By Randall A. Dodgen
The Yellow River has lengthy been seen as a logo of China's cultural and political improvement, its administration characteristically held as a gauge of dynastic energy. for hundreds of years, the country's early rulers hired a protective method of the river via construction dikes and diversion channels to guard fields and inhabitants facilities from flooding. this example replaced dramatically after the Yuan (1260-1368) emperors built the Grand Canal, which associated the North China undeniable and the capital at Beijing with the Yangtze Valley. some of the most formidable imperial undertakings of any age, by means of the flip of the 19th century the water procedure had turn into a fancy community of locks, spillways, and dikes stretching 8 hundred kilometers from the mountains in western Henan to the Yellow Sea.
Controlling the Dragon examines Yellow River engineering from views. the 1st appears at long term efforts to regulate the river beginning within the early Ming dynasty, on the nature of the forms created to do the activity, and at last makes a speciality of of the Confucian engineers who served effectively within the decade earlier than the approach used to be deserted. within the moment part, the writer chronicles a sequence of dramatic floods within the 1840s and explores the best way politics, setting, and know-how interacted to undermine the state's dedication to the Yellow River keep an eye on system.
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Additional resources for Controlling the Dragon: Confucian Engineers and the Yellow River in the Late Imperial China
The hydraulic system that emerged from those efforts incorporated far more than the Yellow River and the Grand Canal; the Huai River, Lake Hongze, and dozens of other lakes and streams were part of the structure. With those components linked to the operation of the system, dividing the flow of the Yellow River during flood season no longer was a viable solution; diverting the overflow into other channels only led them by circuitous routes back to the confluence at Qingkou or into the canal. If the Yellow River was to be managed in such a way that its seasonal floods did not disrupt the schedule of tribute grain shipment, some method had to be found to keep it within its channel.
The northern dike in Yuanwu and Yangwu commanderies (xun) in western Henan was being threatened by erosion gullies (goucao) created by errant streams similar to the one Li had dealt with while serving as provincial treasurer. 5 Confucian Engineers 45 Not only were branching streams carving their way toward the dike; there was also a desperate shortage of construction material with which to mount a defense. Since there were no defensive revetments along that section of the river, no stores of stalks or stone were available to build deflection dikes or block off the marauding streams.
A second figure, a major named Liu Bu, who headed the Huai-Yang battalion, confessed to having peculated 1,700 to 1,800 taels from the purchase of matériel and another 3,000 taels from bribes, gifts, and unreported surpluses on construction jobs. Also involved was a subprefect named Mou Yun, who used money earmarked for a dredging job to set up a leather goods shop and other enterprises. Unfamiliar with dredging techniques, he handed over control of the actual work to others—simultaneously managing to justify 6,000 taels in surcharges for the job.