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Liao Dynasty (China)

Liao Dynasty (China)

C O N T E N T S:

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.(More...)
  • In 1005 Chanyuan Treaty was signed, and peace remained between the Liao dynasty and the Song dynasty for the next 120 years.(More...)
  • 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.(More...)
  • 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.(More...)
  • 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.(More...)
  • 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.(More...)
  • From 1020 CE Goryeo sent tribute to the Liao instead of Song China and adopted the Khitan calendar.(More...)
  • All the above had pushed the development of Liao's medicine in Northern China to its mature stage.(More...)

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.(More...)
  • During the period of the Northern Song (960-1127), there were several regimes established by different ethnic groups, such as the Liao kingdom established by the Khitan tribe (Qidan), the West Xia kingdom established by the Dangxiang tribe and the Jin kingdom established by the Nvzhen tribe.(More...)



RANKED SELECTED SOURCES

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]

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23. (3) Brooklyn Museum

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