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Liao Archaeology: Tombs and Ideology along the Northern Frontier of China

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Title:Liao Archaeology: Tombs and Ideology along the Northern Frontier of China
Authors:Shatzman Steinhardt, Nancy
Keywords:Chinese archaeology
north Asia
northeast Asia
mortuary practices
LC Subject Headings:Prehistoric peoples--Asia--Periodicals.
Prehistoric peoples--Oceania--Periodicals.
East Asia--Antiquities--Periodicals.
Date Issued:1998
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu)
Series:Volume 37
Number 2
Abstract:The death and burial practices of the semi-nomadic Liao empire (A.D. 947-1125) of China and Inner Mongolia are explored to determine whether, once the northeast Asian group known as the Qidan established their dynasty in Chinese territory, they came to follow the customs of the Chinese afterlife as they had done in their transformations from nomadism to city dwelling and from native practices to Buddhist worship; or, if in the privacy of death they retained their native rites and customs. Evidence pertaining to this issue comes both from Chinese texts and from excavations of Liao-period tombs. Chinese texts about Qidan burial practice are cited, showing that from the Chinese point of view, the burial customs of the Qidan classified them as barbarians. Evidence from Qidan tombs, however, seems to contradict the Chinese textual accounts. The tombs of the Liao emperors, it will be shown, employed Chinese architecture in dramatic fashion even in the early tenth century. Excavated evidence from nonroyal Liao tombs also shows the use of Chinese building traditions. Beneath or behind the architectural facades, however, native Qidan practices often persisted. In addition, it is argued that burial practices suggest that the Qidan not only deviated at times from Chinese funerary practices, but also were influenced by practices of other peoples of north and northeast Asia, including the first-millenium B.C. Scythians. KEYWORDS: Chinese archaeology, north Asia, northeast Asia, mortuary practices, ethnicity.
ISSN:1535-8283 (E-ISSN)
0066-8435 (Print)
Appears in Collections: Asian Perspectives, 1998 - Volume 37, Number 2 (Fall)

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