Dali Kingdom

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Great Li
Dablit guaif


Location of Dali (purple) in 1142
Capital Dali
Religion Buddhism
Government Monarchy
 -  937-944 Duan Siping
 -  1081–1094 Duan Zhengming
 -  1096–1108 Duan Zhengchun
 -  1172–1200 Duan Zhixing
 -  1251–1254 Duan Xingzhi
 -  Established 937 937
 -  Coup d'etat by Gao Shengtai 1095
 -  Reestablished 1096
 -  Ended by the Mongol Empire 1253 1253

Dali or Great Li (Bai language: Dablit guaif; simplified Chinese: 大理国; traditional Chinese: 大理國; pinyin: Dàlǐguó) was a Bai kingdom centred in what is now Yunnan Province of China. Established by Duan Siping in 937, it was ruled by a succession of 22 kings until the year 1253, when it was conquered by an invasion of the Mongol Empire. The capital city was at Dali.


The Kingdom of Dali was preceded by the Nanzhao Dynasty, which was overthrown in 902. Three dynasties followed in quick succession, until Duan Siping seized power in 937 and established Dali.[1] Gao Shengtai forced the puppet king Duan Zhengming to abdicate and become a monk in 1095, and renamed the state Dazhong. He returned the power to the Duan family upon his death. Duan Zhengchun renamed the state Hou Li (lit. "Later Li") in the next year.

The 11th king of Nanzhao established Buddhism as the state religion. Ten of the 22 kings of Dali gave up the throne and became monks.[2]

It is claimed that despite their military prowess and superior numbers, the Mongols could not breach the defenses of the Erhai valley, which was so suited to defense that even just a few defenders could hold out for years. It is said that the Mongols found a traitor who led them over the Cangshan mountains along a secret path, and only in this way were they able to penetrate and overrun the Bai defenders. Thus ended three centuries of independence. In 1274 the Province of Yunnan was created by the Mongol Empire at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty.

Historians, however, relate that the "traitor" was the last king of Dali himself, who first fought and then surrendered to the forces of Kublai Khan, to be spared and later appointed by Möngke Khan (also known as Mengu) as the region's first Native Chieftain.[3]


  1. ^ Alfred Schinz (1989). Cities in China. G. Borntraeger. p. 302. ISBN 3-443-37009-8. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  2. ^ "Nanzhao State and Dali State". City of Dali. 
  3. ^ Du Yuting; Chen Lufan (1989). "Did Kublai Khan's Conquest of the Dali Kingdom Give Rise to the Mass Migration of the Thai People to the South?" (free). Journal of the Siam Society (Siam Heritage Trust). JSS Vol. 77.1c (digital): pp. 2–4. Retrieved March 17, 2013. "... Duan Xingzhi, the king of the Dali Kingdom, who originally showed resistance but later was willing to surrender, was bought over and made use of. As a result, the measures taken by the Mongolian aristocracy towards the king of the Dali Kingdom rapidly took effect. In 1255 and 1256 Duan Xingzhi was presented at court, offering Mengu ... maps of Yunnan and counsels about the vanquishing of the tribes who had not yet surrendered...." 

External links[edit]

Media related to Dali Kingdom at Wikimedia Commons