Mahakhitan: A Chinese Buddhist Civilization in India

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Green Painting, Nov 27, 2017.

  1. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    I think those were Chola pirates instead of southern Indian armed forces though.
  2. darthfanta Offline

    Feb 15, 2015
    Good CB nonetheless.Would have totally smoked the Southern Indian states if I were her.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  3. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    Okay but seriously most major ancient Indian dynasties didn't manage to conquer the region south to Deccan... Of course for game players they can do whatever they want.

    Also what's CB?
  4. darthfanta Offline

    Feb 15, 2015
    If Khitan forces are good enough to do well in Indonesia and Ceylon,then they should be good enough to conquer Southern India.
    Causes belli.
  5. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    Sri Lanka was inherited by inter-marriage ITOL then basically left unattended, and Jinzhou did not include parts of OTL Indonesia where local forces were strong (see Chapter 15 - we only see Liao occupying part of Malay and Java in Chapter 24).

    The war against Chola and Pasai, on the Malay front, was mostly fought by the Liao navy and land forces of Dacheng as mentioned in Chapter 24.

    Kara's made an update about this and told me to go ahead and post it here irregardless of the chronological order, but that's gonna take a while.
    canute likes this.
  6. Threadmarks: Bonus 007: Such Are the Southern Realms - History of Relations of Mahakhitan with Southern Indian States

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    Bonus 007: Such Are the Southern Realms - History of Relations of Mahakhitan with Southern Indian States

    This update was posted by the original author Kara a few days ago, and I was told to post it irregardless of the chronological order, so as to answer the "why Mahakhitan not conquer the southern Indian countries" doubts readers are having.

    As a result Chapter 25 has to wait for a while longer :coldsweat:

    Em emm… recently @Shouder Monkays and @Green Painting were asked on Alternate History forum why in this timeline Mahakhitan never unified the southern tip of the Indian Subcontinent. Originally I intended to quickly explain in private messages to answer this, but today I managed to have half an hour as free time, so I specifically wrote a bit about this and am posting it here as quite some readers should also be interested in the issue.

    First, plains in northern India and the southern subcontinent are actually very very far away from each other, with many geographical obstacles in between. We’ve talked about (this part has not been translated yet) on the western coast beneath the Western Ghats there is only one narrow corridor, whereas on the eastern coast plain, every estuary could be the foundation of an independent state. Empires built by Mlecchas from the north or native kings, judging from their historical bounds, were basically always somewhat powerless to do much about the south.


    It would take one twenty-odd days on foot without rest even if the route is basically a straight line. In ancient times if someone actually tried to make the trip, four months would not be much of an exaggeration.

    Great Liao ITTL is no exception.

    In this timeline by the time Liao conquered northern and central India, there were two major countries in southern India, The Tamil kingdom of Chola Dynasty (usually referred to as 注輦/Zhunian), and a Telugu kingdom, plus some smaller states between the two such as a tiny Andhara kingdom, etc. In May, 4th Year of Baoying under the Weizong Emperor (1296) when Liao finally eliminated the Orissa kingdom and integrated the local feudal lords into the “Annan Circuit”, the southern states were greatly threatened. After some resistance, these countries gradually began to show submission to Liao.

    Liao was not very interested in land too far away from the Central Capital. Don’t forget the empire back then was still a Central Asian state busy with fending off the Mongols, with its focus in Punjab and Afghanistan. The Central Capital, in which the emperor resided, was five to six thousand li from southern India, while the lack of knowledge of the south made the Liao people think to their south there was simply the endless, hot and barren Deccan Plateau. The indifference the newly acquired Lengjia Circuit received, after the imperial intermarriage, showed such an attitude of the Liao emperor – even the two Lanka dukes enjoyed de-facto independence, let alone those states believed to be on the southern edge of Jambudvīpa – they would not come into Liao’s sight as long as they were submissive and occasionally sent tribute.

