A Day With Tao Qian at Happy Hal’s History Emporium

"Three Kingdoms" depiction of Tao Qian


Greetings Patron!

Howdy Historic Adventurer! If you are reading this, then that means you have purchased a ticket to the only theme park of historical figures: Happy Hal’s History Emporium! This brochure is meant to help you better understand your chosen historical figure to converse with: TAO QIAN.

TAO QIAN is a wonderful choice for those who enjoy SELF-SUFICENCY and RELAXING and

WINE! But, there are still some things you must know about your new friend! The following is a short summary of your historic figure’s back story and life’s work! Please take a few moments to read over the provided material.

And remember: Fun is a thing in the past, present, and future at Happy Hal’s History Emporium!

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Summative Background

Tao Qian lived between the Han and Tang Dynasties in what is called the Period of Disunion. His great grandfather was famous general and government official, and it is believed this man’s legacy is what drove Tao Qian into the political field where he held multiple small and overlooked jobs in the government sector for thirteen years. Until, 405 when he suddenly left his job as the magistrate of Pengze to return to his family farm. He held that position for eight days. He left the life he knew and traveled to the south for the promise of real freedom from monotony and opportunity for self sufficient living. This is where he lived out the remaining two decades of his life creating poetry, the pastime that would define his foot print on history today.

The environment in which you will spend time with Tao Qian has been modeled after historic accounts of what a small southern Chinese village would have looked like complete with simulated weather, animals, and townsfolk (NOTE: the townsfolk are not interactable). Feel free to lounge in the sunshine or under the shade of a serene Dove Tree while sipping perfectly aged (non-simulated) wine.

Life’s Work

As previously stated Tao Qian has become one of the most influential Chinese poets in the history of the world. His poetry, much like the man himself, is concerned with gardening, joy of creating poetry, wine, relaxation, friendship, and playing the zither (NOTE: Zither classes taught by Tao Qian are available as an extra charge, contact your travel agent for more details). The two largest themes in his poetry by far are the desire for freedom to accomplish one’s own inclinations from societal pressures, and the return to the natural self. However, history is still puzzled as to how far Tao Qian was willing to go to return to his natural state. It is clear that he renounced fame and official recognition in favor of his garden and wine, BUT he seemed to be very proud of his family history and somewhat disappointed in his son’s lack of accomplishment. One surprising aspect of Tao Qian’s work is that the peasants of his society (his neighbors) were able to read and write, talents reserved for the elite. Historians don’t know what this means exactly, but he may have wanted to make his neighbors look more sophisticated to his elite audience since the townspeople all share his literary interests.

The duality of Tao Qian continues when one learns that he despised worldly ambition but he wrote about himself a lot. This is a good thing however because we here at Happy Hals have an easier time in decoding his poetry and creating the best simulacrum of this amazing man. One of his works titled “Substance, Shadow, and Spirit” is a structed debate between three characters named Substance, Shadow, and Spirit all debating what is the best way to live life. These characters are believed to represent parts of himself.

Substance advocated for enjoying wine and forgetting about death: “Earth and heaven endure forever, / Streams and mountains never change.”

Shadow stressed the importance of doing good and not forgetting one’s self: “No use discussing immortality / When just to keep alive is hard enough.”

Spirt argued that one should forget about the body and mind and simply give into the waves of change: “The Great Potter cannot intervene- / All creation thrives of itself.”

The main body of his work is lighter than this, for example, “On Moving House” is a poem that captures the magic of the simple life of the south. The poem begins with a simple claim that forms the message of the poem: “For long I yearned to live in Southtown.” He then goes on to explain the lure of the south as a place full of “simple-hearted people,” and he has planned to move there for a long time. Then he compares his life in the political sphere to the quiet country of his dreams by saying: “A modest cottage does not need be large / To give us shelter where we sit and sleep,” thereby denouncing the frivolity of the court.


Thank you for taking the time to read this guide to interacting with Tao Qian on your history-hoping adventure. Here are a few points to think of when communicating with Tao Qian:

  • Don’t rush anything, take your time as it comes.
  • Relax and enjoy the wine and zither playing.
  • Don’t be afraid to expound on a person’s nature and how it is either suffocated or nurtured by their surroundings.
  • If at all possible, stress your love for simple life and dis like of complicated government issues.
  • And have fun!

By reading this brochure and signing on the line below the patron acknowledges that all possible loss of property, theft, and bodily harm are the patron’s responsibility and not Happy Hal’s History Emporium or Happy Hal’s History Emporium affiliates. The patron has also read the attached rules for the park and made carful consideration of the rule 23-c that states: no visitor to the park may touch an animatronic under any circumstance, and visitors will not use any of the black listed words  or phrases when communicating with animatronics or talking around animatronics; words and phrases include: history, your timemy time, the current year according to the Gregorian calendar, what about your family? do you like it herecan you leave? (for full list please visit happyhalshistoryemporium.com/guidelines)

By signing this document the patron agrees that they have read the disclosure agreement above and are willing to follow the park’s guidelines.

Sign and bring to park, will not be admitted entry without signed brochure.