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Le Déluge

Yu the Great taming the waters, Ancient China, 2nd century BC


In a remote time, in the far east of the world, the emperor Yao was desperately seeking ways to contain the flood that was tormenting his people. "The vast expanse of the overflowing waters rises to the sky, the groundwater  surrounds the mountains and submerges the hills. Because of this, the people of the plain are afflicted. Is there anyone whom I can charge with putting it right? " Koen worked for nine years without success and was banished for not having completed his work. His son Yu took over and worked for thirteen years without ever crossing the threshold of his house. He never stopped surveying the plains of the Yellow and Blue Rivers, constantly administering and ordering new water measures. Yu took water as his master and respected its course. Unlike his father who built dikes and walls to stop the waters, he dug canals, led them to the rivers and allowed the nine rivers to flow to the sea. Today, still admired by all, Yu the Great, by taming the waters, reunified the provinces and became the founder of the first Chinese dynasty in history, the Xia dynasty. 


Roughly translated from the french translation by  Edouard Chavannes, of Les Mémoires historiques de Se-Ma Ts’ien 


Illustration // 2020

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