A Trip to a World Beyond

The mythical tale about encountering immortals in Mt. Tiantai was first recorded on Search for Immortals (搜神記) by a scholar official in East Jin in the 4th century. It’s a clear evidence that Chinese have entertained the concept of relativity in time at least 2,000 years go.

The illustrations were produced by Zhao Cangyun (赵苍云), an ancient Chinese scholar artist living in the 13th century when China was under Mongol’s barbaric and alien rule, and people in China dreamed of escaping the cruel reality to a wonderful and fanciful new world elsewhere. Thus the tales like this became part of a popular culture in China.

two medicinal herb collectors entered Mt. Tiantai

As the tale goes, during the East Han dynasty, two medicinal herb collectors entered Mt. Tiantai (Mountain of Celestial Platform).

A peach tree came to their rescue

They ventured so far into the mountain and got lost in the forest. After three days, all their food was gone but they still couldn’t find their way home. Then a peach tree came to their rescue.

Peaches give them a great eyesight

After consumed peaches, both of them felt so energetic with a great eyesight.

Soon they came to a big river that they never encountered in the mountain before and decided to cross the waterway.

They cross the river

The waterway looked narrow and shallow, so the men decided to walk through it to the other shore.

They face a bigger river

Once to the other shore, they found themselves facing a big river with strong waves.

Two ladies wave to the men

Just at the time they hesitated if they should turn back, they spotted two women waving to them on the other side of the river.

The attraction to meet the women pushed them to go ahead with their journey.

Two ladies welcome the men

Once they landed the shore on the other side, they were warmly welcomed by the two pretty young ladies and their servant girls.

Two ladies invited the men to their village

The men were invited to the ladies’ village where they enjoyed delicious meal and a wonderful outdoor music party.

Two ladies married the two men

Eventually the party became a wedding and the two men married two ladies.

The land was full of fruit trees and colourful flowers, while birds were singing all the time.

They felt they were like living in a paradice.

Two men became homesick

After a while, however, the two men became homesick and worried how their families were coping in their absent.

The ladies were unable to make them stay, so led them to a cave that connected to a path to their home.

Two men returned to their own world

Once they returned home, they found their houses were occupied by total strangers and they knew no body in the village.

It took a long while for them to realise during the six months when they stayed in the mountain, seven generations of their descendents were born and died.

Two men couldn't find the way back to their ladies

They felt they lived in a world they were not connected and intended to return to their new family in the mountain. Yet they were unable to locate that river.

Nobody knows how and where these two men ended.

Chinese medicinal herbs collectors are at work today

Chinese medicinal herbs collectors are at work today in rural Taining, Fujian Province



  • Anonymous

    And they hold the liquid elixirs of immortality, willing to share with visitors. Wonder if anyone has had the fortune to find them. But whoever finds them and drink the elixirs, eventually become disillusioned and disgusted with our mortal world, unwilling to return to this world. Therefore, the secret of immortality, the elixirs, never been in our world.

    • Elixirs are just kind of medicine. Medicine may help fix your ailment but can’t change your fate.

      Where you live and how long you are going to live depend on how you lived and how you wished to live previously, and what kind of life you are living right now and what kind of life you wish to live in future.

  • Anonymous

    I believe the two men still living high in the mountains, waiting to be discovered by courageous hikers

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