Treasures of China's Liao Empire

A forgotten Nomadic Dynasty

The Liao Dynasty, 907-1125, also known as the Khitan Empire, was an empire in northern China that ruled over the regions of Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of northern China.

The Khitan minority was an ancient nomadic tribe that lived on the eastern slopes of the Greater Khingan Mountain range, within the eastern portions of present-day Inner Mongolia.

By the early seventh century the Khitan sought to establish their own state on China's frontier but failed due to the strong Tang resistance.

In 916, Abaoji, the chief of the Khitan tribe, established the Khitan Kingdom and proclaimed himself emperor. Historically, Abaoji was called Emperor Taizu. Two years later, Yelu Abaoji based his capital north of the Xar Moron River and named it Huangdu, "imperial capital".

In 947, Emperor Taizong renamed his dynasty the "Great Liao". In 983, Emperor Shengzong revived the name Khitan. In 1066, Emperor Daozong restored the name "Great Liao."

At the height of its power and influence, the Lia Dynasty's territory reached the coast of the Northern Sea, Eastern Sea, Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea in the east; Jinshan (Altai Mountain) and Liusha (Bailongdui Desert in Xinjiang) in the west; Kelulun, E'erkun and Selun'ge Rivers in the north; the southern side of the Outer Xing'anling Mountains in the northeast; the northern part of Shanxi, Baigou in Hebei Province; and the northern part of Gansu in the south.

Following the prosperity enjoyed during the reigns of Emperor Shengzong and Xingzong, the Liao Dynasty went into decline. In the early years of the 12th century, the Jurchen tribe gradually grew in strength and became a great threat to the Liao. In 1115, the Jurchen established its own dynasty, the Jin (Kin) Dynasty, with Aguda as the emperor. In the same year, the Jin army captured Huanglong, a strategically important town of the Liao.

The Liao government, weakened by economical disasters and internal quarrels, became brittle. Quickly, the Jin army occupied most of the Liao territory. In 1125, Emperor Tianzuo was captured by the Jin army, which brought the Liao Dynasty to an end.

This is a photographic journey through the Chinese provinces of Liaoning, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Shanxi and Beijing Shi on the search for treasures of the Liao Dynasty. A visual diary that focuses on China's past as well as it's present.