Yu Gong

The Yu Gong (simplified Chinese: 禹贡; traditional Chinese: 禹貢) or Tribute of Yu is a chapter of the Book of Xia (夏書/夏书) section of the Book of Documents, one of the Five Classics of ancient Chinese literature. The chapter describes the legendary Yu the Great and the provinces of his time. Most modern scholars believe it was written in the fifth century BCE or later.

Contents and significanceEdit

Conjectural map of the Nine Provinces

The chapter can be divided into two parts. The first describes the nine provinces of Ji (冀), Yan (兗), Qing (青), Xu (徐), Yang (揚), Jing (荊), Yu (豫), Liang (梁), and Yong (雍), with the improvement works conducted by Yu in each province. The second enumerates Yu's surveys of the rivers of the empire, followed by an idealized description of five concentric domains of five hundred li each, from the royal domain (甸服 Diānfú) around the capital to the remote wild domain (荒服 Huāngfú).[1] Later, this would become important in the justification for the concept of Tianxia or "All Under Heaven" as a means to back up the territorial and other claims of successive Chinese dynasties.[citation needed]

Origin and versionsEdit

Although the Yu Gong is traditionally dated to the Xia Dynasty (c. 2070 – c. 1600 BCE), most modern scholars agree that the work is considerably more recent.[1][2] Tradition dictates that Confucius (551–479 BCE) compiled the Book of Documents and included the Yu Gong, although it is more likely that this was done later. Wang Guowei suggested in his New Confirmation of Ancient History (古史新证) that the Yu Gong was written at the start of the Zhou Dynasty, but most scholars now agree with the view of Gu Jiegang that it is a product of the Warring States, Qin or Early Han periods.[1][3][4][5]

References to maritime history in the Analects of Confucius and the Yu Gong suggest their origin in a single culture while the appearance of the West River (西河) and South River (南河) in the latter indicate that the author came from the State of Wei.[6] In the preface to his Commentary on the Yu Gong Map (禹贡图注), Ming Dynasty Scholar Ài Nányīng (艾南英) (1583-1646) considered the Yu Gong the "progenitor of all geographic texts both ancient and modern."[7]


Over the centuries numerous scholars have written interpretations of and commentaries on the Yu Gong. In 2006 the Xi'an Map Publishing Agency (西安地圖出版社) published a compilation of 55 titles dating from the Song to the Qing Dynasties.[8] Notable amongst the volumes included in the collection are:

  • Mao Huang (毛晃) Yugong Zhinan (禹貢指南).[9]
  • Cheng Dachang (程大昌) Yugong Lun (禹貢論) and Yugong Shanchuan Dili Tu (禹貢山川地理圖) .
  • Hu Wei (胡渭) Yugong Zhuizhi (禹貢錐指).[10]

Notes and referencesEdit

This article is partly based on a translation of 禹貢 in the Chinese Wikipedia
  1. ^ a b c Shih, Hsiang-lin (2013). "Shang shu 尚書 (Hallowed writings of antiquity)". In Knechtges, David R.; Chang, Taiping (eds.). Ancient and Early Medieval Chinese Literature (vol. 2): A Reference Guide, Part Two Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 4 China. BRILL. pp. 814–830. ISBN 978-90-04-20164-4.
  2. ^ Hou Renzhi (侯仁之), ed. (1959). 中国古代地理名著选读•禹贡 [Selected Masterpieces of Ancient Chinese Geography: Yu Gong] (in Chinese). Beijing: Scientific Publishing (科学出版社). ISBN 9787507725797.
  3. ^ Torajirō, Naitō (1931). Study of Works of the Yu Gong Era (禹贡制作年代考) [Study of pre-Qin Classics (先秦经籍考)] (in Chinese). Translated by Jiang Xia'an (江侠庵). Shanghai: Commercial Press (上海: 商务印书馆).
  4. ^ Shaughnessy, Edward L. (1993). "Shang shu". In Loewe, Michael (ed.). Early Chinese texts: a bibliographical guide. Society for the Study of Early China. pp. 376–389. ISBN 978-1-55729-043-4.
  5. ^ Nylan, Michael (2001). The five "Confucian" classics. Yale University Press. pp. 134, 158. ISBN 978-0-300-08185-5.
  6. ^ Compendium of Rivers & Mountains Vol. 2 (河山集•二集) (in Chinese). Sanlian Bookstore (三联书店). 1981.
  7. ^ 《禹贡》一书,古今地理志之祖者。
  8. ^ Collection of Yu Gong Documents by Dynasty (歷代禹貢文獻集成). Xi'an Map Publishing Agency (西安地圖出版社). 2006. ISBN 7806709045.
  9. ^ Mao Huang (毛晃). Guide to the Yugong (禹貢指南).
  10. ^ 'Yu Gong's Survey (of the Empire) (禹貢錐指)  – via Wikisource.

External linksEdit