The Arts of the Kitan-Liao Empire (907-1125)

Right after the fall of the glorious Tang Empire (618-907 CE), the rise of the nomadic Kitans not only reshaped the multipolar geopolitical system of East Asia in the tenth century, it also prompted intellectuals of their neighboring polities and later scholars to redefine what it meant to be a Chinese state. With its political heartland in the modern Chifeng region of Inner Mongolia and its economic center in present-day Beijing, the Kitan-Liao Empire (907-1125 CE), in its prime, controlled an immense territory stretching from southeastern Russia to Central Asia. Focusing on excavated tombs, hoards, and city sites, this seminar examines Liao’s notions of cultural, political, and religious identity, imperial consumption, giftgiving, as well as material exchange through trade and diplomacy. We will explore a wide variety of materials from the Liao period, including gold and silver, bronze mirrors, ceramics, imported glass, tomb murals, scroll paintings, and Buddhist material culture. Satisfies the geocultural or chronological requirement