Peach of Immortality
peach (fig.) is a symbol of longevity.
(fig.), Queen Mother of the West and mother
Jade Emperor, has a magical tree that bears
peaches of immortality. Whoever eats from them will attain everlasting life. Being
the guardian of this peach tree, she one day called all the gods together to let
them feast on a banquet of its auspicious peaches, so they gained immortality.
This extraordinary tree produces peaches only once every three thousand years
and its fruit is an
attribute of several deities, including
Eight Immortals (fig.)
and Shou, one of the
Three Star Gods,
who is sometimes depicted sitting in a large peach (fig.). Also every other part of the
tree is believed to posses some special powers and its wood, for example, is used to ward
off evil spirits. For that reason, many
spiritual tools, such as charms,
amulets and seals are today still made of peach wood. Legend has it that
Sun Wukong, the Monkey King stole some peaches
from the garden of Xi Wangmu and subsequently attained immortality. Kunming Lake
in Beijing's Summer Palace was dug in
the shape of a peach and the excavated earth was used to create the adjacent
Longevity Hill (fig.).
In Chinese, the Peach of Immortality is known as
Xian Tao (fig.).