Location of Dali (purple) in 1142
|•||Coup d'etat by Gao Shengtai||1095|
|•||Ended by the Mongol Empire||1253 1253|
|Literal meaning||State of Dali|
|Alternative Chinese name|
The Dali Kingdom, known in Chinese as the Dali State (simplified Chinese: 大理国; traditional Chinese: 大理國; pinyin: Dàlǐ Guó; Bai language: Dablit Guaif), was a medieval kingdom centered in what is now Yunnan province, China, with Dali, in the valley boarding the Lake Erhai, and Kunming, the present capital of the province (on the shore of the Lake Dian), as its main cities. King Duan Siping established its capital at Dali in 937 and 22 kings of his dynasty ruled it until 1253, when it was conquered during the Mongol invasion of the area. The invaders received help from the dynasty itself, which continued to rule the area afterwards as Mongol vassals.
The Dali Kingdom was preceded by the Nanzhao dynasty, which was overthrown in 902. Three dynasties followed in quick succession before Duan Siping seized power in 937, establishing himself at Dali. Gao Shengtai forced the puppet king Duan Zhengming to abdicate and become a monk in 1095, and renamed the state "Greater China". He returned the power to Duan Zhengchun and his family upon his death, after which it is also known as the Later Dali.
The monk Li Xian Maishun came from India (821–824) to Dali where he built the Chongsheng Temple; he is considered as the first patriarch of the Azhali (阿吒力, from Sanskrit ācārya) religion, which became the particular form of esoteric Buddhism prevalent in the region. In 825 the monk Pulituoke came from India calling himself the holy Acuoye Guanyin from the western Lotus land. The monk Zantuojueduo/Shilidaduo (Candragupta) came in ca. 828 (or 839/840) from Mojiatao (Magadha) to Heqing (about 100 km north of Dali) where he built a temple and began proselytizing; his activity was incorporated into later Bai legends where he is described as having come from Tibet. Meng Longshun (877–897), 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.
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 Cang 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 as the region's first native chieftain (tusi).
The Dali King Duan Xingzhi himself defected to the Mongols, and helped them conquer the rest of Yunnan with his troops.
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). The Duan family reigned in Dali while the Governors served in Kunming. After the Ming dynasty conquered Yunnan from the Yuan, The Duan royals were scattered in various distant areas of China by the Hongwu Emperor.
Family Tree of the Kings of Dali
|Family Tree of the Kings of Dali|
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... 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....
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- Media related to Kingdom of Dali at Wikimedia Commons