Saturday, 11 May 2013

Khitan Geography Part 2

Last week I made a list of Liao dynasty place names written in the Khitan Large Script that have been identified in Khitan epitaphs and manuscripts (Khitan Geography Part 1), and this week I have done the same thing for the Khitan Small Script, although as some Khitan Small Script inscriptions date to the Jin Dynasty, this post covers both Liao dynasty (907–1125) place names and Jin dynasty (1115–1234) place names.

As is the case with the Khitan Large Script, there are no surviving dictionaries or glossaries for the Khitan Small Script, and scholars have had to try to decipher the script from the surviving examples of Khitan Small Script texts, mostly stone epitaphs for members of the Khitan aristocracy. The Khitan Small Script is a mixed writing system, with a relatively small number of logographic characters that are used to represent frequently used vocabulary such as numbers and the cardinal directions, and a larger number of phonetic elements (phonograms) that can be joined together into a rectangular block (polygram) to represent the pronunciation of a word. About 380 individual phonograms or logograms have been identified, and scholars have been able to work out the approximate pronunciation of many phonograms. This means that it is much easier to read (though not necessarily understand) Khitan Small Script text than Khitan Large Script text, but it is still very far from being fully deciphered, and as yet we can only confidently recognise some core vocabulary and a large number of Chinese loan words. I have gone through about a dozen published Khitan Small Script epitaphs, and have extracted all the place names that have been identified by scholars working on these texts. I have given phonetic reconstructions for place names based on the phonogram values listed by Daniel Kane in his The Kitan Language and Script (Brill, 2009).

For technical reasons Khitan words on this page are displayed horizontally in linear format rather than vertically in polygram blocks as they are in the actual inscriptions (except for "seal script" inscriptions on epitaph covers, which are written vertically in linear format).

Detail of the Epitaph for Yelü Dilie 耶律迪烈 (KS:M26) showing the place name Wu'an Prefecture 武安州 (top of middle column)

Photograph by Andrew West licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Index of Liao and Jin Dynasty Khitan Small Script Place Names


Source Khitan Name Chinese Name Country
KS:M26 (1)
KS:M36 (1)
GREAT t-iau-dû xu-rả qid-i g-úr
大中央哈喇契丹國 Great Central (Qara?) Khitan Kingdom
KS:M32 (1)    
GREAT xu-rả qid-i g-úr
KS:M36 (4)   
xu-rả qid-i g-úr
KS:M04 (0)    
GREAT dau-úr-ún xu-rả qid-ún-i
KS:M32 (27)  
xu-rả qid-ún-i
KS:M38 (1)   
大金國 Great Golden Kingdom
KS:M14 (11, 12, 15)  
n-i-gu g-úr
KS:M14 (8)  
ta-da g-úr
韃靼國 Tatar Kingdom


Source Khitan Name Chinese Name Location
KS:M26 (25, 33)  
ú-ur g-iŋ
Superior Capital
[Liao, Jin]
Modern Baarin Left Banner 巴林左旗, Inner Mongolia
[Jin dynasty Superior Capital was located at Acheng 阿城, Harbin, Heilongjiang]
KS:M27 (2)  
ú-ur g-iu-uŋ[1]
KS:M14 (19)
KS:M20 (11)
KS:M26 (18)
KS:M32 (17)
ju-uŋ g-iŋ
Central Capital
[Liao and Jin until 1153, when renamed the Northern Capital]
Modern Damingzhen Township 大明鎮, west of Ningcheng 寧城, Inner Mongolia
KS:M26 (19)  
ud-ur g-iŋ (or du-ur g-iŋ)
Eastern Capital
[Liao and Jin]
Modern Liaoyang 遼陽, Liaoning
KS:M23 (16)  
s-i g-iŋ
Western Capital
[Liao and Jin]
Modern Datong 大同, Shanxi
KS:M26 (23)  
te-gẻ g-iŋ
Southern Capital
[Liao; known as the Central Metropolis 中都 during the Jin dynasty]
Modern Beijing 北京
KS:M14 (16)
KS:M23 (1, 23, 24)
de-gẻ g-iŋ
KS:M27 (3)  
te-gẻ g-iu-uŋ[1]
KS:M17 (1, 35)  
l-au-o g-iŋ
Luo Capital
[Western capital of the Song dynasty, not within the territory of Liao. The Governor of the Luo Capital (洛京留守) was a ceremonial position given to the Prince of Xu.]
Modern Luoyang 洛陽, Henan


