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The Guodian find consists of 730 inscribed bamboo slips found in a tomb near the village of Guodian in Hubei province in 1993. We have now arrived at the stage where studies of Laozi’s biography usually begin. According to this text, Laozi was a native of Chu, a southern state of the Zhou dynasty.There are 71 slips with material that is also found in 31 of the 81 chapters of the DDJ and corresponding only to Chapters 1-66. The first known attempt to write a biography of Laozi is in the ) by Sima Qian (145-89 B. His surname was Li, and his personal name was Er, and his style name was Dan.21, 22, 23, 25, 27), and one is in the final concluding editorial chapter (ch. In the Yellow Emperor sections in which Laozi is the main figure, four passages contain direct attacks on Confucius and the Confucian virtues of gives the following, probably fictional, account of Confucius's impression of Laozi: "Master, you've seen Lao Dan—what estimation would you make of him?
Most of these probably circulated orally, perhaps as single teachings or in small collections.The fact that we also now know there were multiple versions of the DDJ, even as early as 300 B. E., also suggests that it is unlikely that a single author wrote just one book that we now know as the DDJ.Consider that 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 , after the commentator who made a complete edition of the DDJ sometime between 226-249 C. Although Wang Bi was not a Daoist, the commentary he wrote after collecting and editing the text became a standard interpretive guide, and generally speaking even today scholars depart from his arrangement of the actual text only when they can make a compelling argument for doing so.Of the seventeen passages mentioning Laozi, Confucius figures as a dialogical partner or subject in nine.While it is clear that Confucius is thought to have a long way to go to become a .
However, based on recent archaeological finds at Guodian in 1993 and Mawangdui in the 1970s we have no doubt that there were several simultaneously circulating versions of the DDJ text that pre-dated Wang Bi’s compilation of what we now call the “received text.” Mawangdui is the name for a site of tombs discovered near Changsha in Hunan province.