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The Khitan People: Nomadic Tribe, Chinese Dynasty, Lost to the Mongols

The Khitan People: Nomadic Tribe, Chinese Dynasty, Lost to the Mongols



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The Khitan people were a nomadic tribe that lived in Manchuria, in the northeastern part of China. Towards the end of the 9th century AD, the Khitan people emerged as a powerful force in the northern part of China and even managed to establish their own dynasty, the Liao Dynasty. Khitan domination of northern China lasted for about two centuries.

During the 12th century AD, the Liao Dynasty was toppled by the Jurchens. The defeated Khitans fled to the west, where they established the Kara Khitai, or Western Liao Dynasty. This state, however, was short-lived, falling to the Mongols during the 13th century. The Khitans assimilated with the local Turkic and Iranian peoples and eventually their culture was lost.

Liao Dynasty (907-1125) tomb mural by unknown painter in Inner Mongolia. Scene of everyday life for Khitan people. Men and boys have the distinctive Khitan hairstyle. ( Public Domain )

History of Khitan People – Their Uncertain Origins

It is unclear as to the origins of the Khitan people. References to this tribe can be found in traditional Chinese sources dating back to the 4th century AD. The Chinese scholars who wrote about the Khitans, however, did not care too much about this tribe and merely reported that they were the offspring of the Xianbei, a major nomadic tribe in the north of China.

Between the 4th and 6th centuries AD, China was undergoing a period of fragmentation, and various smaller states emerged. Initially, the Khitans paid tribute to the Northern Yan, a state during the Sixteen Kingdoms period. When this state fell to the Northern Wei, the Khitan people presented tribute to the new ruler. Eventually, China was re-unified under the Sui Dynasty , and the Khitans submitted to the emperors of that dynasty.

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Khitan people using eagles to hunt. ( Public Domain )

Life for the Khitan Under the Sui and Tang Dynasties

The Sui Dynasty, however, did not last long, and was soon replaced by the Tang Dynasty . The Khitans entered into the service of the Tang emperors during the early years of the dynasty. During the first half of the 7th century, the Khitans were unified under the Dahe family and were given some administrative roles. For example, the prefecture of Liaozhou was established in 619 AD and indirectly ruled by the Tang court through Khitan chiefs.

Relations between the Khitan people and their Tang overlords, however, soon turned sour. The first rebellion by the Khitans took place between 656 AD and 661 AD. Another rebellion, led by Li Jinzhong and Sun Wanrong, broke out in 696 AD. The Tang forces were defeated by the Khitans at Yingzhou, and the former adopted the title ‘Supreme Qagan’ after this victory. Li Jinzhong, however, died suddenly, and the rebellion was put down by the Tang Dynasty.

Khitan horsemen. (Yprpyqp/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

The Khitans continued their service under the Tang Dynasty more or less until the end of the 8th century AD. During this time, the Uighurs rose to power, and came to dominate the western part of the steppes. As a result, the Khitans fell under their power. The Uighurs, however, were defeated around the middle of the 9th century AD and fled westwards. The Tang Dynasty was in decline as well and would itself come to an end during the early years of the 10th century AD. It was around this time that the Khitans rose to power and founded their own imperial dynasty.

The Khitan Empire and Their Relations with the Song Dynasty

In 907 AD, a Khitan ruler by the name of Abaoji became the new qagan of the Khitans. The founding of the Liao Dynasty has been traditionally been dated to this year. About a decade later, Abaoji united the Khitan tribes and proclaimed himself emperor. Abaoji adopted certain Chinese practices that he felt were beneficial for the Khitans. For instance, a script, based on the Chinese Han script , was developed for the Khitan language, whilst the Chinese administrative structure was maintained.

Khitan inscription dated 1058 ( 清寧四年) found in Dornogovi. Written in Khitan in the large script of the Khitan language. (Yastanovog/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

Whilst the Khitans dominated the north, a native Han dynasty, the Song, was established in 960 AD. Relations between the Liao and the Song were initially cordial but soon deteriorated and war between the two broke out.

A turning point occurred in 1004, when an imperial expedition to the south was launched by the Liao emperor, which resulted in the signing of the Chanyuan Treaty in January of the following year. This treaty was a humiliation for the Song, as they were required to pay an annual tribute to the Khitans. Nevertheless, it was due to the Chanyuan Treaty that peace was maintained between the two powers for 120 years.

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A Khitan man. (Yprpyqp/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

Khitan Power and Culture Get Crushed

In 1125 AD, the Song stopped paying tribute to the Khitans. Instead, they combined forces with the Jurchens, another nomadic tribe, to attack them. The Liao Dynasty was crushed and replaced by the Jurchen Jin Dynasty. One of the Khitan chiefs, Yelu Dashi, succeeded in fleeing westwards with several thousand Khitans, where he founded the Kara Khitai, or Western Liao Dynasty. This dynasty, however, did not last for long and fell to the Mongols in the following century.

The Khitans eventually disappeared from history, as those who fled westwards with Yelu Dashi were absorbed by the local Turkic and Iranian populations. Nevertheless, the name of this tribe has been preserved linguistically. In the English language, for instance, China was known for a long time as ‘Cathay’, whilst the Russians still refer to the Middle Kingdom as ‘Kitai’.

Death masks, Khitan people, northern China and Inner Mongolia, Liao dynasty, c. 1000 AD, left copper, right silver - Östasiatiska museet, Stockholm. ( CC0)


The Khitan People: Nomadic Tribe, Chinese Dynasty, Lost to the Mongols - History

Imperial China

Modern China

After the fall of Tang Dynasty, the Yelu clan of the Khitan people founded the Liao Dynasty. It was also referred to as the Khitan Empire, and also as another non-Chinese empire, specifically Mongolian tribe, located in the northern soil of China. The empire’s first ruler, Yelu Abaoji, was said to be one of the descendants of many non-Chinese rulers.

Khitan Relations with the Chinese

The Khitan people were said to be in close with the Tang emperor. They even ruled for more than a century but were not famous since they were located in steppe area. Khitan was divided into eight tribes, and among these, the most powerful tribe was where Abaoji born. Despite a close relationship, Khitan joined with alliances against Tang dynasty.

To increase the empire’s property, the Khitan people kept on attacking Chinese with armored cavalry until the Chinese government decided to propose a peace treaty. Huge tributes and presents were offered to ensure a standing relationship and avoid another war with Khitan people. Up until then, the Khitan people started to assume Chinese identity. Over time, the idea of war between the two groups subsided.

The Khitan Government

With this, the administration of the government of the Khitan Empire was a mixture of traditional Khitan traditions and adopted Chinese government institutions. Slaves were freed and became ordinary people who were allowed to work as farmers, pastures, and even soldiers.

The Northern and Southern Chancellery

During Abaoji administration, the empire was divided into two namely: Northern and Southern Chancellery. Northern Chancellery consisted of nomadic people, including Khitan, who live in the steppe. These people were highly trained for military forces, and were on call during wars. On the other hand, Southern Chancellery was composed of some Khitan and Chinese people. They were administered on civil model, and governed by ethnic and territorial laws. At first, justice systems were not equal, but after the transition period, improvement in the justice system occurred. Khitan who committed crime were punished. Civil examinations which were similar in Tang dynasty was practiced to choose the holder of different government posts.

While some considered Liao dynasty as brilliant in government administration, there were many who opposed Abaoji, including his own family. The relentless opposition lasted for almost a decade.

It was at this era that a bureau of Chinese military affairs was established. This bureau, which can be occupied by Chinese or Khitans, was considered as the most important bureau of the government because it handles all political matters, including military issues. Under the Khitan government, the commissioner of this post was referred to as Great Prince.

Developments During the Liao Dynasty

During Liao Dynasty, many developments in China were undertaken. Walled cities were built and four capital city of each region were established. Shangjing became the commercial district of China.

During Liao Dynasty, only two emperors ruled, aside from the chosen chieftain, Abaoji. These were Emperor Taizu, who first ruled when Liao Dynasty was established in 916, and Emperor Tianzuo, who ruled from 1101 until 1125.

The Khitan and the Assimilation of Chinese Customs

Khitan people had difficulty accepting Chinese acculturation. Primogeniture, which refers to the first-born son as successor of the entire state, was one indicator of these resistances. Even so, Khitan never accepted the use of surnames, but the Chinese did, because they believed it made them so soft. Yet, Khitan strongly believed on living with their nomadic and strong character. Hence, the empire used a different government system with two chancelleries.

Initially, the Khitan people were more focused in training for wars and became rather illiterate. This gave rise to Khitan Script in large format. It used characters resembling Chinese but was very much different to Chinese writings, and up to now, the similarities and rationality behind the script are not yet deciphered. After some time, a small script called Uyghur was made and accepted by the Khitan because it was easier to use. Chinese writings were used for people in southern chancellery alone, but the Khitan elite in this area did not use these.

Up to now, there were very few literatures written in Khitan script were preserved. It was associated with the preferences on Khitan people, as they were deemed to prefer to deal with military matters rather than write poetry. With fewer people who can mastered script, problems arose regarding the reading and understanding some literatures written in Khitan.

However, Khitan rulers like princes, princesses, and empresses were required to study and write using Chinese characters. They studied the Chinese customs, philosophy, and traditions. They even had relics of poetry, proving their ability to write in Chinese characters.

Khitan Economy

Typically, the Khitan people’s primary source of income was through fishing and hunting. However, Chinese influenced the Khitan in farming, and crop growing. Slaves of the Liao became the major suppliers of different tools in hunting, fishing, and farming, as these people worked to produce cast iron. Also, silver and gold, papermaking, woodworks, and silk weaving were assigned to craftsmen to produce products in high standards.

With these, the economic status of the empire grew tremendously. They exported goods such as sheep, horses, pearls, and iron knifes. They also imported goods such as medicine, tea, books, and porcelain. These circumstances gave rise to coins and taxes imposed on merchants.

Women During the Liao Dynasty

During Liao Dynasty, women in Northern Chancellery were given utmost role and responsibilities in the community. Empresses were highly regarded as co-ruler of emperors. Khitan women were given more freedom considering marriage. They were allowed to remarry after the death of their first husband. Unlike Chinese women, Khitan women were not forced to marry the husband of their deceased sisters. Khitan women are very competitive in terms of labor and were included in religion and the ritual life of society.

By contrast, Chinese women were given much restriction. Their roles were not highly regarded as they were expected to remain home at all times, and were expected to be submissive to their husbands.

The End of the Liao Dynasty

When Buddhism entered the Northern Chancellery, Khitan people lost their attitude towards nomadic way of life. Other problems concerning succession and natural disaster resulted in lower morale in military forces of the once powerful Liao Dynasty. Their defenses were shattered when the Song engaged them, and the Khitan Empire collapsed.


Contents

References to the Khitan people in Chinese sources date back to the 4th century. Ancestors of the Khitan were the Yuwen clan of the Xianbei an ethnic group situated in the area covered by the modern Liaoning province. [ citation needed ] After their regime was conquered by the Murong clan the remnants scattered in the modern-day Inner Mongolia and mixed there with the original Mongolic population.

They had been identified as a distinct ethnic group since paying tribute to the Northern Wei dynasty in the mid-6th century. [ citation needed ]

During the time of the Chinese Tang dynasty the Khitan people were vassals to the suzerain Tang or Turks, depending on the balance of power between the two, or the suzerain Uyghurs when they replaced the Turks as the main steppe power. Once the Uyghurs left their home in the Mongolian Plateau in 842 enough of a power vacuum was left to give the Khitan the opportunity to cast off the bonds of subordinacy. The Khitan occupied the areas vacated by the Uyghurs bringing them under their control.

Khitan's military activities from 388 to 618 Edit

In the 5th century, the Khitan were under the Toba Wei influence. [3]

In the 6th century, the Khitan tribes were still a weak confederation after being heavily defeated in 553 by the Northern Qi who enslaved many Khitans and seized a large part of their livestock, [4] leading to harsh times for the Khitans. By that time the Khitan are still described as the lower level of nomadic civilization, their 'confederation' still being an anarchist system of isolated tribes, each tending his own sheep and horses and hunting on his private territory. [4] Some federal leaders were created after elections during a time of war after which it became a local power. [5]

When the Sui dynasty was established in 581 when the Khitan were living in a period of internal military turmoil. Their tribes were fighting each other [4] perhaps as a result of Sui Wendi strategy to increase tensions between nomads in order to create internal divisions. In 586 some Khitans tribes submitted to the Eastern Tujue (Turks) while others submitted to the Sui. [5]

Notable Khitan raids on the Chinese Empire were record as early as the 7th century. In 605 they staged a large scale raid southward invading Sui territories (Northern modern Shanxi, Hebei). [5] They were eventually crushed by a Sui general leading 20,000 Turkish cavalry. [6]

Military activities during the first half of the Tang dynasty (618–735) Edit

The Li-Sun Rebellion (696–697) Edit

Under Emperor Taizong of Tang (r. 626–649) the Khitans became vassals of Tang dynasty. Despite some occasional clashes, the Khitans remained Chinese vassals until the 690s when Empress Wu took the throne of China. [2] According to the "Loose rein policy", the Khitan area was under Tang's control by Zhao Wenhui, the Governor-general of Yingzhou. Zhao was assisted by two local Khitan chieftains: Li Jinzhong ,the governor (Dudu) of Songmo protectorate, and Duke of Yongle County, Sun Wanrong, who was the brother-in-law of Li Jinzhong.

