Controversy of Nanzhao

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Controversy of Nanzhao is an issue regarding the ethnicity or cultural affiliation of the rulers of the Nanzhao kingdom (738-902) in what is now Yunnan, southwestern China.


British Clergy David proposed that the Kingdom of Nanzhao was founded by Thai, who fled to the south as a result of Mongolian Invasion in mid-14th century.[citation needed] The Thai's early history documents were destroyed during wars with Burma, therefore this theory was quickly taken by Thai people and the World.[citation needed]

Chinese scholars refuted this theory, but they did not take much efforts to clarify the exact ethnicity of the people who ruled the Kingdom.[citation needed]

Some scholars did not agree and they believed that the royal family were of Yi people.[citation needed]



The Englishman David proposed that Nanzhao was established by Tais and moved southward to escape invading Mongolian Armies.[citation needed]

The main evidence was that David collected a lot of Bai words[citation needed] and compared them to other languages.[citation needed] He found[citation needed] that there were six of them apparently related to the Tai-Kadai languages, to which Thai belongs. He thus inferred that Nanzhao was previously a Tai kingdom.[citation needed]

The clothes, postures and architecture depicted in old Nanzhao scroll paintings (南诏画卷) are distinctively Thai.[citation needed]


Some Chinese scholars[who?] believed[when?][why?] that Nanzhao was founded by the Meng family who were Yi people.[citation needed] Evidence[citation needed] was mainly based on the book Manshu (蛮书) written by Fan Chuo in 863.[citation needed] The central evidence of the Yi theory is that Manshu indirectly mentioned[citation needed] that the royal family was of Wu Man ("the wu barbarians"), and Wu Man ("the wu barbarians") were tentatively identified[citation needed] as Yi people.

The main flaws of this theory are:


It has been[when?] traditionally believed[who?][citation needed] and is increasingly[citation needed] re-believed by many that Nanzhao was founded and made up as mainstream the Bai people.[citation needed] According to a number of historical documents,[clarification needed] Nanzhao was of Bai nature and certainly the ruling class were Bai, too.[citation needed]