OrchidPavilion.org derives its name from the Orchid Pavilion Gathering (兰亭集会), a literary event held by 42 scholars at the Orchid Pavilion (兰亭) on Mount Kuaiji (会稽山) to celebrate the Spring Purification Festival, on the third day of the third month in 353 CE during the Eastern Jin (东晋) Dynasty.

Gathering at the Orchid Pavilion

Purification Ceremony at the Orchid Pavilion 《兰亭修禊图》
Artist: Qian Gu (钱谷) (1508 – c. 1578)
Ming Dynasty (明)

The scholars engaged in a drinking game combined with a poetry competition. The participants gathered along the banks of a stream, where cups of wine were floated downstream toward them. Whenever a cup stopped in front of a participant, he was required to empty it and compose a poem. By the end of the day, 11 men had each composed two poems and 15 men had each composed one poem. The 16 men who had failed to compose anything were penalized by having to drink three additional cups of wine. One of the participants, the renowned calligrapher Wang Xizhi (王羲之) (303–361), composed the Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion (兰亭集序), an anthology of the 37 poems composed by 26 of the scholars.