Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet. Volume 1/Great Floods in China

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GREAT FLOODS IN CHINA.

Page 193.

The Chinese annalists in the Shuking of Confucius relate, that in the sixty-first year of the great Emperor Yao (B.C. 2297), a contemporary of Abraham, a disastrous flood occurred, the waters of the Hoang-ho uniting with those of the Yang-tse-kiang, submerging the whole of the intervening country and putting a stop to agriculture and industry. The efforts of the Emperor and his great officers of state were directed to find some means of checking the floods and alleviating the wide-spread distress of the population; and Pére Mailla, who visited these localities and compared them with the Chinese maps, was astonished at the gigantic nature of the works for draining the inundated districts, of which traces remained even in his time. How this great flood originated and what was the cause of it, history gives no clue; and few scientific travellers have, hitherto, visited the vast deserts lying to the north-west of the Hoang-ho. Is it not possible that the great migration of people, alluded to in the writings of Confucius, may in some way be connected with these early traditions? At all events, taking into consideration the sudden and destructive inundations in the lower course of the Hoang-ho in more recent times, and the terrible earthquakes to which China was subject in A.D. 1037, we cannot regard the great flood of China as an absolute impossibility, although science may throw more light on the subject hereafter.

The earlier inundation, referred to in the note, is of purely legendary origin. The time assigned for its occurrence, by Chinese writers, is about coincident with the Great Deluge. It is related that during the Fu-shi dynasty (3100 B.C.), a rebel of the name of Kung-kung caused a great inundation. This is an allegorical impersonation of the Evil spirit in the following legend, quoted by Klaproth:—Kung-kung proceeded with Chuan-shu to conquer the world; in his rage he struck a tremendous blow at Mount Pu-shan, which broke the pillars supporting the heavens and tore asunder the bands confining the earth. The heavens fell on the north-west, and part of the earth split off in a south-east direction, causing a great inundation, and this devastated the north-west of Central Asia and swept away the south-eastern part of the continent; the remains of which are the Australian islands of the present day.'[1]

  1. See Ritter's 'Erdkunde von Asien,' i. 158-160.—Deguignes' 'Hist, des Huns,' t. i. p. 7.