The Peach Blossom Spring
The Peach Blossom Spring (Chinese: 桃花源記; pinyin: Táohuā Yuán; literally: "Source of the Peach Blossoms" [N.B. 1]), or Peach Blossom Spring Story or The Peach Blossom Land, was a fable by Tao Yuanming in 421 about a chance discovery of an ethereal utopia where the people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, unaware of the outside world for centuries.
"Peach Blossom Spring" was written during a time of political instability and national disunity. The story describes how a fisherman haphazardly sailed into a river in a forest made up entirely of blossoming peach trees, where even the ground was covered by peach petals. When he reached the end of the river (or spring in some translations), the source turned out to be a grotto. Though narrow at first, he was able to squeeze through and the passage eventually reached a village with animals and people of all ages.
The villagers were surprised to see him, but were kind and friendly. They explained that their ancestors escaped to this place during the civil unrest of the Qin and they themselves had not left since or had contact with anyone from the outside. As a result they had heard nothing of subsequent changes in political regimes.
The fisherman was warmly received by the hospitable villagers and stayed for over a week. Upon leaving, he was informed that it was worthless to reveal this experience to the world. However, he marked his route on his way out with signs and later divulged the existence of this idyllic haven to others. They tried to find it repeatedly but in vain.
The expression shìwaì taóyuán (世外桃源) ‘the Peach Spring beyond this world’) has become a popular Chinese expression, meaning an unexpectedly fantastic place off the beaten path, usually an unspoiled wilderness of great beauty.
The text inspired many later poems, some music compositions and a modern Taiwanese play-turned-movie, Secret Love for the Peach Blossom Spring. In some of the poems, the inhabitants of the villages were immortals.
The Taohuayuan Scenic Area is a national park based on the Peach Blossom Spring and is located in Taoyuan County, Hunan Province.
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- Stephen R. Bokenkamp (1986). "The Peach Flower Font and the Grotto Passage". Journal of the American Oriental Society 106 (1): 65–77. JSTOR 602364.
- Edward H. Schafer (1986). "Empyreal Powers and Chthonian Edens: Two Notes on T'ang Taoist Literature". Journal of the American Oriental Society 106 (4): 667-. JSTOR 603530.
- Ian Philip McGreal (1996). Great literature of the Eastern World: the major works of prose, poetry and drama from China, India, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. HarperCollins. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-06-270104-6. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- Spring Dawn at Peach Blossom Spring: guqin music inspired by the text
- Peach Blossom Shangri-la: Tao Hua Yuan Ji: Translation & original version