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There is no doubt that storytelling in China, as elsewhere, is as old as its civilization. People have been telling stories for millennia to educate and entertain. Chinese parents and grandparents have been using storytelling to make their children and grandchildren aware of the importance of academic advancement and filial piety. (Pearson and Rao 2003, 131–146).

One of the stories that have been known and loved by generations of Chinese children is The Magic Locus Lantern.

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The story is based on the traditional Chinese folklore about a boy named Chen Xiang. His mother, a goddess in the heavenly palace, falls in love with a young human scholar at first sight.

But their love was strongly opposed by Erlang Shen, the elder brother of the goddess. With the help of the magic lotus lantern, the goddess defeated her brother and married the scholar. Later she gave birth to a baby son called Chen Xiang.

But the story was not over yet. Erlang Shen denies the marriage and punishes the goddess by imprisoning her beneath a mountain and wrests away her magic lotus lantern. Fortunately, Chen Xiang was rescued by the God of Thunder, who taught him martial art.

When informed of his mother’s tragic story, Chen Xiang, sets out to save his mother by any means possible. His perseverance and eloquence finally convince another god, a sacred warrior, to join him in the battle against His uncle Erlang Shen, the vicious god.

At the decisive moment, the lantern appears suddenly and its brilliance kills all the tricks of the god. The lantern is returned to the liberated mother and harmony is restored with the reunification of mother, son, father, and the lotus lantern.

Based on this exciting Chinese classic folktale, a Chinese animated feature film with the same title was produced by Shanghai Animation Film Studio in 1999. The production took four years and required over 150,000 animation cels, over 2,000 painted backgrounds and and 12 million yuan ($1.5 million) to make this all star movie. It was the most popular film in China in 1999 and was praised as a China’s Disney movie.


Pearson, E. & Rao, N. (2003) Socialisation goals, parenting practices and peer competence in Chinese and English Preschoolers. Early Child Development and Care, 173 (1), 131-146.

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