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China and Inner Asia
In Session: New Views on the “Conquest Dynasties”
1: Rethinking the label "Conquest Dynasties"
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Yale University, United States
A stream of archeological finds has transformed our understanding, particularly of the Liao and Jin dynasties. Scholars have made excellent use of materials in non-Chinese languages used by these non-Chinese ruling families: Kitan (ongoing decipherment), Mongolian, Persian, and Manchu. And materials in Japanese and Korean help us to situate these dynasties in a North Asian context. What was going on in the year 1000 in North Asia? The Liao realm, Korea, and Japan formed a Buddhist bloc in which everyone anticipated the end of the current Buddhist era in 1052. How could one best prepare for the end of the world? Devotees in different places engaged in certain practices, and we can see shared practices across North Asia. In 1005 the Liao dynasty signed the Treaty of Chanyuan with the Song dynasty, which brought a century of peace and steady income for the Liao rulers. After 1005 they turned away from China, launching an invasion of Korea. And after that failed, they launched an initiative with the Ghaznavid ruler of Afghanistan, Mahmud of Ghazna, which we can learn about by consulting Arabic-language sources. In short, this paper will suggest how much we can gain when we stop thinking of the Liao simply in a Chinese context and shift instead to a global point of view.