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Legend of the White Snake - Baishezhuan

Legend of the White Snake

Legend of the While Snake happened in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province is a bright pearl of national folk literature. The images of Bai Niangzi, Xu xian, Fa Hai and Xiao Qing all express people’s liberal desire of humanity and are valuable spiritual and cultural heritages of the Chinese Nation. In the tale, many ancient traditional customs remained one of the most well-known oral heritages in national folk culture. 

Legend of the White Snake derived from the Tang and Five Dynasties, formed in Song Dynasty and was written into drama and story by scholars in the late Yuan Dynasty. In Ming Dynasty, the fiction of Madam White Snake under Leifeng Pagoda (白娘子永镇雷峰塔) written by Feng Menglong was the earliest full text. In the modern and contemporary of Ming and Qing Dynasty, though adaptation and performance of oral folk literatures and various conventional literature emerged, this tale finally became a classical theme of a variety of literal types including story, ballad, precious scroll, fiction, historical novel, script for story-telling, drama, Tanci, as well as movie, TV play, cartoon, and comic strips. It has therefore experienced an ever expanding influence and becomes widely known in China, and furthermore, spreads in many countries such as Japan, North Korea, Vietnam, and India. 

The phenomenon of “multiple sources” often happens to folk legends. So does Legend of White Snake. Experts of folk literatures think that the legends are widely spread in Zhenjiang and Hangzhou. Legend of White Snake is widely spread in many places. Together with Legend of Liangzhu, Legend of Meng Jiangnv and Legend of Niulang and Zhinv, they are regarded as four widely spread legends. 

Legend of the White Snake greatly enriched the treasury of Chinese folk literature. It is particular in story and vivid in figures. Bai Niangzi is a significant typical image of Chinese art gallery. Major social thoughts, beliefs, values and national psychologies of different periods of the Southern Song Dynasty reflected by the tale are of historical importance. The folk customs in the tale are also very abundant and have an important reference value to understand the local conditions and customs of Jiangnan. However, to Hangzhou, there is an inseparable relationship between natural and cultural landscapes like Legend of the White Snake, broken bridge, Leifeng Pagoda and West Lake, making Hangzhou and West Lake have cultural connections.