Terebess Asia Online (TAO)


The Tao Te Ching
by Lao Tzu

老子 : 道德經

Laozi : Daode jing

The Daode jing is a short book of about 5,000 Chinese characters. It has 81 short chapters. It has two parts: Part One is the D
ao jing (道經), which is chapters 1–37; Part Two is the De jing (德經), which is chapters 38–81.
The earliest is the Guodian manuscript, c. 300 BCE. It is quite incomplete, but serves as a great supplemental source. The next to oldest are the Mawangdui A and Mawangdui B manuscripts, c. 250 BCE. These too, because of their many imperfections, serve as great supplemental sources. Future manuscripts are much easier to read because they include the correct characters in many cases. Among these are the 河上公 Heshang Gong, c. 180-157 BCE, and 王弼 Wang Bi manuscripts, 226-249 CE, which are great main sources for translating the poems. They provide the framework; the earlier ones add to its richness. The latest is the 傅奕 Fu Yi manuscript, c. 555-639 CE.

The English version of...

Stephen Addiss & Stanley Lombardo, 1993

Douglas Allchin, 2002


Archie J. Bahm, 1958

Frederic Henry Balfour, 1884

Sanderson Beck

R. B. Blakney, 1955

Derek Bryce, 1984
(from the French of Léon Wieger, 1913)

David Bullen

Witter Bynner

Tom Byrn

Wing-Tsit Chan, 1963

Chao-Hsiu Chen

David Hong Cheng, 2000

Ellen Marie Chen

Tim Chilcott (PDF)

Chou-Wing Chohan

Chang Chung-yuan

Jim Clatfelter, 2000

Thomas Cleary, 1991

Nina Correa, 2005

George Cronk, 1999

Aleister Crowley, 1975

Bram den Hond

John Dicus, 2002

Brian Donohue, 2005

J. J. L. Duyvendak, 1954

Gia-fu Feng & Jane English, 1972, 1989

Robert Eno

Aalar Fex, 2006

C. Ganson

Andre Gauthier

Tam Gibbs

Dwight Goddard, 1919

Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong

Walter Gorn-Old, 1904

Chad Hansen

Bradford Hatcher, 2005, 2009

John Heider, 1985

Robert G. Henricks, 1989

Robert G. Henricks, 2000

I. W. Heysinger

David Hinton

Lok Sang Ho, 2002

Ron Hogan

Hong Kong City University

Tao Huang

Chichung Huang

Shi Fu Hwang

Philip J. Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe — The Concept of de ("Virtue") in the Laozi

Ren Jiyu, 1993
(tr. He Guanghu, Gao Shining, Song Lidao and Xu Junyao)

Yasuhiko Genku Kimura

Ha Poong Kim

Hilmar Klaus

A. S. Kline, 2003

Karl Kromal, 2002

tom kunesh

Man-Ho Kwok, Martin Palmer, Jay Ramsay

Michael LaFargue, 1992

Ray Larose, ~ 2000

D. C. Lau

Timothy Leary, 1965 (PDF)

James Legge, 1891

Ursula K. Le Guin

Paul J. Lin, 1977

Cheng Lin, 1949

David Lindauer

Derek Lin, 1994

David H. Li

Bruce R. Linnell

Ned Ludd

Richard John Lynn

John Mabry, 1994

Frank J. MacHovec, 1962

Victor H. Mair

Bart Marshall, 2006

William Martin, 1999

Herrymon Maurer, 1985

T. McCarroll

J. McDonald

Isabella Mears, 1916

C. Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905

Peter Merel

Stephen Mitchell, 1991

Patrick E. Moran

Charles Muller, 2011

Mikhail Nikolenko
(from the Russian of Vladimir Nikolenko)

