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
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.