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), also called Nanzhao (Chinese: 南诏; pinyin: Nánzhào) was a 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 (literately "Later Li") in the next year.

The Duan family claimed descent from a Han Chinese family originating in Gansu province.

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]

King Duan Xingzhi of Dali was then enfeoffed as Maharaja (摩诃罗嵯) by the Yuan Emperor Kublai Khan, and the Dali Kingdom Duan royal family continued to hold the title of Maharaja in Yunnan as vassals to the Mongols under the supervision of Mongolian imperial princes and Muslim governors (Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar). After the Ming dynasty conquered Yunnan from the Yuan, the Duan royals were shipped off to the Ming capital of Nanjing by the Hongwu Emperor.

Dali kings family tree[edit]

Duan Siping 段思平
b. c.894–d. c.944
Taizu 太祖 r.937–9441
Duan Siliang 段思胄 (d.951)
Taizong 太宗 (r.945–951)3
Duan Siying 段思英
Wénjīng huángdì 文経皇帝
Duan Sicong 段思聰 d.968
Zhìdàoguǎngcí huángdì
至道广慈皇帝 r.952–9684
Duan Sushun 段素順 d.985
Yīngdào huángdì 应道皇帝
Duan Zhisi 段智思
Duan Suying 段素英
Zhāomíng huángdì 昭明皇帝
Duan Silian 段思廉
Xìngzōng 兴宗 r.1044–107511
Duan Sulian 段素廉 d.1022
Xuānsù huángdì 宣肃皇帝
Duan Lianyi 段廉義 d.1080
Xìngzōng 兴宗 r.1075–108012
Duan Suzhen 段素真
Shèngdé huángdì 圣德皇帝
Duan Sulong 段素隆
Bǐngyì huángdì 秉义皇帝
Duan Shouhui 段壽輝
Shàngmíng huángdì
上明皇帝 r.1080–108113
Duan Zhengming 段正明
Bǎodìng huángdì 保定皇帝
Duan Zhengchun 段正淳
Zhongzong 中宗
Duan Yu 段和譽
Xianzong 憲宗 1108–114716
Duan Suxing 段素興
Tiānmíng huángdì 天明皇帝
Duan Zhengxing 段正興
Duan Zhixing 段智興
Xuanzong 宣宗 r.1171–120018
Duan Zhixiang 段智祥
Duan Zhilian 段智廉
Duàn Ziangxing 段祥興
Xiàoyì huángdì 孝義皇帝
Duan Xingzhi 段興智
r.1251–1254; 1257–126022


  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]

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