Opposition rose because of the behaviour of Zhao Wenhui, who treated Khitan chieftains as his servants and refused to provide help during a famine that struck the Khitan area in 696. According to the "loose rein policy" the Tang Governor-general was supposed to provide famine relief. When Zhao Wenhui failed to do so, Li and Sun launched a Khitan rebellion in the fifth month of 696. [2]

Li Jinzhong declared himself "Wushang Kehan" (無上可汗: "paramount khaghan") and killed Zhao Wenhui after capturing Yingzhou. Sun Wanrong assisted him as general who successfully led tens of thousands of troops marching southward and conquered several other towns of Tang dynasty.

The first significant Chinese response was to send an army led by twenty-eight generals, but they were defeated by Khitans in the Battle of Xiashi Gorge (near modern Lulong County of Hebei Province) in the eighth month of 696. Empress Wu was astonished by the announcement of the defeat and she quickly issued decrees to launch a new attack to the rebels. Khitans kept winning on the battlefields until Li Jinzhong died of disease. The rising power of the Khitans also threatened the newly established Later Turk Khanate (a.k.a. Second Tujue Empire, 682–745) and the Khagan Ashina Mochuo, who had supported the Khitan rebellion, switched to Empress Wu's side after the Chinese gave him several promises including an imperial marriage for his daughter, adoption as the son of Empress Wu, the relocating of his people to (Hexi Corridor) and the restoration of Turkish overlordship of the Khitans. [2]

The second major counter-attack from Empress Wu to the Khitans came in October 696, taking advantage of the recent death of Li Jingzhong. This time, Tang forces planned to attack Khitan from the south and the Turks would also invade Khitan from north. The Khitans suffered heavy losses in this campaign, but Sun Wanrong managed to stand still and motivated the Khitan troops. The rebellion of Khitans continued and Sun Wanrong's men stormed into Jizhou and Yingzhou, shaking the whole region of Hebei. Empress Wu sent one of his best generals, Wang Xiaojie, assisted by Su Honghui and some other top warriors, with a third army of 170,000 men, to put down the rebellion. Due to the unfamiliarity to the local geography and terrains, Wang Xiaojie's force was ambushed by Sun Wanrong at the Dongxia Rocky Valley (东峡石谷). Wang Xiaojie was killed while Su Honghui fled away. After that, Khitans captured Youzhou (near today's Beijing), which was an important gateway to the northern plain of China. [2]

In a fourth campaign during May 697, Empress Wu sent Lou Shide and Shatuo Zhongyi with 200,000 troops to stop Sun Wanrong's from going further south. Khitans tried to ask for reinforcement from Turks. However, Turks refused the proposed Khitan-Turk alliance. Instead, they somehow allied with Empress Wu and launched a massive attack on Khitans. Meanwhile, Kumo Xi, another minority group who initially allied with Khitan in this rebellion, switched to Tang. Khitans had to face devastating Turkish raids from the north while a 200,000-men Chinese and Xi allied force attacking from the south. In this critical situation, Sun Wanrong was assassinated by one of his own subordinates, and the Khitan force collapsed. After this rebellion, Khitans began a new allegiance with the Turks as Mochou Khaghan and the Empress Wu had planned early in 696. Empress Wu also appointed a new Khitan chieftain, whose name was Li Shihuo (697–717, [李]失活). [2]

Consequently, Turks broke away with Empress Wu (who handed the crown back to the royal clan of Tang in 705). Tang launched several campaigns against them from 700 to 714 and eventually the khanate of Turks was overthrown by Uighurs who was supported by Tang dynasty. [2]

The Li-Sun rebellion and the Turks Edit

The Turks played a major role in crushing a rebellion in military actions and in a strategic role as well. The Turks were to submit to China in 630 after their first Turkish Empire was crushed. In 679 during a period of Chinese internal political turmoil they revolted. They were defeated by Tang troops in 681 in a Pyrrhic victory, also, the remaining Eastern Turks reunited under Ilterish Qaghan (died 691) who was able to proclaim the rebirth of the Turkish empire without Tang's reaction. [7]

When Li-Sun died, his brother-in-law Sun Wanrong replaced him and engaged the Turks in an aggressive policy of "plunder to strengthen" as the best way to revitalize his Empire. The Turks plundered all their neighbour, the Khitan and Chinese included, but encouraged the Khitans to rebel against Tang rule. Almost as soon as the Khitan rebelled and were successful the Turks proposed an alliance with China. The Turks, engaged in a war against China, were just asking the Khitans for a diversion in the east allowing them to be more free on their front. When the Khitans unexpectedly appeared to be successful they both were surprised and afraid at seeing a new power born on their East. Seeing the Khitans fighting hard against the Chinese seemed the perfect occasion to take advantage of both the busy Khitan and the downtrodden Tang. By attacking Khitan on their rear the Turks provided an inestimable help to Tang which also worked for themselves by crushing that eastern rising power. [7]

While the fourth Chinese campaign was still not launched, and despite previous propositions of alliance, the Turks attacked the Chinese territories to show clearly they were strong in the third month of 697. Along with the final victory they freed some Turkish prisoners held in six Chinese northern border prefectures since 670–674, gained the submission of both the Khitan and the Xi, plundered a large amount of seed-grain, silk, farming implements and iron as well as winning noble titles for the Mochou khaghan (such as General, Khaghan and other noble ranks) and the asked for imperial marriage. [7]

The Ketuyu rebellion (720–734) Edit

In the 710s the Khitan military chief Ketuyu (可突于) was so valiant and beloved by Khitan's commoners that the Khitan King Suogu (李娑固 Li Suogu, r. 718–720) became both jealous of him and in fear of a take-over. Accordingly, he plotted to assassinate Ketuyu. As is often the case the plot was disclosed and Ketuyu's troops attacked the King who fled to Yingzhou to get Chinese support. [8]

Xu Qinzhan (許欽? [9] ), the Chinese Governor-General of Yingzhou, immediately called for a punitive military campaign ordering General Xue Tai assisted by 500 valiant soldier, [10] Xi troops, and Suogu troops to go northwards. The Chinese-loyalist army was crushed and both Suogu (Khitan King) and Li Dapu (Xi King) were killed while Xue Tai was captured by Ketuyu. In hope of resuming good relations with the Chinese Tai was not executed and an envoy was sent to humbly apologize while Ketuyu enthroned Suogu's cousin Yuyu (李鬱于, 720–722/724). [8]

Peaceful relations were restored and when Ketuyu made a second coup to face the new king Tuyu [ clarification needed ] suspicions, the Tang court peacefully confirmed the newly enthroned king Shaogu (李邵固 Li Shaogu, 725–730) who on his side displayed respect for Tang's wishes of appeasement. [8]

In 730 Ketuyu went to present tributes to Chang'an but was mistreated by chancellor Li Yuanhong. Back in the Khitan territories Ketuyu assassinated the pro-Tang Shaogu in the fifth month of 730 and switched the allegiance of his subjects, and of the Xi tribes, from Tang to the Türks sending a clear message to Tang. Ketuyu then attacked Pinglu (part of Yingzhou) where a defensive army of Tang's was stationed. The Chang'an officials were panicked by the vision of a new Khitan rebellion and ordered Prince of Zhong Jun, as commander in chief assisted by 18 generals, to go north with warriors recruited from as far as Guannei, Hedong, Henan and Hebei to crush this Khitan-Xi rebellion. [8]

In the third month of 732 the Khitan-Xi troops were defeated by the Prince of Xin'an and Ketuyu had to flee while Li Shi Suogao, the Xi king, betrayed him submitting to Tang with his 5,000 subjects [11] getting the titles of the Prince of Guiyi (allegiance and righteousness) and prefect of Guiyi Zhou with the Xi allowed to settle in Youzhou under Chinese protection.

A second major campaign came in the fourth month of 733 when Guo Yingjie was ordered to lead 10,000 troops, assisted by Xi warriors, to crush Khitan. Ketuyu came first with Turkish support putting the Chinese-Xi troops in difficulty forcing the Xi to flee to save themselves. Predictably Guo Yingjie and his men, left alone to face the Khitan-Turkish troops, lost with heavy casualties. Guo and most of his men were killed on the battlefield. One year later the Khitan were defeated by Zhang Shougui, regional commander of Youzhou in the second month of 734. [8]

Ketuyu, seeing the Khitan forces exhausted by repetitive Tang campaigns, pretended to surrender in the twelfth month of 734 and was murdered, together with his puppet King Qulie (李屈列 Li Qulie 730–734), by his subordinate Li Guozhe (李過折). Li Guozhe was soon himself assassinated in favor of a Ketuyu clan restoration.

Origins of the Ketuyu Rebellion Edit

While traditional scholars explain this Ketuyu Rebellion as a typically barbarian reaction modern historians are more cautious. Both the Chinese Liao expert Shu Fen and the Japanese Matsui Hitoshi are inclined to think that Chinese lenient policy encouraged Ketuyu's arrogance. [ citation needed ] In contrast, Xu Elian-Qian supports the theory that Chinese interferences in Khitan internal changes caused the aggression to Ketuyu's reactions. That may be true for the conflict of 720 and the aggressive Chinese behaviour. But this opinion does not explain the Chinese appeasement policy in 725 where the Chinese let Ketuyu kill the Khitan king and enthrone a new one. When Ketuyu was personally mistreated, in Chang'an in 730, this resentment led him to choose the larger of consequence of diplomatic opposition by turning his submission to the Turks. This was predictably understood by Chang'an as a first magnitude treason which could not be tolerated and lead to the ensuing five years of war to recapture them. Shu and Matsui do not see this Chinese reaction as an aggressive interference but rather as a predictable interference caused by Ketuyu's arrogant reaction to the recent lenient policy. [8]

Xu explains that the Khitans were at a turning point. The Dahe family collapsing as an after-shock of the Li-Sun Rebellion while the Yaonian family was growing by organizing a new confederation of alliances. Accordingly, this period was rich in turmoil. The opposition may have come from the respective perceived definition of the Loose rein agreement. In times of weakness in the central power, such as in the 680's, this loose rein policy meant largely independence for the subordinate population who chose their own chief etc. In times of strong central power, as under Tang Xuanzong (r. 712–756), the central Chinese power was inclined to impose pro-Chinese choices, including in choice of Kings and major chiefs, despite the previous loose rein agreement. Also in prosperous times such as Xuanzong's reign, and his courage in facing the 720's coup, Tang officials immediately sent an army to support the dethroned pro-Tang king clearly interfering in Khitan internal affairs. [8]

The 730–734 war seems to have been the consequence of both Chinese revitalized foreign policy, Khitan internal turmoil and associated oppression of Ketuyu and the miscalculations made by him.

An Lushan era (750s) Edit

Rise of An Lushan and Chinese-on-Khitan hostilities Edit

By the 730s regional commanders already have largely autonomy of initiative to face neighbouring threats and accordingly boundary wars and rebellions are understood by many scholars as the full responsibility of local general commanders.

In the third month of 736 Zhang Shougui, the general commander of Youzhou, sent his protected An Lushan, an officer of the Pinglu Army (平盧軍) based in modern Chaoyang who was said to know 6 languages of Chinese, to attack Khitan and the Xi rebels but An Lushan made an overtly audacious attack which cost him almost all of his troops. He escaped the usual execution for such disobedience cases in part because of Zhangs affection for him and in part thanks to Emperor Xuanzong who, overviewing death penalty cases, believed that his audacious and mid-barbarian character should not pay by death. [12]

Youzhou soon became the Bingmashi (兵馬使) of the Pinglu Army in the seventh month of 741. He carefully cultivated relationships with other officials and generals to earn praises and bribed Imperial messengers to include him in their reports. As the consequence of this systematic bribery he was promoted to commandant at Yingzhou (Ying prefecture) and Jiedushi (military governor) of the Pinglu army [13] in 742 to face and defeat the northern threat from Khitans, Xi, Balhae and Heishui Mohe. [12] [14] He was made military governor of Fanyang Circuit (范陽, headquartered in modern Beijing) in 744 plundering Khitan and Xi villages to display his military abilities. This continuous harassment of Khitan is understood by some scholars as provocation to the Khitan aggressiveness and the threat aimed to get more troops from Chang'an for his future rebellion as well as the reason for the 745 Khitan-Xi rebellion. [14]

As commander of the northeastern frontier in 744–755 An Lushan organised military operations against the Khitan-Xi nomads. His motivation was to curry favour with the Tang court and probably also to obtain more troops. He needed these for his subsequent campaigns to defeat what he saw as the enormous threat presented by the northeastern "babarians" amongst who the Khitan were the most significant. He may also have been motivated by thoughts of preparing for his future rebellion of 755–763.

