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The Mountains in Daoist Religious Culture

Florian C. Reiter

Pages 183 - 204


In Chinese cultural history mountainous areas and also single outstanding peaks
were very special arenas for economic, social and religious life. The
presentation explores how to assess the participation of religious Daoism in
this historic setting in China.

1 F. C. Reiter: Religionen in China, Geschichte, Alltag, Kultur. München 2002 (Becksche Reihe 1490), pp. 86–90. The same author: Lao-Tzu zur Einführung. Hamburg 1994, pp. 7–12.

2 Xu Jian: Chuxue ji, Extolling Matters of Fact Xushi 敘事 5,2,91. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局 1980.

3 Xu Jian 1980, 5,2,91.

4 This is the quotation from Xu Jian, see preceding note.

5 Sima Qian 司馬遷: Shiji 史記 28, 431 a fengshan shu 封禪書. Taibei: Donghua shuju 東華書局, 1970. M. Loewe / E. L. Shaughnessy (eds.): The Cambridge History of Ancient China, from the Origins of Civilisation to 221 B. C. Cambridge 1999, pp. 644, 818, 827. Here, the translations “master of techniques”, or “recipe gentleman” are used.

6 See F. C. Reiter: Der „Bericht über den Berg Lu‟ (Lu-shan Chi) von Ch'en Shunyü, ein historiographischer Beitrag aus der Sung Zeit zum Kulturraum des Lu Shan. München 1977, pp. 57, 72, 172 (the Northern Side of the Mountain).

7 R. Mathieu: Étude sur la mythologie et l'ethnographie de la Chine ancienne. 2 vols. Paris 1983. See DZ 1031 Shanhai jing. The book was incorporated in the Ming-Canon which does not mean that it was an original Daoist book.

8 Ban Gu 班固: Hanshu 漢書, 30, Yiwenzhi 藝文志 10, pp. 1774–1775. Beijing, Zhonghua shuju 中華書局, 1975.

9 See commentary DZ 1031 Shanhai jing 1.2 a/9.

10 DZ 1031 Shanhai jing 1.2a. For this edition see K. Schipper / F. Verellen (eds.): The Taoist Canon. A Historical Companion to the Daozang. Vol. 1: Antiquity through the Middle Ages. Chicago 2004, pp. 112–113.

11 M. Strickmann: Le taoïsme du Mao Chan, chronique d'une revelation. Paris 1981 (Mémoires de l'Institut des hautes Études chinoises 17). I. Robinet: Méditation taoïste. Paris 1979 (Collection mystiques et religions).

12 F. C. Reiter: Grundelemente und Tendenzen des religiösen Taoismus. Das Span nungsverhältnis von Integration und Individualität in seiner Geschichte zur Chin-, Yüan- und frühen Ming-Zeit. Stuttgart 1988 (Münchener Ostasiatische Studien 48), pp. 42–105. S. Eskildsen: The Teachings and Practices of the Early Quanzhen Taoist Masters. New York 2004.

13 E. Feifel: Geschichte der chinesischen Literatur. Hildesheim 1967, pp. 152–154.

14 Xu Jian 1980, 5,2,91, explaining the term: containing moisture hanze 含澤.

15 S. L. Field: The Duke of Zhou Changes. A Study and Translation of the Zhouyi. Wiesbaden 2015 (AKM 97), pp. 47, 55, 211–213. Concerning Mount Lushan and The Commentary on the Book of the Rivers, see Wang Guowei 王國維 (ed.), Li Daoyuan 酈道元: Shuijing zhu jiao 水經注校, Lujiang shui 廬江水. 39, pp. 1236–1241. Shanghai, Renmin chuban she 人民出版社, 1984. Later, similar titles were published, see F. C. Reiter: “The Description of Mountains in Li Yüan's ‘Book of the Rivers in Shu’ (Shu-shui ching).” In: ZDMG 140 (1990), pp. 123–143.

16 J. Thiel SVD: “Der Streit der Buddhisten und Taoisten zur Mongolenzeit.” In: Monumenta Serica 20 (1961), pp. 1–81. Reiter 1988, pp. 132–139.

17 E. Chavannes: Le T'ai Chan. Essai de monographie d'une culte Chinois. Textes relatives aux sacrifices fong et chan. Chalon-sur Saône 1910 (repr. Taibei 1970, Chengwen chubanshe 成文出版社), pp. 158–353.

