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The Tao Te Ching, Daodejing, Dao De Jing, or Daode jing, also simply referred to as the Laozi, is a Chinese classic text. According to tradition, it was written around 6th century BC by the sage Laozi, a record-keeper at the Zhou dynasty court, by whose name the text is known in China. The text's true authorship and date of composition or compilation are still debated, although the oldest excavated text dates back to the late 4th century BC.
The Tao Te Ching, along with the Zhuangzi, is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism, and strongly influenced other schools, such as Legalism, Confucianism, and Chinese Buddhism, which when first introduced into China was largely interpreted through the use of Daoist words and concepts. Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and even gardeners, have used the Daodejing as a source of inspiration. Its influence has also spread widely outside East Asia, and is among the most translated works in world literature.