The rebel An Lushan had a Khitan eunuch named Li Zhu'er (李豬兒) (Li Chu-erh) who was working for An Lushan when he was a teenager but An Lushan used a sword to sever his genitals as he almost died losing multiple pints of blood. An Lushan revived him after smearing ashes on his injury. Li Zhu'er was An Lushan's eunuch after this and highly used and trusted by him. Li Zhu'er and another 2 men helped carry the obese An Lushan when he was taking off or wearing his clothes. Li Zhu'er helped cloth and take of his clothes at the Huaqing (Hua-ch'ing) steam baths granted by Emperor Xuanzang. Li Zhuer was approached by people who wanted to assassinate An Lushan after An Lushan became paranoid and blind, stricken with skin disease and started flogging and murdering his subordinates. An Lushan was hacked to death in his stomach and abdomen by Li Zhuer and another conspirator, Yan Zhuang (Yen Chuang) (嚴莊) who was beaten by An before. An Lushan screamed "this is a thief of my own household" as he desperately shook his curtains since he could not find his sword to defend himself. An Lushan's intestines came out of his body as he was hacked to death by Li Zhuer and Yan Zhuang. [15] [16] A horse was once crushed to death under An Lushan's sheer weight due to his fatness. [17]

745s Khitan rebellion Edit

In the third month of 745 several Tang princesses were married to Khitan's leaders in a sign of appeasement. But for some reason [18] the Khitans soon turned into an open rebellion against Tang in the ninth month of 745 killing the princesses and starting military operations. Huge previous pressures from An Lushan combined with the Chang'an courts praise for him may have been seen Khitan as presenting an impasse against which they eventually revolted.

The Khitans were quickly defeated by An Lushan's troops by punitive expeditions and traps. Sources report that Banquets for a peace declaration were set up by An Lushan and offered to Khitan and Xi who, happy to get both peace and free provisions, rushed to the buffet and drunk heavily. It turned out that the food and wine were poisoned by narcotics. An Lushan then led his warriors to kill all of those who were sleeping on the ground or drunk enough to be easy to kill and the Chiefs' heads were sent to the Tang court for display. Sources have said that each of such Banquets ended with the death of thousands of warriors. This claim is difficult to believe: can Khitan have been that naive to let An Lushan kill thousands of them, several times, in the same kind of "free food traps". The difficulty is that Chinese sources seem biased against An Lushan depicting him by this story as a terrible untrustable enemy. The final result was that Khitan's 745 rebellion was crushed.

751–752s wars to 755s An Shi rebellion Edit

In 751–752, following An Lushan's provocations and harassment, the Khitans moved south to attack the Chinese Tang Empire. Accordinglys Khitan were soon subject to a Chinese campaign in the eighth month of 751: An Lushan assisted by 2,000 Xi guides leading 60,000 Chinese troops into Khitan territories. When the fighting started the Xi suddenly turned their support to Khitan and the Khitan-Xi army then quickly pushed against the Tang armies who were hampered by rains. The Khitan-Xi army killed almost all the enemy soldiers while An Lushan escaped to Shizhou with just twenty cavalrymen. The defending general Su Dingfang, a Tang general, was eventually able to stop the Khitan pursuit troops which retreated. They had their battlefield victory, although not An Lushan's head, and so they laid siege to the city which only Shi Siming (one An Lushan's general) was able to end. One of his generals was killed in action and, after retreating, he blamed and executed the other two for the defeat.

In 752, to punish this audacity and insult, a 200,000 strong army including both Chinese and barbarian infantry and cavalry went northwards to meet the Khitan. But while An Lushan requested that the ethnically Tujue general Li Xianzhong (李獻忠) accompany him Li feared An and, when compelled to, rebelled putting a halt to An's campaign. [19] After three years in the month fourth of 755 An announced his victory about which historical records are not very clear. By this time An Lushan was already engaged in an opposition to the Yang clan located in Chang'an which turned around his system of alliances. Put into an impasse he rose into rebellion and had to walk southwards to quickly beat the unprotected heartland of the Tang territories. In this movement he looked for assistance from the northern nomads: Tujue, Uighurs, Khitan, Xi and Shiwei. All, to some extent, assisted his troops and his rebellion, Khitan principally by his previously taken prisoners'. But the Khitan were exhausted and took little part in these campaigns.

Background reasons of these oppositions

The continuous agitation of Khitans on the northeast of the Empire, maintained by An Lushan actions, provided An Lushan more and more support troops from Chang'an for his own power and ambitions growing to 160,000–200,000 men. This was caused by several factors:

  • An Lushan seemed to be a clever military official especially skilled to set up good relationships with his superiors, whatever by systematic brides (as say sources) or by his possible real abilities
  • An Lushan was skilled to both: up Khitan's aggressivity, enlarge the threat in his rapports, and trap/crush them, getting large praises
  • the time (740s) was an apogee of prosperity, the treasury was full, the Chinese Empire was at a maximum of extension, Xuanzong and Chang'an officials sur-estimated their own power and displayed growing mark of lazy behaviour and management: waste of financial resources, lack of troops in the Central area
  • in Chang'an, the high chancellor Li Linfu, facing to the rise of the Yang clan in Chang'an, wanted both to resist the Khitans' pressure and counterbalance the growing influence of the Yang clan in Chang'an affairs.

Accordingly, An Lushan's power strengthened with associated pressure on the Khitan.

The turning point came when An became worried about the post of Xuanzong-Li Linfu (An Lushan add "get their favor", but at the cost of relations with other officials). Noticing that the heart of the empire was without defenses An considered to plan a rebellion. He selected a dozen able generals and some 8,000 soldiers from amongst the surrendered Khitan, Xi, and Tongluo (同羅) tribesmen organizing them into an elite corps known as the Yeluohe (曵落河, "the brave"). [19]

When Li Linfu died and Yang Guozhong, a Yang clan member, replaced him as high chancellor An Lushan rose in rebellion with his armies and attacked the central power with Khitan, Xi and Turkish supporters.

2nd half of the Tang dynasty (763–907) Edit

The Khitan were concentrating themselves on their own development and were relatively peaceful.

Uighurs domination and Khitans state

When the Turks were overthrown by the Uighurs in 745, the war-loving power of the Turks was replaced by the commerce-loving Uighurs. The control that the Uighurs had on the Khitans were of a different kind. Uighurs were focusing on economic exchanges, were the protectors of the diplomatic stability and left large political and internal freedom to their vassals. The Khitans used this to keep a peaceful environment helping to strengthen all their demographic, economic and structural force.

For their demographic the main point was the choice to avoid foreign conflicts. The new "Steppe Lords" were relatively peaceful while the Tang dynasty was later greatly weakened by the An-Shi rebellion of 755–763 providing a new intra-China situation with a weak center and with provincial generals pacification and strengthening of their respective provinces. In this context the Khitans and their close-relatives the Xi had opposite strategies. Kumo Xi kept a relatively aggressive foreign policy slowly exhausting their forces. The Khitans chose to stay as a calm self-defensive power enjoying most of the Manchurian plain and working to improve their daily situation. While previous centuries had seen successive Turko-Chinese provocations or recall to obeisance, and the following wars had prevented Khitan gaining any notable expansion, the 8th-century situation eventually allowed one. This demographic growth would strongly support the other qualitative changes.


Asia, Inner: Scripts

Khitan and Jurchen ( Chinggeltei, 2002 )

The Khitans, a nomadic people of Manchuria who appear to have spoken an early Mongolic language, were unified in 907 and expanded to rule the Inner Asian steppes and North China south to the Yellow River by the 950s ( Mote, 1999 : 56–69). Their state, the Liao, fell to their former subjects the Jurchens between 1113 and 1125, though a member of the Khitan imperial family escaped to found a state in Central Asia, Kara Khitai (‘Black/Great Khitans’) or Western Liao, that lasted from 1131 to 1211 (205–206). The Jin (Chinese for ‘gold’) state of the Jurchens, a sedentary people of northeastern Manchuria who spoke an early form of Manchu, ruled North China until their destruction by the Mongols between 1213 and 1234. Abaoji, the Liao founder, ordered the creation of a Khitan script in 920, the Khitan large script this was succeeded in 925 by the Khitan small script. Following the example of the Khitans, the Jin founder Aguda ordered the creation of the Jurchen large script in 1120, supplemented by the Jurchen small script in 1138. Surviving Khitan texts are sparse and almost exclusively consist of memorial inscriptions from the Liao state (very few documents in Khitan script survive from the Western Liao) the Jurchens banned the diplomatic and administrative use of Khitan script in 1191 and archival materials from before this date appear not to have survived (219). While relatively few Jurchen texts have survived, their language is much better known than Khitan because Chinese dictionaries of Jurchen and other languages for use by translators and interpreters have survived (the Ming Hua-Yi yiyu, surviving in several manuscripts the vocabularies from the Bureau of Translators list Jurchen characters, while those from the Bureau of Interpreters list only Jurchen pronunciations in Chinese transcription). Although Jurchen script was little used after the end of the Jin dynasty, texts survive from as late as c. 1550 its use was finally banned in 1658 by the Qing dynasty ( Kane, 1989: 10 ).

Khitan and Jurchen texts were collected and studied by Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Soviet scholars in the first half of the 20th century (particularly Luo Fucheng, Wang Qingju, and Li Dingkui), who made some progress in the decipherment of Khitan script by comparing identical elements of Khitan inscriptions and their Chinese paraphrases, such as names, official titles, and dates this allowed the identification of some Khitan numerals, animal names, and other words. Real progress in deciphering Khitan script started in 1975 with the foundation of the Khitan Script Research Group of the PRC (principally Chinggeltei, Liu Fengzhu, Chen Naixiong, Yu Baolin, and Xing Fuli). By systematic comparison of the phonetic representation of Chinese names and titles in Khitan texts and from there working out the readings of native words, the readings have been determined for about 208 of 378 known small-script characters and the meanings of over 300 large-script characters ( Chinggeltei, 2002 : 100–113). Jurchen script was first studied in the West by Wilhelm Grube (1896), with scholarly interest picking up a half-century later. Significant work on Jurchen has been done by Chinggeltei and his colleagues, Jin Qicong, and Daoerji and Hexige (Dorji and Kheshig), with important reconstructions of Jurchen by Kiyose Gisaburo (1977) and Daniel Kane (1989) , the latter concerned with spoken Jurchen. The discovery in 1979 of a manuscript dating from shortly after the creation of the script (the Nüzhen zishu) has allowed the development of the script to be traced ( Kane, 1989: 8 ).

Khitan and Jurchen scripts look much alike and operate along the same principles. The large scripts were entirely logographic, while the small scripts included phonetic characters. The script was oriented like Chinese in Khitan, small-script phonetic characters within a word are arranged horizontally in pairs, with the pairs arranged vertically to make triangular or oblong units of as many as seven characters, while Jurchen small-script characters are written sequentially. As Jurchen script developed, it became increasingly phonetic (roughly syllabic) multisyllabic roots written earlier with one logographic character came to be written with all but the first syllable written phonetically, rather like the modern Japanese system of kanji and hiragana, except that the script makes no rigid distinction between logographic and phonetic characters ( Kane, 1989 : 28–30). It is unclear whether Khitan script showed a similar development ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1 . Examples of Khitan and Jurchen scripts.


Culture

If there is one thing that the whole world knows about Mongolians, it is that they are nomadic. While it is true that Mongolian culture has changed little in the last few thousand years, Chinese Mongols enjoy – for the most part – a different life than those to the north.

In 2001, 650,000 Mongolian-Chinese nomads and herders were forced to relocate to the cities due to overgrazing that had been causing sandstorms. These 650,000 nomads are still struggling to find a place in the cities, where Han Chinese make up the majority, and the Mongolian language is offered only as an afterthought in schools.

Additionally, for the last few generations, the Chinese Mongols have been intermarrying with the Han, who were originally encouraged to move to Inner Mongolia for its wealth of natural resources like coal. Despite this, Mongolian culture has not died out just yet in China. Most Chinese Mongols still speak Mongolian, and they write with old Mongolian script rather than the Cyrillic script that Mongolia itself has adopted.

Some are still nomads, picking up and putting down across the grasslands as they follow their herds, but all in all, the Mongols are seen as a model minority in China. Few dissidents have arisen from their ranks, and a move for Inner Mongolian independence has never been made. They have continued to walk the thin line between preserving their ancient heritage and assimilating with the Chinese majority.


The Khitan People: Nomadic Tribe, Chinese Dynasty, Lost to the Mongols - History

Locations marked with black/grey human symbols are where Daol Tribe live today. Yunnan on the lower left, Daol Autonomous District in Inner Mongolia on the upper right.