Hua-Ching Ni. 1979

Lee Sun Chen Org, 2000

Herman Ould, 1946

Liu Qixuan, 2002

Red Pine (Bill Porter), 1996

Dan G. Reid, 2015

The Tao of Rivenrock

Moss Roberts, 2001

Stan Rosenthal, 1984

Octavian Sarbatoare, 2002

K. O. Schmidt, 1975

Keith H. Seddon

Auke Schade, 2016

Alan Sheets & Barbara Tovey, ~ 2002

Eiichi Shimomissé, 1998

The Shrine of Wisdom, 1924

Agnieszka Solska, 2005

Jeffrey Sorensen > Mitchell

Roderic & Amy M. Sorrell, 2003

Jonathan Star, 2000

D.T. Suzuki & Paul Carus, 1913

Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904

Han Hiong Tan

Alan B. Taplow, 1982

Tien Cong Tran

J. L. A. Trottier

David Tuffley

Arthur Waley, 1934

Brian Browne Walker, 1995

Wayne L. Wang

Henry Wei, 1982

Jerry C. Welch, 1998

Léon Wieger > Bryce

William Scott Wilson

R.L. Wing, 1986

John WorldPeace, 1997

Ted Wrigley

Charles Q. Wu, 2013

Yi Wu, 1989

John C. H. Wu, 1961

Xiaolin Yang

Lin Yutang, 1948

Thomas Z. Zhang

Gu Zhengkun

Tang Zi-chang

The Guodian bamboo slip version
of the Daode jing

The Guodian Chu Slips (Chinese : 郭店楚簡; pinyin: Guodian Chujian)
In 1993, an astonishing discovery was made at a tomb in Guodian in Hubei province (east central China). Written on strips of bamboo that have miraculously survived intact since 300 B.C., the "Guodian Laozi, " is by far the earliest version of the "Daode jing" ever unearthed. There were three bundles of bamboo strips (71 strips total):

Guodian Laozi A (老子甲 - Laozi jia)
consists of (in this order) chapters 19, 66, 46, 30, 15, 64 (part 2), 37, 63, 2, 32, 25, 5, 16, 64 (part 1), 56, 57, 55, 44, 40, and 9.
Guodian Laozi B (老子乙 - Laozi yi)
consists of chapters 59, 48, 20, 13, 41, 52, 45, and 54.
Guodian Laozi C (老子丙 - Laozi bing)
consists of chapters 17, 18, 35, 31, and 64 (part 2).

