The Tale of White Snake

David Leffmannianhua, Uncategorized, woodblock, Woodblock print, Yangliuqing Leave a Comment

This final woodblock is from Yangliuqing, a village in the western outskirts of the port city of Tianjin (around 150km southeast of Beijing). It depicts a popular folk story, “The Tale of White Snake”, and meets all the requirements of a typical Yangliuqing print: very large (around a metre wide), very detailed, technically accomplished and with most of the colour painted on by hand, rather than printed. I was very lucky to find it, as most of Yangliuqing’s modern studios have given up printing anything this complicated in favour of bright, ugly pictures of fat babies.

Anyway, for those who know the tale, I think it’s all here – white snake transformed into the beautiful woman Bai Suzhen; her husband Xu Xian in his medicine shop; Bai Suzhen and her accomplice (and former green snake) Xiaoqing coming to rescue Xu Xian, who has been kidnapped by Fahai, an evil monk who is actually a transformed tortoise… Confused?

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