Mystery of Khitans Solved

  • After their country's demise a millennium ago, they 'vanished' from history
  • Chinese scholars tracked down their descendants via DNA test
  • Allied with Mongols, they were sent all over the world. widely spread out
  • People such as Daol tribe in Yunnan province carry their blood line.

That was the assessment of Khitans who rose from N.E. China and went on to be a major threat to China a millennium ago. Khitans, a formidable kingdom, mounted three invasion against Koryo(the Kingdom in Korea at the time), starting at AD 993. In AD 1018, General Kang Gam-chan defeated Khitans led by General So Bae-ap at the battle of Gui-ju, which forced them to give up their territorial ambition for Koryo.

Then such fierce Khitans, since the rise of Yuan dynasty founded by Mongols, had suddenly vanished (from history.) How could a people disappear in a blink?

The question of Khitans' disappearance , which has remained as a mystery in Chinese history is now being solved bit by bit. The progress is made by research on historical records of Khitans, and tests using DNA analysis.

Chinese scholars revealed recently, "An ethnic minority called Daol Tribe, who live in N.E. China, inherited significant amount of Khitan blood." 120 thousand strong Daol Tribe, living where Xinganling Mountains, clear blue Nun River, and wide-open steppe in Hurun-Bei-ol converges, have been viewed as the most likely descendants of Khitans. The rationale was that their habitat is close to steppe of Inner Mongolia, where Khitans used to live. Chinese scholars scientifically proved it this time. They extracted genetic materials from bones of the buried bodies from the tombs of Liao Dynasty(Khitan Kingdom.)

Oral legends of founding myth among Daol Tribe also serve as evidence that they are the descendants of Khitans. The legends says, "A group of Khitan troops came to this land and build a fortress for their defense, then became our ancestors." In the past, after the wide-ranging study of Daol's founding myth and customs, language, history, scholars during Ching dynasty cautiously determined, "Daol Tribe might be descendants of Khitans."

Chinese also confirmed that 100 thousand Daol Tribe live in an area of Yunnan Province, S.W. China. They found out that people in a small village of Yunnan keeps in a shrine a framed writing which says Yayol, the Chinese rendition of Khitan founder Assuru. After comparing the DNA from Daol people with those from the bodies of Khitan tombs, Chinese concluded, "Daol Tribe in Yunnan inherited paternal bloodline of Khitans."

Why descendants of Khitan spread so far apart today? Based on their research and archeological findings, Chinese scholars explain, "Because Khitans were vanguards of Mongol troops."

It goes as follows: Since the fall of Khitan kingdom by Jurchen Chin, Khitans hated Jurchens so much that Khitans allied with Mongols. Soon after that, Mongols led by Genghis Khan grew as a huge empire. Fearless Khitans became the spearhead of conquering troops of Yuan Dynasty(Mongol Empire), and were sent all over the world. As a result, Khitans were dispersed, and lost opportunity to rise as a major ethnic group in China again. Chinese also presented a story that some Khitans migrated to Khorman area in current Iran and converted to Islam after their Kingdom fell.


Liao Dynasty (China)

KEY TOPICS
The Liao dynasty (907-1125) of China and its successor, the Western Liao (1124-1211), were founded by the Khitan, a proto-Mongol people who were originally nomadic pastoralists residing in modern Inner Mongolia, Mongolia, Manchuria, and perhaps as far north as Lake Baikal, in modern-day Russia. [1] The Khitan, who established the Liao dynasty of China (907-1125), were themselves a Mongol people, but their homeland was in northeastern China rather than in what is now Mongolia. [2] Liao Dynasty was a regime founded by an ethnic minority called the Qidan (Khitan) who lived in the northeast areas of China. [3] The Liao emperors could read Chinese, and while there were some Chinese works translated into Khitan during the Liao dynasty, the Confucian classics, which served as the core guide to the administration of government in China, are not known to have been translated into Khitan. [4] Liao dynasty, Wade-Giles romanization Liao, (907-1125), in Chinese history, dynasty formed by the nomadic Khitan (Chinese: Qidan) tribes in much of what now constitutes the provinces of the Northeast region (Manchuria) and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. [2] The Liao dynasty, which continued many of the cultural practices of the Song, was destroyed in 1125 by the Juchen (Chinese: Nüzhen, or Ruzhen) tribes, who had formerly been subjects of the Khitan and who rose in rebellion against them with the aid of the Song. [2] Later Chinese records provide us with over five centuries of historical information relating to the Khitan prior to the founding of the Liao dynasty in 907. [5] To distinguish Nanjing, which literally means "Southern Capital" in Chinese, from modern Nanjing in Jiangsu Province and Beijing Damingfu, the Northern Song Dynasty name for modern Daming County in Hebei Province, Chinese historians sometimes refer to Beijing during the Liao dynasty as Liao Nanjing ( simplified Chinese : 辽南京 traditional Chinese : 遼南京 pinyin : Liáo Nánjīng ). [6] The music and songs of the Liao dynasty are also known to have indirectly or directly influenced Mongol, Jurchen, and Chinese musical traditions. [4] The Chinese state news agency Xinhua announced in January 2018 that the ruins in Duolun County, Inner Mongolia, of an ancient palace that served as the summer retreat for the royal family and retinue of the Liao Dynasty. [4] At its height, the Liao dynasty encompassed modern-day Mongolia, parts of Kazakhstan and the Russian Far East, and the Chinese provinces of Hebei, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Liaoning, and Shanxi. [4]

At its height, the Liao dynasty controlled what is now Shanxi, Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, and Inner Mongolia provinces in China, as well as northern portions of the Korean peninsula, portions of the Russian Far East, and much of the country of Mongolia. [4] Khitan, any member of a Mongol people that ruled Manchuria and part of North China from the 10th to the early 12th century under the Liao dynasty. [2] The Khitan people formed the Liao dynasty and ruled parts of Mongolia, Manchuria, and northern China from 907 to 1125 CE. Adopting elements of Chinese government and culture, the Khitan were more than a match for their rivals the Song dynasty of China and Goryeo kingdom of Korea, and they provided a model of conquest and assimilation which would be repeated much more successfully by the later Mongol empire. [7]

As the Liao dynasty, they dominated a vast area north of and including parts of China. [8] Prior to their conquest of north China and the establishment of the Liao dynasty, the Khitans had no written language. [4] The Liao dynasty also differed from most of China's other non-Chinese empires in that they kept an interest in preserving their own Khitan cultural heritage. [5] The status of women in the Liao dynasty varied greatly, with the Khitan Liao (like many other nomadic societies) having a much more egalitarian view towards women than the Han Chinese did. [4] Han Chinese living under the Liao dynasty were not forced to adopt Khitan practices, and while some Han Chinese did, many did not. [4]

The Liao dynasty proved to be a significant power north of the Chinese plain, continuously moving south and West, gaining control over former Chinese and Turk-Uyghur's territories. [8]

This northern route of cultural transmission of the legacy of Liao culture was then returned to China during the Yuan dynasty. [4] In 1120, the Song entered the Alliance on the Sea with the Jin dynasty (1115-1234) of the Jurchens, a semi-agricultural, forest-dwelling people living northeast of the Liao in modern-day northeast China. [6] The Khitan rulers of the Liao acquired the city, then known as Youzhou, in the cession of the Sixteen Prefectures in 938 from the Later J"n, one of the five shortlived dynasties that ruled northern China following the end of the Tang Dynasty. [6] Yelu Dashi, a descendant of the Imperial family, led remnants of the Khitan military and their families westward to modern Xinjiang and neighboring regions in Central Asia to found the Khara Khitai (in Chinese, Xi, or Western, Liao) dynasty, which survived until the Mongol conquest of 1211. [1] They abandoned the city, but not before the Emperor adopted the Chinese name of Liao for his dynasty. [1] The Liao was the first foreign dynasty that sought to combine its traditional system of governance with the Chinese administrative structure. [1] At least three Liao empresses had tremendous power and often decided on court policies, a distinct deviation from Chinese practices, in which strong women who sought to play political roles, such as Empress Wu of the Tang dynasty, were reviled. [1] Over the course of the dynasty, the Liao elite moved away from polygamy and towards the Han Chinese system of having one wife and one or more concubines. [4]

After the establishment of the Song dynasty (960-1279) in China proper, the Liao carried on a border war with the Song for control of North China. [2] The Khitans considered the Khamag Mongols as their last hope when the Liao dynasty was invaded by the Jin, Song dynasty and Western Xia Empires. [8] After the fall of the Liao dynasty in 1125 following the Jurchen invasion, many Khitans followed Yelü Dashi's group westward to establish the Qara Khitai or Western Liao dynasty in Central Asia, which lasted several decades before falling to the Mongol Empire in 1218. [8] The remnant Khitan, led by Yelü Dashi, established the Qara Khitai (Western Liao dynasty), which ruled over parts of Central Asia for almost a century before being conquered by the Mongols. [4] Following the fall of the Liao dynasty, a number of the Khitan nobility escaped the area westwards towards Western Regions, establishing the short-lived Qara Khitai or Western Liao dynasty, and after its fall, a small part under Buraq Hajib established a local dynasty in the southern Persian province of Kirman. [8] Nanjing was the name for modern Beijing during the Liao dynasty, when Khitan rulers made the city the southern capital. [6] The Khitan founded the Liao dynasty (907-1125) by expanding from the border of Mongolia into both southern Manchuria and the 16 prefectures south of the Great Wall. [2] In 1124, just before the final conquest of the Liao dynasty, a group of Khitans led by Yelü Dashi fled northwest to the border area and military garrison of Kedun (Zhenzhou), in modern-day northern Mongolia. [4] The Liao dynasty eventually fell to the Jin dynasty of the Jurchen in 1125, who defeated and absorbed the Khitans to their military benefit. [8] These kidnappings sometimes even included the wives of Jurchen aristocrats. 4 The Jurchens eventually became so enraged that, with the help of the Song military, they successfully rose up against the Liao dynasty in the early twelvth century. [5] Shizong believed that the Liao dynasty was poised to invade the Zhou, and in 958 he launched a preemptive military campaign against the Liao, aiming to take the sixteen prefectures ceded to the Liao by Emperor Gaozu of Later Jin in 938. [4] Finally in 1125, the last emperor of Liao, Emperor Tianzuo, was captured by the Jin army ending the Liao Dynasty. [3] The Liao dynasty was destroyed by the Jurchen people of the Jin dynasty in 1125 with the capture of Emperor Tianzuo of Liao. [4] In 1125, the Jurchens captured Emperor Tianzuo and ended the Liao dynasty. [4]

While the Liao initially demanded total surrender from Goryeo, and Goryeo initially appeared willing to consider it, the Korean negotiator was eventually able to convince the Khitans to accept a resolution in which the Goryeo dynasty became a tributary state to the Liao dynasty. [4] The Liao dynasty was officially known as the Khitan (now known as Cathay ) or Khitan state in 916. [4] Abaoji, who had been successful in uniting the Khitan tribes, founded the Liao Dynasty in 907. [8] Unlike Han society, which had a strict separation of responsibilities along gender lines, and placed women in a subservient role to men, the Khitan women of the Liao dynasty performed many of the same functions that the Khitan men did. [4] Although cultural achievements associated with the Liao dynasty are considerable, and a number of various statuary and other artifacts exist in museums and other collections, major questions remain over the exact nature and extent of the influence of the Liao Khitan culture upon subsequent developments, such as the musical and theatrical arts. [4] After the fall of the Liao dynasty, the Khitans returned to a more nomadic life. [8] Despite the Northern Han's status as a protectorate of the Liao dynasty, Emperor Taizu of Song launched an invasion of the kingdom in 976, only months before his death. [4] Rather than focus on reclaiming land from the Liao dynasty, Zhao Kuangyin, who would take the title Emperor Taizu of Song, focused on reclaiming these smaller break-off territories. [4]

Yelü Zongzhen, known historically by the name Emperor Xingzong of Liao, became the Emperor of the Liao dynasty at the age of fifteen, and his reign immediately became plagued with courtly infighting. [4] These efforts continued into the Liao dynasty, with Emperor Xingzong funding several projects in the years immediately preceding 1052. [4] In 916, he proclaimed himself emperor and established the Liao Dynasty. [3] The specific origin of these various original tunes and musical modes is not known, but the influence of Liao dynasty lyrics both directly and indirectly through the music and lyrics of the Jurchen Jin dynasty appears likely. [4] The state, known as the Qara Khitai or the Western Liao dynasty, controlled several key trading cities, was multicultural, and showed evidence of religious tolerance. [4] The Liao dynasty was further divided into five "circuits", each with a capital city. [4]