18 Sima Qian: Shiji fengshan shu 史記封禪書 28, pp. 430a-431a.

19 See J. Lagerwey: Wu-shang pi-yao. Somme taoiste du VIe siècle. Paris 1981 (Publications de l'école franÇaise d'Extrême-Orient 124), pp. 75–76.

20 See P. Frick: Fritz Löw-Beer. Seine Sammlung chinesischer Lackkunst.” In Ostasiatische Zeitschrift N. S. 13 (2007), p. 33. Also see for example Ph. Rawson / L. Legeza (eds.): The Chinese Philosophy of Time and Change, Tao. London 1973, tables 117, 118.

21 F. C. Reiter (trl./ed.): Leben und Wirken Lao-Tzu's in Schrift und Bild. Lao-chün pa-shih-i-hua t'u-shuo. Würzburg 1990, pp. 38, 184–185. The same author: Die Verbindung von Menschlichkeit und Göttlichkeit. Taoistische Ansichten des Lebens. Wiesbaden 2010 (AAS 34), pp. 54–55. This is a translation of DZ 299 Yixian zhuan 2.9a-10a. Also see Li Fang 李昉: Taiping guangji, 6.2a-4b. Kyoto, Chûbun shuppansha 中文出版社, 1972. DZ 294 Liexian zhuan 2.1b-2b. W. Eichhorn: Die Religionen Chinas. Stuttgart 1973, pp. 121, 141. A. Seidel: La divinisation des Lao Tseu dans le taoïsme des Han, pp. 26, 29, 47, 70. Paris 1969. K. Schipper, L'empereur Wou des Han dans la légende taoiste. Han Wou-ti nei-tchouan. Paris 1965 (Publications de l'école franÇaise d'Extrême-Orient 58).

22 This is DZ 598, compare K. Schipper in Schipper/Verellen 2004, p. 115.

23 See Li Yuanguo 李遠國: Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue 道教氣功養生學. Chengdu: Sichuan sheng shehui kexue yuan chuban she 四川省社會科學院出版社, 1988.

24 E. Rousselle: “Nei Ging tu, ̦Die Tafel des inneren Gewebes҅. Ein taoistisches Meditationsbild mit Beschriftung.” In: Zur Seelischen Führung im Taoismus. Ausgewählte Aufsätze. Darmstadt 1962 (repr.), pp. 20–29, here p. 28. Also see for the chart Rawson/Legeza 1973, table 53.

25 Ge Hong: Baopu zi 抱朴子 17, dengshe 登涉 1a-7b, rushan fu 入山符 8a-13a, rushan peidai fu 入山佩帶符 13a-18b. Taibei: Sibu beiyao, zibu 四部備要子部, Zhonghua shuju 中華書局, 1966.

26 Shangshu 尚書, Zhoushu taishi shang 周書泰誓上, in Huang Kan 黃侃 (ed.): Baiwen shisan jing 白文十三經, p. 29. Shanghai: Guji chubanshe 古籍出版社, 1983.

27 Strickmann 1981. Also see Robinet 1979, pp. 9–16, p. 17 for a map and pp. 18–27 for a tabular survey of historic dates up to the death of Tao Hongjing 陶弘景 in 536. Chavannes 1910, p. 144, features Mount Maoshan as Cave Heaven Dongtian 洞天 nr. 8, and the same time as Auspicious Site Fudi 福地 nr. 1. Compare DZ 599 Dongtian fudi yuedu mingshan ji 4 a which lists amongst the Ten Great Cave Heavens 十大洞天 a Juqu dong 句曲洞, pointing to Mount Maoshan. As to the Seventy-Two Auspicious Sites, see DZ 599: 8b, however without a number 1 Mount Maoshan. “Number 1” most certainly was a sort of seal of quality that locally also was used for other places. We saw the same label in the Louguan tai Temple 樓觀台 at Mount Zhongnan shan 終南山.

28 See the titles DZ 304 and DZ 296, and also the following titles DZ 297, DZ 298.

29 See F. C. Reiter: The Taoism of Clarified Tenuity 清微道法. Content and Intent. Wiesbaden 2017 (AAS 48), p. 3; and Reiter 1988, pp. 106–126, especially referring to localities of importance and significance such as the Cave of Ma Gu 麻姑洞, see pp. 115–116. Concerning a Cave of Mount Ma Gu nr. 28, see DZ 1032 Yunji qiqian 27.7b-8a, where the name Heaven of Cinnabar Red Dawn 丹霞天 is attributed to the location that is said to be under the control of a certain Perfected Wang 王真人治之. DZ 1032: 27.10b lists a Cave of Cinnabar Red Dawn at Mount Ma Gu, where a certain Cai Jingzhen 蔡經真 attained Dao and now is in control of the location.

