Hartill 18.03 Ki-tan Tartar Liao Dynasty Tian Lu Yuan Bao 947-51 AD Rare Cash
Ki-tan Tartar Liao Dynasty
Tian Lu Yuan Bao, 947-51 AD
Reference: Hartill 18.03
Emperor Shizong of Liao
Emperor Shizong of Liao (29 January 919 – 7 October 951), personal name Wuyu, sinicised name Yelü Ruan, was the third emperor of the Khitan-led Liao dynasty. He was the son of Yelü Bei, the eldest son of Abaoji (Emperor Taizu), the founder of the Liao dynasty. He came to power in 947 after the death of his uncle, Emperor Taizong, who raised him in his father's absence.
Emperor Taizong was on campaign in China when he died in 947. Yelü Ruan accompanied him on this campaign, allowing him to quickly gain the support of the military leaders. While returning to the capital, his grandmother, Empress Dowager Yingtian, had plotted to have her third son, Yelü Lihu, ascend to the throne, and sent an army to intercept her grandson. She had denounced Yelü Ruan in her campaign to support her son. However, the Khitan nobles, knowing that Yelü Lihu was entirely unfit for the throne, refused to support her this time as they did previously with the ascension of Emperor Taizong. Fortunately, the strong support the Liao imperial court gave to Yelü Ruan's claim prevented a civil war among the Khitans.
LIAO DYNASTY, AD 907-1125
The Liao were a Tartar Dynasty known as the Ch'i-tan or Ki-tan Tartars, first established by T'ai Tsu in AD 907 during the period of the 5 dynasties. The dynasty lasted for 218 years until AD 1125, ruling from their capital at Beijing. For most of their existence they existed along side the Northern Sung Dynasty, in what appears to be somewhat less than peaceful co-existance.
The first Emperor of Liao did not issue any coins. There were five Emperors between AD 907 and 1031 who issued coins, but only a handful of each type is known to exist and it is unlikely any genuine examples will come on the market. We have not listed them here as it is unlikely anyone viewing this site to identify a coin will have one, but you will find information on them on page 216 of David Hartill's book CAST CHINESE COINS. Schjoth (page 41) notes a record of the Liang Dynasty Emperor Mo, using the reign title Lung-te, issuing large numbers of coins during this period, which are likely what circulated in the Liao region for what little need the Liao people had of coins at that time.
The earliest readily available coins of Liao begin with the Emperor Hsing Tsung during his second reign title of Ch'ung Hsi after he established the first Liao central mint in Manchuria in AD 1053. The mint was not particularly skilled and most Liao coins are fairly crude, poor quality castings.
There are some differences in the dating of the Liao reign titles by Schjoth and Hartill, and we have chosen to use those given by Hartill as it is much more recent and almost certainly more reliable research.