Sarah Allan, 2003 PDF

Nina Correa

Robert G. Henricks, 2000


Hilmar Klaus' Synoptical Chinese Version, 2005: 1-37, 38-81

Russell Kirkland PDF

Jennifer Lundin Ritchie, 2010 PDF

Franklin Perkins PDF

A comparison of the Guodian and Mawangdui Laozi texts PDF
by Dan Murphy


The Mawangdui silk version
of the Daode jing

The Mawangdui Silk Texts (Chinese: 馬王堆帛書; pinyin: Mawangdui Boshu)
In 1973, in Mawangdui, China, a large number of silk manuscripts were discovered at an early Han burial place. Among these were two versions of the Daode jing by Laozi, dated to around 200 BCE
The two silk books are part of the Cultural Relics from the Mawangdui Tombs collection at the Hunan Provincial Museum.
Mawangdui Laozi A 老子甲 - Laozi jia
The Hunan Provincial Museum notes, "This is called Version A of Book on Silk “Lao Zi”, because it was copied out in classical official script. The silk is partially damaged, with many Chinese characters missing. The book, together with “The Yellow Emperor's Four Canons” in four chapters following it, was written on half a breadth of silk. The extant version has 464 lines and more than 13,000 Chinese characters. The book bears no chapter division, with “The Book of De” preceding “The Book of Dao”. As this version makes no avoidance of the taboo of mentioning the name of Liu Bang, the founding emperor of the Han Dynasty, the time of copying this book should be before the death of the Han founding emperor. Therefore, this is the earliest hand-copied version of “Lao Zi” and will greatly help us to see the authentic version of “Lao Zi” in the early Han Dynasty. Its discovery not only has important value for the collation of existing version of “Lao Zi” but also has provided the earliest and most reliable basis for further studying the thoughts of “Lao Zi”. In August 1991, Fu Juyou, Gao Zhishsan and other experts determined it as a first-class national cultural relic. It is currently in the collection of Hunan Provincial Museum."
Mawangdui Laozi B
老子乙 - Laozi yi
The museum continues, "This book on silk was discovered in the lower layer of an oblong lacquer cosmetic box found in the eastern case of the Tomb 3. It was copied onto a breadth of wide silk together with four ancient canons. As it was folded up, the book broke into 32 pieces when discovered. There are altogether 160,000 Chinese characters in 152 lines, written with brush and ink. The book was copied in very neat early official script, making it a precious material for studying the change of the Chinese character and the art of calligraphy. As this version avoid the taboo of mentioning the name of Liu Bang but does not avoid mentioning the name of Liu Hui, Emperor Huidi, the time of its being copied should be during the reign of Emperor Huidi or Empress Lu. This version has “The Book of De” preceding “The Book of Dao”. “Lao Zi” is the most important document of China's Daoism. The discovery of this 2000-year-old Version B of “Lao Zi” is of great value to the collation of the chapter sequence of existing versions of “Lao Zi”. It has also provided new resources for studying the ideology of Daoism and the spread of Daoism in the Han Dynasty. This version has no division of chapters and the sequence of chapters is exactly the same as Version A, with only some minor differences. Compared with traditional versions of “Lao Zi”, this silk version shows clearer ideas and richer contents."

Hilmar Klaus' Synoptical Chinese Version, 2005: 1-37, 38-81

Lao-Tzu: Te-Tao Ching a New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-Wang-Tui Texts
Tr. by Robert G. Henricks, 1989

“New Translations of the Old Masters,” Review article of three recent translations of The Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching, by Wayne Edward Alt
in Philosophy East and West, Vol. 44, No 2, April 1994.
Wayne Alt, 1994 PDF

Carol Deppe, 1993, 2010 PDF

A comparison of the Guodian and Mawangdui Laozi texts PDF
by Dan Murphy

[The] File [on the Cosmic] Track [and Individual] Dough[tiness]: Introduction and Notes for a Translation of the Ma-wang-tui Manuscripts of the Lao Tzu
by Victor H. Mair

Sino-Platonic Papers, Number 20, Oct. 1990, pp. 1-68. http://www.sino-platonic.org/complete/spp020_tao_te_ching_translation.pdf

Taiyi shengshui

[The Guodian book C consists of 28 bamboo slips.
14 of the slips contain the Daode jing chapters 17, 18, 35, 31 and 64(b)
14 of the slips contain a text named 太一生水 Taiyi shengshui - The Great One gives birth to water]

Sarah Allan, 2003 PDF

Dirk Meyer, 2008

Hilmar Klaus, 2009

Jennifer Lundin Ritchie, 2010 PDF




For almost 2,000 years, the Chinese text used by commentators in China and upon which all except the most recent Western language translations were based has been called the Wang Bi, after the commentator who used a complete edition of the DDJ sometime between 226-249 CE. Although Wang Bi was not a Daoist, his commentary became a standard interpretive guide, and generally speaking even today scholars depart from it only when they can make a compelling argument for doing so. Based on recent archaeological finds at Guodian in 1993 and Mawangdui in the 1970s we are certain that there were several simultaneously circulating versions of the Daodejing text.