  1. g-iu-uŋ normally transcribes Chinese 宮 gōng "palace" rather than 京 jīng "capital".
  2. The meaning of te-gẻ ~ de-gẻ is uncertain, and has been translated as either "south" for Southern Capital 南京 or "swallow" for Yanjing 燕京, both refering to what is now Beijing. The same name occurs in both Liao dynasty epitaphs (KS:M26, KS:M27) and Jin dynasty epitaphs (KS:M14, KS:M23), but as modern Beijing was only known as the Southern Capital during the Liao dynasty, it would have been anachronistic to call it the Southern Capital during the Jin dynasty, and so it is perhaps more likely that the name was Yanjing, as this name was used during both dynasties.


Source Khitan Name Chinese Name Location
Superior Capital Circuit
Centred on the Superior Capital
Central Capital Circuit
Centred on the Central Capital
Eastern Capital Circuit
Centred on the Eastern Capital
Western Capital Circuit
Centred on the Western Capital
Southern Capital Circuit
Centred on the Southern Capital

Superior Prefectures

Source Khitan Name Chinese Name Location
Dading Superior Prefecture
Prefectural seat at the Central Capital
Datong Superior Prefecture
Prefectural seat at the Western Capital
Huanglong Superior Prefecture
Prefectural seat at modern Nong'an 農安, Jilin
Liaoyang Superior Prefecture
Prefectural seat at the Eastern Capital
Linhuang Superior Prefecture
Prefectural seat at the Superior Capital
Xijin Superior Prefecture
Prefectural seat at the Southern Capital
Xingzhong Superior Prefecture
Prefectural seat at modern Chaoyang 朝陽, Liaoning

Liao Dynasty Prefectures

Source Khitan Name Chinese Name Location
KS:M17 (10)  
a-an c-eu
An Prefecture
Modern Simiancheng 四面城, in the north of Changtu County, Liaoning
KS:M15 (14)  
p-ú c-eu
Bao Prefecture
Modern Uiju County, North Pyongan, North Korea
KS:M10 (8)   
p-úŋ ś-eŋ c-eu
Fengsheng Prefecture
Modern Zhuolu 涿鹿, Hebei
KS:M10 (2)  
g-au c-eu
Gao Prefecture
Northeast of modern Chifeng 赤峰, Inner Mongolia
KS:M17 (20)  
x-an c-eu
Han Prefecture
Within modern Changtu County, Liaoning
KS:M29 (2)  
l-iúŋ c-eu
Long Prefecture
Modern Ning'an 寧安, Heilongjiang
KS:M27 (21)  
ś-em c-eu
Shen Prefecture
Modern Shenyang 瀋陽, Liaoning
KS:M20 (2)  
ś-en c-eu
KS:M26 (18)   
w-ú a-an c-eu
Wu'an Prefecture
Modern Fengshou Township 豐收鄉, Aohan Banner,Inner Mongolia
KS:M27 (21)  
x-ie-ên c-eu
Xian Prefecture
Modern Beizhen 北鎮, Liaoning
KS:M26 (16)  
iú-ŋ c-eu
Yong Prefecture
Modern Xinsumo Sumu, Ongniud Banner, Inner Mongolia
KS:M15 (20)  
c-o c-eu
Ze Prefecture
Modern Jincheng 晉城, Shanxi

