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Peach Charm

The peach (tao 桃) symbolizes longevity, the God of Longevity, Lao Shou Xing(老寿星), is usually shown with a walking stick and carrying a peach to symbolize long life. Peach wood is also believed to have a special power to keep away evil spirits.

According to legend, the Queen Mother of the West (xiwangmu 西王母) had a peach orchard near her palace in the Kunlun mountains.  The trees would only blossom every three thousands of years and the fruit would take another three thousands of years to ripen. It was believed that eating one of these peaches would bestow upon the eater the same length of life as it took for the fruit to ripen.

It was written in the Classic of Mountains and Seas that there was a very large peach tree on Dushuo Mountain (度朔山) whose branches formed an archway through which evil spirits could pass between the spirit world and the earth.  The Emperor of Heaven (天帝) was concerned that the evil spirits might harm the human race and assigned two brothers, called Shen Tu (神荼) and Yu Lei (郁垒), to guard the passageway.  If the evil spirits caused any harm, the two brothers would tie them up and feed them to the tigers which lived at the base of the mountain. These two brothers became known as the "Door Gods" and a tradition gradually developed to engrave their portraits in peach wood which were then hung on gates and doors for protection from evil influences.

During the Song Dynasty when the peach wood Door God charms (taofu 桃符) were replaced by spring couplets.