Emperor Yu the Great and the Lady of Tushan

During the reign of Emperor Yao, a great flood occurred in China and the emperor assigned Gun to control the flood, but Gun failed and was later executed. Then the Emperor Yao recruited Yu, Gun's son as successor to his father's flood control efforts. Instead of building earthen dikes, Yu dredged new river channels to serve both as outlets for the flood, and as irrigation conduits to distant rivers, then to distant seas. Yu worked so hard that his entire hands were filled with thick callus, and his feet were completely padded, and sometimes he even changed himself into a black bear to do the digging.


Yu laboured with all his might, and his labours involved him perpetual journeying over the mountains and down on the great plains. When travelled around, he met a beautiful maid on the Mount Tu, she is said to have been a mountain nymph, and was the eldest daughter of the Tu family, so she was called the Lady of Tushan.


Yu always travelled around and left very little time over for domesticity. He even didn't enter the door of his home when he was three time passing by. One day when he was working hard near his home, his wife was pregnant, she cooked some delicious food and delivered by herself to Yu. Yu changed into a bear digging into the mountain, he didn't notice his wife approaching. This gave the lady so great a shock that she turned into a stone.


Yu called out anxiously to the petrified mother to give him his son, whereupon the stone burst open, revealing the infant inside. So Yu named his only son Qi, which means "open or reveal".


The great poet Quyuan in his poem "the heavenly questions" wrote:


Yu laboured with all his might.

He came down and looked on the earth below.

How did he get that maid of Tushan and lie with her in Taisang?


The Lady became his mate and her body had issue.

How came they to have appetite for the same dish

when they sated their hunger with the morning food of love?

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