Daicun Dam
2023-08-30 17:45


Sitting in the junction of the Dawen River and Daqing River in Dongping County, Shandong Province, Daicun Dam is recognized as the first dam in ancient China, equally famous as Dujiangyan Weir (the oldest functioning dam-free water diversion project in the world). It was built in the 9th year of the Yongle reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D.-1644 A.D.) with a history of more than 600 years. The main purpose of Daicun Dam is to divert the water of the Dawen River to the Grand Canal and ensure its smooth navigation. The Dam plays an irreplaceable role in national unity, economic development and cultural integration of the Ming and Qing (1636 A.D.-1912 A.D.) Dynasties and has been acclaimed as the Heart of the Grand Canal. In 2014, Daicun Dam was inscribed on the World Heritage List by the 38th World Heritage General Assembly.


In the 9th year of the Yongle reign of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Di, the Emperor of Ming Dynasty, ordered Song Li, Minister of Public Works, to supervise the reconstruction of the Canal. Song Li recruited more than 165,000 people to build a new 120-mile canal. At the beginning, Song Li and other officials were incapable to tackle the frequent drying-up problem of the Canal. Finally, they adopted the advice of Bai Ying, a folk expert on water governance, and built Daicun Dam to prevent the water of the Dawen River from running into the sea. After completion, the water was diverted southward into the Xiaowen River before flowing north and south. From then on, it properly solved the cutoff problem of the Canal in hilly areas and helped the Canal to fulfill its mission as the main artery of water transportation. In addition, when the water was abundant in summer and autumn, Daicun Dam could make the water of the Dawen River overflow into the Daqing River to alleviate flooding. When the water dried up in spring and winter, it could intercept the south-flowing water to prevent the drying up of the Dawen River.


The Dam has a total length of 1599.5 meters and controls a watershed area of 8537 km2, accounting for 80% of the total river basin of the Dawen River. Daicun Dam consists of Zhushi Dam, Dougong Dike and Huitu Dam, which are utilized and protected by each other. The ladder-shaped Zhushi Dam is composed of Linglong Dam, Luanshi Dam and Gunshui Dam. Zhushi Dam is stone structures made of boulders weighing from 1 to over 6 tons. They are bonded to each other by the belt-and-buckle method, which adopts iron buckles to lock the dam into a single unit.

Through hundreds of years and after numerous floods, Daicun Dam is still locked with iron buckles, which sheds light on the wisdom of Chinese people in water governance represented by Bai Ying. After visiting Daicun Dam in the early 19th century, Fang Wei, a Dutch water expert, spoke highly of the project as a great achievement in the 14th and 15th centuries. In November 1965, Chairman Mao Zedong praised the Dam as a remarkable project and commended Bai Ying, who designed and led the construction of the project, as a farmer water expert. Daicun Dam enjoys a very high value of research in the aspects of functional role, design philosophy, architectural structure and construction techniques. It is a great miracle in the history of water governance in China.