Why ancient China saw Kunlun Mountains as origin of Yellow River

Updated: 2016-08-31 14:51


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Why ancient China saw Kunlun Mountains as origin of Yellow River

As the source of many Chinese tales, the Kunlun Mountains have long been seen as the origin of the Chinese civilization.[Photo/Xinhua]

"In prehistoric time that we call the 'jade age', people in China worshipped this translucent stone as a symbol of heaven, god, and eternal life. Wherever people found jade would be seen as sacred. This is why Emperor Wu named this mountain Kunlun, after his envoy Zhang Qian brought him jade from there."

According to historical records, after Zhang Qian opened the ancient Silk Road across the Kunlun Mountains, Emperor Wu also chartered Kunlun as the origin of the Yellow River, which is more widely seen as the symbol of the Chinese civilization.

Yang Lin says ancient Chinese people saw the Yellow River as a convergence of multiple rivers from the Kunlun Mountains.

"This view had been carried over until the Qing Dynasty, namely the Kunlun Mountains as the origin of the Yellow River or even the source of Chinese civilization. This is also the reflection of the emperor's power and ancient people's pursuit of unification."

Ye Shuxian says he thinks the legend of the origin of Kunlun and the Yellow River in ancient people's minds reflects the Chinese people's faith.

"The Yellow River to Chinese is like Christ to Christians. Ancient Chinese believe the river to be the longest on the earth. For them, this largest river must be converged from small rivers flowing from the highest land in the west region."

According to the experts, the Yellow River's origin in ancient people's minds is a cultural concept, which doesn't contradict with geographical location.

During the coming field research in the Kunlun Mountains, the experts will further unveil how this worship of Kunlun came into being.


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