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The Yellow River Map, Scheme, or Diagram (, with variants for the second character) is an ancient Chinese concept. It is related to the
Lo Shu Square __NOTOC__ Lo Shu Square (; also written ; literally: Luo (River) Book/Scroll), or the Nine Halls Diagram (), is the unique normal magic square rotation and reflection) non-trivial case of a magic square, order 3 In recreational mathematics Re ...
. The origins of the two from the rivers Luo and He are part of
Chinese mythology Chinese mythology () is mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. This includes oral ...
. The development of the two are part of Chinese philosophy. (Wu:52)


Geographical background

The Yellow River or Huang He is the second-longest
river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of wate ...

river
in
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
, following the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
, and the sixth-longest in the world. The Yellow River has an estimated length of 5,464 km (3,395 mi). It has been and remains an important factor for human habitability of northern China. Anciently, it was often referred to just as ''He'' or "the River", and thus the Yellow River Map, just as "River Map" or "River Plan". The Yellow River has changed its course, settling in new beds, with different outlets to the ocean, many times in the past, often accompanied by death and devastation to the human population. Flowing through the yellow
loess Loess (, ; from german: Löss ) is a clastic Clastic rocks are composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing minerals In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fair ...
soil deposited as a deep, packed dust across much of northern China, it gets its name from the yellow color of resulting suspended solids. The Lo, or Luo, River is a major tributary.


Mythological background

Myths of the Yellow River Map go back to earliest stages of the recorded history of Chinese culture.


Great Flood

The Great Flood of China, also known as the "Gun-Yu myth" (Yang:74), was a major flood event that continued for at least two generations, which resulted in great population displacements among other disasters, such as storms and famine: according to mythological and historical sources, it is traditionally dated to the third millennium BCE, during the reign of the
Emperor Yao Emperor Yao (; traditionally c. 2356 – 2255 BCE) was a legendary Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of co ...
. Treated either historically or mythologically, the story of the Great Flood and the heroic attempts of the various human and other characters to control it and to abate the disaster is a narrative fundamental to
Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse and varying, with customs and traditions varying grea ...
. Among other things, the Great Flood of China is important to understanding the history of the founding of both the
Xia Dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty The Xia dynasty is the first dynasty in traditional Chinese historiography. According to tradition, the Xia dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great, after Shun, the last of the Five ...

Xia Dynasty
and the
Zhou Dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
, it is also one of the main flood motifs in
Chinese mythology Chinese mythology () is mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. This includes oral ...
, and it is a major source of
allusion Allusion is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persu ...
in
Classical Chinese poetry Classical Chinese poetry is traditional Chinese poetry Chinese poetry is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of ...
. Various divine or heroic persons or beings contributed to control or in some cases worsen the flooding, including the mysterious bird-turtles of the ''Heavenly Questions'' of the ''Chuci''. One of the main (if not the main) rivers involved according to tradition was the Yellow River, and one of the keys to the eventual successful efforts to control the flood waters is traditionally the Yellow River Map.


Fu Xi

Fu Xi, also known as Paoxi, is still actively worshipped in modern China. Fu Xi was a culture hero credited with his sister Nüwa with list of protoplasts, repopulating the world in the aftermath of a great flood, as well as with establishing civilization afterwards. Among his inventions was the Yellow River Map, from which he derived the first bagua (concept), trigrams which later composed the ''I Ching''.


Yu

Yu is often known as Yu the Great, especially in English language sources. He succeeded Gun in flood control. Yu the Great (c. 2200–2100 BCE) was a legendary ruler in History of China#Ancient China, ancient China famed for his introduction of flood control, inaugurating dynastic rule in China by founding the
Xia Dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty The Xia dynasty is the first dynasty in traditional Chinese historiography. According to tradition, the Xia dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great, after Shun, the last of the Five ...

Xia Dynasty
, and for his acclaimed upright moral character.


He Bo

The deity ("Count" or "Earl") of the Yellow River is He Bo. According to some accounts he was involved with the production of the Yellow River Map. However, which historically came first remains unresolved, the cultural tradition of the Yellow River Map, or that of the Yellow River Earl (He Bo).


Houtu

Houtu (Chinese 后 土 ) is a male, female or non-gendered divinity, depending on source, although the image of a Sacred Mother Earth deity is common. Houtu is currently worshiped in Chinese popular religion, with her birthday on the 18 day of the Third Moon in the Chinese lunar calendar. Sacrifice and prayer to Houtu are believed to be efficacious for problems of weather, reproduction and family, wealth, and boating safety on the Yellow River. (Yang, ''et al.'':136–137) According to one account, when Yu "the Great" was attempting to channel the Yellow River and so to avoid its flooding, Yu began by trying to open it to the west (towards the mountains and away from the sea, thus completely the wrong way). Observing this, Houtu is said (in this version) to have created and studied the Yellow River Map, after which she sent her divine messenger birds to Yu "the Great" to tell him to open up the river to the east, instead. Yu's new dredging was a success, the flood waters drained into the eastern sea, and Yu's former dredging project toward an impossible western drainage was named "River Wrongly Opened". (Yang, ''et al.'':137) In this version of the story, Houtu and the Yellow River Map were key to the successful engineering solution to the flood problem.


Bagua

Bagua is a main concept in Chinese combinatoric philosophical thought: 8 figures of mythical origin and emblematic significance that are specifically said to be related to the Yellow River Map and the Luoshu Square. Although these concepts originate in prehistory, much has been written about them since, evolving a complex body of literature, some of it more esoteric, and some less so. Derivation of the bagua has been conceived philosophically according to the Taiji (philosophy), taiji or other system in which original unity, symbolized by the bottom circle first differentiates into ''yin and yang'' symbolized by solid versus dashed lines. 8 possible unique groupings of these lines into three-line sets are possible. These sets of 3 are known as "trigrams". Each trigram has its own proper name, in Chinese, and is also considered to possess or to symbolize various qualities of the natural, human, or heavenly worlds. Certain traditions suppose that the Yellow River Map and the Luo River Writing reveal all of these things to one who knows how to read them.


