Emperor Taizu of Jin

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Emperor Taizu of Jin
Wanggiyan Aguda.jpg
Emperor of the Jin Dynasty
Reign January 28, 1115 – September 19, 1123
Full name

Wányán Mín 完顏旻

Birth name Wányán Āgǔdǎ 完颜阿骨打
Era dates
Shōuguó 收國 1115–1116
Tiānfǔ 天輔 1117–1123
Father Wanyan Helibo 完顏劾里缽 (posthumously honored as Emperor Shizu)
Mother Lady Nalan 拏懒氏 (posthumously honored as Empress Yijian)
Born August 1, 1068
Died September 19, 1123 (aged 55–56)

Emperor Taizu of Jin (August 1, 1068 – September 19, 1123), personal name Wanyan Aguda (simplified Chinese: 完颜阿骨打; traditional Chinese: 完顏阿骨打; pinyin: Wányán Āgǔdǎ), Han name Wanyan Min (Chinese: 完顏旻; pinyin: Wányán Mín), was Emperor of Jin from January 28, 1115 to September 19, 1123. He was the chieftain of the Jurchen (女真) Wanyan (完顏) tribe, founder and first emperor of the Jin Dynasty (金朝).[citation needed] He was the younger brother of Wanyan Wuyashu (完颜鳥雅束). Aguda was given the temple name Taizu (太祖).[citation needed]

The name [Wanyan] Aguda is transcribed [Wan-yen] A-ku-ta in Wade-Giles;[1] the alternative but official spelling Akutta (possibly from reconstruction of Jurchen language) appears in a very small number of books as well.[2][3]


Aguda was born to Shizu, Wanyan Helibo (完顏劾里缽) in 1068, near today's Ashi River in Harbin, China.[4] He was well known in his tribe for bravery and participated in numerous campaigns against rival Jurchen tribes at the command of the Liao Dynasty. In 1109, during the height of a widespread famine, Aguda assisted his father Helibo to absorb famished warriors from other tribes to strengthen his own clan. Later, he fought wars against other Jurchen clans and succeeded to unify all Jurchens under Wanyan leadership. In 1113, Aguda succeeded Wuyashu as leader of his tribe, or Dubojilie (都勃极烈). Like other Jurchens, Aguda loathed what he considered the exploitations of his tribesmen by corrupt Liao officials. He gained fame when in 1112, when Liao Emperor Tianzuodi (辽天祚帝) undertook a fishing expedition in Jurchen territory and decreed all the chieftains to dance for him, Aguda was the only person who refused to accept the emperor's order.[5]

In 1114, Aguda sent spies to Liao and prepared to revolt against the Khitan regime, which he considered decadent. His chief advisors were Nianhan (粘罕; later known by his Chinese name, Zonghan 宗翰; 1080–1136 or 1137), Wushi (also known by his Chinese name, Xiyin), and Gushe (骨括, or Hushe, 胡舍; a nephew or cousin of Aguda).[6]

In September 1114, Aguda rallied his tribesmen (around 2,500 men) at Liushui (流水) (modern-day Lalin River near Fuyu Weizitun, Jilin province) and began open rebellion. His cavalry troops captured Ningjiangzhou(宁江州) (modern-day Fuyu, Jilin province) and defeated a 7000-strong Liao troops at Battle of Chuhedian (出河店) in November. In January 1115, following a series of military successes, Aguda proclaimed himself emperor of the new Jin Dynasty. In August, his army conquered the major city of Huanglongfu (黄龍府) (modern-day Nongan, Jilin province) and defeated 700,000 Liao troops with only 20,000 Jurchen cavalrymen at the Battle of Hubudagang (戶步達崗). In 1116, Aguda completed the conquest of the entire Liaodong Peninsula. Between 1119 and 1122, Aguda's army repeatedly defeated Liao armies and captured all of Liao's five capitals.

Since the Jurchen were enemies of the Liao, the Northern Song Dynasty considered them their natural allies. In 1117, the Song sent emissaries to the Jurchen, ostensibly to buy horses, but in reality to negotiate an alliance against the Liao.[7] Between 1117 and 1123, seven Song delegations visited the Jurchen, and six Jurchen embassies went to the Song capital Kaifeng.[7] According to the Alliance on the Sea (海上之盟), which resulted from Aguda's embassy to the Song in 1119, Song troops would attack Liao from the south. In return, Jurchen troops would return the sixteen Yanyun states to Song.

During the war against the Liao, Aguda also took time to establish the new feudal governmental system based upon Jurchen tribal customs. He also organized the national agriculture with a collectivist system known as the Meng'an-Mouke (猛安謀克). Furthermore, Aguda absorbed elements of Chinese culture and ordered his "chancellor" Wanyan Xiyin (完颜希尹) to develop a unique Jurchen writing system.

Wanyan Aguda died in August 1123, at the age of 56, a few months after the Jin and Song Empires signed a treaty whereby the two empires recognizing each other as equal, and the Song agreed to pay to in the Jin an annual tribute of 200,000 taels of silver and 300,000 bolts of silk.[7] His younger brother Wanyan Wuqimai (完颜吴乞买; Han name: Wanyan Sheng, 完颜晟; temple name Taizong) succeeded in capturing Liao emperor Tianzuodi and destroying the Liao Dynasty in 1125. Wuqimai declared war against the Song Dynasty soon after the capture of the last Khitan king. Aguda was later buried in Ruiling (睿陵) in Dafang Mountain (大房山) outside Zhongdu (中都) (modern-day Beijing).


The statue of Aguda on the square of Jin Dynasty History Museum

Mounted statues of Aguda and his chief commander Nianhan have been erected on the grounds of the Jin Dynasty History Museum (金上京歷史博物馆)

at the site of the old Jin capital of Shangjing,[8] 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.
  • Guy Gavriel Kay, River of Stars is set in a fictionalized Liao China during the Jurchen invasion.


  1. ^ And, thus, appears in this form in more old-fashioned literature in English, e.g. Herbert Franke's account in The Cambridge History of China
  2. ^ Chi-ming Tung, Jiming Dong, An outline history of China, p. 144
  3. ^ Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The Contemporary Chinese Dictionary: Chinese-English Edition. ISBN 978-7-5600-3195-8. 
  4. ^ 苏金源, 论完颜阿骨打的政治、经济改革, p. 1
  5. ^ Franke, 1997 (I), pp. 153–154
  6. ^ Franke 1997(I), p. 154
  7. ^ a b c CHT, pp.224–226
  8. ^ 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)