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The Chinese myth of the white snake and the meddling monk - Shunan Teng

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Xu Xian had just received an invitation to the opening ceremony of a new temple. His wife, Bai Su Zhen, warned him not to attend, but Xu Xian, a devout Buddhist, felt obligated to make an appearance. What they didn’t know was that these invitations had come from Fa Hai, the monk determined to separate them. Can the young lovers ever escape the monk’s meddling? Shunan Teng shares this Chinese myth.

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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
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Rebekah Barnett
  • Animator Jack Ross
  • Sound Designer Gav Cantrell
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The setting of the Tale of the White Snake took place in real locations of China and some of these locations have become tourist attractions because of the story. One of the most notable is the Lei Feng Pagoda. This ancient Pagoda was first built in 977AD and eventually collapsed in 1924 after almost 1000 years. The first three decades of 20th century is a time of rapid reforms in China and writer Lu Xun at the time wrote an influential essay about the event called: On the Fall of Lei Feng Pagoda. In this essay he metaphorically related the collapse of the pagoda and the wish to free Bai Su Zhen to anti-repression sentiments of the people. Lei Feng Pagoda was rebuilt in 2002 and is now a top tourist attraction in the city of Hang Zhou.

Xu Shi Lin won the first place in imperial exam and obtained the title of Zhuang Yuan. The imperial exam was a long lasting system in ancient China for selecting civil service officials. Though far from perfect, this system had greatly facilitated social mobility in ancient China and have a profound impact on how Chinese culture view education.

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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
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Rebekah Barnett
  • Animator Jack Ross
  • Sound Designer Gav Cantrell
  • See more