Episode 114: The Snail Girl

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In the ancient China, in the agriculture society, men worked in the fields and women stayed at home and took care of the households. In that case, men had strong need to have a wife to share the workload of daily life like cooking and raising the offspring. Today we will tell a famous Chinese folklore and you can say it is a daydream of a man.

In the book SouShenHouJi 搜神后记 from around the year 400, it says during the reign of Emperor An of Jin 晋安帝, there was a man named Xie Run 谢瑞. He was an orphan and was raised by the neighbors. When he was around 18 years old, he was still single. He worked hard from day to night vigorously in the fields. He was diligent and able.


One day, he found a huge snail outside and kept it in a jar at home. Since then, everyday when he came back home from work, he saw hot plates with delicious food on the table. At first he thought it might be the neighbors who brought the food and went to thank them. The neighbors said, “I think it is your wife cooked for you.”

The man was confused since he had no wife. So one day instead of going to work, he hid behind he fence and sneaked to the house to find out the truth. After a while, he saw a young lady walked out of the jar and started cooking. The man couldn’t wait but entered the house asked, “where are you from?” The young lady was panicked and tried to go back to the jar but was in vain.


She replied, “I am the lady from the white water 白水素女. The emperor of the heaven pitied you and let me to help you with cooking. Now you saw me I can no long stay here anymore. But you can keep the snail shell in your rice bag that your rice would never run out. ” The man begged her to stay but she couldn’t. Suddenly it started the rain, the snail girl flew away with the wind.

In some folklore, the man married the girl in the end because she came to help him because he saved her in their last lives.

There are temples for Snail Girl in some areas of the Province FuJian 福建 that she could protect sailors and fishermen. In Chinese today, people used the word “snail girl” 田螺姑娘 for people who takes care of cooking and other trolls in the households.



搜神后记 SouShenHouJi

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