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The Liao dynasty (//; Khitan: Mos Jælud; traditional Chinese: 遼朝; simplified Chinese: 辽朝; pinyin: Liáo cháo), also known as the Khitan Empire (Khitan: Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur), officially the Great Liao (Chinese: 大遼; pinyin: Dà Liáo), was an imperial dynasty of China that existed between 916 and 1125, ruled by the Yelü clan of the Khitan people. Founded around the time of the collapse of the Tang dynasty, at its greatest extent it ruled over Northeast China, the Mongolian Plateau, the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, southern portions of the Russian Far East, and the northern tip of the North China Plain.
Great Liao / Qidan
|Common languages||Khitan, Middle Chinese, Jurchen|
|Historical era||Medieval Asia|
• Abaoji becomes Khagan of Khitans
• Abaoji assumes the title of Celestial Emperor
• "Great Liao" adopted as a dynastic name
• Signing of the Chanyuan Treaty with Song
• Emergence of Jin dynasty
• Emperor Tianzuo captured by Jin
• Western Liao established
|947 est.||2,600,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi)|
|Currency||Mostly barter in the nomadic areas, and cash coins in the southern circuit. (See: Liao dynasty coinage)|
|Today part of|
1. Shangjing (Linhuang) was ranked first of five capitals that were established by Liao, all of which served concurrently as regional capitals of a circuit. The other four capitals included Nanjing (Xijin, today's Beijing), Dongjing (Liaoyang), Xijing (Datong) and Zhongjing (Dading, today's Ningcheng).
|Part of a series on the|
|History of China|
|History of Mongolia|
The dynasty rose from the consolidation of power among the Khitans in the 8th century and their expansionist campaigns in the latter half of the 9th century. Eventually the Yila chieftain, Abaoji, became the leader of the Khitans and proclaimed a Chinese-style dynastic state in 916. The Liao dynasty launched multiple military campaigns against neighboring states and peoples including the Kumo Xi, Shiwei, Tatars, Zubu, Khongirad, Balhae, Goryeo, Later Tang, and the Song dynasty. Its conquests include the Sixteen Prefectures (including present-day Beijing and part of Hebei) by fueling a proxy war that led to the collapse of the Later Tang (923–936). In 1004, the Liao dynasty launched an expedition against the Northern Song dynasty. After heavy fighting and large casualties between the two empires, both sides worked out the Chanyuan Treaty. Through the treaty, the Liao dynasty forced the Northern Song to recognize them as peers and heralded an era of peace and stability between the two powers that lasted approximately 120 years. It was the first state to control all of Manchuria.
Tension between traditional Khitan social and political practices and Han influence and customs was a defining feature of the dynasty. This tension led to a series of succession crises; Liao emperors favored the Han concept of primogeniture, while much of the rest of the Khitan elite supported the traditional method of succession by the strongest candidate. In addition, the adoption of Han systems and the push to reform Khitan practices led Abaoji to set up two parallel governments. The Northern Administration governed Khitan areas following traditional Khitan practices, while the Southern Administration governed areas with large non-Khitan populations, adopting traditional Han governmental practices.
The Liao dynasty was destroyed by the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty in 1125 with the capture of the Emperor Tianzuo of Liao. However, the remnant Liao loyalists, led by Yelü Dashi (Emperor Dezong of Liao), established the Western Liao dynasty (Qara Khitai), which ruled over parts of Central Asia for almost a century before being conquered by the Mongol Empire. 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 culture upon subsequent developments, such as the musical and theatrical arts.
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