Jin Dynasty Prefectures

Source Khitan Name Chinese Name Location
KS:M14 (22)  
b-oh c-eu
Bo Prefecture
Modern Liaocheng 聊城, Shandong
KS:M38 (3)  
l-i c-eu
Li Prefecture
Modern Qian County 乾縣, Shaanxi
KS:M14 (23)  
k-in c-eu
Qin Prefecture
Modern Qinyuan 沁源, Shanxi
KS:M38 (3)  
ei-au c-eu[1]
You Prefecture
Modern Otog Front Banner, Inner Mongolia


  1. You Prefecture (宥州 in the corresponding Chinese text) is called ei-au g-ün You Commandery 宥郡 in the Khitan text.

Commanderies (Ceremonial Fiefdoms of Commandery Princes)

Source Khitan Name Chinese Name Location
g-oŋ l-iŋ g-ün
Guangling Commandery
KS:M17 (2, 36)   
hu-un tu-uŋ g-ün
Huntong Commandery
l-an l-iŋ g-ün
Lanling Commandery
KS:M17 (9)   
l-a-an l-iŋ g-ün
KS:M26 (1)   
s-i ś-ui g-ün
Qishui Commandery
KS:M17 (24)   
z-i ś-ui g-ün
KS:M14 (5, 23, 42)   
ts-i ś-ui g-iú-ün
KS:M29 (2)   
s-i ś-ui ki-ên
Qishui County
KS:M10 (2)   
s-i ś-ui ki-ên


  1. Qishui County is not a Liao dynasty administrative district, but is here a synonym for the ceremonial fiefdom of Qishui Commandery.

Rivers and Mountains

Source Khitan Name Chinese Name Location
KS:M38 (1)  
l-iáŋ ś-a-an MOUNTAIN
Liang Mountain
KS:M29 (13)  
ei-ie-ên MOUNTAIN
Yan Mountain
KS:M26 (6)   
eu-ul pu-kả-û-er MOUNTAIN
Yunqing Mountain