    It was only since the ears of Jingyun, Baoyong and Duanning in mid-late 15th Century that the Liao showed real interest in the south. This period is widely regarded as the golden era of middle Mahakhitan. The Chola Dynasty also managed to survive thus far miraculously in TTL, and received aid from Liao by courting the latter. The royal clan also intermarried with the imperial house of Liao (still remember the mother of the Yizong Empress, wife of the Anzong Emperor, the “Chola lioness” protecting the empress?), and the two countries almost never went to war in three hundred years.

    Chola quickly grew and prospered in a favourable environment, and after annexing most of Andhara, together with Liao it carved up the country of the Telugus in the 11th Year of Baoyong (1465). As the loyalist and most powerful outer vassal (外藩), Chola also made tremendous contribution to the campaigns of pacifying the Nanyuan (Southern Plateau) Telugus and westward expedition against Arabia (Campaign against Tianfang, 1504-1507).

    However, in the later Guiwei Rebellion when the traditional main force of the Liao army was almost completely exhausted, the King of Chola, the empress’ maternal nephew broke the alliance with no prior warning in the 20th Year of Jiazhi (1529) and swiftly stuck far into the south of Liao. It has been widely believed the betrayal of Chola was the direct cause of the overwhelming of the Minzong Emperor’s court and his personal death in a coup a year later. (But, let me reveal a bit of hearsay among the Liao people since hundreds of years ago – it is said that the emperor’s younger brother, His Majesty the Shanyang King, the later Pingzong Emperor, was the one that planned the coup started by the Liao army after he secretly reached some deals with his older cousin the Chola King… oh shoot the Flying Dragons Court people are knoc…menwkdjherufhs

    … weep weep)

    What’s next was the history even the official narrative never avoided talking about – the Pingzong Emperor Yelü Jing who succeeded to the throne secured a peace agreement in the 2nd Year of Chongguang (1531), and as the price for peace in the south, Liao gave up large chunks of land of the south, and retreated from the Deccan Plateau. The treaty apparently greatly shocked and upset the Pingzong Emperor, and he kept planning a southward expedition in his later years – but this was never realised and Liao only gradually recovered since the 1580s.

    In the 17th Year of Pingdeng, son of Pingzong, the Yizong (毅宗, lit. “Decisive/Resolved Ancestor”) Emperor Yelü Zhen (耶律震) started the war to reclaim lost land that had been planned by two generations, but this war that lasted for four years has mostly been known by future generations as incredibly bloody. The Liao forces did not gain too much in front of the Chola fortress lines and elephant troops in Deccan, while only the naval forces had something for show. Chola eventually proposed for peace and ceded Goa and the Godavari River estuary plain of the east coast. The campaign represented the end of the golden era of Chola, after which it completely threw itself into the anti-Liao camp.

    As the European powers were longing to get a slice from the Indian Ocean trade in 17th Century, Chola managed to place bets very extensively, and outright leased multiple good harbours along the Madras and Coromandel coasts to England, France, Andalusia and even East Rome, which enraged the Liao Liezong Emperor. Chola also tossed religious differences aside and allied with the hegemony of Malacca, the Muslim Pasai Sultanate as well as Tianfang in the Arabian Peninsula ruled by the Hashemites. But after getting seriously smacked by Liao in the Mingshao Campaign of Pasai (1654-1657), Chola evidently began to resume her wholesome swinging – she now on one hand continued to befriend England, France and Holland, and on the other hand again showed allegiance as a tributary vassal of Liao, even acquiescing to the fact that the Telugu leader(s) within her northern borders was/were sending tributes to the Liao court on their own. Thus her survival as a nation in the 17th Century was eventually achieved.

    However as the European influences gradually deepened, this country in decline saw new challenges. The English and French forces on Chola soil started to take control of the country’s taxation and finances. The Chola empire of the seas at her peak seven hundred years ago, the Chola southern Indian empire full of power two hundred years ago, was now left only with the impracticable king in the city of Thanjavur. He longed for support from Liao, which was in turn wasting her energy in endless internal strives and powerless to address the outside.