30 See G. Anders: “Traditional Chinese Architecture and Feng Shui Based on the Example of the Traditional Chinese Village Cuandixia Cun 爨底下村.” In: F. C. Reiter (ed.): Theory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art. Wiesbaden 2013 (AAS 41), pp. 135–162, especially see p. 150, Figure I. Ideally, a temple would be located where the village is, between a White Tiger (West), an Azure Dragon (East), and a Black Turtle (North) that altogether collect the vital breath and provide protection, which basically means that the ideal location is at the mountain rather than on the mountain.

31 See for example F. C. Reiter: Der Tempelberg Ch'-ch'ü in der Provinz Szechwan im China der Gegenwart. Würzburg 1993, pp. 14, 15. The book shows a Qing-dynasty map, featuring the arrangement of temples and halls all stretching uphill on Mount Qiqu shan. The original Gate to the precinct was called: Ward Divine Precinct Shengjing fang 聖境坊 but was destroyed during the Republican era in the course of constructing a modern road cutting through the scene, see Reiter 1993, p. 15. Some locals attributed the destruction to the “Great Cultural Revolution”.

32 This is the canonical title DZ 599.

33 DZ 599: 1a–1b.

34 DZ 1439 Dongxuan lingbao yujing shan buxu jing. For the text see Schipper/Verellen 2004, p. 219. The term sandong 三洞 is also translated: Three Caverns.

35 DZ 599: 1a, 2a. See F. C. Reiter: “Der Name Tung-hua ti-chün und sein Umfeld in der taoistischen Tradition.” In: G. Naundorf et al. (eds.): Religion und Philosophie in Ostasien. Würzburg 1985, pp. 87–101. An alternative name of the divinity was: Royal Father of the East 東王父.

36 DZ 599: 1a-2b. DZ 1439 Dongxuan lingbao yujing shan buxu jing. For the latter text see Schipper/Verellen 2004, p. 219.

37 DZ 599:3a-3b.

38 DZ 599: 3a.

39 See W. Eberhard: Hua Shan, the Flowery Mountain. The Taoist sacred mountain in West China, its scenery, monasteries and monks. Hong Kong 1973. Concerning Mount Taishan, see Chavannes 1910. A rich documentation offers Xu Jian 1980, pp. 94–96: Taishan 泰山, and pp. 98–101: Huashan 華山.

40 Here, character 几 should be character nr. 837 in H. A. Giles: A Chinese-English Dictionary. London 1917 (repr. Taibei, Chengwen chuban she 成文出版社, 1972). The designation Lungs of Earth is the name of a place in the Zhongnan Mountains 終南山 in Shanxi province 陝西.

41 DZ 599: 3a–3b.

42 DZ 599: 3b-4b.

43 Lagerwey 1981, p. 76 referring to a lost Daoji jing 道跡經.

44 DZ 599: 4a.

45 Reiter 1977, pp. 122–127; and the same author: “The Investigation Commissioner of the Nine Heavens and the Beginning of his Cult in Northern Chiang-Hsi in 731 A. D.” In: Oriens 31 (1988), pp. 266–289.

46 DZ 1286 Lushan taiping xingguo gong caifang zhenjun shishi 6.27a: the Shoumo tang ji 授墨堂記 names Zhongli Quan 鍾離全 and Lü Dongbin 呂洞賓 as the famous immortals that stayed and convened on the mountain. Reiter 1988, p. 267. E. Zürcher: The Buddhist Conquest of China. Leiden 1959 (Sinica Leidensia), pp. 240–253.

47 F. C. Reiter: “Die Ausführungen Li Tao-yüans zur Geschichte und Geographie des Berges Lu (Chiang-hsi) im ̦Kommentar zum Wasserklassiker҅, und ihre Bedeutung für die regionale Geschichtsschreibung.” In: OE 28,1 (1981), p. 16 and note nr. 12. The same author: “Change and Continuity in Historical Geography: Chang Huang's (1527–1608) Reflections on the Yü-kung.” In: AM 3,1, pp. 129–141. Chang Huang 章潢 (Ming 明) challenged the criticism of Zhu Xi (Song 宋) concerning the extant version of the book Yugong.

