Yu the Great

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  • Chinese/Japanese: 大禹 (Da Yu / Dai U)

Yu the Great was the legendary founder of China's first dynasty, the Xia Dynasty, sometime around 2200-2100 BCE. He is known for his construction of extensive dams and irrigation canals, bringing the rivers of the realm under control, and sparing the country destructive floods. Agriculture flourished, and the kingdom prospered.[1]

Though his State of Xia was among the most prominent and powerful at the time, there may have been as many as 10,000 individual states (guo) active at that time within the region now known as China.

Preceded by
Shun the Great
Ruler of Xia
c. 2200-2100 BCE
Succeeded by
Qi of Xia


  • K.C. Chang, Art, Myth, and Ritual, Harvard University Press (1983), 25-27.
  1. Gallery labels, "The Qianlong Emperor's Southern Inspection, Scroll Four," Metropolitan Museum.[1]