A Tale of the Fountain of the Peach Blossom Spring
In the year of Taiyuan of the Jin Dynasty, there lived a man in Wuling jun who earned his living by fishing. One day, he rowed his boat along a stream, unaware of how far he had gone when all of a sudden, he found himself in the midst of a wood full of peach blossoms. The wood extended several hundred footsteps along both banks of the stream. There were no trees of other kinds. The lush grass was fresh and beautiful and peach petals fell in riotous profusion. The fisherman was so curious that he rowed on, in hopes of discovering where the trees ended.
At the end of the wood was the fountainhead of the stream. The fisherman beheld a hill, with a small opening from which issued a glimmer of light. He stepped ashore to explore the crevice. His first steps took him into a passage that accommodated only the width of one person. After he progressed about scores of paces, it suddenly widened into an open field. The land was flat and spacious. There were houses arranged in good order with fertile fields, beautiful ponds, bamboo groves, mulberry trees and paths crisscrossing the fields in all directions. The crowing of cocks and the barking of dogs were within everyone's earshot. In the fields the villagers were busy with farm work. Men and women were dressed like people outside. They all, old and young, appeared happy.
They were surprised at seeing the fisherman, who, being asked where he came from, answered their every question. Then they invited him to visit their homes, killed chickens, and served wine to entertain him. As the words of his arrival spread, the entire village turned out to greet him. They told him that their ancestors had come to this isolated haven, bringing their families and the village people, to escape from the turmoil during the Qin Dynasty and that from then onwards, they had been cut off from the outside world. They were curious to know what dynasty it was now. They did not know the Han Dynasty, not to mention the Wei and the Jin dynasties. The fisherman told them all the things they wanted to know. They sighed. The villagers offered him one feast after another. They entertained him with wine and delicious food. After several days, the fisherman took his leave. The village people entreated him not to let others know of their existence.
Once out, the fisherman found his boat and rowed homeward, leaving marks all the way. When he came back to the jun, he reported his adventure to the prefect, who immediately sent people to look for the place, with the fisherman as a guide. However, the marks he had left could no longer be found. They got lost and could not find the way.
Liu Ziji of Nanyang jun , a learned scholar of high repute, was excited when he heard the fisherman's story. He devised a plan to find the village, but it was not carried out. Liu died soon afterwards, and after his death, no one else made any attempt to find it.
1. Taiyuan was the title of the reign of Emperor Xiaowu of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (376－396).
2. Wuling is today's Changde City, Hunan Province.
3. Nanyang is today's Nanyang City, Henan Province.