free ebooks

A History of China by Wolfram Eberhard

2 The State of the Kara Kitai A small troop of Liao


came the rising of the tribes of the north. They had remained military tribes; of all the wealth nothing reached them, and they were given no military employment, so that they had no hope of improving their position. The leadership was assumed by the tribe of the Juchen (1114). In a campaign of unprecedented rapidity they captured Peking, and the Liao dynasty was ended (1125), a year earlier, as we know, than the end of the Sung.

2 _The State of the Kara-Kitai_

A small troop of Liao, under the command of a member of the ruling family, fled into the west. They were pursued without cessation, but they succeeded in fighting their way through. After a few years of nomad life in the mountains of northern Turkestan, they were able to gain the collaboration of a few more tribes, and with them they then invaded western Turkestan. There they founded the "Western Liao" state, or, as the western sources call it, the "Kara-Kitai" state, with its capital at Balasagun. This state must not be regarded as a purely Kitan state. The Kitan formed only a very thin stratum, and the real power was in the hands of autochthonous Turkish tribes, to whom the Kitan soon became entirely assimilated in culture. Thus the history of this state belongs to that of western Asia, especially as the relations of the Kara-Kitai with the Far East were entirely broken off. In 1211 the state was finally destroyed.

(3) The Hsi-Hsia State in the north (1038-1227)

1 _Continuation of Turkish traditions_

After the end of the Toba state in North China in 550, some tribes of the Toba, including members of the ruling tribe with the tribal name Toba, withdrew to the borderland between Tibet and China, where they ruled over Tibetan and Tangut tribes. At the beginning of the T'ang dynasty this tribe of Toba joined the T'ang. The tribal leader received in return, as a distinction, the family name of the T'ang dynasty, Li. His dependence on China was, however, only nominal and soon came entirely to an end. In the tenth century the tribe gained in strength. It is typical of the long continuance of old tribal traditions that a leader of the tribe in the tenth century married a woman belonging to the family to which the khans of the Hsiung-nu and all Turkish ruling houses had belonged since 200 B.C. With the rise of the Kitan in the north and of the Tibetan state in the south, the tribe decided to seek the friendship of China. Its first mission, in 982, was well received. Presents were sent to the chieftain of the tribe, he was helped against his enemies, and he was given the status of a feudatory of the Sung; in 988 the family name of the Sung, Chao, was conferred on him. Then the Kitan took a hand. They over-trumped the Sung by proclaiming the tribal chieftain king of Hsia (990). Now the small state became interesting. It was pampered by Liao and Sung in the effort to win it over or to keep its friendship. The state grew; in 1031 its ruler resumed the old family name of the Toba, thus proclaiming his intention to continue the Toba empire; in 1034 he definitely parted from the Sung, and in 1038 he proclaimed himself emperor in the Hsia dynasty, or, as the Chinese generally called it, the "Hsi-Hsia", which means the Western Hsia. This name, too, had associations with the old Hun tradition; it recalled the state of Ho-lien P'o-p'o in the early fifth century. The state soon covered the present province of Kansu, small parts of the adjoining Tibetan territory, and parts of the Ordos region. It attacked the province of Shensi, but the Chinese and the Liao attached the greatest importance to that territory. Thus that was the scene of most of the fighting.

[Illustration: 12 Ancient tiled pagoda at Chengting (Hopei). _Photo H. Hammer-Morrisson_.]

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us