This inscription translates to 'made in the yi chou year' and indicates the second year of a sixty year cycle, either 965 or 1025 AD. The Qidans (Khitans) of the Liao Dynasty were hunting and pastoral people who originated from eastern Inner Mongolia and occupied North China under the auspices of the Liao Dynasty from 907 to 1125. [9] He went on to establish the Liao Dynasty which dominated China for another 200 years. [10] Northeast China, Liao dynasty white porcelain with combed and incised decoration, Diameter: x cm x 4 in. [11] Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China's Liao Empire This excellent interactive website explores the complex cultural and religious legacy of the Khitan and their reign over China during the Liao Dynasty (907-1125). [12]

Despite these lasting legacies, if you were to pick up a book on Chinese history at random, the Liao Dynasty may not even get a mention. [13]

The Liao Dynasty (written in Simplified Chinese as 辽朝) was a state that ruled the northern part of China between the 10th and 11th centuries AD. This dynasty was known also as the Khitan Empire, which is named after the ethnic group that its rulers belonged to. [14] The existence of this ethnic group has been known by the Chinese since at least the 4th / 5th century AD. Nevertheless, it was only with the establishment of the Liao Dynasty that the Khitan became a major figure in the history of China. [14]

Named Great Liao or Liao State, the Liao Dynasty was the first regime established by the ethnic minority-Khitans in Chinese history. [15] Traditionally, 907 AD is regarded as the beginning of the Liao Dynasty, though Chinese historians prefer the year 916 AD, as it was when Abaoji formally established himself as emperor. [14]

The Liao Dynasty rose from the Khitan, the nomadic people of what corresponds to modern-day Mongolia and parts of northern China, Russia and Korea. [16] The Khitan tribes form the Liao dynasty and rule parts of Mongolia, Manchuria and northern China. [7]

Yelü Dashi, a royal member of the Liao Dynasty, called the remnant in northwest China, and controlled the Mongolian Plateau and the eastern part of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. [15] Treaty of Shanyuan which brings peace between the Liao dynasty and Song dynasty of China with the latter compelled to pay annual tribute. [7] The Liao Dynasty was finally destroyed in 1125 by the Jurchens, who took control of northern China as the Jin Dynasty. [14]

The subjects of the Liao Dynasty included the Khitan as well as Han Chinese. [14] In terms of culture, the Liao Dynasty was strongly influenced by that of the Han Chinese. [14]


In 1005 Chanyuan Treaty was signed, and peace remained between the Liao dynasty and the Song dynasty for the next 120 years. [8] Koryo would not recognize the Liao dynasty and supported the fledging Song dynasty, which had formed south of the Khitan's territory. [8] Buddhist scholars living during the time of the Liao dynasty predicted that the mofa (末法), an age in which the three treasures of Buddhism would be destroyed, was to begin in the year 1052. [4]


Two hundred and sixty feet tall, the octagonal Daming Pagoda once stood at the heart of the Central Capital of the Liao, a dynasty that ruled an empire uniting the nomadic Khitan people of northern China from A.D. 907 to 1125. [17] The The China Glass "Liao" Dynasty Vase Water Pipe is currently sold out, but you may like these similar products. [18] Now, the former Liao capital is one of several sites in northern China that is helping archaeologists like Tala resurrect this long-ignored dynasty. [17] Flask, stoneware with cream slip and spalsh of green glaze, Cizhou ware, China, Liao or Northern Song dynasty, late 10th-early 11th century. [11]


In 605, the Khitan raided China, but the Emperor Yangdi of the Sui Dynasty was able to convince the Turks to send 20,000 horsemen to aid China against the Khitan. [8] The Khitan adopted a Chinese name for their dynasty and Chinese reign titles and temple names for their emperors, built a Chinese-style capital city, and devised a Chinese-influenced administrative system and written scripts. [1] The Khitan, or Qidan as they are known in Chinese, were a nomadic people originating in eastern Inner Mongolia. 1 They first appear in records of the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534 CE), where they are described as descending from the Xianbei peoples. [5] The Liao employed two separate governments operating in parallel with one another: a Northern Administration in charge of Khitan and other nomadic peoples, most of whom lived in the northern side of Liao territory, and a Southern Administration in charge of the Chinese populace that lived predominantly in the southern side. [4] The Chinese chronicles indicate that the Liao emperors periodically moved from one capital to another and one site to another, continuing the Khitan legacy of mobility. [1] This tension led to a series of succession crises Liao emperors favored the Chinese concept of primogeniture, while much of the rest of the Khitan elite supported the traditional method of succession by the strongest candidate. [4] The Song emperors would now address the Liao rulers as equals, a challenge to the traditional system of Chinese foreign relations which assumed that the Son of Heaven (i.e., the Emperor) was superior to all other rulers. [1] Traditionally, the start of the Liao period is given as 907, the last year of the Tang, but Chinese historians often place it at 916, when Yelü Yi (or Abaoji) formally established himself as emperor. [2] In the following decades the Liao court made use of Chinese advisers and Song administrative techniques, and also adopted Buddhism, though not with the same enthusiasm as did other later empires of nomadic origin, such as the Mongols. [5] Adopting the Chinese dynastic name of Liao, the Khitan created a dual government to rule their conquests. [2]

The Liao territory included Manchuria, Mongolia and parts of China. [8] Yelu Abaoji became absolute ruler of the Khitan after executing the other Yaoning council leaders in 907, though a formal state would not be established until 916 (the title of the dynasty would fluctuate between Qidan and Liao until 1066, when Liao was adopted as the sole dynastic name). [5] Since 983, the state became again known as the Khitan, but "Great Liao" reappeared as the country name in 1066, which lasted until the end of the dynasty. [4] The dynasty name "Liao" refers to the Liao River in southern Manchuria, the traditional Khitan homeland. [4]

Tension between traditional Khitan social and political practices and Chinese influence and customs was a defining feature of the dynasty. [4] This is in stark contrast with other nomadic empires that came to rule in China, which tended to adopt the Chinese language and cultural practices often at the expense of their own. [5] When China was disunited, its northern pastoral neighbors would, on occasion, capitalize on its weakness to annex Chinese territories. [1]

Like other Chinese dynasties, the Liao exercised its power in Mongolia by playing off the tribes against one another. [2] The invading Liao forces, who had not brought adequate supplies for their invasion, began looting the newly conquered territory and imposed high taxes on the ethnic Chinese population in the formerly Jin lands. [4] The Liao elites adopted Chinese religions, particularly Buddhism, but they did not abandon traditional beliefs. [1] Liao political culture differed somewhat from the Chinese model. [1] Since Emperor Taizu, Yelv Abaoji's reign, Chinese Buddhism gradually spread to Liao. [3]

Prior to its cession to the Liao in 938, Youzhou had been regional center in northern China for two millennia. [6]

Chinas Ming Dynasty treasure ships realized trade networks and diplomatic missions as far as Africa and the Red Sea. [1] The same year that Abaoji became Great Khan, the Chinese warlord Zhu Wen, who in 904 had murdered the last legitimate emperor of the Tang dynasty, declared the Tang over and named himself emperor of China. [4] The southern government, which ruled the Chinese parts of the empire, was modeled on the administration of the Tang dynasty (618-907), which the Khitan had helped destroy. [2] Analyzing the reasons for the collapse of the Tang dynasty, Song officials concluded that its predecessor had expanded beyond the Chinese cultural frontiers, in part precipitating its fall. [1]

Beginning in the Song dynasty, some Chinese scholars suggested that the Khitans might have descended from the Xiongnu people. [4] A Chinese dynasty and kingdom existed roughly in parallel to the better-known Song Dynasty, but this one ruled by the nomadic Khitans. [1]

Meanwhile the Song Dynasty reunified China in 960, fifty years after the collapse of the Tang Dynasty. [1] After unifying the rest of China in 960, the Song dynasty sought to recapture the lost northern territories. [6] China was in chaos after the fall of the Tang dynasty in 907. [8]

Aguda, a capable Jurchen military leader, challenged Liao control, and in 1115 proclaimed himself emperor of the Jin dynasty. [1] Zhang Jue, a former Liao official who had surrendered to the Jin dynasty, then switched his allegiance to the Song. [6] In 936, his son, Yelü Deguang renamed their dynasty, Liao, and in 938 helped Shi Jingtang, a Shatuo Turk general overthrow the Later Tang dynasty and found the Later J"n dynasty. [6] Liao Nanjing inherited the walled city and neighborhood configuration of Youzhou from the earlier Tang dynasty. [6]

The reign of Emperor Shengzong from 982 to 1031 represented the height of the Liao dynasty's power. [4] The Jurchens, led by Aguda, captured the Liao dynasty's supreme capital in 1120 and its central capital in 1122. [4] An analysis by F. W. Mote concluded that at the time of the Liao dynasty's fall, "the Liao state remained strong, capable of functioning at reasonable levels and possessing greater resources of war than any of its enemies" and that "one cannot find signs of serious economic or fiscal breakdown that might have impoverished or crippled its ability to respond". [4] Shengzong oversaw a successful military campaign against the Song dynasty which secured a long-term peace agreement with terms favorable to the Liao. [4]

At least one Han Chinese source considered the Liao (and Jurchen) music to be the vigorous and powerful music of horse-mounted warriors, diffused through border warfare. [4]

"Dynasty of Nomads: Rediscovering the Forgotten Liao Empire A short article about recent archaeological work that reveals the cultural tensions, past and present, between the Han Chinese and Khitan Liao. [12] The last years of the Tang saw the rise of the renowned Khitan leader, Abaoji, who would eventually become the first Liao Dynasty Emperor Taizu, one of China’s alien dynasties. [10] Entering that city’s gates, you would have been greeted by another, much taller, walled complex it was within this city within a city, that you might have found the emperors of the long-forgotten Liao Dynasty. [13] With lands stretching from Inner-Asia in the west, into Mongolia in the north, and to the Korean peninsula in the east, the Liao Dynasty was one of the major political powers in East Asia from 907 to 1125. [13] The people who formed the Liao Dynasty originally came from the steppes of north-east Asia and lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle. [13] Buddhism also had an impact on Qidan religious and ritual practices as evident by the number of Liao dynasty Buddhist objects known, particularly gilt bronze figures of Buddhist deities. [9]


China achieved some stability with the arrival of the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE), but the Chinese emperors were still struggling to manage their own population and faced another dangerous neighbour to the north-west in the form of the Xia state. [7] The Khitans were even more ambitious, though, under their second ruler, Emperor Taizong (r. 927-947 CE), and in 938 CE they turned south to invade parts of northern China, in disarray since the fall of the Tang Dynasty in 907 CE. Campaigning beyond the Great Wall of China, the Khitans managed to take no fewer than 16 Chinese commanderies. [7]

To escape the oppressive heat, each year from mid-April to mid-July the Liao emperors would move the royal family, along with palace officials, into the mountains of what is now China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua. [16] The Song dynasty may have been the Khitan's military rival but they had no qualms in adopting aspects of Chinese culture and copying both the imperial administrative system and Tang Dynasty civil service examinations, especially in the southern portions of the Liao empire. [7] Their first leader of note was Yelu Abaoji (872-926 CE) who formed a confederation of eight to ten tribes and gave himself the title of Emperor Taizu in 907 CE. It was Taizu who would found the Liao dynasty by casting aside the traditional method of choosing a new Khitan leader by vote and for a limited period, replacing it with a hereditary system. [7] By contrast, the Khitans went unchallenged in the north and the Liao Dynasty was founded by Abaoji. [14] Before long, the Khitan regime was renamed the 'Liao', known historically as the Liao Dynasty (916-1125). [19] To the Emperor Tianzuo's rule, Wanyan Aguda, a chieftain of the Nuzhen People, began to grow up, and rebelled against the Liao Dynasty in the spring of 1114. [15] In 1125, Emperor Tianzuo was captured in Yingzhou (Ying County of Shanxi Province), and later died of illness in 1128, but the Liao Dynasty didn't come to the end. [15] The Taizhu Emperor of Liao Dynasty forced the popularization of medical knowledge by imitating that of the Tang Dynasty. [20] The Liao Dynasty was founded following the collapse of the Tang Dynasty, and came to an end when it was destroyed by the Jurchens, who in turn established the Jin Dynasty. [14] Well-represented in artifacts found in museums and private collections, the Liao Dynasty rose and expanded as the Tang Dynasty dwindled in power. [14] Aguda, now calling himself Emperor Taizu, attacked Jehol (Rehe), the Liao supreme capital, in 1120-21 CE and the Liao dynasty, weakened already by an internal schism between the sinicized elite and more traditional clans, finally collapsed four years later. [7] The founder of the Liao Dynasty was Abaoji (who had a Sinicized name, Yelü Yi, and was posthumously known as Emperor Taizu of Liao). [14] The Temple of Heavenly Peace in Beijing, the oldest and one of the only surviving remnants of Beijing's Liao Dynasty capital. [16] In his early years, Yelü Ruan appointed Yelü Zhiwu, a loyal minister, to carry out a series of reforms, which made the Liao Dynasty enter centralization from tribe alliance. [15] A coup broke out in the court of the Liao Dynasty at that time, lasting until the year 1116. [15] In 1125, the Liao Dynasty fell to the rising Jin Dynasty, which would reign for more than a century afterwards. [16]


