The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World

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Dezember 2005



The empire of the Qara Khitai, which was one of the least known and most fascinating dynasties in the history of Central Asia, existed for nearly a century before it was conquered by the Mongols in 1218. Arriving in Central Asia from China, the Qara Khitai ruled over a mostly Muslim population. Their history affords a unique window onto the extensive cross-cultural contacts between China, Inner Asian nomads and the Muslim world in the period preceding the rise of Chinggis Khan. Using an extensive corpus of Muslim and Chinese sources, Michal Biran comprehensively examines the political, institutional and cultural histories of the Qara Khitai for the first time. Her book explores a range of topics including the organization of the army, the position of women, the image of China in Muslim Central Asia, the religions of the Qara Khitai and the legacy they left for the Mongols. Crucially she asks why they did not, unlike their predecessors and successors in Central Asia, embrace Islam. The book represents a groundbreaking contribution to the field of Eurasian history for students of the Islamic world, China and Central Asia.


Part I. Political History: 1. From Liao to Western Liao: Yelu Dashi and the establishment of the Qara Khitai Empire; 2. The quiet period: the reign of Yilie and the Empresses; 3. The fall: between the Khwarazm Shah and the Mongols. Epilogue: what became of the Qara Khitai?; Part II. Aspects of Cultural and Institutional History: 4. China; 5. Nomads; 6. Islam.


Michal Biran is Lecturer at the Institute of Asian and African Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her previous publications include Qaidu and the Rise of the Independent Mongol State in Central Asia (1997) and Mongols, Turks and Others: Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World (2005; co-edited with Reuven Amitai).


Review of the hardback: 'Though the Qara Khitai or Western Liao have attracted a certain amount of research over the years, it is a great pleasure to welcome the first monograph in English devoted entirely to their history and culture. ... impressive ... this volume is surely bound to remain a key work on the Western Liao for many years to come. ... a major step forward in a number of ways, and will undoubtedly be recognized as such in the years to come.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies Review of the hardback: '... an important and lasting contribution to our knowledge of the Mongol empire, and deserves a place in every Mongolist's and medievalist's library. After reading this book, both specialists and non-specialists will come to a greater and sharper appreciation of the place of the history of currency on the broad canvas of the Mongol conquest. Both Brian's and Kolbas's books are a fine testimony to the vitality and maturity of Inner Asian studies.' The Journal of JRAS 'This book on the Qara-Khitai, or Western Liao, is a major work that fills a gap in our knowledge of this important Central Asian dynasty.' Central Eurasian Reader
EAN: 9780521842266
ISBN: 0521842263
Untertitel: 'Cambridge Studies in Islamic C'. Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: Dezember 2005
Seitenanzahl: 279 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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