenly Sovereign and Emperor of High Virtue


The original edition of this work was described in the annotated catalog Dao zang mu lu xiang zhu (Catalog of the Daoist canon with detailed annotations) as consisting of six juan. The work is a biography of Laozi, who was traditionally regarded as the author of Dao de jing and the founder of Daoism. The earliest reference to Laozi is found in Shi ji (The records of the grand historian), by Chinese historian Sima Qian (circa 145–86 BC). Laozi was often said to be a contemporary of Confucius (551–479 BC). The lengthy phrase, Tai shang hun yuan shang de huang di (The dragon-like heavenly sovereign) was an honorific title bestowed on Laozi by the Song emperor Zhenzong (reigned 998–1022). This fragmented Ming manuscript copy has two juan in two volumes, and it is possibly a copy that originated from the library of Prince Gaotang of the Ming dynasty, as each volume has a square-shaped seal impression of the prince’s ex libris: Gaotang Wang fu tu shu (Library of Prince Gaotang Mansion). A grandson of Emperor Xianzong (reigned 1465–87), Prince Gaotang (1514–83), whose real name was Zhu Houying,  was known as a scholar of encyclopedic knowledge, a calligrapher, and a collector of books who often had rare books copied. This Ming edition was copied from a Song text. The author was Jia Shanxiang, a famed Daoist, conversationalist, and zither-player of the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127). A number of his works, among them You long zhuan (Biography of a dragon-like master), can be found in Zheng zong dao zang (Orthodox Daoist canon).

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2 juan, 2 volumes


  • Manuscript copy

Last updated: April 27, 2015