During the Tang Dynasty (618–906), Daoism enjoyed special patronage. Because Laozi’s surname is Li, identical to that of the Tang ruling house, the emperors revered Laozi as one of their ancestors and supported he development of Daoism. This support included building Daoist temples and establishing schools to enroll students studying Daoist canons. Under the patronage of the emperors, Daoism flourished in the Tang. Nonetheless, Daoism had to compete with Buddhism for converts. Such competition is reflected in a passage written by Han Yu entitled The Girl of Mt. Hua. It relates how a female Daoist priest, in rivalry with Buddhists, used her charm and eloquence to attract an audience:
In streets east, streets west, they expound the Buddhist canon, clanging bells, sounding conches, till the din invades the palace. The girl of Mount Hua, child of a Daoist home, longed to expel the foreign faith, win men back to the Immortals; she washed off her powder, wiped her face, put on cap and shawl. With white throat, crimson cheeks, long eyebrows of gray, she came at last to ascend the chair, unfolding the secrets of Truth.
(Translated by Burton Watson, from the Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry)
From this text, we learned that monks customarily traveled far and wide to preach their doctrines, causing unease among Daoists. In this instance, a female Daoist engaged herself among the field of proselytizers and won over the monks. However, generally speaking, during the Tang dynasty Buddhism was more influential than Daoism. In the waning years of the Tang, Daoism experienced a setback.