Wanyan Nianhan

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Wanyan Nianhan (完颜粘罕; Wade-Giles, Wan-yen Nien-han), later known by his Chinese name, Zonghan (宗翰) (1080–1136)[1] was one of the top military commanders of the Jurchen people both during their pre-imperial and early Jin Empire period.


Wanyan Nianhan was a son of Wanyan Sagai (完颜撒改) and great-grandson of the Wanyan tribe chieftain, Wanyan Wugunai. This made him a close relative of the Wanyan Aguda - the Wanyan chieftain in the early 12th century, and the future founder of the Jin Empire, who was a cousin of Sagai and grandson of Wugunai.[2]

Nianhan was one of the chief associates of Wanyan Aguda in his rebellion against the Liao Dynasty (1114) and the ensuing war that destroyed the Liao.[3] Under Aguda's successor, Wanyan Wuqimai (r. 1123-1134), Nianhan played a major role in the wars against the Song Dynasty. During the campaign of 1125-1126, he was the "left vice-marshal": the commander the Western Army of the Jurchen, which invaded Shanxi and besieged Taiyuan, while the Eastern Army, led by the "right vice-marshal" Wanyan Wolibu (完颜斡离不; Chinese name Wanyan Zongwang 完颜宗望) was besieging Bianjing (Kaifeng).[4]

When the war against the Song Dynasty resumed in 1126, Nianhan, who had taken Taiyuan, joined Wolibu at the walls of Bianjing. Together the two armies sieged the Song capital city for a month, took it on January 9, 1127, captured the Song emperors, and returned to the Jin capital in Manchuria with their prisoners and loot.[4]

Nianhan continued to be influential throughout Wuqimai's rule. He, along with Wanyan Xiyin, was instrumental in persuading Wuqimai to bequeath the Jin throne to Aguda's son Dan, rather than to Wuqima's own son Puluhu (Zongpan).[5]

Like other top Jurchen generals, during Wuqimai's reign Nianhan was able to run a portion of the empire as a semi-independent warlord, running his own government in Shanxi. However, he lost his military power during Wanyan Dan's drive to centralize the control of the empire in the hands of the central bureaucracy, and in 1135 was transferred to a position in the central government.[6]


The statue of Wanyan Zonghan(Nianhan) on the square of Jin Dynasty History Museum

Mounted statues of Nianhan and of his emperor Aguda have been erected on the grounds of the Jin Dynasty Shangjing History Museum (金上京历史博物馆) at the site of the old Jin capital of Shangjing,[7] near today's Acheng, Heilongjiang.


  • Herbert Franke, 1997 (I): "Chinese Texts on the Jurchen (I): a Translation of the Jurchen in the San ch'ao pei-meng hui-pien. Originally published in Zantralasiatische Studien 9. Wiesbaden, 1975. Reprinted in: Herbert Franke and Hok-lam Chan, "Studies on the Jurchens and the Chin Dynasty", Variorum Collected Series Studies: CS591, Ashgate, 1997. ISBN 0-86078-645-5. (The work whose name is transcribed in Wade-Giles as San ch'ao pei-meng hui-pien is Xu Mengxin's (徐夢莘) "Collected Accounts of the Treaties with the North under Three Reigns" (三朝北盟会编, pinyin: San chao beimeng huibian). Franke translates and comments on Chapter 3 of this collection, which deals with the history and customs of the Jurchen people).
  • (CHT) The Cambridge History of China, vol. 6.
  • Jing-shen Tao, "The Jurchen in Twelfth-Century China". University of Washington Press, 1976, ISBN 0-295-95514-7.


  1. ^ The death date, 1136, as per Tao (1976), p. 35.
  2. ^ Tao (1976), genealogical chart on p. 26.
  3. ^ Franke 1997(I), p. 154
  4. ^ a b Tao (1976). Pages 20-21.
  5. ^ Tao (1976). Page 37.
  6. ^ Tao (1976). Pages 41, 139 (note 41).
  7. ^ 阿骨打、粘罕雕像落成 ("Aguda's and Nianhan's statues completed"), www.northeast.cn, 2005-09-19 (Including photos of the new statues)