Haw Par Villa exhibit depicting a scene from the Legend of Madame White Snake

The Legend of Madame White Snake tells the tale of a young scholar who fell in love with, and married, a beautiful woman who was in fact a white snake that had assumed the form of a human. Knowing this, a monk took the scholar to the Gold Hill Temple for refuge in order to save his soul. The scene depicted shows how the white snake tried to save her husband by calling upon a river deity to flood the hill upon which the temple stood. However, the powerful robes of the monk helped offer resistance to the flood. Essentially the legend illustrates that relationships between mortals and a non-mortals were frowned upon by the laws of heaven. Stories such this are found in abundance at Haw Par Villa, which has on display a wide range of sculptures showcasing themes from Chinese folklore and legends. Originally called Tiger Balm Gardens, Haw Par Villa was built by Aw Boon Haw in 1937. A prominent businessman and philanthropist, Aw had established the gardens with the intention of educating the public about Chinese culture.