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Unraveling the myths and charms of snakes

Updated: 2013-02-06 09:59


Legend of the white snake

Unraveling the myths and charms of snakes

The legend of the white snake, also known as Madame White Snake, is one of the Chinese famous four folk legends.

The story depicts a white snake, which was practicing Taoist magical arts and finally became an immortal, who can take human form after centuries of training and cultivation. She transforms into a beautiful woman Bai Suzhen while another green snake transforms into a young lady Xiaoqing after 500 years of training. They travel to Hangzhou and meet Xu Xian at the Broken Bridge, and Xu lends them his umbrella because it is raining. Xu Xian and Bai Suzhen gradually fall in love with each other and are eventually married. They move to Zhenjiang and open a medicine shop near the West Lake.

But Fahai, a Buddhist monk in Jinshan Temple, thinks Bai was a snake spirit and will be a scourge of human beings. He approaches Xu Xian and plots to break up his relationship with Bai. He tells Xu that his wife was a snake and lets him know how to make her to reveal true form. Although Xu takes it with a pinch of salt, he let his wife drink wine (雄黃酒) during the Duanwu Festival. Bai Suzhen unsuspectingly reveals her true form as a large white snake after drinking the wine and Xu Xian dies of shock after seeing that his wife is not human. Bai Suzhen and Xiaoqing travel to Mount Kunlun, where they brave danger to steal a magical herb that restores Xu Xian to life. After coming back to life, Xu Xian still maintains his love for Bai Suzhen despite knowing her true identity. Fahai is so angry and he captures Xu Xian and imprisons him to be a monk in Jinshan Temple. Bai Suzhen and Xiaoqing fight with Fahai to rescue Xu Xian, and Bai uses her powers to flood the temple, drowning many innocent people in the process. However, Bai Suzhen's powers are limited because she is already pregnant with Xu Xian's child so she fails to save her husband, escaping under Xiaoqing's help. Xu Xian later manages to escape from Jinshan Temple and reunites with Bai and Xiaoqing at the Broken Bridge. Fahai tracks them down, as soon as Bai Suzhen gave birth to their son; he defeats Bai Suzhen and imprisons her in Leifeng Pagoda, saying Bai Suzhen could never leave only when the Leifeng Pagoda collapsed and the West Lake dried up.

Many years later, after hard training and cultivation, Xiaoqing goes to Jinshan Temple to confront Fahai and succeeds in defeating him. Bai Suzhen is freed from Leifeng Pagoda and reunites with her husband and son.

The Leper Girl

There is a beautiful girl whose father is a renowned winemaker in the northern party of South China's Gunagdong province. Unluckily, she suffered from Leprosy when she was 18. Leprosy was incurable and only through marriage, inflecting the disease to her husband, can the girl survive in superstition. She is a good girl and does not want to hurt anybody. On her wedding night, she drinks too much wine and surprisingly wakes up recovered from leprosy. Is the wine magic? Not the wine, but a drowned viper in the wine jar?