    Ahem, so what would this “last Indian Hindu kingdom of Indians” face in the future?


    Em, this is a temporarily inserted update, and the next one should be more fabulous Khitan ceramic designs, which will then lead to a long overdue direction worthy of discussion – temples. How can one not talk about temples but try to depict a Buddhist empire! The temple economy, and the 18th Century Mahakhitan political history brought by it, as well as the Buddhist art at its peak of this era – how I wish I could have more leisure time and properly draw some more. Please stay tuned with patience…

    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
  7. Threadmarks: Chapter 25 Small Theatre: from Cathay to Ireland* (Part One)

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    Chapter 25 Small Theatre: from Cathay to Ireland* (Part One)
    025 – 小劇場:從契丹到愛爾蘭(上)

    *A meme from Crusader Kings II, originally put as “Tales of your misdeeds are told from Ireland to Cathay.”

    I’m back for update~! Please excuse me for the slow pace as a lot have happened recently…


    Prelude (Fake)

    Like we were talking about last time, on the Indian Ocean of the 1650s, Mahakhitan tried to establish her own trade monopoly. The empire greedily extended her hands towards places she could barely reach, from the Spice Islands to Stone Reef Sea or Shitang Sea (South China Sea).

    But Liao’s opponents were the western Europeans who possessed more advanced weaponry and vessels, and they would by no means wait and see the imperial Bureaus of Foreign Shipping monopolise the trade in the Spice Islands, Persian Gulf as well as China and Japan.

    Various European royal houses sponsored their own East India Companies to maintain the relationship with the Liao court, while also befriending the empire’s enemies to build one after another armed trade post along the coasts of South India and the Indo-China Peninsula.

    European venturers that did not work for these companies, on the other hand, colluded with the Liao sea merchants in Southeast Asia, sailed to coasts within the empire ignored by the Bureaus of Foreign Shipping, and reached the more distant Ming and Japan. They sailed in what were smugglers’ ships in regular circumstances and privateers when wars broke out among European countries. When they had desirable opportunities themselves, they would also become pirates with their own self-brought weapons.

    As these European ships were superior in terms of firepower and tonnage to Liao’s naval ships, the patrol battalions under the Liao Bureaus of Foreign Shipping, fully fed by the bribes from these Europeans, felt like they had no reason to touch these foreigners.

    Therefore, one can probably say that the mid 17th Century Indian Ocean, especially the region around Jinzhou and Malacca, was a paradise of outlaws.


    Story of the British Pirate

    Fall 1659, one such European ship arrived in Port Aceh of Pasai. No one knew back then that her name the “Gorgon” and her captain Henry Barlow would make it to the list of this timeline’s greatest pirates.

    Barlow was one of those who heard about the wealth in the east in the West Indies, and came here for a fortune. As soon as he arrived, however, he realised there were too many that shared his intentions, and the competition here in Malacca was too fierce. In order to keep his subordinates at bay and avoid ending up on the plank in a sailor uprising, he felt like he had to do something big as a pirate with aspirations.

    As a matter of fact, on the waters near Jinzhou, everyone knew that in the end of October each year, Liao’s Governor’s Office of Jinzhou would dispatch a gigantic fleet to the Liao Nanjing Prefecture. Since the fleet would be carrying the accumulated revenue over the past six months of the Jinzhou Bureau of Foreign Shipping as well as important passengers traveling between Mahakhitan Proper and Jinzhou, it was always heavily guarded by the Liao naval fleet.

    Moreover, the fleet this year had a special task at hand: As the seventieth birthday of the Liao empress dowager was near, the fleet would also be responsible for shipping the “Ten Thousand Year Convoy” (萬年綱, where 綱/gang1 was a way of calling the transportation of goods under convoy in ancient China), the gifts officials in Jinzhou and Videha prepared for the imperial house.

