Kunming History

As one of the first batch of cities famous for history and culture in China, Kunming has 2,200 years of city-founded history and splendid culture.


Ancient human beings have lived around Kunming area 250,000 years ago. Ten thousand years ago, the ancestors of Kunming people lived the life of a savage, they ate animals raw and lived in caves. About four to seven thousand years ago, agricultural people settled down in the region of Dianchi Lake, doing slash-and-burn cultivation, hunting and feeding livestock and poultry, and they have known how to weave and spin. Dianchi area and rice planting have at least thousands of years of history so far.


In the third century BC (298~277 BC), Zhuang Qiao, the General in Chu State, mobilized people to arrive at Dianchi area. They made an alliance with local tribes to found Dian Kingdom, which was located in Jincheng Town, Jinning County nowadays. Zhuang Qiao proclaimed himself as King of Dian. Ancient Dian Kingdom formed its characteristic Ancient Dian civilization, which have become a visiting card of Jinning County, Kunming City, Yunnan Province. The civilization of Ancient Dian was a special ethnic culture with rich local features and distinctive national characteristics, which centered on Dianchi and mixed the culture of peripheral brotherly nationalities such as Laojin, Mimo and Sou, Han culture of central plains, culture of Chu and foreign culture.


In 109 BC, Han Dynasty sent the army to Dian Kingdom. Awed by the powerful military force, Dian Kingdom surrendered to Han Dynasty. Han Dynasty set up Yizhou County which is located in Jinning County nowadays, and the King of Han Dynasty presented Seal for King of Dian, thence Dianchi area was brought into the map of central government.


In 225 AD, Zhuge Liang pacified the rebellion launched by Meng Huo and other large lineages, continued the battles toward south. In autumn of the year, three armies converged in Dianchi area, pacified four counties in central south, changed Yizhou County to Jianning County.


Kunming was an important point of South Silk Road (started from Western Han Dynasty). Silk Road was generated in Han Dynasty. In Western Han Dynasty, Zhang Qian started exploring Silk Road and Ban Chao extended the Silk Road during his operation in the Western Regions. After Roman conquered Seleucid Empire in Syria and Ptolemaic Egypt, the people in Roman could get Chinese silk through Parthian Empire, Kushan Empire and Kingdom of Aksum. The Silk Road extended to Europe and Africa continents for the first time, and linked the communication between the West and the Han Dynasty directly.


During the period of Nanzhao Kingdom (738-902) and Dali Kingdom, as a big burgeoning city, Kunming was called as Tuodong City and Shanchan City successively.


In 763 AD (the First Year of Guangde, Tang Dynasty), Ge Luofeng, the King of Nanzhao, reached Kunming area. The King thought the mountains in Kunming can resist enemy and the land of Kunming can raise people. In 765 AD, Feng Jiayi, the son of Ge Luofeng, built Tuodong City in Kunming under the order of his father, to control Jiaozhou in the south and Qujing in the east. Tuodong City changed its name to Dongdu at first, then to Shanchan City. At the beginning of tenth to thirteenth century AD, the early period of Dali Kingdom (Song Dynasty), Dali Kingdom set up Shanchan Government in Kunming, the size of jurisdictional region was comparable to the region governed by Tuodong government in Nanzhao Kingdom, same as the scope of Zhongqing Road in the Yuan Dynasty. Shanchan Official Residence and Juqiao (current Kunming) in Dali Kingdom were guarded by the generations of Gao Family.


In 1253 AD, Yuan Dynasty Shih Tsu Hu Pi Lieh led his army and attacked Yunnan, and conquered Dali city. The King of Dali Kingdom, Duan Xingzhi, escaped to Kunming. In 1254 AD, Uriyangqatai conquered Kunming and caught Duan Xingzhi. In June of 1273, administrator Sayyid set up government in Yunnan Province. In 1276, Sayyid moved the administrative center set during the years of military rule to Kunming, thence Kunming became the provincial capital of Yunnan Province. Italian traveler Marco Polo visited Yunnan in about 1287 AD, and he described Yunnan as Great Splendid City.


In August of 1381 AD, Zhu Yuanzhang assembled three hundred thousand forces, appointed Fu Youde as commander, Lan Yu and Mu Ying as assistant general to subjugate Yunnan. In December, the army of Ming Dynasty defeated Yuan army, Lan Yu and Mu Ying advanced into Kunming. King of Liang escaped to Jinning and drowned himself in Dianchi Lake, then the army of Ming Dynasty entered and garrisoned in Kunming. In 1389, Mu Ying paid a formal visit to Zhu Yuanzhang, and he brought millions of soldiers and civilians in the south of the Yangtze River back to Yunnan for garrison and reclamation. From 1392 to 1398, Mu Chun moved above t

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