Mawangdui is the name for a site of tombs discovered near Changsha in Hunan province. The Mawangdui discoveries consist of two incomplete editions of the DDJ on silk scrolls (boshu) now simply called “A” and “B.” These versions have two principal differences from the Wang Bi. Some word choice divergencies are present. The order of the chapters is reversed, with 38-81 in the Wang Bi coming before chapters 1-37 in the Mawangdui versions. More precisely, the order of the Mawangdui texts takes the traditional 81 chapters and sets them out like this: 38, 39, 40, 42-66, 80, 81, 67-79, 1-21, 24, 22, 23, 25-37. Robert Henricks has published a translation of these texts with extensive notes and comparisons with the Wang Bi under the title Lao-Tzu, Te-tao Ching. Contemporary scholarship associates the Mawangdui versions with a type of Daoism known as the Way of the Yellow Emperor and the Old Master ( Huanglao Dao ), since the Yellow Emperor was venerated alongside of Laozi as a patron of the teachings of Daoism. The prevailing view is that the present version of the DDJ probably reached its final form at the Qixia Academy of the Ji kingdom associated with Huanglao Daoism around the beginning of the 3rd century BCE.

The Guodian find consists of 730 inscribed bamboo slips found near the village of Guodian in Hubei province in 1993. There are 71 slips with material that is also found in 31 of the 81 chapters of the DDJ and corresponding to Chapters 1-66. It may date as early as c. 300 BCE. If this is a correct date, then the Daodejing was already extant in a written form when the “inner chapters” of the Zhuangzi were composed. These slips contain more significant variants from the Wang Bi than the Mawangdui versions.

Ronnie Littlejohn
Belmont University


The history

The Chinese version of the Tao Te Ching itself has seen dozens of editions containing anywhere from five to six thousand characters, the result of adding certain grammatical particles for clarity or omitting them for brevity. The greatest difference among editions centers not on the number of characters but on the rendering of certain phrases and the presence or absence of certain lines.

In late 1973, two copies of the text was discovered in a tomb that was sealed in 168 BC in a suburb of the provincial capital of Changsha known as Mawangtui. The Mawangtui texts contain numerous omissions and errors and need to be used with great care, however.

Other texts

Another text dates from the same period at another tomb sealed shortly after 200 BC. This tomb was located near the Grand Canal town of Hsuchou and was opened in 574 AD. Not long afterward, the court astrologer Fu Yi published an edition of the copy of the Dao De Jing that was found inside.

In addition to the Mawangtui and Fuyi texts, there are also more than sixty copies of the text that were found shortly after 1900 in the Silk Road oasis of Tunhuang. One of them was written by a man named Suo Tan in 270 AD, providing yet another early hand-written edition. Another copy is from the great fourth-century calligrapher Wang Hsi-chih.

Finally, the text appears in early commentaries of Yen Tsun, Ho-shang Kung, and Wang Pi (not to mention numerous passages quoted in the ancient works of Mo-tzu, Wen-tzu, Chuang-tzu, Lieh-tzu Han Fei, Huai-nan-tzu, and others).

Adapted from Red Pine's Tao Te Ching



Tao Te Ching (112 English verions)
60 interactive English versions



Hilmar Klaus
Hilmar Klaus' Synoptical Chinese Version, 2005: 1-37, 38-81


The Dymanic Tao and Its Manifestation by Wayne L. Wang; Published by Helena Island Publisher, 2004.

Translation from the City University of Hong Kong: On-line Tao Te Ching. Classical and Vernacular Chinese, and English.

32 Nature Mystic Chapters
Hymning the Tao Te Ching - Word-by-Word, Chinese-English Study Version


管 子 內 業 第 四 十 九
Guanzi, Number 49 : Study of Inner Cultivation
Translated by Bruce R. Linnell, PhD (2011)
The 內業 (“Nei Ye” or “Nei Yeh”), variously translated as “Inner Enterprise”, “Inner Training”, “Inner Cultivation”, or “Inner Development” (and “Inward” may be substituted for “Inner” in any of the previous), is generally considered to have been written around 350-300 BC (after Confucius, but before the Dao De Jing). Its influence can be seen in many aspects of Daoism (including the Dao De Jing itself) and in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a brief work (only 1/5 as long as the Dao De Jing), written in short, often rhymed, verses. It has been preserved in the “Guanzi”, a collection of diverse writings that was compiled during the third century BC. There is no name given for the author.