Under the leadership of Wanyan Aguda, the founder of the Jin dynasty, the Jurchens captured in rapid succession, Shangjing, Zhongjing and Dongjing, the Liao's Upper, Central and Eastern Capitals. [6] The Juchen went on to defeat the Song and, as the Jin dynasty (1115-1234), establish rule over North China. [2] The Jurchens (Jin dynasty, 1115-1234), after defeating the Khitans in the early 12th century, went on to push Song out of North China. [12] The Mongols (Yuan dynasty, 1279-1368), after defeating the Jurchen in the early 13th century, went on and fully defeated the Song to control all of China. [12]

As a result of the Treaty of Shanyuan in 1005, the Liao received an annual payment of a hundred thousand taels of silver and two hundred thousand bolts of silk from Song China. [12] "How can people who eat grass conquer we who eat grain? How can people who wear animal pelts compare to we who wear clothes? When we put the Liao artifacts on display in China people were shocked," he says. [17]

Other Chinese chronicles gave sketches of life and customs in Liao society, but they did not anticipate the profound impact that Liao innovations would have on China. [17] Discoveries in Inner Mongolia over the past three decades have prompted scholars to reconsider these views, and Liao society is now recognized as a sophisticated blend of Khitan and Chinese traditions. [17] Features an extensive image gallery of objects (organized into the following topics: 1) Nomadic Heritage 2) Chinese Tomb Tradition 3) Luxuries and Necessities 4) Religious Life) an interactive tour of two Liao tombs plus an interactive map of recently excavated Liao sites in Inner Mongolia (with images) two additional historic maps and a timeline. [12] The Liao dynastic history describes the outlines of Liao culture in terms that Chinese historians could fathom--the economy, the government bureaucracy, the size and force of the cavalry, the number of vassal states. [17] With all of this renewed interest, academic studies of the Liao are reassessing the dynasty’s position in Chinese and wider Asian history. [13] One Chinese writer witnessed the preparation of the second Liao emperor Deguang's corpse after he died in battle, in A.D. 946. [17] Scholars agree Liao rulers adapted Chinese customs and traditions over time. [17]

The Khitans (Liao dynasty, 907-1125), beginning in the 10th century, gained a strip of land that included modern Beijing. [12] Unfortunately, this attitude towards the Liao has worked its way into later sources, keeping the dynasty in the shadows. [13]

During the last years of the Sui Dynasty (581-618), the Khitan people united and invaded the Chinese provinces of Hebei and Shaanxi. [10] China, 1895-1912 state sponsored reforms and China's late-Qing revolution: selected essays from Zhongguo Jindai Shi (Modern Chinese History, 1840-1919). (ed. trans. Reynolds, Douglas R.). [21] The Cambridge history of China: The People's Republic, Pt. 2: revolutions within the Chinese revolution, 1966-1982. (eds. MacFarquhar, Roderick Fairbank, John K.). [21] The culture of sex in ancient China. (English and Chinese). [21] Kane, Thomas M. Ancient China on postmodern war: enduring ideas from the Chinese strategic tradition. [21] China hands: the adventures and ordeals of the American journalists who joined forces with the great Chinese revolution. [21]

Ringing thunder, tomb treasures from ancient China: Selections of Eastern Zhou Dynasty material from the Hubei Provincial Museum, People's Republic of China. [21] Legitimation in Imperial China: Discussions under the Jurchen-Chin dynasty (1115-1234). [21] Most references will be found under Tang Dynasty Benn, Charles D. Daily life in traditional China: the Tang dynasty. [21]


From 1020 CE Goryeo sent tribute to the Liao instead of Song China and adopted the Khitan calendar. [7] Peace was not long-lasting, though, and more Liao invasions into Korea took place in 1009 CE and 1018 CE. The Koreans won a great victory at the battle of Kwiju, but the Khitan had such a position of strength they could negotiate a peace and withdraw, just as they had done in China. [7] The first major display of Liao objects outside China, the show gives the lie to the Khitan as cultural nobodies. [22] Later the Liao army plundered central China in a big way, which caused strong opposition from the people in Central China. [15] Another important difference between the Liao state and the rest of China was their support of merchants and trade. [7] The Jurchen (Jin state) attack the Liao state in northern China. [7]

Khitan expansion was not limited to the south but moved east with the Jurchen tribes of Manchuria next to be conquered by the Liao between 983 and 985 CE. The Goryeo (Koryo) dynasty of Korea (918-1392 CE) was another state that came off worse against the Khitans. [7] Moving to the west in central Asia, a new Khitan dynasty was founded, the Khara Khitai (aka Xi Liao), although it would not last long and was ultimately swept away by the rise of the Mongols in the early 13th century CE. [7]

The Song (aka Sung) dynasty ruled China from 960 to 1279 CE with the reign split into two periods: the Northern Song (960-1125. [7] In 907, Yelü Abaoji, leader of the Khitan Dieci Tribe, seized the opportunity to have the separate tribes of the Khitan people united when central China was at war and chaos prevailing in the latter times of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). [15]

In response to the growth of East Asian studies, the Third Series focuses solely on China, covering all periods of Chinese history, literature, ideas and culture. [23]

The Liao had a dual system of governance, one traditionally Khitan which dealt with the still semi-nomadic and pastoral north and another in the south which was much more Chinese to govern a largely Chinese population. [7] Some of the elites favored the traditional system of succession, i.e. the election of the next Liao Emperor by tribal chiefs, whilst others preferred the Chinese system of hereditary rule. [14]

Interlopers from the Mongolian steppes, they moved into the northern provinces of China in the 10th century and established the Liao empire (named for the Liao River), one of the wealthiest and most powerful dynasties of its time. [22] By the early 12th century CE the Liao's regional dominance was coming under increasing threat from attacks by the Jurchen, a subject tribespeople in the north-eastern part of China. [7] The Jurchen Jin dynasty (meaning "Golden") ruled parts of China, Mongolia, and northern Korea from 1115. [7]

Though the dynasty began with no written language for their "proto-Mongol" spoken dialect, its members developed two kinds of written scripts which, despite containing similarities to Chinese characters, have yet to be fully deciphered, according to the non-profit Asia Society. [16] The dynasty was the first foreign one to merge its original nomadic structure of conquest and cultural assimilation with prevailing Chinese style of government at the time, according to Asia Society, a strategy later emulated by the Mongol hordes--who came to power after they conquered the Jin dynasty. [16]

They governed the sedentary Chinese population with a civil bureaucracy modeled on the earlier Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907): they wore Chinese dress on ceremonial occasions, built Chinese-style temples and pagodas that surpassed those built by Chinese empires, and adopted the dragon as a sacred emblem. [17] Timelines of China’s ruling dynasties frequently omit the Liao in favour of one of their contemporaries - the Song Dynasty. [13] Most of the primary sources that modern historians have for the Liao period were written under the Song Dynasty. [13]

Unaccustomed to all the attention, Tala and some of his colleagues have nevertheless agreed to take me through the heart of the Liao Empire to visit two ancient Liao capitals and the tomb of the dynasty's first emperor. [17]

The Liao Empire was once considered a minor state on the fringes of Chinese civilization. [17] Around the third century, the Chinese began to cast their own bronze Buddhist icons, establishing a sculptural tradition that combined China's own heritage with those of non-Chinese cultures. [9]


All the above had pushed the development of Liao's medicine in Northern China to its mature stage. [20] A nomadic people known as the Khitan (Qidan 契丹) ruled China as the Liao Dynasty (辽朝) during the period 916-1125 AD. [24] One of the best known of the Liao Dynasty charms is generally referred to by the Chinese as a "Mother of Nine Sons" ( yi mu jiu zi 一母九子) charm. [24] Tombs of the Liao Dynasty: Treasures from the Afterlife will reveal that, far from being an insignificant dynasty of barbarians, the Liao were a sophisticated, multi-ethnic society founded upon an elaborate system of customs and politics, a culture of refined art and creativity and an astute set of diplomatic skills, developed in order to manage tensions between Khitan and Han Chinese populations. [25]

Another interpretation is found in a Chinese reference book on Liao, Xixia, Jin and Yuan Dynasty charms (辽西夏金元四朝货币图录精选) which argues that the person riding the dragon is not a mother but rather a son-in-law of a high rank. [24]

Founded by the Khitan, a nomadic tribe from eastern Mongolia, the Liao Dynasty was once the most powerful regime in East Asia. [26] When the Liao Dynasty was established in 907 AD, Emperor Taizu ( yelu a bao ji 耶律啊保機 Great Khan Abaoji 907-926 AD) was regarded by the Khitan people as the son of Tiandi, the "Celestial Ruler Supreme God". [24] The Liao Dynasty was founded just as the great Tang Dynasty was collapsing and it was quite common for non-Chinese rulers to claim ancestry to the Yellow Emperor to enhance their prestige and status. [24]

At the time of the Liao's rise, the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) governed China's prosperous agricultural heartland and was the Liao's chief rival for regional supremacy. [26] The practice of adorning tomb with murals was not uncommon in China, although art historian William Watson notes in The Arts of China 900-1620 that they were "virtually absent" from the northern metropolitan territory under the Northern Song rule but appear in the following Liao and Jin Dynasties -- showing "that this art, in a characteristic artisan style, belongs peculiarly to a society living under Qitan and Ruzhen rulers," he writes. [27] The Liao have been neglected and misunderstood by historians for centuries, and considered as a minor era in the history of China. [25] In medieval China, the Liao were the first foreign rulers to make so much effort in all directions. [26] Founders of Qin kingdom that succeeded the Liao in northern China annexed most of the Yellow River basin and forced Song to flee to south. [28] "Han Chinese written history focuses on the Song era, regarded as a golden age of Chinese art," says Shen, "and ignores its counterpart, the Liao, who are equally important in the study of Chinese art and material culture. [26] The presentation sheds new light on the significance of the Liao in Chinese history. [26] "Mobility was important to the nomadic lifestyle of the Liao," says exhibition curator and catalog editor Hsueh-man Shen, senior curator of Chinese art at the National Museums of Scotland and a lecturer in Chinese art at the University of Edinburgh. [26]

Koryo dynasty (est. 918) esisted Khitan control. 980s and 990s did Liao force Korean king to sue for peace. 995 Koryo/Goryeo entered into a tributary relationship with Liao/ 1010-1020 Koryo/Goryeo attempt to retake northern region. 1018 Koryo victory led by general Kang Kan-Ch'an/ Led Khitan to prepare a massive invasion - Koryo agreed to negotiate a settlement. [28] The Liao were a powerful dynasty that ruled over a large part of East Asia from 907 to 1125. [25]

Historical records indicate that this dynasty, controlled by the Khitan, flourished in northern China, Mongolia and parts of Russia. [29] Founded in 907 by nomadic Khitan peoples from Manchuria maintained independence from Song dynasty in China. [28] The correct question should be like that: How did ancient Chinese empire maintain military advantage to Northern peoples for nearly one thousand years or how did ancient Chinese dynasty generally had a higher ratio of battle won/lost compared to the neighboring Nomadic empires’. [30]

Khitan and Han Chinese people resided in separate zones within Liao cities, which included open land believed to provide space for yurts. [26] He describes the Liao as the first in a new succession of strong, northern nomadic regimes that combined their own heritage with Han Chinese systems--a line that ended with the Manchu in 1911. [26] "Official Han Chinese histories treat the Liao as borderland barbarians with foreign cultural practices," says Adriana Proser, John H. Foster Curator of Traditional Asian Art at the Asia Society. [26] Liao jewelry and wares display traditional Han Chinese motifs, such as mythical dragons and phoenixes. [26] The Liao combined steppe traditions of burial with belief systems and practices of the Han Chinese. [26]

Song dynasty was special in all of the Chinese dynasties that it effectively dismissed most of its most senior ranking generals before the major enemies were defeated. [30] Just earlier this year, archaeologists uncovered more examples in a North China tomb that dates to the Jin Dynasty. [27]

The Asia Society in New York City has created the first exhibition in the United States to present the achievements of the Liao, "Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China's Liao Empire (907-1175)." [26]