Khitan Small Script Inscriptions

No. Description Location Date
KS:M01 Epitaph for an unknown person Fuxin Mongol Autonomous County, Liaoning
KS:M02 Epitaph for Court Attendant Yelü Yongning 耶律永寧郎君 (1059–1087) Harqin Banner, Inner Mongolia 1088
KS:M03 Epitaph for Deputy Administrator Yelü 耶律副部署 (Yelü Wumo 耶律兀没, 1031–1077) Ar Horqin Banner, Inner Mongolia 1102
KS:M04 Epitaph for Emperor Daozong of Liao 道宗 (1032–1101) Bairin Right Banner, Inner Mongolia 1101
KS:M05 Epitaph for Emperor Xingzong of Liao 興宗 (1015–1054) Bairin Right Banner, Inner Mongolia 1055
KS:M06 Epitaph for Empress Renyi 仁懿皇后 (?–1076) Bairin Right Banner, Inner Mongolia 1076
KS:M07 Epitaph for Empress Xuanyi 宣懿皇后 (1040–1075) Bairin Right Banner, Inner Mongolia 1101
KS:M08 Epitaph for Gu Shizhong (1015–1090) Unknown 1091
KS:M09 Epitaph for Madam Han 韓氏, second wife of the imperial son-in-law, Xiao Temei 蕭特每 Unknown 1078
KS:M10 Epitaph for Madam Yelü 耶律氏 (Yelü Tabuye 耶律挞不也) (1081–1115), the daughter of Yelü Dilie 耶律敵烈 Ongniud Banner, Inner Mongolia 1115
KS:M11 Epitaph for the Grand Preceptor Shilu 室魯太師 Jarud Banner, Inner Mongolia 1100
KS:M12 Epitaph for Xiao Hudujin 萧胡睹堇 (1041–1091) Unknown 1091
KS:M13 Epitaph for the Imperial Consort of Song and Wei 宋魏國妃 (1056–1080), the wife of Yelü Hongben Bairin Right Banner, Inner Mongolia 1110
KS:M14 Epitaph for the Jin Dynasty Defense Commissioner of Bozhou 金代博州防禦使 (1079–1142) Aohan Banner, Inner Mongolia 1171
KS:M15 Epitaph for the Prefect of Zezhou 澤州刺史 (?–1107) Bairin Left Banner, Inner Mongolia 1108
KS:M16 Epitaph for the Prince of Liang 梁國王 Fuxin Mongol Autonomous County, Liaoning 1107
KS:M17 Epitaph for the Prince of Xu 許王 Fuxin Mongol Autonomous County, Liaoning 1105
KS:M18 Epitaph for Prince Wotela 斡特剌 (1073–1099) Unknown 1099
KS:M19 Epitaph for Xiao Dilu 蕭敵魯 (1061–?) Unknown 1114
KS:M20 Epitaph for Xiao Linggong 蕭令公 (Xiao Fuliu 蕭富留) Fuxin Mongol Autonomous County, Liaoning 1057
KS:M21 Epitaph for Xiao Taishan 蕭太山 and Princess Yongqing 永清公主 Unknown
KS:M22 Epitaph for Xiao Tuguci 蕭圖古辭 Fuxin Mongol Autonomous County, Liaoning 1068
KS:M23 Epitaph for Xiao Zhonggong 蕭仲恭 Xinglong County, Hebei 1150
KS:M24 Epitaph for Yelü Jiuli 耶律糺里 or Yelü Gui 耶律貴 (1061–1102) Unknown 1102
KS:M25 Epitaph for Yelü Cite 耶律慈特 (1043–1081) Ar Horqin Banner, Inner Mongolia 1082
KS:M26 Epitaph for Yelü Dilie 耶律迪烈 or Han Dilie 韓迪烈 (1026–1092) Jarud Banner, Inner Mongolia 1092
KS:M27 Epitaph for Yelü Dilie 耶律敵烈 or Han Dilie 韓敵烈 (1034–1100) Bairin Left Banner, Inner Mongolia 1101
KS:M28 Epitaph for Yelü Gaoshi 耶律高十 or Han Gaoshi 韓高十 (1015–?) Bairin Left Banner, Inner Mongolia
KS:M29 Epitaph for Imperial Grand Uncle (皇太叔祖) Yelü Hongben 耶律弘本 (1041–1110) Bairin Right Banner, Inner Mongolia 1110
KS:M30 Epitaph for Yelü Hongbian 耶律弘辨 or Yelü Hongyong 耶律弘用 (1054–1086) Jarud Banner, Inner Mongolia 1100
KS:M31 Epitaph for Yelü Jue 耶律玦 (1014–1070) Unknown 1072
KS:M32 Epitaph for Yelü Nu 耶律奴 (1041–1098) Fuxin Mongol Autonomous County, Liaoning 1099
KS:M33 Epitaph for Yelü Renxian 耶律仁先 Beipiao, Liaoning 1072
KS:M34 Epitaph for Yelü Taishi 耶律太師 (1038–1101) Unknown
KS:M35 Epitaph for Yelü Xiangwen 耶律詳穩 (1010–1091) Unknown 1091
KS:M36 Epitaph for Yelü Zhixian 耶律智先 Beipiao, Liaoning 1094
KS:M37 Epitaph for Yelü Zongjiao 耶律宗教 (992–1053) Beizhen, Liaoning 1053
KS:M38 Record of the Younger Brother of the Emperor of the Great Jin Dynasty (大金皇弟都統經略郎君行記) Qian County, Shaanxi 1134

Google Map of Khitan Small Script Place Names

To accompany this post I have created a map of Liao and Jin dynasty Khitan Small Script place names on Google Maps (click on the tags to see the Khitan names, which are written vertically in polygram blocks, as in the original epitaphs).

Google Maps map showing Liao and Jin Dynasty locations with place names in Khitan Small Script

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