    No normal pirate would dare to even think of touching this expansive fleet containing thirty warships and three large treasure ships. But Henry Barlow was no normal human being.

    This scumbag reached out to several English captains nearby. Some of them were standalone spice traders, some were even contractors of the English East India Company. They nevertheless formed a force of five ships, boarding 400 sailors speaking various languages, armed with 85 cannons in total, and tailed the fleet by a distance of half day after the target passed through Malacca, awaiting their chance like lions staring at gnus.

    The Ten Thousand Year Convoy was not in luck either, and was struck by a very rare winter tropical storm while going through East Sea (Gulf of Bengal). One large treasure ship “Afflatus” (靈感/Ling2 Gan3) at the centre of the right formation fell behind as her aftermast was broken. By dawn the fleet was nowhere to be seen within the sight of the crew.

    Six naval warships sent by the convoy commander in search of the Afflatus managed to find the treasure ship by the afternoon of December 14th. They formed a small fleet together and continued their journey towards Lengjia. By noon of the 15th they already made it to the outer waters to the south of Lanka Island, but directly bumped into Henry’s ship.


    25 nautical miles south to Dondra, the southernmost tip of today’s Sri Lanka, where the big event ITTL took place.

    It appeared that Henry’s fleet was also washed back and forth in the storm and did not have the time to reorganise. They briefly searched futilely for Liao vessels falling behind and then were about to continue going westward, only without realising the lagging treasure ship had been much slower than these English themselves. Therefore they were essentially going right toward the seven Liao ships. Although they did not enjoy a numerical advantage, the pirates’ long-range firepower put the Liao ships, good at close combat despite they were, to a great disadvantage. Until after dark, the last Liao warship “Vajrapāni” (勝金剛) was hit in the gunpowder stack, and had her entire upper deck and mast blown to the sky. The horrific, hellish scene and scattered debris declared the end of three hours of valiant resistance of the Liao naval forces. The Afflatus relied on her enormous size and 32 cannons to mount a desperate struggle, and was eventually surrounded and boarded by three pirate ships.

    Such was the brief overview of the “Ten Thousand Year Convoy” incident of 1659 that shocked the entire Indian Ocean region. After the treasure ship surrendered, I cannot bear to tell the bloody and desperate treatment the three hundred odd men and women aboard received. In summary, according to future estimates, before being sent to the bottom of the ocean, the gold, silver coins, spices, jewelry, porcelain and tea robbed from the ship were worth approximately 700,000 pounds on the London market at the time, whereas on the record of the Liao Ministry of Revenue, each entry of every type of goods was clearly listed, leading to a long, three-hundred-page catalog offering a final valuation of 650,000 taels of silver or 1,300,000 Tiangangs, equivalent to approximately a quarter of the tariff revenue that made to the Ministry of Revenue that year.


    Story of the Liao Emperor

    It was only till the next January did the news of survivors being rescued in Lengjia Circuit reach the emperor Yelü Hongdu (耶律洪篤).

    The emperor, filled with fury, saw the pillaging of the imperial treasure ship as a direct insult to himself. Soon reports from dispatched Flying Dragons Court personnel plus more files from Lengjia Circuit were gathered and compiled on office desks of the Secretariat (中書省 or Zhongshu Department, lit. “Central Drafting Department”) and presented to the emperor.

    The history of this Henry Barlow as a contractor of the English East India Company, and the identities of his English collaborators were gradually unearthed. The immediate reaction of the emperor was to hold the English East India Company responsible.

    The clumsy bureaucratic machine of this enormous empire showed surprisingly swift reactions under the personal attention and management of the emperor himself. By early February, the Liao troops had already closed and seized the trade posts of the English East India Company in Nanjing (Southern Capital), Suluo (Surat), Guo’a (Goa), Kutuo (Cuttack) and Daka (Dhaka). By the end of February, the Liao navy even blockaded the Madras coast leased by Chola to the English.

