Legend of the White Snake (白蛇传)

Adapted from China the Beautiful [1] and Synopsis of the Chinese Beijing Opera Legend of the White Snake  [2] –

Once upon a time in the Mountain E-Mei (峨眉), there were White Snake and Black Snake with magical power. White Snake changed into a very beautiful girl, named BAI Su-Zheng (白素贞), or Lady White. Black Snake also became a lovely maid, named Xiao Qing (小青). They came to West Lake(西湖)of Hang Zhou (杭州) for a visit and were attracted by the beauty of the scene. There over the Duan-Qiao bridge came a young man named XU Xian (许仙). Laydy White immediately fell into love. To help her sister, Xiao Qing set some tricks to let Xu Xian and BAI meet and finally get married. 

When the three-attendee wedding ceremony was on, the Abbot, named Fa Hai (法海), of a remote Buddhist temple, Jin Shan (Golden Mountain) Temple, sensed something and then found what was going on. He pledged to capture the white snake.

After the marriage, the three of them moved to Zhen Jiang, a city on the Yangtse River where they set up a herbal medicine store. Lady White wrote out the prescription while Xu Xian and Xiaoqing gathered and dispensed the herbal medicine. Patients unable to pay were given free treatment and medicine. The store quickly became well known and popular. 

Fa Hai found Xu Xian there and warned that his pregnant wife was a snake. He suggested Xu a way to find her real self with a festival alcohol drink for the Dragon Boat Festival. On that day, Xu Xian bought the festival alcohol with realgar to celebrate and asked Lady White to drink with him. Under her husband’s coaxing, Lady White could not find a reason to refuse the drink and she took a sip, thinking that her superior magic skills would make her immune to the power of realgar. But she immediately was stricken ill and barely managed to get to bed. Xu Xian rushed to the bed and drew aside its curtain. Lady White was no loger there. In her place was a large white snake coiled on the bed. So great was Xu Xian’s shock that he fell to the floor and died.

When the power of realgar’s power faded, Lady White resumed her human form. She was heartbroken to find Xu Xian lying dead beside the bed. But she knew that the glossy ganoderma, a clestial herb on the Kunlun(昆仑)Mountain, could restore him to life. She flew to the Kunlun Mountain to steal the celestial herb but encountered the white crane and heavenly guards responsible for looking after the glossy ganoderma. They fought to prevent her from taking the herb and Lady White was losing the battle, when suddenly a voice commanded them to stop. It was the voice of the Immortal of the Southern End. Lady White begged him in tears to help her. Impressed by her sincerity and perseverance, he granted her the glossy ganoderma.The life of Xu Xian was restored. He suddenly remembered what the Abbot said to him. Recovered from the illness, XU Xian went to the Temple. To separate him from his wife, Fa Hai forced him to become a monk. Lady White, along with Xiao Qing, chased to Jin Shan Temple and begged Fa Hai to let her husband go but got refused. Then in anger, she gathered together a great army of underwater creatures to attack the monastery and used water to submerge the temple. Fa Hai had a magic outer vestment, which made the mountain to grow so that the waterlevel was kept under the temple. Fa Hai also had the magic to command heavenly solders. Lady White had been pregnant. She could not fight the battle any longer.
Lady White and Xiao Qing fled to West Lake to where they first met Xu Xian. Xiao Qing was very angry at Xu for his unfaithfulness and pledged to kill him when she saw him. XU was secretly released by a young monk when the two sides were fighting and happened to come to the same place. When they met him, Xiao Qing was for attacking him with her sword, but Lady White held her back and told XU the truth. With fully understanding each other, they went home.

Fa Hai went to the heaven and asked the heaven emperor to help him. A powerful fighter with a magic lantern was commanded to assist Fa Hai. Lady White was given birth to a son. One day, XU Xian went to buy a hat for his son. The hat was actually the lantern, which made Lady White physically under the spell of the fighter. Lady White was then imprisoned under the Thunder Peak Pagoda (雷峰塔)by West Lake. Black Snake fled to her original place and practiced her magic. Several years later her magic was strong enough to take the revenge. She managed to destroy the Pagoda and rescued Lady White. Lady White reunited with her husband and her son. Xiao Qing,or Black Snake then defeated Fa Hai and had him swallowed by a crab. They live together happily forever.


1. 裴明龙, The Legend of the White Snake <>

2. Xu-Ming Wang, The Story of the White Snake <>

4 replies on “Legend of the White Snake (白蛇传)”

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