Pacific Asia Museum

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Pasadena, California 91101
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The Legend of Lady White Snake


This jade is carved with a scene of Lady White Snake. Her legend has been told for over a thousand years, and as a result there are many versions.

Two snakes, white and green, transformed themselves into humans, and entered the world as a lady and her maid. On a stroll around the West Lake they were caught in a sudden rainstorm. A handsome young scholar, XuXian, saw their predicament and lent them his umbrella. He and Lady White Snake soon fell in love and married. The couple, accompanied by Lady White Snake’s fellow snake and maid, opened a medicine shop. Possibly aided by the snakes’ magical abilities, the shop was very successful and life went well; Lady White Snake even became pregnant.

Life does not always continue smoothly, however. The monk Fahai revealed Lady White Snake’s true nature to her husband, who immediately died of shock. Heartbroken, the lady used her magical powers to gather rare herbs and managed to bring her husband back to life. Their happy reunion was cut short, however, when Fahai captured and imprisoned her. Locked in the Leifang Pagoda back on the shores of the West Lake, Lady White Snake was doomed to remain there until the lake dries up or the pagoda falls.

The lake is still full of water, but the pagoda did in fact collapse in 1924. It has since been rebuilt, but who knows? Perhaps Lady White Snake is now free, and reunited with XuXian.

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