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The Story That Made Broken Bridge Famous

Tina from China

Broken Briedge - Photo by Ambling Sheep
Photo: Ambling Sheep
It is the place where the beautiful Chinese love story of Xuxian and Bainiangzi started. It's one of the four most popular traditional Chinese love stories.

Leifeng Pagoda -  Photo by Yuan 2003
Photo: Yuan 2003
Unfortunately, Fahai, the monk, caught Bainiangzi and locked her up under the Leifeng Pagoda which was located along the West Lake.

 

West lake, a famous place of interest in China, has a long history and along with it a lot of stories. Some are real and some are imaginary.

Whatever they are, these stories are always touching and give the beautiful West Lake a much deeper meaning than what we see through our eyes.

There is a famous bridge on West Lake. It is called Broken Bridge. Although it is called Broken Bridge, it is not actually broken. It got its name from the way it look in winter. On a fine day after a heavy snowfall, from a distance the bridge seems to be broken in the middle which was the result of snow melting on the middle part.

Broken Bridge is famous because of its beautiful winter scene, but even more so because of a love story. It is the place where the beautiful Chinese love story of Xuxian and Bainiangzi started.

It's one of the four most popular traditional Chinese love stories. It is not a true story, but almost every one in China knows this story.

Broken Bridge is the place where Xuxian and Bainianzi met each other. When the two walked on the bridge that day, it suddenly became rainy. Bainiangzi, a beautiful girl, didn't have an umbrella, but Xuxian had one. So they shared the umbrella and started their first talk. Xuxian, the young man, was astonished by the beauty of Bainiangzi. They both liked each other very much and kind of fell in love at first sight.

But Bainiangzi was not an ordinary human being. She was originally a white snake that had practiced asceticism for 1,000 years. She loved people and wanted to be a human being herself instead of an immortal. Finally God let the snake be a woman for its good behavior. The day Xuxian and Bainianzi met was the first day she became a human. It was fate that they met. They fell in love and soon got married and lived a happy life. They started a clinic for ill people. Bainiangzi had magic power and used it to help those poor ill people.

But there was a monk named Fahai, who knew what Bainianzi actually was. Regardless of the good deeds she did, he insisted on regarding her as evil and decided to kill her. He went to Xuxian and told him what his wife really was. Xuxian was so astonished that he was died of fright.

To save her husband, Bainiangzi risked her life to steal a kind of holy grass from heaven which could bring dead people back to life. Xuxian came back to life. He knew his wife was a snake, but he also knew her good nature and still loved her. Unfortunately, Fahai, the monk, caught Bainiangzi and locked her up under the Leifeng Pagoda which was located along the West Lake. This pagoda is still standing there today.

The end of the story is a sad one, but people do love the story. As I rewrite this story, I remember how it moved me when I first heard it when I was a little girl, and I begin to think why people love this story so much. My answer is they are touched by Xuxian and Bainiangzi's love which was the result of a 1000-year wait. And most importantly, they are touched by the good nature of the white snake.

Similar to Westerners, Chinese do not have a good impression of snakes. People tend to think they are evil, but here in this story, the white snake is kind and generous and brave enough to love. People do love her. While the monk seemed to be good, what he did was really bad. He is much closer to evil. So I think the story tells people not to be prejudiiced. We should judge a person by what he really does, not by his appearance or origin.


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