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Home >> Beijing travel guide >> How and when was the name of Beijing derived

How and when was the name of Beijing derived?

Yellow King, Known in Chinese as HuangdiBeijing, known as Beiping for a short period before 1949, was so addressed after the Kuomintang removed the government office from Beijing to Nanjing in 1928. Actually, no matter what it was called, Beijing or Beiping it all began to be so called in the early days of the Ming Dynasty. But what Beijing was called during a very long time before the Ming Dynasty?

In ancient times, legend had it that the Yellow King, Known in Chinese as Huangdi, heading his own tribe, ever had a big battle with the Jiuli Tribe in an area called Zhuolu in the nowadays vicinity of Beijing and killed Chiyou, chieftain of the tribe, setting up thereby a capital town right in its place. Towards the third generation of Huangdi, Zhuanxu came to offer sacrifices to his ancestors at Youling. Youling or Youzhou was the name in general for the area of Beijing in ancient times since the capital town of Youzhou was initially built in the time of King Yao, so the capital of Youzhou being the present-day site of Beijing.

King Wu of the Western Zhou, after his subjugation of the Shang in 1122 BC, enfeoffed the offspring of King Yao to a place called Ji and Zhaogong, descendant of the Zhou Family to Yan. Later on, the Yan established a state of its own by wiping out the Ji, and since then up to the "Spring and Autumn Period" Beijing had been known as Ji.

Beijing was officially named Youzhou in the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD). The earliest Buddhist temple in existence, the Pool and Cudrania Temple in the western suburbs of Beijing was put up in the reign of the dynasty. Shi Jingtang, King of the Later Jin severed the "Yanyun Sixteen Statea"(Beijing area) to Qidan (Khitan), a minority tribe in China then in 936 and the next year saw Qidan (the Liao) named the area Nanjing, which was again known as Yanjing.

Yellow King, Known in Chinese as HuangdiIn 1123, the Northern Song Dynasty recovered by buying over the area from the hands of Nuzhen, an ethnic minority (ancestors of Manchu) in China at a price of 0.5 million taels of silver from its annual state revenue plus a million strings of coins and named it "Yanshan Prefecture". But in less than two years the Kin seized the prefecture in 1125 and changed the name once again back into Nanjing. And then the place was officially named Zhongdu in 1153, the beginning of Beijing to be the capital of the country. Later, the Yuan replaced the Kin, changing the name Zhongdu into Dadu. It was not until 1368 when the Ming army took over the city was it given the name of Beiping. Nevertheless, 1403 saw Zhu Di, Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty moved his capital from Nanjing to Beijing and the name was finalized. The rudimentary form of the present-day Beijing came by and large into being in the very period.

To wind up, the name of Beijing, having gone through the two dynasties of the Ming and Qing and the Republic of China with only a short span under the rule of the Kuomintang, has been used for more than 600 years by now, but Beijing as a capital city has up to now (sep. 20,2003) witnessed a history of 850 years.

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