Cosmological background

The concept of the Yellow River Map has a contextual apparatus associated with ancient Chinese cosmology. Various myths or legends are connected with the idea of mapping, involving correspondences between the earth, the sky, and/or abstract diagrams. The idea of a simple division of a flat/square earth into the very basic 3x3, (9-square) grid is historically attested in literature as early as the ''Heavenly Questions, Tian Wens "Heavenly Questions", together with a suggested corresponding mapping solution for a round heaven/the sky (Hawkes, 136–137 [notes to ''Tian wen'']). This text from the ''Chu Ci'' dates to pre-221 BCE. This basic grid is associated with the plan of Yu the Great, Yu to control the Great Flood of China (Hawkes, 139).


Historical evidence

The Yellow River Map is attested to in the ''Gu Ming'' section of the ''Book of Documents'' (one of the "new text" sections). Supposedly, the Yellow River Map was put on display during the Zhou dynasty; however, this has also been interpreted to mean a depiction of the bagua, 8 trigrams (''bagua'') (Wu:52–53, and note 14, 102). This incident is recorded to have been during the reign of King Kang of Zhou, about 1020–996 BCE or 1005–978 BCE.


Literature

The ''I Ching, Yi Jing'' (also known as the ''Book of Changes'', or ''I Ching'') cites the "Yellow River Map" and the "
Lo Shu Square __NOTOC__ Lo Shu Square (; also written ; literally: Luo (River) Book/Scroll), or the Nine Halls Diagram (), is the unique normal magic square rotation and reflection) non-trivial case of a magic square, order 3 In recreational mathematics Re ...
" (or "script"). (Wu:52)


Interpretation


Interpretation of "Yellow River Map"

One way of analyzing the Yellow River Map is by comparison with the Luo (or Lo) River Plan (or "Square"). Wolfram Eberhard (in his ''Dictionary of Chinese Symbols'': in the article under the title "Square", 276) says that the River Plan is proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" to be a magic square. He connects it to the ''mingtang'' halls of worship, saying that they share a division into 9 fields: these in turn are correlated with the 9 "planets" (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu, and Ketu (mythology), Ketu), introduced from and according to Indian astronomy. Other sources emphasize these points for the Luo River Writing. Another interpretation of the River Diagram has to do with the Wuxing (Chinese philosophy), 5 "elements" (''wuxing'') and the 5 Cardinal direction#Far East, cardinal directions. Anyway, according to James Legge the earliest versions appear to no longer be extant, with received versions going back only to Song dynasty (early Twelfth Century); concluding, "If we had the original form of 'the River Map,' we should probably find it a numerical trifle, not more difficult, not more supernatural, than the Lo Shu Square, Lo Shu Magic Square" (Legge, ''intro'':15–18). Nevertheless, Legge finds it of interest in interpreting the ''I Ching''.


Interpretation of ''I Jing''

First of all, Legge notes that the little bright circles of the "Map" correspond with the "whole" (''yang'') lines of the ''I Ching'' and that the little dark circles of the "Map" correspond with the "divided" (''yin'') lines thereof (Legge, ''intro'':16).


Tables


''Wuxing''

:::Notes: :::Extinction is: , which could also be translated as "completion". :::Generation is: , which could also be translated as "birth". :::10 is represented in the Chinese (as are the other numerals) with a (different) single character: 十.


Cardinal directions


=Odd number order (1, 3, 5, 7, 9)

=


=Even number order (2, 4, 6, 8, 10)

=


Places

Certain places in modern China use ''Hétú'' () as part of their proper place names. These include (), (), and .


See also

*Loess Plateau, the highly erodable land through which the Yellow River finds its course. *Longma, dragon-horse creature, mythological delivery beast of the Yellow River Map. *
Lo Shu Square __NOTOC__ Lo Shu Square (; also written ; literally: Luo (River) Book/Scroll), or the Nine Halls Diagram (), is the unique normal magic square rotation and reflection) non-trivial case of a magic square, order 3 In recreational mathematics Re ...
, companion piece to the River Map (actually named the "Luo" (or "Lo") "Script" or "Writing"). *Luo River (Henan) *Luo River (Shaanxi) *Mount Buzhou, an important geographic feature, in relevant mythology.


References

*Christie, Anthony (1968). ''Chinese Mythology''. Feltham: Hamlyn Publishing. . *Wolfram Eberhard, Eberhard, Wolfram (2003 [1986 (German version 1983)]), ''A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought''. London, New York: Routledge. *David Hawkes (Sinologist), Hawkes, David, translation, introduction, and notes (2011 [1985]). Qu Yuan ''et al.'', ''The Songs of the South: An Ancient Chinese Anthology of Poems by Qu Yuan and Other Poets''. London: Penguin Books. *James Legge, Legge, James, translator. ''The I Ching: The Book of Changes Second Edition'' New York: Dover, 1963 (1899). Library of Congress 63-19508 *K. C. Wu, Wu, K. C. (1982). ''The Chinese Heritage''. New York: Crown Publishers. . *Yang, Lihui, ''et al.'' (2005). ''Handbook of Chinese Mythology''. New York: Oxford University Press. {{Chinese mythology Chinese folklore Locations in Chinese mythology, * Magic squares Yellow River Maps of China