Nanshan gorge locates in the upper stream of Shiqiao waterway and belongs to Shawan Inspection Department, southwest of Panyu county, Guangzhou. It connects the estuary of the Pearl River with the hinterland, up to the mid-and upper stream of the West River. This article aims to show the forming process of the society of water transport and its cultural network from the Song dynasty. The authority of the Ming and Qing dynasties had set up the Inspection Department, barracks, and sub-customs to govern this area. Depending on the convenient water transport, the industry of brick and tile also flourished in this region and made this region one of the producing centers of the traditional architectural materials in the Pearl River Delta. The worship of the god of fire, a god for this industry, appeared accordingly. This region was dangerous but of great strategic importance; many boats wrecked in this region, and brigands were endemic. The worship of the river god at the ancient Nanshan Temple took shape due to the above reasons.
From the mid-Qing dynasty, the two sides of the river became different groups due to the competition among different clans, the local turmoil, the regrouping of villages, and the brigand group Datian'er.
Villages producing the bricks and tiles formed two associations and dragon boat leagues. They went to the Nanshan Temple to hold the ceremony of Caiqing (to obtain good luck) and Qinglong (to invite the dragon boat) on the Eve of the Dragon Boat Festival. They held these ceremonies to maintain the network of the water ties among different villages. Thus, different social networks that belong to different systems Coexisted, whose interaction created a complicated local cultural network.
After 1949, the industry of brick and tile disappeared and transformed to other industries. Since the late 1970s, the traditions of dragon boat on both sides of the river have revived and been reformed. The dragon boat league has recruited new members in a more open context. The original local tradition was reconstructed and passed down to present. As Intangible Cultural Heritage, the tradition of the dragon boat at the Nanshan Temple became the historical foundation of the dragon boat race, which was held at the Shiqiao waterway by the local government. The area of Nanshan gorge is a typical case showing that the cultural network among societies of water transport in South China had experienced multiple reconstructive stages which made it reappear in the form of the dragon boat tradition.