You are here:
  1. » Home
  2. » Areas
  3. » Mythology
  4. » Asia
  5. » Chinese mythology
  6. » Da-yu


by Micha F. Lindemans
The mythical founder of the Xia Dynasty, called Yu the Great. He is the son of the earth-god Gun. According to legend his father fought to control the great deluge, which had already reached up to Heaven, but was unable to stop it completely. Because of his failure, Gun was either executed or degraded, and his son took over. Da-yu made holes through the mountains, thus producing outlets through which the water could drain away. His next feat was to make the land arable by regulating the course of the waters and connection the nine provinces with each other. This took so much of his strength, however, that he began to walk with a limp. This limping gait became the model for a shamanic dance, performed by Taoist masters, called Yu-bu (the "step of Yu").

According to one tradition, Da-yu used to change himself into a bear during his work. Every day his wife brought him food as soon as he beat his drum. One day, as he was breaking up rocks, two fragments clashed against each other, producing the sound of a drum. Immediately his wife came running with the food but when she beheld a bear, she turned and fled. Da-yu pursued her, but the wife was terrified and kept on running until she fell to the ground, completely exhausted, and turned to stone. Since she was pregnant, the stone began to grow. After some months, Yu opened her petrified body with his sword and his son Qi ("the Opener") was born.

Da-yu is also known as the "Master of the Way".

The name of Da-yu in traditional Chinese format.
The name of Da-yu in traditional Chinese format.

Article details:

  • Also known as:

Page tools: