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Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Legend of the White Snake

The Legend of the White Snake is one of the four popular folk legends of China. lt was existed by oral tradition and then it developed into storytelling in local dialects, such as Pinghua (narrative singing), Shuoshu (classical instrumental music and narrative) and Tanci (narrative style of singing and instrumental music).

After that, it was adopted for drama performance as well as many other ways of interpretation, including novel, opera, cartoon, movie and modern dance, etc. It can he deemed as a typical masterpiece containing the inputs of folk cultures of China all through one thousand years. It was inscribed in the first batch of NationalIntangible Cultural Heritages List.

“Meet when Travelling the Lake” – It tells stories about a while snake who cultivated itself in Mount Emei in Sichuan for a thousand years and turned into a lady with a charming appearance, named Bai Suzhen. She yearned for the prosperous place called Diji and went down the mountain for worldly pleasures together with the green snake, named Xiaoqing. When they went to the scenic West Lake in Hangzhou, they took the same boat with an assistant in an herbal medicine store, named Xu Xian (Xu Xuan), and borrowed an umbrella from him. Lady Bai and Xu Xian fell in love with each other and got married. They were looking forward to a happy and peaceful life in the man’s world.

“Revelation during Duanyang Festival (Dragon Boat)” – Lady Bai and Xu Xian went to Zhenjiang and set up an herbal medicine store “Bao He Tang”, in Xijundu Street. They loved each other and the store became well known. However, Fa Hai, a monk from Jinshan Temple found out Lady Bai was actually a white snake who had cultivated itself for a thousand years. He enticed Xu Xian to give realgar wine to Lady Bai to drink on the Duanyang Festival, it made Lady Bai to reveal her true appearance. Xu Xian was frightened out of his wits and passed out.

“Steal Herb and Save the Husband” – Lady Bai went to the fairyland in Mount Kunlun after traveling across mountains and rivers. She risked her life to steal the celestial herb to save the life of Xu Xian. The god of Mount Kunlun was moved by the true love of Lady Bai and she finally got the ganoderma lucidum and saved Xu Xian.

“Fight between the Dragon and the Snake” – Fa Hai, the monk from Jinshan Temple in Zhenjiang, only cared who was a human being or a bogy but never cared who was good or evil. He made every endeavour to get Xu Xian and Lady Bai apart. He persuaded Xu Xian to become a monk and then imprisoned him in Jinshan Temple. Lady Bai went to Jinshan Temple to look for her husband and fought with Fa Hai. Lady Bai and Xiaoqing invited black fish spirits, shrimp soldiers and crab generals while Fa Hai turned to the “Dragon King of the East Ocean” and the Third Prince for help. The fight between the dragon and the snake occurred around Jinshan Temple.

“Captive Lady Bai in Pagoda” – In order to break up Xu Xian and Lady Bai, Fa Hai captured Lady Bai one month after she gave the birth to her son with a gold bowl and captive her under Leifeng Pagoda in Hangzhou.

“Dutiful Son Worshiped the Pagoda” – Xu Shilin (Mengjiao), the son of Lady Bai, grew up and became the Number One Scholar in the National Exam. He went to worship the pagoda and met his mother with cries. Lady Bai was a stylite with a kind heart. She had loved and hated and now been imprisoned under Leifeng Pagoda for over ten years. She had reached the selfless state for her understanding on the life. She asked her son to forget the hatred and become an integrity official, bringing welfare to all people.

“Flooding of the Jinshan Temple” – The expression “Flooding of the Jinshan Temple” has become a popular idiom in China and often is used to describe a huge hood. It’s originated from the Legend of the White Snake. In order to save her husband who was imprisoned in Jinshan Temple, she used magic arts to flood the Jinshaii Temple and numerous shrimp soldiers and crab generals rushed into the temple. Fa Hai had to change his cassock into a long dam to block the water. However, as the dam became higher and longer, the flood also grew up. The purpose for Lady Bai to flood the Jinshan Teiuple was to save her husband and pursue a happy life, so it is also called as “Flooding of the Jinshan Temple with Love”; Fa Hai tried to break up Xu Xian and Lady Bai and finally the gods were angry and people resentful, so it is also called as “Flooding of the Jinshan Temple with Resentment”: Lady Bai was pregnant and afraid that the flood might cause damage to innocent people, so she didn’t defeat Fa Hai. The watching people shed sympathetic tears, making it “Flooding of the Jinshan Temple with Tears”. The river water and tears together became roaring waves, which would flush away the unfairness and praise the true love in the world. As the song sings: “If the water has feelings, flooding the Jinshan Temple please. Leave the true love in the world, even an instant will be warm!”.
The Legend of the White Snake
Title: The Legend of the White Snake
Date of Issue: 28 July 2011
Country: Macau
Denominations: 1.50, 1.50, 2.00, 2.00, 2.50 and 2.50 Patacas