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The Northern Liang (Chinese: 北涼; pinyin: Bĕi Liáng; 397-439) was a state of the Sixteen Kingdoms in China. It was ruled by the Juqu family of Lushui Hu origin (a branch of the Xiongnu). Although the ethnic Han Chinese Duan Ye was initially enthroned as the Northern Liang ruler with support from the Juqu clan, Duan was subsequently overthrown in 401 and Juqu Mengxun was proclaimed monarch.

Northern Liang (北涼)

建康 (397–399),
涼 (399–401, 431–433),
張掖 (401–412),
河西 (412–431, 433–441, 442–460),
酒泉 (441–442)
  • 397–439,
    442–460 (in Gaochang)
Northern Liang and other Asian nations in 400 AD
Northern Liang and other Asian nations in 400 AD
Northern Liang at its greatest extent in 423 AD
Northern Liang at its greatest extent in 423 AD
StatusVassal of Later Qin, Jin Dynasty (265-420), Northern Wei, Liu Song
CapitalJiankang (397–398)
Zhangye (398–412)
Guzang (412–439)
Jiuquan (440–441)
Dunhuang (441–442)
Capital-in-exileShanshan (442)
Gaochang (442–460)
• 397–401
Duan Ye
• 401–433
Juqu Mengxun
• 433–439
Juqu Mujian
• 442–444
Juqu Wuhui
• 444–460
Juqu Anzhou
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Former Liang
Southern Liang (Sixteen Kingdoms)
Western Qin
Northern Wei
Today part ofChina

All rulers of the Northern Liang proclaimed themselves "wang" (translatable as either "prince" or "king").

Most Chinese historians view the Northern Liang as having ended in 439, when its capital Guzang (姑臧) in modern Wuwei, Gansu fell to Northern Wei forces and the Northern Liang ruler Juqu Mujian captured. However, some view his brothers Juqu Wuhui and Juqu Anzhou, who subsequently settled with Northern Liang remnants in Gaochang (高昌) in modern Turpan Prefecture, Xinjiang, as a continuation of the Northern Liang, and thus view the Northern Liang as having ended in 460 when Gaochang fell to Rouran and was made a vassal.

It was during the Northern Liang that the first Buddhist cave shrine sites appear in Gansu Province.[3] The two most famous cave sites are Tiantishan ("Celestial Ladder Mountain"), which was south of the Northern Liang capital at Yongcheng, and Wenshushan ("Manjusri's Mountain"), halfway between Yongcheng and Dunhuang. Maijishan lies more or less on a main route connecting China and Central Asia (approximately 150 miles (240 km) west of modern Xi'an), just south of the Weihe (Wei River). It had the additional advantage of located not too distant from a main route that also ran N-S to Chengdu and the Indian subcontinent.

In 442, remnants of the Northern Liang royal family established a new kingdom in Gaochang, known in historiography as the Northern Liang of Gaochang (Chinese: 高昌北涼; pinyin: Gāochāng Bĕi Liáng; 442-460). The new state was led by Juqu Wuhui and Juqu Anzhou where they would hold on to power until 460 when they were conquered by the Rouran.[4] The remnants of the Juqu family were slaughtered.

Rulers of the Northern LiangEdit

Temple name Posthumous name Personal name Durations of reign Era names
Northern Liang (397-439)
Duan Ye 397-401 Shenxi (神璽) 397-399

Tianxi (天璽) 399-401

Taizu Wuxuan Juqu Mengxun 401-433 Yongan (永安) 401-412

Xuanshi (玄始) 412-428
Chengxuan (承玄) 428-430
Yihe (義和) 430-433

Juqu Mujian 433-439 Yonghe (永和) 433-439
Northern Liang of Gaochang (442-460)
Juqu Wuhui 442-444 Chengping (承平) 443-444
Juqu Anzhou 444-460 Chengping (承平) 444-460

Rulers family treeEdit

Figure of Maitreya Buddha in cave 275 from Northern Liang

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 123.
  3. ^ Michael Sullivan, The Cave-Temples of Maichishan. London: Faber and Faber, 1969.
  4. ^ Jacques Gernet (1996). A history of Chinese civilization. Cambridge University Press. p. 200. ISBN 0-521-49781-7. Retrieved 17 May 2011.