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Commentary on the Waterways Classic

Shui Jing Zhu (Commentary on the Waterways Classic) is the famous work on geography in ancient China, written by Li Daoyuan in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). The book of Shui Jing (Waterways Classic) was written by Sang Qin in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), and annotated by Li Daoyuan, forming the book of Shui Jing Zhu. The original version consisted of 40 books. Li Daoyuan (469?-527) was born in Zhuo County, Fanyang (in today's Hebei Province).

With his footprints covering south of the Great Wall, north of the Qinling Mountains and the Huaihe River, Li Daoyuan obtained encyclopedical knowledge. Many of the data in the book came from his field investigations. There were only 137 watercourses in Shui Jing, but in his commentary, the watercourses involved were 1,252, with 300,000 words, 20 times more than the previous level.

With the watercourses as the outline, this book described hills, lakes, counties, cities, frontier passes, together with showplaces, soil, vegetation, climate, hydrology and social economy, custom and tradition, historical stories, etc., which the watercourses went through. Shui Jing Zhu contributed much to the development of Chinese geography, with a prominent role in the geographical history in China and in the world. The description of the mountains, rivers and sceneries in this book is also taken as literature works and much appreciated by later generations.