peach flowers, peach fruits ~
throughout multifarious modalities of chinese culture
we find peaches of longevity, peach blossoms heralding spring
Peach trees – flowers and fruit – are not only symbols of spring in Chinese culture, but are seen as symbols of longevity.
西王母，XiWangMu,The Queen Mother of the West, a Daoist deity, has a peach garden, which fruits every 3,000 years.
Her Peach Garden appears in many stories, including the infamous “Monkey King” or Sun Wu Kong, who recklessly stole her peaches.
Daoists use peachwood for divination and ritual use.
Chinese classical literature is also filled with peaches – in Romance of the Three Kingdoms – one of China’s “Four Classic Novels”, the three heroes meet in a peach grove to swear their brotherhood.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms was written sometime in the early Ming dynasty ( 1300-1400) but references to immortal peaches in literature predate the Romance by a millenium.
Around 421 AD, Tao Yuan Ming wrote a story called 桃花源 tao hua yuan,the Peach Blossom Spring, in which a fisherman sails upriver to enter a magical land surrounded by peach trees, where people live in harmony with nature.
There’s actually a real Peach Flower Island -桃花岛 taohuadao
Modern literature and film also uses the symbol of the peach. Louis Cha, whose Eagle and Conder began the wuxia tradition of martial arts books and movies, set his stories in a Peach Flower Village.
Cult movie Ashes of Time, from director Wan Kar Wai and Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle ( who also filmed with Zhang Yi Mo in Hero) had a Peach Flower Village as a distant place where the hero visits at the end of this movie of swordsmen, revenge, and lost love.
Here’s a taste of Ashes of Time
Chinese poetry is also full of allusions to peach flowers. Here’s one from Li Bai, from whence the title of this post stems.
You ask why I make my home in the mountain forest,
and I smile, and am silent,
and even my soul remains quiet:
it lives in the other world
which no one owns.
The peach trees blossom,
The water flows.