POSSIBLY USEFUL
While the Liao government incorporated a number of aspects of Song court culture and political bureaucracy, the emperor and his court retained Khitan rites, rituals, foods, clothing and language. [5] After a period of initial resistance, the Song achieved a rapprochement with the Liao court, thus offering prestige to the Khitan emperors. [1] The new emperor surrounded himself with anti-Khitan advisers, and in 943 he expelled the Liao envoy from the Jin capital of Kaifeng and seized the property owned by Khitan merchants in the city. [4] The Longxu Emperor (r. 982-1021) turned his attention to Korea, and in 994, after several Khitan military expeditions, the Kingdom of Koryo accepted a status as a vassal of the Liao. [1] Ultimately Lihu, who the Khitan nobility viewed as cruel and spoiled, was unable to gain enough support to further challenge Yelü Ruan, and after a peace was brokered by a cousin of the Yelü clan, Yelü Ruan formally assumed the role of emperor and the title of Emperor Shizong of Liao. [4] Mote instead attributes the fall of the Liao to the leadership ability of Aguda and to the actions of the Khitan Yelü and Xiao clans, which used early defeats at the hand of Aguda as a pretext for plotting the overthrow of Emperor Tianzuo. [4] In 934 Yelü Bei, Abaoji's son, wrote to his brother Emperor Taizong of Liao from the Later Tang court: " Li Cong Ke has slain his liege-lord, why not attack him?" In 936, the Khitan supported Shi Jing Tang ' s rebellion against the Later Tang Emperor Li Cong Ke. [8] There are two conflicting accounts of Prince Bei's death: he was assassinated either in 936 by Emperor Mo of Later Tang in retaliation for the Khitans' support in overthrowing the Tang and replacing it with the Later Jin, or in 937 by Emperor Gaozu of Later Jin (Shi Jingtang) as a show of loyalty to Emperor Taizong of Liao. [4]

The relationship between the Liao and the Later Jin soured after the death of Shi Jingtang in 942 and the elevation to the throne of Shi Chonggui, also known as Emperor Chudi of Later Jin. [4] His eldest son, Yelü Hongji (who would later be known by the name Emperor Daozong of Liao), assumed the throne having already gained experience in governing while his father was alive. [4]

In January 1005 the two dynasties signed the Chanyuan Treaty, which stipulated that the Song would give the Liao 200,000 bolts of silk and 100,000 ounces of silver each year, that the two emperors would address each other as equals, that they would finalize the location of their disputed border, and that the two dynasties would resume cordial relations. [4] While the sums (referred to as gifts by the Song and as tributes by the Liao) were later increased to 300,000 bolts of silk and 200,000 ounces of silver per year out of Song fears that the Liao might form a military alliance with the Western Xia, no major wars were fought between the Liao and Song for over a century following the signing of the treaty. [4] With military action in close proximity to Goryeo territory, coupled with a cancelled Liao invasion of Goryeo in 947 and a strong diplomatic and cultural relationship between the Goryeo and Song dynasties, Liao-Goryeo relations were exceedingly poor. [4] Both Liao and Goryeo saw each other as posing a military threat the Khitans feared that Goryeo would attempt to foment rebellions among the Balhae population in Liao territory, while Goryeo feared invasion by the Liao. [4] The Khitans made steady southward progress before reaching the Ch'ongch'on River, at which point they called for negotiations between Liao and Goryeo military leaders. [4] The Khitans did invade Goryeo in 992, sending a force that the Liao commander claimed to be 800,000 strong, and demanding that Goryeo cede to territories along the Yalu River. [4]

Under Liao rule, the population inside the walled city grew from 22,000 in 938 to 150,000 in 1113 (and the population of the surrounding region grew from 100,000 to 583,000) as large numbers of Khitan, Xi, Shiwei and Balhae from the north and Han from the south migrated to the city. [6] Emperor Zhenzong of Song marched out and met the Liao at Chanyuan, a small city on the Yellow River. [4] This changed in 1004 when Emperor Shengzong led a campaign that rapidly worked its way to right outside of the Song capital of Kaifeng by only conquering cities that quickly folded to the Liao army, while avoiding protracted sieges of the cities that resisted heavily. [4] The Liao emperor Tianzuo fled the southern capital Nanjing (today's Beijing) to the western region, and his uncle Prince Yelü Chun then formed the short-lived Northern Liao in the southern capital, but died soon afterwards. [4] The Liao then made the two principal cities acquired, Youzhou (modern Beijing) and Yunzhou (modern Datong ), the Southern and Western Capitals of its growing empire. [6]

The Khitan eventually constructed five capitals, with four of them administering local regions within the Liao domains. [1] After a failed attempt in 1134 to reclaim the territory formerly held by the Liao, Dashi decided instead to stay where he was and establish a permanent Khitan state in Central Asia. [4] In 1092 the Liao attacked several other tribes in the northwest, and by 1093 the Zubu attacked the Liao, striking deep into Khitan territory. [4]

The Northern Han again received Liao assistance, but this invasion was successful the Northern Han crumbled, and the Song were able to assume control of the territory. [4] Rulers of Liao attacked the Northern Song many times, coveting Song territory in the central plain areas. [3]

By deemphasizing the use of the military, the Song laid the foundation for a peaceful relationship with its northern neighbors, including the Liao. [1]

RANKED SELECTED SOURCES(31 source documents arranged by frequency of occurrence in the above report)


Is China in the Bible?

Such headlines have become common. It is logical that the nation with nearly 20 percent of the world’s population, the second-biggest economy and the biggest military (in terms of manpower) would inspire such discussion.

But will China become the world’s next superpower? The truth is, you cannot know China’s future unless you understand that nation’s identity in the Bible, the only source that can reveal the answer!

Yes, if you believe the Bible, you can actually know for certain—without a doubt—who will dominate the world very shortly!

Hundreds of think tanks spend countless hours and vast sums of money in search of an answer to this question. Yet, the Bible reveals the answer—if they would only believe!

The Bible is a book primarily about Israel, physical and spiritual. When other nations are mentioned, it is typically in relation to Israel. In biblical times, the interaction between the Chinese and the Israelites was of no major consequence, and so China was rarely mentioned.

However, the Bible does speak prophetically of China’s role in end-time events. Technological advances in communication and trade have shrunken the distance between China and the modern descendants of Israel considerably (for an explanation of who these nations are, request our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy). Today China has considerable global influence: Witness, for example, the amount of U.S. debt China holds and the huge trade imbalance between the two nations, and the fact that China is the world’s most dominant trading nation.

An understanding of these prophecies hinges on knowing the biblical identity of the Chinese people. Before delving into this, however, we must gain a basic overview of Chinese history.

A Brief History of a Great People

The Chinese people comprise one dominant ethnic group and many small minorities. The ethnic Han comprise more than 90 percent of the 1.3 billion people living in China. Though minority ethnic groups—such as the Uygurs, Tibetans, Mongols and Manchu—make up a small percentage of the Chinese population, in absolute numbers they are still large populations. For example, there are actually more Mongols living in China than in Mongolia.

These other ethnic groups have been absorbed into China through conquest by the Han Chinese. The Han have long dominated the heartland of China, usually defined by the Yellow River in the north, the Yangtze in the middle and the Pearl River on the south. This rich agricultural region is surrounded by border regions occupied by non-Han peoples, such as Tibet, Xinjiang (home of the Muslim Uighurs), Inner Mongolia and Manchuria, the historical name given to the territory north of North Korea.

Historically, fierce nomadic cavalry armies from the northern border regions have posed a difficult challenge to the agriculture-based Chinese. The incursions motivated the building of the Great Wall.

When the Han were strong, just like today, the border regions were under their rule. When they were weak, they lost control of those buffer regions and in some cases were even invaded by their Turkic and Mongol neighbors.

The foreign invaders all achieved measures of success, controlling portions of Chinese territory for various periods, mainly in northern China. The most complete conquest was the Mongol invasion started by Genghis Khan in the a.d. 1200s: The resulting dynasty fully controlled China for a century.

All these invasions had one thing in common, however: They all met their end by the Han Chinese.

No matter which foreign invader occupied the throne, China always remained Chinese.

One remarkable demonstration of the resilience of their society and culture was the survival, amid all the invasions, of the Chinese language—a feat few other languages have managed.

This was partly due to the size of the Han population. In a.d . 2, the first available census shows a Chinese population of about 60 million, one fourth of the world’s population at the time!

To better rule this immense population, nomadic invaders typically adopted Chinese administration techniques and the Chinese language, a language quite unrelated to their own. Eventually their descendents adopted Chinese culture and the agricultural lifestyle as well. When the Han reasserted themselves, they easily absorbed the invaders that remained.

All the mixing and migrating of different peoples has made it impossible to characterize what a pure ethnic Han is. Nevertheless, prophetically speaking, China refers to all the people of China, not just the Han ethnic group. And at any rate, the Chinese and all the minority groups living in China are of the Mongoloid race, which stems from Noah’s son Japheth.

The Mongoloid Race

As Herbert W. Armstrong taught throughout his ministry, Noah’s son Japheth married a woman of the yellow race, and went on to father the Mongoloid people. The Hebrew word Japheth means enlargement, according to The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, and a glance at the modern world shows that the Oriental populations have been enlarged and multiplied to an unparalleled degree. Japheth’s descendants have long been the most populous people on Earth, with the bulk living in China, Southeast Asia and Japan.

Genesis 10:2-5 show that the enlargement of Japheth began with the patriarch himself siring seven sons and an untold number of daughters. Obviously, these sons and daughters were a mix between the Caucasoid and Mongoloid races, the latter of which grew more definitive in subsequent generations. Soon after the dispersion at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:8), Japheth’s descendants migrated through Central Asia to the lands they occupy now.

One of the seven sons of Japheth bears special importance to the prophetic identity of the Chinese and even their nomadic neighbors. That is Magog, the second son of Japheth mentioned in Genesis 10:2.

Where Did Magog Go?

Again, the Bible deals primarily with Israel. Since Magog’s descendants migrated to an area largely independent of the civilizations developing in the Middle East, no sons of Magog are listed in Scripture.

However, Jewish historian Josephus indicated where Magog’s descendants settled. He wrote in the first century, “Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians” (The Complete Works of Josephus).

In a prophecy in Ezekiel 38, the Bible labels this vast territory of northern Eurasia where the Scyths lived—a region that stretched from the Russian steppes east into modern-day China and Mongolia—as Magog.

This territory contained many different tribes of people of the white and yellow races, all of whom were called Scyths or Scythians by the Greeks (see last month’s installment in this series). The Ezekiel 38 prophecy demonstrates this as well, listing numerous nations and peoples associated with or dwelling “in the land of Magog.” The people who most prominently settled this land are typically identified as Mongolic and Turkic. The name Mongol is even derived from the name Magog.

The ancient history of this land is a story about different Turkic and Mongolic tribes vying for control of the area. Whenever a tribe grew strong enough, it would rule the area in rare cases—such as with the Huns, Seljuk Turks and Mongols—if these nomadic tribes consolidated enough power, they conquered lands beyond their own.

The resulting conquests led to much cultural and genetic intermixing with the people of Central Asia—and makes their national borders largely irrelevant to defining their ethnic backgrounds.

Today the land the Bible calls Magog is dominated in the west by Russia—which is reasserting control over the region it once possessed through the ussr —and China in the east.

Details of the ancient history of Magog and its people remain obscure since the Turks and Mongols didn’t develop a written language until after their contact with the Chinese or Persian civilizations. Though these nomadic peoples have a sketchy history, they still play an important role in understanding China’s prophetic role.

While the Mongols’ connection to Magog is most obvious, they were just one tribe of a related people that carry the biblical name Magog. Ezekiel 38 is a prophecy about the land of Magog and all the distant “cousins” that live there and are associated with each other, such as the Russians and Chinese. One of the Mongolic nomadic tribes in this area bears a special relationship with China. They are the Khitan, a people responsible for China’s modern name and one of China’s biblical names, Chittim.

China Is Chittim

Isaiah 23:1 has a prophecy about “the land of Chittim.” To which modern nation does this end-time prophecy apply? This biblical name refers to both the island of Cyprus and to the nation of China, whose progenitors first populated Cyprus and gave it its name.

Jewish historian Josephus records that some descendants of Japheth—such as the families of Gomer, Tubal and Togarmah—first settled in southern Europe before migrating east into Asia. Kittim was one such family, originally settling lands to the west of Mesopotamia before moving to the Far East.

Genesis 10:4 lists the sons of Japheth’s fourth-born son: “The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim” (New King James Version). Kittim is synonymous with the Chittim of Isaiah’s prophecy. Verse 5 mentions that these sons of Javan settled the isles, or the coasts. This occurred shortly after the dispersion of the Tower of Babel, when the sons of Javan migrated to the northern Mediterranean. These tribes gave their names to various cities and islands, such as Cyprus and Rhodes.

The Mongoloid types of these families, including the Kittim, did not stay in the Mediterranean, however. Over hundreds of years and many generations, some of these families migrated east into Asia from Cyprus, where they are found today, according to research by Dr. Ernest Martin, formerly of Ambassador College.

The descendants of Javan’s son Kittim came to Asia some time after many of their cousins had already settled there. After their migration through Central Asia, the Kittim made their appearance in modern-day northern China and Mongolia under the name Khitan in the fourth century a.d . In the 10th century, the Khitan people managed to create a dynasty that subjugated the peoples, including the Chinese, in modern-day northern China. Their territory stretched from what is now Korea to eastern Kazakhstan, including Beijing, the seat of government in China today.

