The Kitan empire, ruled by the Liao dynasty (907-1125), controlled large parts of modern-day northern China. Until the 1980s it was mostly considered peripheral to East Asian culture. But since then archaeologists, historians, and linguists have demonstrated that the contrary was true and that the Liao empire was the major cultural nexus between China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and the Tarim Basin. Luxuriously furnished tombs and dozens of pagodas have yielded previously unknown material evidence—including new textual sources—that help study Liao culture from within, rather than through the eyes of the traditional Chinese historical sources. The new finds have led to an explosion of Liao scholarship in China. This three-day conference offers the first major academic venue in the West to discuss this scholarship.

September 30
Yale University

Inner Mongolia Museum, Hohhot
Keynote Address

October 1
Yale University

Chair: Daniel Kane, Macquarie University

Daniel Kane
Macquarie University
The Name of the Kitan State in Kitan

Andrew Shimunek
Indiana University
Kitan and its Genetic Affiliation to Mongolic: Evidence of a Mongol-Serbi Language Family

Wayne Wei-yu Tan
Harvard University
Fill in the Blanks–Sources and Methods in Kitan Script Decipherment

Yasunori Takeuchi
Kyoto University
Kitan Phonology and the Assignment of Phonetic Values to Kitan Graphemes

Chair: Nicola Di Cosmo, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Naomi Standen
University of Newcastle
Gwen Bennett
McGill University
Tearing Down the Great Wall: The Evidence from Post-Han Black Wares

Lin Hu
Qinghua University
Rethinking the Liao Cities: Archaeological and Textual Perspectives

Chair: Nicola Di Cosmo, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Linda Cooke Johnson
Michigan State University
Kitan Women in Liao Society

Pamela Kyle Crossley
Dartmouth College
Outside In: Power, Identity, and the Han Lineage of Jizhou

Charir: Robert Gimello, University of Notre Dame

Lothar Ledderose
University of Heidelberg
Make Sutras, Not War: The Stele of 965/1005 AD at Cloud Dwelling Monastery

Hsueh-man Shen
Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
One Thing Contains All, and All Things Contain One: Huayan Buddhism and the Liao Pagodas

Kirill Solonin
Saint-Petersburg State University; Foguang University
Kitan Influences and the Formation of the Tangut Buddhism

October 2
Bard Graduate Center

Wu Hung
University of Chicago
Keynote Address

Chair: Li Qingquan, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts
Chair: Valerie Hansen, Yale University

Dong Xinlin
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Excavating Liao Zuling: New Discoveries

François Louis
Bard Graduate Center
Iconic Ancestors: Re-Contextualizing Kitan Elite Burials

Chia Ning
Central College, Iowa
The Seal Culture in the Liao Dynasty

Xin Chen
University of Oxford
The Paradise of Buddha: A Case Study of Miniature Buildings in the Liao Period

Nancy Steinhardt
University of Pennsylvania
Eminent and Not-Quite-Such Eminent Liao Architecture

Chair: Mimi Yiengpruksawan, Yale University

Youn-mi Kim
Yale University
The Missing Link: Tracing the Liao in Heian Japanese Shingon Ritual
Brian Vivier
University of Michigan
Liao Integration in the Religious Networks of Eleventh-Century Northeast Asia
Youngsook Pak
University of London
Koryo and Liao Relations in the 10th–11th Century—Impact on Buddhist Culture

Chair: Michal Biran, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Anya King
University of Southern Indiana
Early Arabic and Persian Sources on the Kitan Liao: The Role of Trade

Valerie Hansen
Yale University
International Gifting and the Kitan World, 907–1125

Bard Graduate Center and The Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University