Exemplarious translation of Shuijingzhu 水经注


The following translation gives an overview of the classic (text in red) and the commentary with its many citations of secondary literature.


【注】《禹本纪》与此同.高诱称,河出昆山,伏流地中万三千里,禹导而通之,出积石山.按《山海经》,自昆仑至积石一千七百四十里.自积石出陇西郡至洛, 准地志可五千余里.又按《穆天子传》,天子自昆仑山入于宗周,乃里西土之数.自宗周瀍水以西,北至于河宗之邦,阳纡之山,三千有四百里,自阳纡西至河首, 四千里,合七千四百里.《外国图》又云:「从大晋国正西七万里,得昆仑之墟,诸仙居之.」数说不同.道阻且长,经记绵禠,水陆路殊,径复不同,浅见末闻, 非所详究,不能不聊述闻见,以志差违也.
The (Yellow) River
Classic: The Kunlun Mountain Range is in the northeast,
Commentary: The Kunlun massif consists of three geological terraces. The Kunlunji (“Report of the Kunlun Mountains”) says, “Mount Kunlun is made from three terraces, the lower terrace is called Fantong or Bantong, the middle terrace is called Xuanpu or Langfeng, the upper terrace, where the Highest Deity lives, is called Cengcheng or Tianting (“Heavenly Palace”).”
Classic: 50,000 leagues from Mount Song (modern Henan). This mountain range is just the middle of the earth.
Commentary: The Yu benji (“Imperial Biography of Emperor Yu”) says the same. Gao You says, the Yellow River comes from the Kun(lun) Mountain, it flows creeping into the middle lands, 13,000 leagues long. Yu the Great routed the Yellow River and made it a bed, opening at the Jishi Mountain. According to the Shanhaijing (“Classic of Mountains and Seas”), the distance from the Kunlun to the Jishi Mountain is 1,740 leagues, and from the place where the river comes from Mt. Jishi in Longxi commandery down to River Luo in the plain land, more than 5,000 leagues are measured. Further, the Mu Tianzi zhuan (“Story of King Mu”), reports that the Son of Heaven came from Mt. Kunlun to the capital Zongzhou, after he had taken a geographical survey of the western regions. From River Chan near Zongzhou to the west (that is, river up, not really west, but in northern direction along the river bend), north until the region of Hezong and Mt. Yangyu, he measured 3,400 leagues, and from Mt. Yangyu to the source of the river in the west, there are 4,000 leagues, which makes a total of 7,400 leagues. The Waiguotu (“Maps of Foreign Countries”) says further, from the country of the Great Jin Dynasty 70,000 leagues straight to the west, is Mount Kunlun where all immortals live. We can see that all these reports provide different geographical figures. The way to Mount Kunlun is far and difficult, the reports are confuse and accidently; there are only few waterways and streets, and even these few run in different places; only few people have seen or even heard from these places, and nobody has made further investigations. We cannot but write down what others have seen and heard to report only mistakes and errors.
Classic: It is 11,000 leagues high.
Commentary: The Shanhaijing says, it is 800 leagues long and 10,000 fathoms high. Guo Jingchun thinks that it is more than 2,500 leagues high, from the real top. The Huainanzi says, it is 11,000 leagues 114 steps 2 feet and 6 inches high.


【注】《山海经》曰:「昆仑墟在西北,河水出其东北隅.」《尔雅》曰:「色白,所渠并千七百,一川,色黄.」《物理论》曰:「河色黄者,众川之流,盖浊之 也.百里一小曲,千里一曲一直矣.」汉大司马张仲《议》曰:「河水浊,清澄,一石水,六斗泥.而民竞溉i田,令河不通利.至三月桃花水至,则河决,以其噎 不泄e也.禁民勿复引河.是黄河兼浊河之名矣.」...
Classic: The (Yellow) River
Commentary: Chunqiu shuo tici (“Thematical words as explanation to the Spring and Autumn Annals”) says: The (Yellow) River (He) can be called a water lily (or lotus; he); the essence of the water lily spreads all around, hiding the dark principles by attiring right measurements. The Shiming dictionary says, the River is something flowing down, because it follows the terrain to the lowest place and seeks its way through it. The Kaoyiju (“Lodge of investigating strange matters”) says, the River is the universal breath of the element water, the essence of the four great streams (Yellow River 河, Yangtse 江, Huai 淮, and Ji 济), and through this essence things are able to liquidize. The Yuanmingbao (“Buds of the primary mandate”) says, the River is the beginning of the Five Elements, it is the source of the ten thousand beings, it is muscle and secretion of the primary universal breath. […]
has its source in the northeastern foothills of the Kunlun Range.
Commentary: The Shanhaijng says, the Kunlun Range is in the northwest, and the Yellow River comes from the northeastern corner of it. The Erya dictionary says, it is a colourless river, but the 1,700 tributary rivers make its color becoming yellow. The book Wulilun (“About physical matters”) says, the color of the River is yellow because the many tributary rivers make the water muddy. Every hundred leagues is a small bend, and every thousand leagues is a great bend, whichafter the river agains flows in straight direction. The Discussions of the Great Marshal Zhang Zhong of the Han Dynasty says, the water of the Yellow River is very muddy. If you separate clear and dirty parts by sedimentation, you see that one picul of water contains six pecks of mud. When the peasant people compete with each other to irrigate their fields, they dam up the water. Only in the third month, during the peach blossom and when the snow-break effects a water rush, the dams are opened, that the accumulated water does not dissipate all over. After this, is is forbidden to dam up again the Yellow River. This is why the River is also called Yellow (Muddy) River. […]
Classic: (The Yellow River) starts from this northeastern corner and flows into the Yellow Sea (Bohai Gulf).
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