Nanzhao

From Academic Kids

Nanzhao (Traditional Chinese: 南詔, Simplified Chinese: 南诏, pinyin: Nnzhāo, Alternate spellings: Nanchao, Nan Chao) was a Bai kingdom that flourished in East Asia during the 8th and 9th centuries. It was centered around present-day Yunnan in China.

Contents

Founding and Ethnography

Originally, there were several Bai tribes that settled on the fertile land around Erhai lake. Each tribe had its own 'kingdom' known as a 'zhao'. In the year AD 737, with the support of the Tang Dynasty of China, Pileguo united the six zhaos in succession, establishing a new kingdom called Nanzhao. The Nanzhao kingdom maintained close links with the Tang Dynasty ('Nan' is Chinese for south), and it was made up of both Bai and Yi nationalities. Some historians believe that the majority of the population was Bai, but that the elite was Yi. In any case, the capital was established in 738 at Taihe (modern day Taihe village, a few miles south of Dali). Located in the heart of the Erhai valley, the site was ideal: it could be easily defended against attack, and it was in the midst of rich farmland.

Religion

Nanzhao had a strong connection with Buddhism, as evidenced by surviving stone carvings from the period. Some scholars are said to have claimed that Nanzhao's Asarya Buddhism was related to the Tantric Ari Buddhism of Pagan, Myanmar.

Expansion

In 750, Nanzhao rebelled against the Tang Dynasty. In retaliation, the Tang sent an army against Nanzhao in 751, but this army was soundly defeated at Xiaguan. (It was in the same year that the Tang suffered another serious defeat at the hands of the Arabs at the Battle of Talas in Central Asia; these defeats weakened the dynasty both internally and externally.) Today the General's Cave (two km west of Xiaguan), and the Tomb of Ten Thousand Soldiers (in Tianbao Park) bear witness to this great massacre. In 754 another army was sent, this time from the north, but it too was defeated. Bolstered by these successes, Nanzhao expanded rapidly, first into Burma, then into the rest of Yunnan, down into northern Laos and Thailand, and finally, north into Sichuan. In 829, Chengdu was taken; it was a great prize, as it enabled Nanzhao to lay claim to the whole of Sichuan province, with its rich paddy fields. This was too much for the Chinese, who lost no time in counter attacking.

Decline

By 873, Nanzhao had been expelled from Sichuan, and retreated back to Yunnan. Taking Chengdu marked the high point of the Nanzhao kingdom, and it was a watershed: from then on, the Nanzhao Kingdom slowly declined.

Overthrow

In 902, the Nanzhao dynasty was overthrown, and it was followed by three other dynasties in quick succession, until Duan Siping seized power in 937 to establish the Kingdom of Dali.

References

de:Nanchao nl:Nan Chao vi:Nam Chiếu zh:南诏国

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