48 Wing-Tsit Chan: A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. New York 1972, p. 588.

49 DZ 1220 Daofa huiyuan 126.20a-20b Amulet the Emperor of Heaven Controls the World Tianhuang yüchen fu 天皇御塵符, DZ 1220: 83.11b-12a Amulet the Emperor of Heaven Despatches Thunders Xilei tianhuang fu 檄雷天皇符, or DZ 1220: 162.34a-34b Amulet Tianpeng Suffocates Evil Tianpeng xunxie fu 天蓬熏邪符 that shows the snake together with the turtle, the latter being the symbol of water and the North, which is the direction the divine Marshal Tianpeng and the Emperor of the North Beidi 北帝 are associated with. A Daoist theoretical text is DZ 1220: 69.23 b-25 a: Creation nr. 8 Zaohua zhang ba 造化章八.

50 T. F. Kleeman: Wenchang and the Viper: the creation of a Chinese national god. Michigan, Ann Arbor 1989. Reiter 1993, pp. 20, 21. Concerning the origins of the cult also see Chang Qu 常璩, Huayang guozhi jiaozhu 華陽國志校注, Hanzhong zhi 漢中志, 2, pp. 144–147. Chendu: Ba Shu shushe chuban 巴蜀書社出版, 1984.

51 Reiter 1993, pp. 14–15, 28–30. The same author: “The creation of Buddhist cliff sculpture on Mt. Ch'i-ch'ü in Szechwan.” In: NOAG 147, pp. 145–153.

52 Wang Yong-bo 王永波/ Lothar Ledderose 雷德候 (eds.): Buddhist Stone Sutras in China, Shandong Province. Vol. 1. Wiesbaden/Hangzhou 2014, pp. 19–30.

53 DZ 599: 4b.

54 DZ 599: 5a-6b.

55 DZ 590 Daojiao lingyan ji 3.9b. Red rays are pure yang, which are a sign set by Taishang Laojun as suggested in the Tang-source DZ 593: 5a. Here, Daojiao lingyan ji reports that an old withered cassia tree revived after Taishang Laojun made an apparition stating to be the ancestor of the ruling house of the Tang. The ruling house of the Tang and Laozi had the same surname: Li 李.

56 DZ 599: 5b. F. C. Reiter: “A Chinese Patriot's Concern with Taoism: The Case of Wang O (1190–1273).” In: OE 33 (1990), pp. 95–131; and the same author: “Some Observations Concerning Taoist Foundations in Traditional China.” In: ZDMG 133 (1983), pp. 371–373 referring to the Taiqing gong. In the Tang-period emperor Gaozu 高祖 (618) changed the name of the temple to be Belvedere Celebrating the Tang 慶唐觀, see DZ 593: 5a.

57 DZ 599: 6b-8b; 8b–11b.

58 DZ 599: 9b.

59 DZ 599: 11a-15b. A German translation of the complete text presents V. Olles: Der Berg des Laozi in der Provinz Sichuan und die 24 Diözesen der Daoistischen Religion. Wiesbaden 2005 (AAS 24), pp. 251–257.

60 See for example T. F. Kleeman: Celestial Masters, History and Ritual in Early Daoist Communities. Cambridge, Massachusetts / London 2016, pp. 33, 124–128, 205. See DZ 1139 Sandong zhunang 7.1a-15a.

61 Whereas DZ 1139 Sandong zhunang 7.7 a writes Yangping zhi 陽平治 and continues to use the designation zhi vé throughout the text, DZ 599 always writes hua 化. Hua means to change by influence, to convert et al., which we freely translate: correspond with, in the sense of conveying influences as described.

62 Starting about the 8th of October, see Giles 1917, nr. 3825.

63 Compare Ban Gu, Hanshu 26, tianwen zhi 天文志 6, 1288, which identifies the corresponding area with Yenzhou 兗州 —one of the Nine Divisions of the empire established by the antique hero Great Yu 大禹.

64 DZ 599: 11a. For the addenda compare TT 1139 Sandong zhunang 7.7b. Also see F. C. Reiter: Der Perlenbeutel aus den Drei Höhlen (San-tung chu-nang). Arbeitsmaterialien zum Daoismus der frühen T'ang Zeit. Wiesbaden 1990 (Asiatische Forschungen 112), p. 109.

