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by Micha F. Lindemans
The title accorded to the highest deities of Taoism, literally "celestial venerable". The most important Tian-zong are the Celestial Venerable of the Primordial Beginning (Yuan-shi tian-zong), the Celestial Venerable of the Magic Jewel (Ling-pao tian-zong), and the Celestial Venerable of the Tao and the Te (Tao-de tian-zong). Yu-huang, the Jade emperor, is also venerated as Tian-zong.

The celestial venerables of Taoism are modeled on the bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism. The title of t'ien-tsun was attached the names of the various deities around the 3rd century BCE.

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