Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism

Famous Folklores in Zhejiang

Located in the south of the Yangtze River Delta Zhejiang Province is abundant in natural resources and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. There are numerous places of interest in Zhejiang Province with countless legendary stories to be heard too.
The Great Yu

Yu the Great (大禹), also known as Da Yu, is a legendary ruler known for his successful endeavors in flood control. During his rule the Central Plain area of China suffered from a large flood and it was Da Yu who was appointed to solve the problem and which he did just four days after his wedding with Tushan Shi(涂山氏).

Da Yu

For 13 years Da Yu completely devoted himself to the mighty project and didn't go home until the flood had finally ended. During these years he passed his home three times and each time he never went in. The first time is when his wife was about to give birth Da Yu and his team were digging ditches near his home. Although the workers urged him to go back home to his wife, Da Yu thought the lives of people were in danger so instead focussed on getting the job done as soon as possible.  

The spirit of Da Yu is admired not only for his great efforts to fight against flood but also for his selfless devotion and perseverance. With the story "three times passed the door without going in" spreading all over China, Da Yu has been remembered and honoured for centuries.
Xi Shi – one of the Four Beauties in ancient China
Xi Shi, a legendary beauty, was born in Zhuluo Village of Zhuji (now Zhuji City, Zhejiang Province) then the capital of ancient Yue Kingdom during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). Xi Shi was only her nickname as according to historical records her birth name was Shi Yiguang (施夷光). Her nickname was formed from the fact that the village she lived in had two parts, the west and east, and while the Shi family lived in the west the girl was called Xi Shi.


When Xi Shi was a little girl she used to wash silks with her mother and this continued long into her youth. Whether slim or plump, with or without make-up, the exquisite features of Xi Shi always took the beholders breath away. Xi Shi's beauty was said to be so intense that when the clear water reflected her beautiful image the fish in the stream would be so dazzled that they often forgot to continue swimming and gradually sank to the bottom.

Legend of the White Snake

China’s legend of the White Snake is so popular that it has even spread to Japan and France and whilst over the years it has developed into many different versions, the underlying story continues to tell of the love between White Snake (白娘子) and Xu Xian (许仙).

Legend of White Snake

Having saved a little white snake in his previous life, Xu Xian now an apprentice in a drug store meets with the most beautiful lady he has ever seen. The lady, originally the little white snake, having achieved immortality wants to return her favour to this young man and in doing so the two become attracted by each other, fall in love, get married and eventually have a son. During their time as a couple, they lead a very happy life and the White Snake helps Xu Xian save many people’s lives.

However the happiness doesn’t last long for their love has violated the law of nature and therefore a monk named Fahai is summoned to capture the White Snake. Managing to convince Xu Xian of his wife’s identity as a snake spirit Fahai persuades Xu Xian to help him capture her. Regretting this dreadful deed and out of guilt, Xu Xian later becomes a monk residing in Jingshan Temple. It is because of her son’s continuous efforts to rescue his mother that after 20 years’ imprisonment in Leifeng Pagoda the White Snake is released and becomes reunited with her family.

Butterfly Lovers

The Butterfly Lovers, Liang Shanbo (梁山伯) and Zhu Yungtai’s (祝英台) tragic love story, is one of the four great folklores of China and the only one to have earned world acclaim as the counterpart to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In 2006 it was listed as one of China’s National Intangible Cultural Heritages.

Butterfly Lovers

In ancient times girls were forbidden to go to school but, Zhu Yungtai, a rebellious girl, manages to persuade her father and disguises as a boy to study in Wansong Academy. There she meets Liang Shanbo, a poor student, who has no idea of her gender and in turn becomes like a brother to her.

After three years together Zhu Yingtai falls in love with Liang Shanbo but later has to return home, however before she leaves she indicates her love for Liang Shanbo but he doesn’t catch on. It is not until Liang Shanbo pays a visit to her family home that he knows the truth and then realising his love for Zhu Yingtai he asks her parents' permission to marry her but is refused as, under her parent’s arrangement, she is already engaged with another man.

Liang Shanbo is heartbroken to hear such news and dies of depression and knowing this Zhu Yingtai, on her wedding day, jumps into Liang Shanbo’s grave and the two become a pair of butterflies flying off together happily ever after.

The Rebirth of a King
During the turbulent Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC–476 BC) Wu and Yue Kingdoms had a serious conflict. In 495 BC Yue Kingdom suffered a crushing defeat and King Gou Jian was captured by King Fu Chai of Wu. In order to make a perfect revenge and retain the strength of Yue, Goujian submitted himself to serve as Fuchai's servant for three years. Gou Jian finally convinced King Fuchai of his loyalty and was eventually allowed to return to his native state.
In order to perform a perfect revenge, King Goujian would make self inflictions by sleeping on sticks and forcing himself to taste bitter bile every day. After ten years of reforms and development the economy of Yue Kingdom soared and the warriors were well-prepared. It was then that King Goujian decided to take advantage of Fuchai's expedition to the North and successfully attacked the Wu capital. Later in 473 BC King Goujian wiped out the Wu State and King Fuchai committed suicide and the Wu Kingdom was annexed by Yue.
This well-known story is mainly about the downfall and revival of Gou Jian, King of Yue, which tell us that perseverance is the one thing that makes everything possible.

The Rebirth of a King