The Legend of the Four Dragons
A long, long time ago, before the rivers and all lakes on earth were created, there was only the Eastern Sea, which was home to four dragons: the Long Dragon, the Yellow Dragon, the Black Dragon, and the Pearl Dragon.
The dragons played in the sea and soared in the sky every day, looking down on the earth beneath them. One day, as they were twirling amongst the clouds, the dragons saw the people on earth kneeling, crying, and pleading for rain to arrive. They looked closer and realised that the land was cracked dry from drought. Crops were dying, and people were starving. The dragons were alarmed and knew that if rain did not arrive, people would suffer even more.
They planned to visit the Jade Emperor, who was the ruler of the skies and earth, to ask for rain. They flew up to the heavens to make their humble request, and the Jade Emperor, while listening to the fairies sing, half-heartedly agreed to send rain the next day.
“Thank you, your majesty!”
Pleased with the answer, the dragons went back to playing in the seas. But the next day, the rain did not arrive. Even after ten days, there was no sign of rain. The dragons then realised that the Jade Emperor had not kept his promise. Just then, Long Dragon had an idea to bring rain to the people. “It might make the Jade Emperor angry…”, Long Dragon cautioned.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to save the people and stop their suffering!” the other dragons cried.
Carrying out the plan, the four dragons opened their jaws wide and scooped up as much water as possible from the Eastern Sea, and then sprayed it onto the earth from a great height, causing the water to fall like rain.
“It’s raining! We can grow the crops again! We are saved!”
The people of earth danced in the rain and celebrated its arrival. However, news of the rain came to the Jade Emperor, who was furious with the dragons for taking matters into their own hands. Using his powers, he trapped the four dragons under four mountains. The kind dragons never regretted their decision to bring rain for the people, and broke free from the mountains as rivers, crossing the lands from the west to the east, merging into the sea. They became China’s four great rivers – Heilongjiang (Black Dragon), Huanghe (Yellow Dragon), Changjiang (Long Dragon), and Zhujiang (Pearl Dragon).