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Early Developments

During the Han dynasty, aristocrats continued to study and refine the teachings of Laozi and Zhuangzi, and some sought immortality through alchemy, self-cultivation techniques, and the advice of the fangshi or "recipe masters."

Schisms and Sects

Toward the end of the Han dynasty, and continuing for several centuries, sacred texts were revealed by deities and immortals. Around these texts were formed enduring religious organizations.

Exploration and Conquest

Taoist groups sometimes formed alliances with rulers. As rivals, Buddhists and Taoists occasionally tried to destroy one another, and rulers often tried to control both as a way of sustaining their authority.

Missions and Expansion

Each Taoist sect experienced notable changes over the centuries, and Taoism also became an integral part of Chinese popular culture. Transmission of Taoist religious organizations beyond China has been limited almost entirely to immigrant communities.

Modern Age

Taoism was nearly destroyed during the upheavals in China during the late 19th and 20th centuries, but temples and monasteries are now being rebuilt and new clergy are being ordained.