The Peach Blossom Spring was a fable written by Tao Yuanming in 421 about a chance discovery of an ethereal utopia where the people led an ideal existence in harmony with nature, unaware of the outside world for centuries.
Tao Yuanming lived during a time of political instability and national disunity. The story describes how a fisherman haphazardly sailed into a stream 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 stream, he found a grotto. Though narrow at first, he was able to squeeze through and the passage eventually reached a hidden village.
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 dynasty (221-206 BC) 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 outside 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.
Since then, the peach blossom spring has become a popular symbol of an ideal world in the hearts of the Chinese people. The story inspired many later poems, paintings and music compositions.