This story brings us far back in time. Long ago, at Mount Emei, there lived two snakes: one white and the other green. Both snakes possessed the ability to transform themselves into human beings.

One particular day, they took on the form of two attractive maidens and visited a beautiful lake known as Xihu Lake. The white snake named herself ‘Bai Suzhen’, which means pure and loyal. The green snake adopted the name ‘Xiaoqing’, which literally means ‘little green’.

They were thrilled to be able to explore the vicinity of the lake together, and to behold the enchanting scenery of one of the most beautiful places in the world. Unfortunately, it started to rain, and they were forced to take refuge under a willow.

Shortly after, a pleasant young gentleman named Xu Xian happened to pass by,  He had an umbrella with him. Seeing the two beautiful maidens seeking shelter under the tree, he immediately lent them his umbrella and helped them find a boat that could take them home.

It was love at first sight for Bai. As she wanted to see him again, she requested that he come to their house the following day to retrieve the umbrella. He agreed. This was the first of many frequent visits that allowed Bai and Xu to get to know each other better. Soon enough, they were both deeply in love.

Not long after, Bai proposed that they be married. Xu was delighted, because as an orphan, he never thought that a beautiful woman like Bai would want to marry someone as poor as him. After getting married, the young couple set up an apothecary. Bai had an exceptional talent of compounding drugs and their business flourished effortlessly.

Near their house, in the town of Zhenjiang, there lived a priest named Fa Hai, who recognized Bai as a snake demon. He was an unromantic man who showed little emotions for anything or anyone. He was aware of the great danger that snake demons posed to humans, so he sought to warn Xu.

Xu, however, refused to believe that his wife was a snake demon. To prove his point, Fa instructed Xu to get Bai drunk during the Lantern Festival. If she was a snake demon, she would revert to her true form.

Curious, Xu followed Fa’s instructions. That night, when a drunken Bai retired to her bed, she reverted to her true self- an enormous white snake. Xu was so terrified at the sight of what had become of his wife that he immediately died.

When Bai recovered, she was horrified to discover her husband dead. Desperate to bring him back to life, she appealed to Xiaoqing to help to find the herbs that could revive him. To obtain the herbs, Bai and Xiaoqing had to engage in numerous fierce battles with the magic medicine’s guardians. Eventually, they succeeded in acquiring the herb and Xu was brought back to life.

Xu was immensely grateful to Bai and Xiaoqing for reviving him, and touched by Bai’s heroic act of love.

However, Fa was unsatisfied. Determined to separate the illegitimate couple, or so he thought, he kidnapped Xu and took him into protective custody at the monastery. Bai was distraught, and appealed to Xiaoqing for help again. Xu was likewise upset at the separation.

After numerous attempts, Xu managed to escape from the monastery. He rejoined Bai at the willow where they first met. There, she confessed her true identity to him. Xu swore his love for Bai, snake demon or not.

But Fa remained determined. This time, he captured Bai and imprisoned her under the Pagoda of Thunder Peak. Xiaoqing and Xu tried all they could to free Bai, but Fa Hai was too skillful. Xiaoqing then made a decision to journey back to Mount Emei to master the necessary martial arts before returning to fight Fa Hai again. Xu and Bai were eventually reunited after Fa was successfully defeated and killed by Xiaoqing.


For more stories, see

Fifteen Strings of Coins or The Butterfly Lovers

This entry was posted in Chinese Opera 101. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to FAMOUS CHINESE OPERA STORIES – Tale of the White Snake

  1. Honeybear says:

    This is indeed a one-of-a-kind site, it’s inspiring to see how young people like you guys are into Chinese Opera 🙂

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