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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 founded by the Xiongnu Juqu family, although they initially supported the Han official Duan Ye as prince, they overthrew him in 401 and took over the state for themselves.

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)
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)
• 397–401
Duan Ye
• 401–433
Juqu Mengxun
• 433–439
Juqu Mujian
• 442–444
Juqu Wuhui
• 444–460
Juqu Anzhou
• Established
• Li Gao's declaring independence as Western Liang
• Juqu Mengxun's killing of Duan Ye
• Juqu Mengxun's destruction of Western Liang
• Fall of Guzang to Northern Wei (often viewed as date of Northern Liang's fall)
18 October 439[1][2]
• Disestablished
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 "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 its prince Juqu Mujian was 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 439, remnants of the Northern Liang royal family fled to Gaochang to found a new kingdom, 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 names Posthumous names Family names and given name Durations of reigns Era names and their according durations
Chinese convention: use family and given names
Northern Liang 397-439 (as Gaochang "wang" 442-460)
Did not exist Did not exist Duan Ye (段業 Duàn Yè) 397-401 Shenxi (神璽 Shénxǐ) 397-399

Tianxi (天璽 Tiānxǐ) 399-401

Taizu (太祖 Tàizǔ) Wuxuan (武宣 Wǔxuān) Juqu Mengxun (沮渠蒙遜 Jǔqú Méngxùn) 401-433 Yongan (永安 Yǒngān) 401-412

Xuanshi (玄始 Xuánshǐ) 412-428

Chengxuan (承玄 Chéngxuán) 428-430

Yihe (義和 Yìhé) 430-433

Did not exist Ai (哀王 āi) Juqu Mujian (沮渠牧犍 Jǔqú Mùjiān) 433-439 Yonghe (永和 Yǒnghé) 433-439
Did not exist Did not exist Juqu Wuhui (沮渠無諱 Jǔqú Wúhuí) 442-444 Chengping (承平 Chéngpíng) 443-444
Did not exist Did not exist Juqu Anzhou (沮渠安周 Jǔqú ānzhōu) 444-460 Chengping (承平 Chéngpíng) 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.