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The Chinese myth of the immortal white snake - Shunan Teng

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The talented herbalist Xu Xian had just started his own medicine shop where he created remedies with the help of his wife, Bai Su Zhen. One day a monk named Fa Hai approached him, warning him that there was a demon in his house. The demon, he said, was Bai Su Zhen. Xu Xian laughed. How could his kind-hearted wife be a demon? Shunan Teng traces the tale of the immortal white snake.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Shunan Teng
  • Director Steff Lee
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen
  • Animator Jack Ross
  • Sound Designer Gav Cantrell
  • Composer Gav Cantrell
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Eden Girma
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Tale of the White Snake is one of the most widely spread folklore of China both in the ancient times and now. The story had a long history of evolvement over 1000 years and mostly through oral traditions. Three of the written versions survived today helped to settle down the main story line.

1.A short story by Feng Meng Long (1574–1646) in Ming Dynasty2.A version by playwright Fang Chengpei (1713 - ?) in Qing Dynasty3.A novel by Meng Hua Guan Zhu (penname, real name Jiang Yin Xiang) at the end of Qing Dynasty (around 1911)
Both the details and the length of the story vary. Some are only a few thousand words vs. some are long novels with 64 chapters.

For a great overview of the story and its cultural significance, check out this website.

For a passionate storytelling and illustration of the tale, make sure to visit this page.

The tale is an inspiration to many traditional operas and modern day TV shows and films. While you’ll have to go to China for the piece performed in traditional operas, many TV and films are now accessible online. Notable ones are an extremely popular TV show by Taiwan Television in 1992 and a controversial film in 1993 by Tsui Hark.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Shunan Teng
  • Director Steff Lee
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen
  • Animator Jack Ross
  • Sound Designer Gav Cantrell
  • Composer Gav Cantrell
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Eden Girma
  • See more