Li Bing 李冰

A water control expert with superb craftsmanship


Chinese Name: 李冰

English Name: Li Bing

Other Names: Li Luhai 李陆海

Born: Unknown

Died: Unknown


Preside over the construction of Dujiangyan 主持修建都江堰

Li Bing 李冰
Li Bing 李冰

Brief Biography of Li Bing

Li Bing, a famous water conservancy expert in the Warring States Period 战国时代, was a famous historical water conservancy figures.

Li Bing, art name Luhai 陆海. From 256 B.C. to 251 B.C., he was appointed by King Zhao of Qin Dynasty 秦昭王 as the governor of Shu prefecture (now Chengdu 成都). During this period, Li Bing managed the water and created a miracle. He enlisted migrant workers to set up many water conservancy projects in the Min River basin, of which the Dujiangyan Water Conservancy Project, which he and his son co chaired, is the most famous.

Li Bing 李冰
Erwang Temple 二王庙

For thousands of years, the project has laid a solid foundation for Chengdu Plain to become a land of abundance. In order to commemorate Li Bing and his son, later generations built the Erwang Temple 二王庙 in Dujiangyan. Dujiangyan has also become a famous scenic spot.

After finishing Dujiangyan, he built a water conservancy project in Luoshui Town 洛水镇, Shifang 什邡, Sichuan Province 四川省. Later, he died of illness here and was buried on Zhang Mountain 章山 next to Luoshui Town. On both sides of the pass between Gaojing Guan 高景关 and Luoshui, descendants built the Dawang Temple 大王庙 and the Erwang Temple 二王庙 to commemorate Li Bing and his son. Deng Xiaoping 邓小平, Jiang Zemin 江泽民 and other party and state leaders once inscribed for Li Bing’s cemetery.

Personal Life and Major Contributions

Commemoration for future generations

A Wuchi Road 五尺道 connecting the Central Plains, Mingshan District 名山区 Police Station of Ya’an City 雅安市, Sichuan Province and Yunnan Province 云南省 has been built by Li Bing. The people remembered his achievements and built temples to commemorate them. After the Northern Song Dynasty 北宋, it was also said that Li Erlang 李二郎, the son of Li Bing, helped him manage the water.

Li Bing 李冰
Dujiangyan 都江堰

The Erwang Temple, built at the head of Dujiangyan Canal, is a memorial to Li Bing and his son’s great cause of water control. Most of the inscriptions are the technical essentials for the maintenance of water conservancy projects in irrigation areas. In the Tomb Sweeping Festival every year, local residents will hold sacrificial activities and boiling water (release water after annual repair) ceremony in the Erwang Temple. Li Bing has become a deity worshipped by the people in Dujiangyan Irrigation District, while religious activities related to water have strengthened the relationship between the government and water users in the management of irrigation districts.

Life experience

Scholars have always had different opinions about Li Bing’s native place. It was not until 1999 that Li Baosheng 李保生, a descendant of the Li family in Shanxi 山西, read a book called Dujiangyan, which mentioned that Li Bing’s family and birthplace were still unknown. Remembering the record in his family’s genealogy that “Li Bing, the first ancestor, went to Sichuan to control the water”, he was very excited to send a letter to the Dujiangyan CPPCC, which opened the eternal mystery, and all parties confirmed that Li Bing was born in Yuncheng 运城, Shanxi.

Li Bing 李冰
Li Bing’s mausoleum 李冰陵园

However, there are different opinions. Tan Jihe 谭继和, the president of the Sichuan Provincial Historical Society, believes that Li Bing’s identity and ancestral home are a mystery in the history circle. There are two modern mainstream opinions: one is Shanxi 山西, the other is Shaanxi 陕西. Due to insufficient evidence, they could not be verified.

Preside over the construction of Dujiangyan

Li Bing was an outstanding hydraulic engineer during the Warring States Period, the designer and organizer of Dujiangyan. The famous Dujiangyan is located in the middle reaches of Min River 岷江 in central Sichuan Province. The whole project is composed of three major projects, namely, diversion weir 分水堰, Feisha weir 飞沙堰 and Baopingkou 宝瓶口.

It is also a rare miracle in the history of water conservancy projects in the world because of its large scale, suitable location, reasonable layout and three functions of flood control, irrigation and navigation. For more than 2000 years, it has played a huge role in irrigation and drainage, ensuring local agricultural production.

Li Bing 李冰
The statue of Li Bing 李冰塑像

When Li Bing arrived in Shujun, he saw the serious disaster in the local area: Min River, which originated from Min Mountain in the north of Chengdu Plain, has high mountains and deep valleys on both sides of the river, with rapid water flow; In the vicinity of Guan County, there is a flat river. The flood is so great that it often breaks the bank and becomes a disaster; A large amount of sediment carried from the upstream is also easy to deposit here, raising the riverbed and aggravating the flood; In particular, in the southwest of Guan County, there is a Yulei Mountain 玉垒山, which blocks the river from flowing eastward.

Every summer and autumn flood season often causes drought in the east and waterlogging in the west. Soon after he took office, he began to carry out large-scale water control work.

The construction of Dujiangyan not only solved the problem of Min River flooding, but also irrigated more than ten counties with water from the Nei river, covering an area of more than 3 million Mu. Since then, Chengdu Plain has become a rich place with “vast fertile fields” and won the reputation of “Land of Abundance”.

Video: The Legendary Li Bing

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