Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shi Wai Tao Yuan: The Peach Blossom Land (421 AD)


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Tao Yuanming (traditional Chinese: 陶淵明; simplified Chinese: 陶渊明; pinyin: Táo Yuānmíng; Wade–Giles : T'ao Yüan-ming) also known as Tao Qian (simplified Chinese: 陶潜; traditional Chinese: 陶潛; pinyin: Táo Qián; Wade–Giles: T'ao Ch'ien) (365–427) was a Chinese poet of the Six Dynasties period (c. 220 - 589 CE).

"Peach Blossom Spring......Tao Yuanming is also known for his short, influential, and intriguing prose depiction of a land hidden from the outside world called "Peach Blossom Spring" (桃花源記). The name Peach Blossom Spring (桃花源 Tao Hua Yuan) has since become the standard Chinese term for 'utopia'....Peach Blossom Spring Story (Chinese: 桃花源記; pinyin: Táohuā Yuán; literally "Source of [the River of] the Peach Blossoms") or The Peach Blossom Land was a fable by Tao Yuanming in 421 AD 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.

"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.

"Shangri-la" means an ideal living place, like the Garden of Eden or heaven in western countries. Shangri-la (Shi Wai Tao Yuan) was built according to the poetic imagery depicted in Tao Hua Yuan Ji by the famous poet Tao Yuanming in the Jin Dynasty.

Shi Wai Tao Yuan - Shangrila (Xanadu)...Shangrila and Xanadu are near synonyms for the Chinese word "Shi Wai Tao Yuan" (an imaginary ideal world). Shangrila is a legendary place in Tibet while Xanadu is the capital of the Yuan Dynasty. We usually use Xanadu to convey the meaning of "Shi Wai Tao Yuan"......

Tao Yuanming, a famous writer of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 - 420), wrote the well-known essay Peach-Blossom Spring. In it he tells a story which goes like this: A fisherman happened to come upon a place called Peach-Blossom Spring. Squeezing through a cave, he found a village, the residents of which were descendants of refugees from the Qin Dynasty. It was a paradise isolated from the outside world, without exploitation or oppression, and everybody living and working in peace and contentment. The fisherman left the villagers and went home. But he could never find the place again. This idiom is derived from the above story, and is used to mean an isolated, ideal world.


Northern New Mexico….June 2013


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