History and Significance

of the Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal


Stamp 2


Shows the Lingqu 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal winding to the west past the first balancing wier, with excess water moving over the wier to the left and back into the Xiang River.  The "balanced" Lingqu flows on through the town of Xing'an, and the present-day Water Street commercial area. Passing by the wier was a memorably frightening experience for many passengers.   SEE photographs 12-18 on page 2.

Stamp 3


Shows an early Lingqu 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal lock, a type of flash lock with a temporary blockade of the canal using timber braces

[ placed in masonry slots ] with reed or bamboo mats. When the diagonal timber was released, the blockade collapsed, and the surge of water carried the barge through and on downstream.   SEE photograph 35 on page 3.

        Língqú Scenic Spot

and Water Street in Xing'an

On the west side of the town of Xing’an, along the main highway between Xing’an and Guilin, near the location where what remains of the Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal flows under the highway, is a memorial to the builders of the

Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal.


In the memorial, a series of sculpted super-sized human laborers and supervisors, one figure stands supreme: the Emperor, China’s First Emperor, Shi Hwangdi, the Emperor for whose tribe, the Chin, all of "China" is named.


Un-appreciated is the fact that this canal, the Lingqu 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal, was crucial to the creation of the unified China—Shi Hwangdi built the canal to transport and supply troops sent to conquer tribes to the south, thus accomplishing the unification.

Stamp 1


View of the spade snout from the north, dividing the waters of the Xiang River flowing from the south, above, with excess waters flowing north over the low dams and down into the riverbed. Canal boats head in both directions, to the left [ to and from the Bei qu canal ] and to the right [ to and from the Lingqu 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal ]. The town of Xing'an is on the right and downstream. SEE photographs 3-6 on page 2.

PLEASE NOTE:  The Chinese-language version of this site is at  灵渠道.COM   ---->

World's First Contour Transportation Canal, 214 BC



Historically, the Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal was first described in detail in English by Joseph Needham in his work Science and Civilisation in China, (Volume IV:3, Civil Engineering, 1970, Pages 299-306). Needham used the name “Magic Transport Canal”, so we have combined names in an effort to eliminate confusion.


The Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal was in operation throughout its length until some 70 or 80 years ago. The canal ceased its transportation function after the completion of the railway in 1939. Waters still flow slowly and shallowly along the canal’s route, used currently for irrigation, except for the first few kilometers, still used by tourist barges. For more than 20 centuries, when the canal was operational, canal boats could navigate in both directions, from the Pearl River system up the Li River, into the gently-flowing Lingqu east to Xing-an, around the ploughshare, into the by-pass Bei qu canal, and thence into the Xiang River and on north to the Yangtze. Canal boats could also move south from the Yangtze up the Xiang, into the bypass Bei qu canal, around the ploughshare, into the Lingqu, gently and quietly floating west to the Li River, then down the Li River to the Pearl River system.

Commemorative Stamps:  In 1998, the People's Republic of China issued three postage stamps honoring the Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal:

The Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal has a history that goes back more than 2,200 years. It was ordered constructed by the Chin leader who came to call himself Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor, the unifying dynasty that gave China its name. The canal was built to supply troops sent from the Yangtze River basin into the huge Pearl River drainage to the south, critical to the Emperor’s plan to bring the various peoples of the region under a single government, his government. He went on to establish uniform systems of weights, measures, language, and tax payments, but the essential point is that the construction of the Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal was critical to the creation of China more than 2,200 years ago.




      Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal MEMORIAL 

This website created and maintained by Jim Stembridge of Salem, Oregon, USA and Peiru Xu of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. 

We welcome comments and questions.       E-mail stembrij@gmail.com .   





Our Plea.

 Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal

Neglected Condition of the Língqú West of Xing'an