Five Capital Cities of Liao
September 6, 2018 - December 9, 2018 Time: 9:00—17:00 (closed on Mondays) Venue: Room B, Floor 1

Prelude


"In the north, where the vast desert stretches away to meet the azure sky, live the Khitan people, owning countless carriages and robust horses. Spring brings them boundless green interspersed with bright red peonies."


The nomadic Khitan people in the northern realms of ancient China were gifted in riding and dancing. Their horses galloped freely in the wild; music and dance filled the yurts in which they lived. They were keen on hunting and camping according to seasons. In Spring, they hunted along the rivers; in Autumn, they hunted in the mountains. Nature blessed them with abundant resources.


In addition to the impressive landscape and their unique native customs, the Khitan people left a remarkable mark on Chinese history. They ruled north China for over 300 years. The story began in 907, when Yelü Abaoji, posthumously knows as Emperor Taizu of Liao, founded the Liao Dynasty. In 1125, Yelü Yanxi, known as Emperor Tianzuo of Liao, was taken prisoner by the Jurchen people of the Jin Dynasty. After that, Yelü Dashi led the remnants of the Khitan people to establish the Western Liao Dynasty. In 1218, the Mongol Empire put an end to its rule. In its heyday, Liao dominated the Later Jin Dynasty, controlled the Sixteen Prefectures and successively defeated the armies of the Song Dynasty. All the surrounding countries were subservient to Liao. The five capitals that were established over history were a witness to its glory in succession.


From the parallel five capitals, the Khitan people nurtured their powerful rule over northern China and then cast covetous eyes on the Central Plains. The lofty palaces and bustling streets in the five capitals reflected the competitive landscape during a turbulent era, the rise and fall of empires, the integration of peoples and the fusion of customs and beliefs. The five capitals were stages on which many legendary stories were unveiled.


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