Liao Dynasty Shangjing Museum
Location: Neighboring G305 Road at the intersection of Fuhe Road and Binhe Avenue, Baarin Left Banner, Lindong county, Chifeng city, Inner Mongolia autonomous region
8:30 am -11:30 am (last entry at 11 am)
2:30 pm -5 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm)
Closed Mondays (Except for national holidays)
The Khitans were nomadic tribal people from northeast Asia. Gaining power during the 10th century, they founded the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) in 916. At the peak of its power, the empire stretched across a vast territory to the Sea of Japan in the east, the Altay Mountains in the west, the Ergune River in the north and the Baigou River that flows through the central part of today's Hebei province in the south.
Throughout its rule, the Liao empire implemented a "five-capital" system: five capitals were established and named after their relative locations with directions. They were set up to control lands annexed by war, as well as serve as front bases when vying for new land. Of the five capitals, the Upper Capital, or Shangjing, in today's Lindong town, Baarin Left Banner of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, was the cardinal capital.
In May 1984, a museum opened its doors in the Baarin Left Banner to illustrate the Khitan regime’s place in Chinese history. In 2018, a new building was added to the museum, located slightly to the west of the ruins in the southern suburb of Lindong town.
The Liao Dynasty Shangjing Museum holds a collection of 113,885 items, of which 57 are designated as national first-class items. Tomb murals dating to back the Liao Dynasty and entombed stone slabs bearing epigraphs are some of the museum’s signature items. But the most important item is a silver coin minted with Khitan script on both sides. It never went into circulation, but was used during sacrificial rituals. The museum is so proud of the coin that it used it as a prototype to design the museum's official emblem.
The permanent exhibition of the museum is comprised of several sections, introducing visitors to the dynastic history of the Liao, the art of the Liao tomb murals, Khitan religious beliefs, Liao Dynasty entombed epigraphy and the transformation of Khitan funeral customs. The rise and fall of the steppe empire, as well as its assimilation and fusion with other cultures and political systems, await those who visit the museum.