Culture of the Yellow River
Culture of the Yellow River
The Yellow River starts from the northern part of Bayan Har Mountain in Qinghai province, and flows eastward. It runs through the big valley of between Shanxi and Shannxi, and the Loess Plateau along Fen River and Wei River, and reaches Tong Pass in the south. Wei River flows from the west and joins the Yellow River here, which makes the Yellow River form the great turning. In geography, it connects the large plain of the east of the river in the north, covers Guanzhong Plain in the west, and flows through the central plain in the east. Therefore this area is called the center of China and the backbone of the central plain. In history of China, the culture of the Yellow River formed in the middle reaches of the Yellow River and the areas along it brought great influences to the human civilization. The areas along the Yellow River are the birthplace of the ancient human beings in China and also one of the main birthplaces of the Chinese people. The Yellow River and its spirit feed the Chinese people and teach us to be diligent and brave, tolerant and determined. The great accomplishments in exploring the Yellow River are so inspiring that they help us to have the spirits of the Yellow River—united, practical, enterprising, hardworking and sacrificing. They also enhance the national spirits of the Chinese people—united, cooperative, fearless and strong-minded. Therefore together with the great wall it becomes the symbol of our Chinese people.
In the prehistoric period, the climate in the mid and low reaches of the Yellow River was mild with abundant rain and therefore it is suitable for the primitive people to live. Loess Plateau and the plain formed by the flowing of the Yellow River which were suitable for developing the primitive agriculture and livestock breeding because of the loose soil here. The quality of the loess is suitable for the primitive human beings to live together by digging holes. The special natural environment here provided beneficial conditions for the development of the Chinese ancient civilization. The cultural sites of the ancient human beings in Shanxi province cover the early, middle and late periods of the Old Stone Age. Xihoudu site in Ruicheng of Shanxi, which is the earliest human cultural site known now, can date back to 1.8 million years ago. Dingcun site in Xiangfen of Shanxi, which is the typical site of the mid period of the Old Stone Age, can date back to 50000 to 100000 years ago. Xujiayao cultural site in Yanggao County of Shanxi, which is one of the largest sites of the Old Stone Age with the most ancient human beings’ fossils and cultural relics. Meanwhile, a great many cultural relics of Yangshao culture and Longshan culture in the New Stone Age are discovered in Shanxi province. The culture of the New Stone Age has a characteristic of multi-regional development and reflects the history of the formation, distribution and mutual relationships of the common entities of the Chinese people. Some people believe that the culture of Dawenkou in the south of Shandong and the north of Jiangsu belongs to the national group of Dongyi in some historical documents, the culture of Majiayao in Gansu and Ningxia belongs to the national group of Xirong, the culture of Qujialing on Jianghan Plain of Hubei province belongs to the national group of Nanman, the culture of New Stone Age with thin and sharp stone tools in Inner Mongolia belongs to the national group of Beidi and Yangshao culture in Shanxi and the golden triangular area of the Yellow River is the main part of the culture of Huaxia nation.
The Yellow River is the mother river of our nation which feed the ancestors along the river and promoted the integration of the tribes of Huang and Yan with other tribes. Brilliant civilization is developing here which accelerates the process of human society. About more than 3000 years ago, the first war in the history of China happened between the tribe of the King Huang and the tribe of Chiyou in Yuncheng Basin in the southwest of Shanxi, and started the national integration. Based on the activity areas of the characters in the prehistoric legends, the historians believe that King Huang, King Yan, Zhuanxu, Dichi, Yao, Shun and Yu were in the area of Yangshao culture, which together with the area of Longshan culture including Jin, Shann and Yu belongs to Chiyou—the group of Huanxia nation. Taihao and Shaohao belong to the national group of Dongyi. By the time of Spring-and –Autumn, the above two national groups had been integrated into one which is the earliest Huaxia nation entering a class society with the most people, and the highest educational level.
The characters and wars in the legend of this period reflect the process of the establishment and integration of bordering relationships between the Huaxie nation and other minorities. The king Yu’s capital Anyi, and the establishment of Xia Dynasty mark the formation of the Huaxia nation. The original meaning of the Chinese character 夏 is the central land and the people of China. We can see from many historical documents that China in the ancient people’s mind refers to the area along the Yellow River which circles Jizhou (the eastern area of the Yellow River). According to The Classic of Mountains and Rivers with notes made by Guopu, Jizhou is the central land. According to History of Roads, China is Jizhou. The golden triangular area of the Yellow River with Shanxi province as the center, which is the birthplace of the culture of the Yellow River, Huaxia nation and China, has been recorded in history.
A large number of great people were born and made great achievements in the areas along the Yellow River in Shanxi province in history. In the long history, from the prehistoric mythologies to the control of Jin Kingdom in the Spring-and-Autumn time, from the dividing of Jin Dynasty between Han, Zhao and Wei in the period of Warring Kingdoms to the national integration in the period of Wei and Jin Dynasties and the South and North Dynasties, from the rebellion of Li Shimin of Tang Dynasty in Jinyang to the prosperity of Jin merchants in Ming and Qing Dynasties, the areas along the Yellow River are always the center of Chinese politics, economy and culture.
The grand view of the turbulent Yellow River inspires the pride of the Chinese people for the majestic homeland. Faced with the Yellow River, the Chinese people will feel intimidated by the greatness of nature. As to the greatness of the Yellow River, even the great leader Mao Zedong also said, “You can despise anything but the Yellow River. If you despise the Yellow River, it means you despise our nation……”
The Yellow River, which provides us with enlightenment and strength, is the symbol of the spirit of the Chinese people. Based on patriotism the spirit of the Yellow River demonstrates brilliant civilization and comprehensive moral principles, reflects the hardworking and fearless attitude under any negative circumstances.
Along the bank of the Yellow River on the borderline of Shanxi province and Shannxi province, the majestic Hukou Waterfalls, the ancient crossings，and the once thriving ancient towns along the Yellow River all part of the culture of the Yellow River.
Hukou Waterfalls, which occupies a special position in the Chinese people all over the world, is the most valuable scenic spot of the whole Yellow River, not only in Shanxi province. The Yellow River flows on the riverbed of about one thousand meters high, runs into the dragon hole of 20 to 30 meters deep and then pours downward vertically like the opening of the kettle (Hukou in Chinese). This is how the majestic Hukou Waterfalls is formed. When you come along the river, you can feel deeply the behaviors of boating on the dry land and flying across the Yellow River.
Qikou, the west gate of Jin merchants and the big deck of the Yellow River, connects the east and west of China in economy and culture, and is called the first town along the winding Yellow River with 9 curves. Hints of the past prosperity can still be seen somewhere, and now it has become the heaven of the thinkers, the holy place for the tourists and the cradle of the artists.
The crossing is the base for the people to cross the Yellow River. The Yellow River and the crossing rely on each other. The river creates the crossing and the crossing refreshes the river. Nowadays a great many sites of the ancient crossings with several thousand years’ history are still preserved along the Yellow River in Shanxi province including the ancient crossing of Xikou, Qikou crossing, Yumen crossing, Pujin crossing, Wuwang crossing, Fengling crossing, Dayu crossing and Yujin crossing. Nowadays, the development of tourism here makes much sense for inheriting the culture of the ancient crossings of the Yellow River.
Fenghou, Dayu, the iron cow in Kaiyuan, the strange pool of the Yellow River and Qiankun pool will bring us back to the history. The irrigation hub of Wanjia Village, the power plant of Dayu Crossing, and the reservoir of Xiaolangdi lead us on the way to pursuing wisdom. The Yellow River today is opening her arms to welcome you. Shanxi province today is open to the visitors all over the world.