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The Five Patriarchs and the Seven Perfected

of the Quanzhen School of Daoism

The Five Patriarchs are the immortal founders of Daoism, according to the Quanzhen School. Wang Zhe (later known as Wang Chongyang) was a hermit in the Zhongnan mountains, and he was said to have met some of these immortals, who began to guide and teach him secretly. With imperial patronage, Wang Zhe founded the Daoist Quanzhen sect, and in 1167, he began to convert his disciples. Seven of these were chosen by tradition as the first Quanzhen masters, known as the Seven Perfected, the Seven Real Men, or the Seven Masters of Quanzhen, amongst other names. They protected and helped transmit Wang Zhe's teachings and were said to have achieved immortality, after having initiated their own separate movements. Although they are often depicted together, some scholars believe the seven masters were real people who lived during different periods of Chinese history.

The Five Patriarchs (wuzu)¹
Life Dates
Other Names
Philosopher, writer of Dao text
 fl. 400 BC?
Lao-Tzu, Li, Erh, Li-Tan
Donghua dijun
Modified version of the Shangqing deity
from Han Dynasty period
Wang Xuanfu; Donghua dijun (Imperial Lord of Eastern Florescence); Zifu Shaoyang jun (Minor Yang Lord of the Purple Bureau [Grotto-Heaven]); Huayang zhenren (Perfected of Flourishing Yang)
Zhongli Quan
Military commander; alchemist; heavenly messenger
fl. 3rd c.
Chung Lu Chuan; Han Chung Li, Han Zhongli; Yunfang; Zhengyang (Master of Correct Yang)
Lü Dongbin
b. 755 or fl 10th c.
Lü Tung Pin; Lü Yen/Yan; Chunyang (Master of Pure Yang); Chunyang zhenjun (Perfected Lord of Pure Yang); Fuyou dijun (Imperial Lord, Savior of the Needy)
Liu Haichan
Yen prime minister
fl. 907–960
Cao; Xuanying; Zongcheng; Zhaoyuan; Haichan (Master Sea-Toad)
The Seven Perfected (qizhen)²
Life Dates
Other Names
Ma Yu
A rich landowner, converted by Wang Zhe 1168; writer of Canon poetry
Congyi; Yifu; Xuanbao; Danyang (Master of Cinnabar Yang)
Tan Chuduan
Sought Wang Zhe to cure him of a sickness; converted c. 1167; a miracle worker, and writer of Canon poetry
Yu; Boyu; Zhengtong; Changzhen (Perpetual Reality)
Liu Chuxuan
Converted c. 1169 after Wang Zhe predicted his immortality; writer of four Canon texts
Tongmiao; Changsheng (Long-living)
Qiu Chuji
An orphan directed to Wang Zhe by an old ascetic; as patriarch, summoned by Genghis Khan 1219; writer of Canon poetry
Tongmi; Changchun (Perpetual Spring)
Wang Chuyi
A hermit, converted by Wang Zhe 1168; writer of Canon poetry; a hagiographic work written in tribute to him
Yuyang; Yuyang (Master of Jade Yang); Tixuan zhenren (Real Man Who Embodies the Mystery)
Hao Datong
A professional diviner and expert on cosmology; writer of Canon text
Sheng; Lin; Taigu; Tianran (Tranquil Master); Guangning (Broad and Peaceful Master)
Sun Bu'er
Wife of Ma Yu; converted by Wang Zhe 1168; possibly a writer of Canon text
Fuchun; Qingjing sanren (Vagabond of Clarity and Quiescence); Xiangu (Transcendent Maiden)


1. In a previous version of the list, Laozi is omitted, and Wang Zhe appears instead.
2. In a second version of the list, Ma Yu is omitted and Wang Zhe appears instead.


Julian F. Pas. Historical Dictionary of Taoism. Lanham, Md; London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1998.

Fabrizio Pregadio. The Encyclopedia of Taoism, vols. I–II. London; New York: Routledge, 2008.


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