Duan Zhixing

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Duan Zhixing
Emperor of Dali
Reign 1172–1200
Predecessor Duan Zhengxing
Successor Duan Zhilian
Died 1200
Issue Duan Zhilian
Full name
Family name: Duan (段)
Given name: Zhixing (智興)
Era dates
Lizhen (1172–1175)
Shengde (1176–1180)
Jiahui (1181–1184)
Yuanheng (1185–1195)
Anding (1195–1200)
Posthumous name
Short: Emperor Gongji (功極帝)
Temple name
Xuanzong (宣宗)
House Dali
Father Duan Zhengxing
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Duan.

Duan Zhixing (Chinese: 段智興; temple name Xuanzong; posthumous name Gongji) was the 18th[1] ruler of the Kingdom of Dali (present-day Yunnan, China) between 1172 and 1200. Duan's reign was marred by the power struggles within the influential Gao family, whose power had long eclipsed the ruling Duan family.


In 1173, Duan sent a party of 23 envoys, led by Li Guanyinde (李觀音得), to trade with the Song dynasty in Hengshan Fort (橫山砦; in present-day Nanning, Guangxi). Li later removed Gao Shouchang (高壽昌), the Duke of Zhong (中國公), from power and replaced him with Gao Zhenming (高貞明; Gao Shouchang's nephew). Aji (阿機) rebelled and ousted Gao Zhenming, restoring Gao Shouchang back in his duke position. Gao Zhenming then occupied Heqing (鶴慶) and proclaimed himself the Duke of Ming (明國公) and gave himself a temple name, effectively declaring independence from the Kingdom of Dali. Another member of the Gao clan, Gao Miaoyin (高妙音), also rebelled in Baiya (白崖) and occupied Shanchan (鄯闡). He made a pact with his nephews, Gao Chengxian (高成賢) and Gao Chengzheng (高成正), to prevent them from taking over Shanchan. However, Gao's nephews betrayed him later and started a war with their uncle. It is unknown if these developments had any long term consequences.

Duan initiated several construction projects in Dali. Being a devout Buddhist like his predecessors, he repaired 16 Buddhist temples in 1190. In 1195, he ordered the building of defensive infrastructure at crucial entry points into Dali. Five years later, he died and was succeeded by his son, Duan Zhilian (段智廉).

Era names[edit]

Duan Zhixing had five era names in the twenty-eight years of his reign.

  • Lizhen (利貞; 1172–1175)
  • Shengde (盛德; 1176–1180)
  • Jiahui (嘉會; 1181–1184)
  • Yuanheng (元亨; 1185–1196?)
  • Anding (安定; 1197–1200)

In fiction[edit]

Duan Zhixing
Created by Jin Yong
Appearances The Legend of the Condor Heroes,
The Return of the Condor Heroes
Personal information
Nickname(s) "Southern Emperor" (南帝),
"Southern Monk" (南僧)
Alias(es) "Reverend Yideng" (一燈大師)
Gender Male
Spouse(s) Liu Ying (concubine)
Organisations Dali
Students Chu Dongshan,
Zhang Shaoshou,
Wu Santong,
Zhu Ziliu,
Ci'en (Qiu Qianren)
Skills and abilities
Neigong First Heaven Skill,
Nine Yin Manual skills
Unarmed combat skills Yiyang Finger

Duan is fictionalised as a character in the wuxia novel The Legend of the Condor Heroes and its sequel, The Return of the Condor Heroes, by Jin Yong. He is depicted as a formidable martial artist and one of the Five Greats, the five most powerful fighters in the jianghu (martial artists' community), alongside Wang Chongyang, Huang Yaoshi, Ouyang Feng and Hong Qigong. In the first novel, he emerges as one of the top five champions at the first martial arts contest on Mount Hua and earns himself the nickname "Southern Emperor" (南帝). He is famous for his signature martial arts technique, the 'Yiyang Finger' (一陽指).

The Legend of the Condor Heroes[edit]

In his early life as the emperor of Dali, Duan was extremely obsessed with martial arts and neglected his concubine, Liu Ying. Liu Ying had an illicit affair with Zhou Botong and bore him a son. However, the infant was critically wounded by a masked attacker (later revealed to be Qiu Qianren). Liu Ying pleaded with Duan to save her child's life but he refused and the infant died. She swore vengeance on him and left to lead a reclusive life in the Black Swamp. Duan felt remorseful later so he abdicated and became a Buddhist monk known as "Reverend Yideng" (一燈大師). His top four aides – Chu Dongshan, Zhang Shaoshou, Wu Santong and Zhu Ziliu – follow him to practise Buddhism and disguise themselves as a fisherman, a woodcutter, a farmer and a scholar respectively .

Guo Jing brings Huang Rong to Dali to seek help after the latter was wounded by Qiu Qianren. They encounter Liu Ying (renamed to Yinggu), who directs them to Yideng. Yideng uses his immense inner energy and the 'Yiyang Finger' to heal Huang Rong at the expense of his life. Shortly after, Yinggu appears to kill Yideng because she knows that he is now weakened and deprived of energy, but Guo Jing and Huang Rong intervene and stop her. Yideng recovers after Guo Jing imparts the Nine Yin Manual skills to him. Yideng appears in the final chapters during the second martial arts contest on Mount Hua. Qiu Qianren shows up and falls off a cliff after losing his footing but Yideng saves him. Qiu Qianren feels ashamed of his past misdeeds and grateful to Yideng for saving his life, so he agrees to become a Buddhist monk to atone for his sins and becomes Yideng's apprentice.

The Return of the Condor Heroes[edit]

Yideng makes brief appearances in the sequel. By then, Dali has been conquered by the Mongols, who are forming a two-pronged attack on the Song Empire from the north and south. Yideng participates in the Battle of Xiangyang and helps the people of Song fight the Mongol invaders. Yideng also appears at Passionless Valley, where he helps Yang Guo and Xiaolongnü deal with Gongsun Zhi and Qiu Qianchi.

Martial arts and skills[edit]

  • 'Yiyang Finger' (一陽指) is Yideng's signature martial arts technique. The skill allows him to channel inner energy into his fingers and propel towards enemies and deal a great amount of damage. He also uses this technique to save the lives of people who have been poisoned or have sustained internal injuries, by using his inner energy to purge venom from their bodies or clearing their meridians to improve blood and energy circulation.
  • 'First Heaven Skill' (先天功) is Yideng's inner energy cultivation technique. He learnt it from Wang Chongyang in exchange for teaching Wang his 'Yiyang Finger'.


  1. ^ If Gao Shengtai's reign is taken into consideration, Duan Zhixing would have been the 19th emperor. See [1].


Preceded by
Duan Zhengxing
Emperor of Dali
1172 AD–1200 AD
Succeeded by
Duan Zhilian