||This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2011)|
The Beidi or Northern Di (Chinese: 北狄, p Běidí, w Pei-ti) was a term referring to various ethnic groups who lived in northern China during the Zhou Dynasty. By the end of the dynasty they were mostly conquered or absorbed by the Chinese.
The ancient Chinese classed their neighbors by compass direction, calling them the Northern Di, Southern Man, Eastern Yi and Western Rong. Bei Di may simply mean "northern foreigners" or it may have been a definite people whose nature was explained by its location. There is little information to assign them any ethnic or linguistic designation. The four names, or combinations of them like 'Yi-Di' are often used to mean "barbarians".
The Di seem to have lived in a horizontal band from the upper Ordos Loop and across northern Shanxi to the state of Yan north of Beijing. This area was a transition zone between the emerging Chinese civilization and the steppe peoples to the north. They seem to have practiced a mixed pastoral, agricultural and hunting economy. Other groups of Di seem to have lived interspersed between the Chinese states. To their north was the emerging steppe society whom the Chinese later called Hu. To the southwest the Rong lived along the northwest frontier of China. The Di and Rong are often associated and both were considered more warlike and less civilized than the Yi and Man.
The Di had walled towns and fought on foot. They were often enemies and sometimes allies of the various Chinese states. We hear of trade, treaties, marriage alliances and Chinese politicians fleeing to exile among the Di.
The Bai (White) Di lived in the west and the more warlike Chi (Red) Di to the east. The state of Zhongshan near Beijing was founded by the Bai Di. It adopted Chinese material culture but was never considered properly Huaxia (Chinese). Other Di groups were the Chang Di and Xianyu. The state of Fei and the Xianyu were part of the White Di confederation.
According to the Records of the Grand Historian, the ancestors of the Zhou dynasty lived in lands near the Rong and Di for fourteen generations, until Gugong Danfu led then away to the mid-Wei River valley where they built their capital near Mount Qi.
In 676-651 BC Duke Xian of Jin conquered a number of Rong and Di groups. In 662 the Di drove the Rong out of Taiyuan. In 662-659 BC the state of Xing was nearly destroyed by the Red Di until it was rescued by the State of Qi. In 660 BC the Red Di took the capital of the State of Wey and killed its ruler, but were driven out by Qi. From 660 to 507 BC Jin fought many wars with the Di, destroying Red Di state of Lushi (潞氏) in 594 BC, 'subjugating' them in 541 BC and being severely defeated by the Xianyu Di in 507 BC. In 640 BC the Di were allied with Qi and Xing against Wey and in 636 BC the Di helped the Zhou king against the state of Cheng. In 531 BC Jin attacked the Xianyu and Fei. By about 400 BC BC most of the Di and Rong had been eliminated as independent polities. Zhongshan was conquered by the State of Wei in 406 BC, regained its independence in 377 BC and was conquered by the State of Zhao in 295. Circa 283-265 BC Tian Dan fought with Di who lived in the state of Qi.
- Bei Di (北狄) or Northern Di
- Chi Di (赤狄) or Red Di
- Chang Di (長狄) or Long Di
- Bai Di (白狄) or White Di
- Xianyu (鮮虞)
See also 
- Zhongshan (state)
- Donghu people
- Di (Wu Hu)
- Xirong (people)
- Khitan people
- Cambridge History of Ancient China,1999
- Di Cosmo, 'Ancient China and its Enemies',2002