An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Maoshan zhi 茅山志

Oct 7, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Maoshan zhi 茅山志 is a book on perhaps the most sacred mountain of Daoism, Mt. Maoshan between Gourong 句容 and Changzhou 常州, Jiangsu. There are actually several books of this title, the first being written during the late Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) by the Daoist master Liu Dabin 劉大彬 (fl. 1317), who called himself Yuxuzi 玉虛子 "Master of the Jade Voidness" and was the fourty-fifth patriarch of the Maoshan Lineage 茅山宗 (a branch of the Shangqing School 上清派).His official title is洞觀微妙元應真人 "Perfect Man of the Mysterious and Marvellous Primordial Response of the Cave Watch".

His book of 15 juan is divided into 12 chapters speaking of the history of the sacred site, quotes from imperial edicts supporting the School, from writings of visitors and stone inscriptions, describes natural places and artificial spots, lists scriptures written on the mountain and renders the biographies of important masters.

The first print from 1423 includes a preface of Hu Yan 胡儼 (1361-1443), who says that the original text had been written by Zhang Yu 張雨, but was destroyed by military, and reconstructed by Yao Guangxiao 姚廣孝 (1335-1418). It was reprinted in 1470 and 1550. The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 dismissed this version as unacceptable. Chen Guofu 陳國符 (b. 1914), author of a history of Daoist scriptures, Daozang yuanliu kao 道藏源流考, underlined the theory that Zhang Yu was the true author of the book, and Patriarch Liu had appropriated authorship of it.

The 12-chapter version is included in the Daoist Canon Daozang 道藏, and individual chapters are quoted in various Daoist writings.

Another version was compiled by Da Changuang 笪蟾光 (jinshi degree 1652), courtesy name Jiangshang 江上, from Gourong. This version was printed in 1669 and is divided into 14 chapters.

Table 1. Contents of the Maoshan zhi 茅山志
1 誥副墨 Imperial decrees and memorials written by Daoist masters
2 三神紀 Annals of the Three Deities (San Mao Zhenjun 三茅真君)
3 括神區 Areas bringing together the numina (caves, cliffs, altars, bridges, pavillons)
4 稽古篇 Investigation of the past (history of individual spots)
5 道山冊 Scriptures of the Mountains of the Way
6 上清品 Products of the Supreme Clarity (history of the patriarchs)
7 仙曹署 Offices of the immortals (biographies of functionaries)
8 采真遊 Travels of those gathering perfectness (biographies of adepts)
9 樓觀部 Towers and watches (temples)
10 靈植檢 Swords of the ling[zhi] mushroom and [marvellous] plants
11 錄金石 Records on (bronze and) stone slabs
12 金薤編 Golden songs (prose and poetry on the mountain)
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