Peach Assembly of Immortals Ch'iu Ying (ca. 1494-1552), Ming Dynasty
Handscroll, ink and color on silk, 40 x 440.5 cm
antiquity, the peach has been associated
with longevity, the "flat" peach
especially with immortality. It is said
the Queen Mother of the West planted an
orchard of "flat" peaches, taking
3,000 years to bear fruit. Eating one was
said to ensure immortality. On the Queen
Mother's birthday, immortals are invited
to the orchard for the "Flat Peach Assembly".
In Journey to the West, the Monkey King Sun Wu-k'ung was ennobled by the Jade Emperor as "Great Sage Equal of Heaven". Chapter 5 tells how the Monkey King got angry and caused "a ruckus in the Halls of the Heavens". This was because the Queen Mother did not invite him to her Flat Peach Banquet. Angry, he stole the peaches and wine of immortality as well as the Golden Elixir before returning to Flower Fruit Mountain. The Jade Emperor ordered the heavenly generals to capture him, but they were all defeated. Furthermore, Sandy, originally the Rolled Blinds General, broke the jade-glass cup at the Banquet and was banished to the mortal world, haunting the River of Shifting Sands before joining Tripitaka and disciples in their quest for the scriptures.