65 DZ 1139: 7.7b. The title Heavenly Master without further specification always refers to Zhang Daoling 張道陵.

66 Olles 2005, 29, pp. 43–53.

67 See Giles 1917, nr. 10120; the season begins around the 23 rd of Octob er.

68 Concerning the constellation, see Ban Gu, Hanshu 26, tianwen zhi 天文志 6, 1288.

69 DZ 599: 11 a–11b.

70 See Ban Gu, Hanshu 26, tianwen zhi 6, 1288, combining the areas Yanzhou 兗州 and Yuzhou 豫州.

71 DZ 599:11b. The term register refers to the crucial documents that a Daoist priest receives in ordination ceremonies. Registers contain the names of divinities and the formulae to invoke them for liturgical purposes.

72 This most likely is Xu Jidao 徐季道, see DZ 296 Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian 7.14 b-15 a who is said to have successfully studied and attained Dao on the basis of a method of the secret Dao of the Five Divinities of Great Plainness 太素五神道之秘事 that was transmitted to him by an unnamed perfected person. It all happened at Mount Heming.

73 He Danyang is said to have served in the Han-period as Secretarial Court Gentleman, see Ch. O. Hucker: A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China. Stanford 1985, nr. 5047. After retirement He Danyang lived in hiding on the famous mountains in Sichuan, using a diet of flowers from the Pine trees which made his body light and his eyes brightly shining. The Superior Perfected Great Peace 太平上真 descended then and transmitted to him the Dao of climbing the Kui-star and riding a dragon 攀魁乘龍之道. Later He Danyang ascended to heaven, see DZ 1248 Sandong qunxian lu 1.16a.

74 Ma Chengzi is said to have lived in the period Qin/Han who liked to be on his own and finally stayed at Mount Heming where he lived in a stone room to practice self-cultivation for more than twenty years. Later he encountered an extraordinary person who gave him a divine elixir and said: The breaths make the inner elixir, herbs make the outer elixir. Now you got them, do apply them and you should properly rank as an immortal. Ma Chengzi honored these crafts and practiced them, and later then he ascended to heaven in bright daylight, see DZ 1465 Xiaoyaoxu jing 1.16b-17a.

75 Concerning the importance of the notion of the Five Elements, see M. Loewe / E. L. Shaughnessy (eds.): The Cambridge History of Ancient China, from the Origins of Civilization to 221 B. C. Cambridge 1999, pp. 808–812. The translation here has “Five Phases” (Powers).

76 DZ 1125 Dongxuan lingbao sandong fengdao kejie yingshi 1.13a. See F. C. Reiter, The Aspirations and Standards of Taoist Priests in the Early T'ang Period. Wiesbaden 1998 (AAS 1), pp. 76–84. The quotation is: DZ 1125 Fengdao kejie yingshi 1.12b–19b.

77 DZ 1220 Daofa huiyuan 236.1a–2a.

78 Concerning the mountains, see DZ 599 Dongtian fudi yuedu mingshan ji 3 a, the paragraph: The Five Holy Mountains of China. As to the Huangdi yinfu jing, see F. C. Reiter: “The ‘Scripture of the Hidden Contracts’ (Yin-fu ching), a short survey on facts and findings.” In: NOAG 136 (1984), pp. 75–83, esp. p. 78.

79 See for example the charts in J. M. Boltz: A Survey of Taoist Literature, Tenth to Seventeenth Centuries. Berkley 1987, pp. 31, 52.

80 Sima Qian: Shiji 38: Song Weizi shihjia di ba 宋微子世家第八: 508b./19. The dates were taken from Loewe/Shaughnessy 1999, pp. 26–27, Table I., c: Spring and Autumn. Concerning the constellation Heart that belongs to the twenty-eight lunar mansions, see Giles 1917, p. 26, Table B, nr. 5. The name in astronomy is: Antares.

81 Concerning the Royal Astrologer, see Hucker 1985, nr. 4453.

82 Compare Huang Kan 黃侃, Baiwen shihsan jing 白文十三經, Zhouli 周禮, 71, 4–5: Chunguan zongbo 春官宗伯. Shanghai: Guji chuban she 古籍出版社, 1983.

83 Mount Tai is Mount Tai shan 泰山 in Shandong province. See Hanshu 26, tianwen zhi 6, 1274.

84 Hanshu 26, tianwen zhi 6, 1275.

85 Chavannes 1910, p. 399.

86 See Chavannes 1910, Fig. I, Plan du T'ai chan that shows right beneath the peak the Bixia gong 碧霞宮.

87 Chavannes 1910, pp. 137–138. Ma Shutian 馬書田: A Complete Picture of Three Hundred Chinese Divinities 全像中國三百神, pp. 39–41. Nanchang shi 南昌市, Jiangxi meishu chuban she 江西美術出版社, 1995.


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