Legend of the white snake
The romantic legend of the white snake originated from the areas of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Known to every household, it ranks among the four folklores which are most famous in China. The legend of the white snake originated over 1000 years ago in the northern Song Dynasty, telling a love story about Bai Suzhen, a beautiful lady who was actually a white snake, and a young man called Xu Xian. To repay Xu Xian who save her life in a previous incident, Bai Suzhen the white snake, after transforming into a young lady, went to Hangzhou to “run into” Xu Xian and get married to him. After marriage, they moved to Zhenjiang and opened a pharmacy store called Baohetang (literally “Hall of Keeping peace”) on Wutiao Street to practice medicine and help people. However, Fahai, the Buddhist abbot of Jianshan Temple, held it was wrong for a human to marry a demon, so he tricked Xu Xian into making Bad Suzhen drinkrealgar liquor on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Having drunk the liquor, Bar Suzhen showed her true self, scaring Xu Xian to death. Bad Suzhen risked her life and stole a magical herb to bring Xu Xian back to life, but later Fahai captured Xu Xian and kept him in JinShan temple. To defend her love, Bai Suzhen engaged in an intense fight against Fahai.
The flooding of JianShan Temple is an important plot in the legend of the white snake and also a climax of the conflict.
Built over 1600 years ago, JinShan Temple is a well-known Chinese Buddhist temple with a long history. According to historical records, the legend. That a monk in JinShan Temple subdued a white snake dates back to as early as the Tang dynasty. The flooding of Jinshan temple reflects the white snake’s persistent pursuit of love, truth and justice, and also embodies a common longing shown in all the four major folklores of ancient China, the longing for good humanity and for a happy marriage.
The broken bridge on the west lake of Hangzhou is closely related to the legend of the white snake. After Bai Suzhen failed in flooding Jinshan temple, she and her companion the green snake Xiao Qing came to the broken bridge, where they met with Xu Xian, who had just escaped from Jinshan temple, thus the famous “meeting on the broken bridge”. Nowadays, young lovers like to take photos on the broken bridge and regard the bridge as the witness of their love. They are attracted there not only by the beautiful scenery of the west lake, but also by the enchanting 1000-year-old love tale.
In 2006, the legend of the white snake was added to the list of the China’s national intangible cultural heritage.