The story appears on

Page A11

June 15, 2019

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Magical story behind the birth of China’s historic first dynasty, Xia

THE task of leading people to dredge waterways was a hardship which took Yu the Great years of perseverance and endurance, overcoming unimaginable difficulties.

One day while Yu was passing Mount Tu, a stunning white fox with nine tails jumped out of the bush and startled the crowd with him.

The nine-tailed fox is a messenger. It sang to Yu: “White fox with nine tails comes here to greet the King.

“When the King is married, all beings in heaven and earth shall be blessed forever.”

With his heavy burden of flood control, Yu had never had time to think about settling down.

But now that the fox planted this thought in his head, he couldn’t shake it. So Yu followed the fox and was led to a cottage, where a graceful young lady came out to greet him.

The lady was called Nujiao. Seeing the famous Yu, she welcomed him into the cottage and served him with fresh food and tea. After years away from home, this was the first decent hot meal that Yu had. He devoured it with gratitude.

Yu looked tired and dirty. His clothes were dusty and his hands were covered in calluses. Watching him devouring food, Nujiao was overwhelmed with admiration and tenderness. And they were married.

On the fourth day after their wedding, Yu had to leave and continue his journey on water control. He bid his new wife a goodbye and didn’t return for years.

Nujiao waited for her husband’s return day and night. She climbed to the top of Mount Tu, looking into the distance with eager eyes. And she sang: “Waiting for the one I love.”

Her sorrowful voice flew across the night sky and was heard by Yu hundreds of miles away. But how could he give up his mission of water control halfway?

All Yu could do was think about Nujiao and stare at Mount Tu far away.

There were chances for Yu to go back home. When evaluating the flooding situation in villages, Yu passed by his home, the little cottage, three times.

But he resisted the temptation of going inside to just see the face of his wife and the son who had never met his father.

As Yu was about to start the construction work on the Huai River, he climbed the mountain, faced east, lit incense and prayed: “Father, the grand task you left unfinished will soon see its end. ”

When Yu bowed toward the sea, he heard his father’s voice: “Son, no need to think about me. Look behind you.”

Yu turned his head with astonishment and saw a mountain. It was Mount Meng, linked to Mount Tai.

Yu shouted for a dragon, Ying, and flew toward Mount Meng on its back. Along with Yu came his followers Gaotao and Boyi.

As they looked down from above, Yu suddenly received enlightenment as he observed clearly the view of the network of rivers and waterways.

“Obstructed by Mount Meng, I used to consider Daye Lake and the Yi River as irrelevant and work separate issues,” he said. “Now I consider looking the Huai, Yi and Daye Lake as a whole water system. And the Huai River is the cause of the flooding.”

So, Yu camped on Mount Meng, assigning Dragon Ying to cover the Huai River, Gaotao to be responsible for the streams flowing into the Yi and Boyi to handle Daye Lake in the northwest.

The dragon waggled its head and tail and broke the blockage at the junction of the Huai and Yi rivers so that all waters could flow into the Huai through the Yi and Si rivers.

The swamps instantly turned into dry flat ground.

In the northwest, Boyi managed to divert rivers around Daye Lake to flow into the Yellow River.

The great lake finally showed its clear outline and the land around it became suitable for farming.

As Yu finished his flood control mission, he realized that he hadn’t heard Nujiao’s singing for many days.

On top of that, he overheard a song spreading around Xuzhou and Yangzhou with lyrics “waiting for the man.” All signs gave him a sinking feeling.

Yu’s followers looked on with great concern. Asked by Yu over and over again, they couldn’t keep the sad news anymore and revealed to Yu that his wife had turned into a stone for missing him too much.

There are many versions of this story. Some said that Nujiao set off to find her husband, leaving stones behind her as traces.

Others said that she had turned into a stone shaped like a human. Right next to her was a small stone with the form of a baby, who was their son, Qi.

Yu burst into tears after hearing this, especially at the thought of his son who he had never met.

“No! No!” he cried in anguish.

“No! No!” A voice repeated after him.

Yu looked up and saw the white fox with nine tails sitting in front of him.

“Take me to see my wife!” Yu said with joy.

The fox ran toward Mount Tu. From a distance, Yu saw a female figure.

“Nujiao, I’m back!” he yelled. But Nujiao was entirely still. Yu took a closer look as he ran toward the figure, and found that it was a stone facing the west with two streams of tears on the face.

Yu hugged the stone as if he wanted to wake the stone with his warmth. But the stone remained motionless.

The fox wiped Yu’s tears away with its tails.

As Yu drowned in grief, he heard a rattle. The tiny stone which looked like a baby cracked. With a sound like an explosion, the tiny stone broke apart and a baby fell out. The baby grew into a boy about 6 or 7 years old in seconds.

“Yu, you’re finally home. I was waiting for you on the mountain to introduce our son Qi to you,” a female voice echoed around the valley.

Yu lifted Qi and shouted back to Nujiao: “I’ll pay you back with great achievements benefiting the people.”

And thus Qi became the first ruler of the Xia Dynasty (c.2070-1600 BC), China’s first dynasty.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend