How and when was
the name of Beijing derived?
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.
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.