In China, Dayu, or Yu the Great, is a household name and a character who figures prominently in the origin of Chinese civilization. He is credited with establishing the Xia Dynasty (c. 21st century-16th century BC), the start of China’s dynastic rule. Even some toddlers can vividly tell his heroics of controlling the primordial floods that once ravaged the lands.
Now, with the publication of a map and its accompanying materials, a fuller picture of Yu’s achievements is available, one that gives a deeper insight into his legacy.
The map, covering 26 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, which is titled Zhongguo Yuji Tu (Map of Traces of Yu in China), documents 323 of more than 1,000 Yuji, or traces of Yu, across the country.
Yuji, or traces of Yu, include sacrificial activities, memorial buildings, inscriptions, ruins, historical records of his stories and folk tales, as well as place names and a few movable relics and intangible cultural heritage, among others, that are based on Yu’s flood control and have survived to this day.
Over time, they have become an integral part of society and culture, a moral symbol to encourage the Chinese people to bravely fight natural disasters and work together in times of trouble and a spiritual bond that has linked the Chinese people throughout history, according to researchers.
They have a deep influence on other East Asian countries too, especially in Japan and South Korea, where many Yuji can be found.