The cradle of Chinese civilization and the Chinese race, the Yellow River is called the Mother River, providing fertility to the land. Legend says a dragon from the river brought to the Chinese the strokes from which the Chinese characters developed, according to Clapp. There is another side to the picture: The Yellow River is known as China's Sorrow (also "The Ungovernable" and "Scourge of the Sons of Han") because it has caused countless deaths through its devastating floods. The powerful floods have often changed the course of the river.
Mountains to the west feed into both the major rivers of China, the Yellow River and the Yangtze [Changjiang/Ch'ang Chiang]. The Yellow River is named for the color of a clay dust, loess, that blows into northern China from the Central Asian Steppe.
The Yellow River is the second largest Chinese River, at 5,464 km (3,398 mi.). The average volume of the flow of the Yellow River, 48 billion cubic meters each year, is "not more than one-twentieth" of the Yangtze's, according to Smil. The Yellow River flows from the Bayankala Mountains, in the Plateau of Tibet to the Bo Hai sea. It drains the central plain into the Yellow Sea, which gets its color from the same source as the river. In its course, it gathers waters from many sources: 35 main tributaries and more than a thousand streams.
Yellow River References:
- China Geography
- China Highlights - Yellow River
- National Geographic - Yellow River
- "The Hwang Ho, Yellow River"
Frederick G. Clapp
Geographical Review, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Jan., 1922), pp. 1-18
- "The Rice Cultures [and Discussion]"
Te - Tzu Chang and A. H. Bunting
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, BiologicalSciences, Vol. 275, No. 936, The Early History of Agriculture (Jul. 27, 1976), pp. 143-157.
- "Controlling the Yellow River"
Geographical Review, Vol. 69, No. 3 (Jul., 1979), pp. 253-272.
- "The Arts of Ancient China"
James C. Y. Watt
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, Vol. 48, No. 1, The Arts of Ancient China (Summer, 1990), pp. 1-2+4-72.
- "Review Article: Silt and the Future Development of China's Yellow River"
Mei Chengrui and Harold E. Dregne
The Geographical Journal, Vol. 167, No. 1 (Mar., 2001), pp. 7-22.
- The Shang Dynasty located its early fortified capital cities along the Yellow River in the second millennium B.C.
- Growing rice and controlling the flooding of the Yellow River have gone together since the 22nd century B.C. [Chang and Bunting].