Yu the Great

Yu the Great is an ancient hero in prehistoric times, whose most remarkable accomplishment was taming the water. He was also an excellent political leader and established the Xia Dynasty (21st - 17th century BC), the first dynasty in Chinese history that followed the hereditary system. Because of his contribution, people call him Dayu in Chinese with Da meaning great.

Yu the Great Facts

 Birth: 2200 BC
 Death: 2101 BC, Zhejiang, China
 Father: Gun
 Royal line: Xia Dynasty
 Child: Qi of Xia
 Grandchildren: Tai Kang, Zhong Kang

What did Yu the Great Do?


Tamed the Water

In prehistoric times, people suffered a lot from torrential floods of the Yellow River. The situation became even worse while Shun was the leader. Under the command of Shun, Gun, the father of Yu, found out a way to tame the flood. He adopted a method of building embankments with soil to block the raging water. However, this traditional way no longer worked well nine years later. Powerful floodwater breached the dike and brought disaster to the people again. Yu was then ordered to succeed his father to continue the work of harnessing the floods. Drawing from his father's experiences, he figured out a way of digging channels to conduct water into the sea. After thirteen years of fighting against the billowy flood, he finally had the floods under control.

After that, Yu the Great organized people to rebuild their shelters and develop agriculture by fully utilizing water and soil. He let his son teach people how to plant rice and other crops. In addition, fish, ducks, and geese were bred under the guidance of Dayu. He also directed the masses to dig ditches to lead the water flowing into the croplands. With his great help, people lived happy lives afterwards.

What makes Yu the Great a legend is that just four days after his marriage, he left home to regions that were severely destroyed by floods to tame the water. He had reached almost everywhere of the country during the battle against this natural disaster. For thirteen years, he never stepped into his house although having passed it three times. His son was born during his absence, but he still did not come back.

Founded the Xia Dynasty

During that time, rulers were usually chosen according to their abilities, Yu the Great had proved his excellent leadership, management, and problem-solving ability when resisting the floods, and thus gained great support of people, so Shun chose Yu as a successor to govern the country.

Yu the Great established the Xia Dynasty in 2070 BC and made Yangcheng (today's Dengfeng, Henan Province) the capital. The establishment of Xia opened up a new era in Chinese history, which symbolized the end of the primitive tribal alliance and the beginning of the class society. He divided the country into nine states for a better management, and dredged water channels and leveled large-scale of soil for planting crops. During his reign, he valued both cultural and military development in order to gain a long-time peace of the country, which also showed his wisdom in being a ruler.

Yu the Great is admired not only for his unremitting endeavors to fight against natural disaster, but also for forgetting about his own interests to help other people.

- Last updated on May. 26, 2023 -
Questions & Answers on Yu the Great
Asked by emily from USA | Feb. 27, 2024 09:53Reply
is yu the great a founder for more than one place
Answers (1)
Answered by Harry | Feb. 27, 2024 17:15

Yes, the legendary story is well-known in the whole China.
Asked by illya from AMERICA | Feb. 26, 2024 13:40Reply
what caused Yu the great to help by controling the river
was yu the great just acting kind or anything else just need to know this for a project

Answers (1)
Answered by Rome | Feb. 27, 2024 19:50

Because it was flooded at that time and many people have died there.
Asked by zack | May. 25, 2023 13:40Reply
hi does anybody know when yu the great made law and money if he even did?
Answers (1)
Answered by Daisy | May. 26, 2023 00:49

Well, it is hard to trace back about 4000 years to know when he did this. At least now we can not find historical records about the exact time.
Asked by wad;t;lhl | May. 25, 2023 13:38Reply
does this dynaasty even exist?
Answers (1)
Answered by Flora | May. 26, 2023 00:44

Do you mean the Xia Dynasty? Yes of course. There are many historical records about it.
Asked by lizzie from USA | May. 17, 2023 11:45Reply
What was Yu the Great's sons name?
Answers (2)
Answered by Helen | May. 17, 2023 20:28

He was named Qi or Qi Xia.
Answered by lizzie | May. 18, 2023 09:32

thank you!
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