Because the Khitans controlled the overland trade and communication route from China through Central Asia to Europe, China was called Cathay, after the Khitans. The designation first applied to north China, but later designated all of China. It is a name the Russians still use for China today.

Isaiah 23:1-3 reveal that Chittim, modern-day China, will form a part of a global economic market along with Europe, one that is prophesied to shut out the nations of Israel. It should be no surprise that China will be an integral part of this economic partnership with Europe, as it is now the world’s greatest exporter. These two trading blocs will soon dominate the global economy!

The history of the Khitan demonstrates what has happened to many of the Mongolic tribes that once roamed the western portions of what the Bible calls Magog. These nomadic tribes were not considered Chinese when they were conquering the Han civilization, but after centuries of living inside China’s borders, much of their populations have been ethnically absorbed by the Han Chinese. Whatever remnants of these Mongolic nomads that have managed to remain distinct, such as the Mongols, are now classified as ethnic minorities in China.

In the Khitan’s case, their absorption was so complete that an ethnic minority group from their descendants doesn’t even exist!

The history of these nomads shows just how strong a connection China has with biblical Magog. To a certain degree, they even share the same borders and the same people. But if this explains the Mongolic nomads whose descendants now live in northern China, what about the original Han people who settled and continue to live in China’s heartland?

Handling the Han

The history of the Han Chinese is much less obscure. In fact, the Han people record their history all the way back to the time of the Tower of Babel!

Ancient Chinese records speak of China’s first emperors, Yaou, Shun and Yu.

One such record, The Shoo King, explains that one of Yaou’s tasks was to deal with the effects of a great flood that ravaged the land: “Destructive in their overflow are the waters of the inundation. In their vast extent they embrace the mountains and overtop the hills.”

While scholars explain the inundation as a local flood in China, it is clear from the biblical account, God’s sacred Word, that these annals are talking about Noah’s Flood. Consider:

During Yaou’s lifetime a new leader, Shun, came to power. According to another ancient Chinese manuscript, The Bamboo Annals, Shun is described as having a “black body.” He was obviously not Chinese, and his mother was called “the queen mother of the west,” indicating him as a foreigner. The Shoo King gives the name of Shun’s father as Koo-sow.

According to Dr. Herman Hoeh’s Compendium of World History, this Shun was none other than the Nimrod of the Bible. Therefore Koo-sow, which can also be spelled Kusou, is Nimrod’s father Cush! And the “queen mother of the west” can only be Semiramis. She was the mother-wife of Nimrod who called herself “queen of heaven,” as documented in Alexander Hislop’s Two Babylons. These are the three principal figures of man’s rebellion at the Tower of Babel.

Nimrod was a son of Cush and therefore of the black race. The Bible describes him as a mighty rebellious leader who caused the people to revolt against God shortly after the Flood (Genesis 10:8-9). He gathered the different races and peoples together to build the Tower of Babel, but was stopped when God intervened and confused the languages (Genesis 11:1-7). The different races and peoples were then scattered to different areas of the world (verse 8).

At that point, Yu became the next ruler. Yu, China’s first great hero, founded the Xia dynasty from that point forward, leadership was given on a hereditary basis. The return of government to a Chinese ruler indicates that the Chinese immediately left the area of Babel and broke free from Nimrod and his successors’ rule. Under Chinese rulers, they migrated to their modern-day location.

The chronology as presented by The Shoo King places the rules of these three kings toward the end of the third millennia b.c . (The Chinese Classics). This time frame also agrees with the Bible.

The Chinese have preserved the most complete secular history of their civilization, dating back more than 4,000 years. There is a lot of myth and legend included as well, but the general chronology of emperors is verified by archeological finds, as well as what is recorded in Scripture.

Archeological Proof

Western scholars and the Chinese themselves, heavily influenced by Western thought after the 1920s, believed the Xia dynasty and the history immediately following were mere inventions, mythical heroes and kingdoms.

However, an archeological find in 1959 at Erlitou in the western part of the Henan province revealed an early Chinese society dating back to the same time and place that The Shoo King records the Xia dynasty existed! The city found at Erlitou is the largest of all cities found dating to this time period and is believed to be the capital city of the Xia government.

Since that find in the North China Plain off the Yellow River, archeologists have found some 200 sites revealing the same culture throughout a broad area, demonstrating a rapid settlement and urbanization during 1900 to 1500 b.c. This was the formation of the first Chinese state! (The Chinese Neolithic:Trajectories to Early States).

TheBamboo Annals records the existence of other Chinese states and how the Xia rulers expanded their control over them. Archeologists have found evidence of other Chinese states, but none contained as many settlements as those closely identified with the city found in Erlitou where the Xia ruled—clearly the center of power of the first post-Flood Chinese civilization.

Interestingly, the archeological record shows a period of extremely low-population settlement in the period immediately before the Erlitou culture arrived. The archeologists, steeped in evolutionary thought, call the time before the Flood the Neolithic period. They have found evidence of a thriving civilization in China in this time period, followed by a contraction in settlement, with evidence pointing to drastic flooding in the region (ibid.).

Though the archeologists won’t admit it, this is evidence of a great flood followed by a resettlement of the area led by the Xia dynasty!

Back to Gog and Magog

So if history is clear that Shun is Nimrod, who are Yaou and Yu? How do these names fit in our biblical identity?

A basic understanding of Ezekiel 38 gives us that information. That chapter speaks of the land of Magog and specific people or peoples living in that land: “Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog” (verse 2). Gog and Magog are also mentioned together in Revelation 20:8, showing a close connection between the land and peoples. When Arab historians talked of the Mongols, they used the terms Yagog and Magog.

According to Dr. Hoeh, Yaou in Chinese history is likely the same person the Arabs call Yagog in their tradition. Every prophetic indication is that China has a strong connection with Gog and Magog. Ezekiel 38:2 refers to China. Along with Russia, China dominates the entire area of Magog and is associated with the nations listed in subsequent verses.

Therefore, the Chinese Han people were ruled first by a Japhetic descendant associated with Magog—possibly his son, though the Bible doesn’t say specifically. During Nimrod’s rebellion at the Tower of Babel, the Chinese were ruled by Nimrod. After his reign, when God intervened and changed the languages, government over the Chinese returned to the Japhetic line, under Yu’s rule. These people then migrated north and east to modern-day China, setting up their capital in the North China Plain at the end of the third millennium b.c .

The location of China helps reveal other biblical identities as well.

Kings of the East

In a prophecy recorded in Daniel 11, a clash is foretold between “the king of the north,” a German-led European power, and “the king of the south,” a radical Islamic power led by Iran (these prophetic identities are explained in our booklets Germany and the Holy Roman Empire and The King of the South, both free upon request). Emerging victorious, the European army is then prophesied to conquer the tiny Jewish nation now called Israel. At that point, verse 44 foretells, “tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble” this European king.

Any map will show that north and east of Jerusalem are Russia and China, the two dominant powers of the land biblically referred to as Magog!

This event is further expounded in Revelation 16:12, where it is prophesied that the “kings of the east” will gather an army that numbers 200 million soldiers! (Revelation 9:14-16). Such a vast army could only be assembled with the massive population of China. Clearly China is one of those kings of the east!

So back to our original question: Will China become the world’s next dominating superpower after the decline of the U.S.? The answer is no!

Though it will grow to tremendous world power, even superpower status—especially through economic means, as indicated in Isaiah 23—it will not rise to the top spot. That position will be filled by the European power led by Germany! After a short economic partnership, China will violently contend with the king of the north for global dominance.

But this war will end when Jesus Christ returns and destroys both powers!

After that, according to biblical prophecy, Christ will restore His government on Earth, a government that will bring peace and prosperity for 1,000 years. Yet Ezekiel 38 prophesies that not every nation will submit to Christ’s rule voluntarily. Soon after the Second Coming, the people of Asia will form an army in order to attack the people living in Jerusalem!

This will be the last great rebellion in the 1,000-year period. Christ will utterly destroy it and deliver His people. It is a grand statement from God: “Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23).

Believing the Bible gives us an understanding of ancient Chinese history that scholars reject, and reveals the future status of China and major events this world power will participate in. But even more, it gives us the final and inspiring end result: Christ establishing His Kingdom on Earth!

God is offering the wonderful opportunity to know, now, who is the Lord! Horrible wars are prophesied to occur shortly, but God will deliver His people, those who know He is the Lord and rely on Him. That should lead to the next big question: Are you one of those?

For further study, order a free copy of our booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.


References

  • Xu Elina-Qian, Historical Development of the Pre-Dynastic Khitan, University of Helsinki, 2005. 273 pages. (for pre-907)
  • MATSUI, Hitoshi 松井等 (Japan). "Qidan boxing shi 契丹勃興史 (History of the rise of the Khitan)". Mamden chiri-rekishi kenkyu hokoku 1 (1915).
    Translated into Chinese by Liu, Fengzhu 劉鳳翥. In Minzu Shi Yiwen Ji 民族史譯文集 (A Collection of Translated Papers on Ethnic Histories) 10 (1981). Repr. in: Sun, Jinji et al. 1988 (vol. 1), pp. 93–141
  • Chen, Shu 陳述. Qidan Shi Lunzheng Gao 契丹史論證稿 (A Study on the History of the Khitan). Beijing: Zhongyang Yanjiu Yuan Shixue Yanjiu Suo 中央研究院史學研究所, 1948.
  • Chen, Shu 陳述. Qidan Shehui Jingji Shi Gao 契丹社會經濟史稿 (A Study on the Khitan's Social Economical History). Shanghai: Sanlian Chuban She 三聯出版社, 1963.
  • Feng, Jiasheng 1933.
  • Shu, Fen (舒焚), Liaoshi Gao 遼史稿 (An History of the Liao). Wuhan: Hubei Renmin Chuban She 湖北人民出版社, 1984
  • WITTFOGEL, Karl & FENG, Chia-sheng. History of Chinese Society: Liao (907-1125). Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1949.
  • Biran, Michal. The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World, ISBN 0-521-84226-3
  • Wei Shu 魏史 (Dynastic History of the Northern Wei Dynasty): Wei, Shou 魏收 et al. eds. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局, 1973.
  • Xin Wudai Shi (XWDS) 新五代史 (New Dynastic History of the Five Dynasties): Ouyang, Xiu 歐陽修 et al. eds. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局, 1974.
  • Sui Shu (SS) 隋書 (Dynastic History of the Sui Dynasty): Wei Zheng 魏徵 et al. eds. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局, 1973.
  • Jiu Tangshu (JTS) 舊唐書 (Old Dynastic History of Tang Dynasty): Liu, Xu 劉昫 et al. eds. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局, 1975.
  • Xin Tangshu (XTS) 新唐書 (New Dynastic History of the Tang Dynasty): Ouyang, Xiu 歐陽修 et al. eds. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局, 1975
  • Liao Shi (LS) 遼史 (Dynastic History of the Khitan Liao Dynasty): Tuotuo 脱脱 et al. eds. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局, 1974
  • Song Shi 宋史 (History of Song): Tuotuo 脫脫 et al. eds. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局, 1974
  • Zizhi Tongjian (ZZTJ) 資治通鑒 (Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government): Sima, Guang 司馬光 ed. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局, 1956
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  • Khitans
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Liao dynasty

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Liao dynasty, Wade-Giles romanization Liao, (907–1125), in Chinese history, dynasty formed by the nomadic Khitan (Chinese: Qidan) tribes in much of what now constitutes the provinces of the Northeast region (Manchuria) and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. Adopting the Chinese dynastic name of Liao, the Khitan created a dual government to rule their conquests. The southern government, which ruled the Chinese parts of the empire, was modeled on the administration of the Tang dynasty (618–907), which the Khitan had helped destroy. The northern government, which was set up on a tribal basis, ruled over the nomads of the Inner Asian steppes. Traditionally, the start of the Liao period is given as 907, the last year of the Tang, but Chinese historians often place it at 916, when Yelü Yi (or Abaoji) formally established himself as emperor.

Afraid that their use of Chinese advisers and administrative techniques would blur their own ethnic identity, the Khitan made a conscious effort to retain their own tribal rites, food, and clothing and refused to use the Chinese language, devising a writing system for their own language instead.

After the establishment of the Song dynasty (960–1279) in China proper, the Liao carried on a border war with the Song for control of North China. The war was eventually settled in 1004, when the Song agreed to pay an annual tribute to the Liao. The Liao dynasty, which continued many of the cultural practices of the Song, was destroyed in 1125 by the Juchen (Chinese: Nüzhen, or Ruzhen) tribes, who had formerly been subjects of the Khitan and who rose in rebellion against them with the aid of the Song. The Juchen went on to defeat the Song and, as the Jin dynasty (1115–1234), establish rule over North China. The Jin adopted most of the Liao governmental system.


Watch the video: Liao dynasty (August 2022).