The King­dom of Bal­hae’s Great Legacy

China Scenic - - History -

Although the King­dom of Bal­hae had been com­pletely oblit­er­ated, it left be­hind a great cul­tural legacy for north­east­ern China.

The Bal­hae peo­ple orig­i­nated from the Sumo, one of the seven tribes of the Mohe peo­ples; then when Bal­hae was at its most pow­er­ful, they were ab­sorbed among five of the other tribes, leav­ing only the north­ern­most Heishui tribe re­tain­ing their au­ton­omy from start to fin­ish.

The Heishui Mohe were even­tu­ally con­quered by the Khi­tans. Later when the Jurchens, who were orig­i­nated from the Heishui peo­ple, un­der lead­er­ship of Wanyan Aguda, led a suc­cess­ful re­bel­lion against the Liao Dy­nasty (916–1125, es­tab­lished by Khi­tans), bring­ing an end to a dy­nasty that had thrived in north­ern China for over two cen­turies, and founded the Jin Dy­nasty (1115–1234).

When the Jurchens re­belled against Liao, many de­scen­dants of the Bal­hae mar­ried Jurchen roy­alty, so that they too be­came roy­alty of the King­dom of Jin. The Jin Dy­nasty had a to­tal of eight em­per­ors, four moth­ers of whom were Bal­hae.

Dur­ing Jin rule, many of the peo­ple of Bal­hae were mar­ried with the Jurchens, Han and oth­ers, and by the time of the na­tion-wide unity of the Yuan Dy­nasty (1271–1368), the Bal­hae no longer ap­peared in his­tory as a soli­tary peo­ple. To­day, the Bal­hae, once a tribe of their own, have long since been com­pletely ab­sorbed by other peo­ples of north­ern China.

Af­ter the found­ing of the King­dom of Bal­hae, they per­formed a com­pre­hen­sive study of the or­di­nance sys­tem of the Tang Dy­nasty, so that from the point of view of the sur­round­ing king­doms, there was vir­tu­ally no dif­fer­ence be­tween Bal­hae and Tang.

Early ar­chae­o­log­i­cal pub­lish­ings show that, to­day in Yan­bian Korean Au­tonomous Pre­fec­ture, Jilin and Mu­dan­jiang City, Hei­longjiang alone there are as many as 339 ex­tant her­itages re­lated to the King­dom of Bal­hae. These her­itages are widely var­ied, and in­clude set­tle­ments, moats, tem­ples, tombs, and so on. Among the sculp­tures and paint­ings un­earthed from within Bal­hae cities, many glim­mer with the grace­ful beauty of the peak of Tang artistry.

The third King of Bal­hae, Dae Heum-mu, had two fa­mous daugh­ters: his sec­ond daugh­ter Princess Zhen­hui, and fourth daugh­ter Princess Zhenx­iao. Later, in­cred­i­ble find­ings were made in the tombs of these two princesses. Zhen­hui’s main tomb was lo­cated on Li­ud­ing Moun­tain in Dun­hua, Jilin, and the tomb­stone was dis­cov­ered in 1949. The in­scrip­tion on the tomb­stone cor­re­sponded to the bronze and stone script pop­u­lar dur­ing the Tang Dy­nasty, from which it is ap­par­ent that the Bal­hae peo­ple not only used Chi­nese char­ac­ters, but they also stud­ied the writ­ing style used in the Cen­tral Plains, the in­scrip­tions be­ing com­posed in a lav­ish style, and the hand­writ­ing was neat and leg­i­ble. The rich cul­ture of the in­land had driven it­self deep to the hearts of the north­east­ern peo­ples of the Tang Dy­nasty, so that the cul­tures of the Cen­tral Plains and the bor­der­land had grad­u­ally be­come highly in­te­grated.

In ad­di­tion, among the sys­tems es­tab­lished by the King­dom of Bal­hae, the most im­por­tant and in­flu­en­tial com­po­nent was its highly de­vel­oped “Five-cap­i­tal Sys­tem”, namely the man­age­ment of a sin­gle king­dom from mul­ti­ple sep­a­rate cap­i­tal cities. Bal­hae’s Five-cap­i­tal Sys­tem had a deep and long-last­ing in­flu­ence on later gov­er­nances, in­clud­ing the Liao Dy­nasty es­tab­lished by the Khi­tans and Jin Dy­nasty es­tab­lished by the Jurchens, both of which di­rectly con­tin­ued the Five-cap­i­tal Sys­tem ini­ti­ated by the Bal­hae au­thor­i­ties in north­east­ern China.

The five cap­i­tals of Bal­hae were the Up­per Cap­i­tal Longquan Fu, Cen­tral Cap­i­tal Xiande Fu, Eastern Cap­i­tal Longyuan Fu, South­ern Cap­i­tal Nan­hai Fu, and Western Cap­i­tal Yalu Fu. At present, schol­ars have con­firmed the ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tions of the Up­per, Cen­tral and Eastern cap­i­tals, namely the Up­per Cap­i­tal Longquan Fu is Bo­hai Town, Ning’an City, Hei­longjiang; the Cen­tral Cap­i­tal Xiande Fu is lo­cated in the Xigucheng Site of Toudao Town, He­long City, Jilin; and the Eastern Cap­i­tal Longyuan Fu is in Baliancheng Site of San­ji­azi Manchu Vil­lage, Hunchun City, Jili. All three of these lo­ca­tions are sit­u­ated within the bor­ders of Bal­hae, on flat plains or in basins of river, where the ter­rain is rel­a­tively level and ex­pan­sive. The lo­ca­tions of the Western Cap­i­tal Yalu Fu and South­ern Cap­i­tal Nan­hai Fu re­main the sub­ject of con­tro­versy.

Driv­ing across the north­east­ern plains, there is

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