    His Majesty had a reputation of being tough and resolved, and used to wage a successful war to take the Malacca coast with the excuse of “Pasai is powerless to contain the rampant pirate activity in her own waters”. The English also realised by this point that this had become too huge. More than twenty years of engagement of the East India Company in India and the Spice Islands as well as the effort to court the Liao imperial house had been wiped out in no time. The special envoy sent to the Eastern Capital to provide an explanation had been detained in the palaces with no reply. What was worse, the gigantic imperial machine began to aimlessly breathe fiery wrath towards all westerners.


    Story of the French Commissioner (a Bit Long)

    As the commissioner of the French East India Company in Nanjing, François Maisson had been keenly following the aftermath of the Ten Thousand Year Convoy robbery along with his colleagues.

    When the incident just took place, within the company everyone was simmered in the atmosphere of “schadenfreude” and eager to see how the fire would devour their rivals, but soon became worried instead: in the Indian Ocean, there was no lack of pirates from any particular country, and no company had completely clean hands. The Khitan emperor obviously did not lack any understanding of this either.

    It was not before long when the trade posts of other various countries were under the blackmail from mandarins under the Khitan emperor. Indeed things had begun to get out of hand.

    Some day in mid June, 1660, the superior of Maisson and the new director of the French East India Company, François Caron, notified the former that there was a task requiring him to travel back to Europe. But this time he would be taking the ship of the Khitans and accompany the Khitan lords.


    Boss of Monsieur Maisson, the most honourable director of the French East India Company, Monsieur François Caron.

    At last! Maisson was a French Huguenot and had followed his boss Caron to work at the Dutch East India Company’s Nagasaki trade post for more than ten years before following the latter to skip from there to the current affiliation. It couldn’t have gotten any better now that he thought of the chance of homecoming with his achievements and status, and also the prospect of showing up in Paris with the most respected Khitanistan envoy. But, he also knew such a task at this point would not be too easy, so he listened to the boss in all seriousness for every detail.

    The chance was earned by Caron. News from London was, the English Parliament had already declared Barlow and the likes as “common enemies of humanity”, and offered a huge reward of five thousand pounds for him. Before the envoy from London could arrive in India and smoothen out the anger of the emperor, the French still could grasp the opportunity and display the positive image of being the “civil and friendly westerners”. Therefore Caron volunteered to be in charge of this, saying the French could send someone to assist the Khitan envoy whose task was to deliver an edict to London.

    Wanting to find out more about the geographical and military information of the Europeans, the emperor happened to desire exactly that – up till now, the most distant west ever visited by Khitan delegates had been Constantinople. The emperor himself would be quite uncertain if conflicts were to break out between the empire and these westerners in their large vessels. After all, the lesson from the eastern military classic of “know yourself as well as the enemy” had been engraved in his memory since childhood.

    So the French East India Company dispatched one senior business representative (Maisson, that is), two business representative, five clerks, three interpreters, six navigators and a small group of servants and slaves for the Mahakhitan fleet. Together with the goods they wished to take with them back to Europe for sale, they boarded the the Khitan envoy’s vessel on September 2nd, 1660.

    The record of observation during the trip by Maison himself was later published in Paris in 1664, and offered an intriguing perspective for the future generations to look into the Mahakhitan navy and life afloat of this period:

    (The real deal only starts here, if you ask me!)

    The voyage was far from completely smooth. Maisson continued to write:

    Then came more trouble during the journey:

    The biggest trouble was during the last segment of the journey…


    The Irish coast outside the city of Cork, which was under the rule of Kingdom of England at that time, and the first piece of European land Mahakhitan diplomatic missions had seen (other than Constantinople).


    Story of Administrator of the Royal Navy Board


    Samuel Pepys, Naval Administrator and Chief Secretary to the Admiralty.

    To be continued!

    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
  8. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village

    Two things:
    1. The translation for "French Red Wood Coast" has been changed according to Kara's instructions.

    2. Chapter 26 is equally complicated and long, so after another short update (which is a bonus chapter) it's going to be a while before I come up with anything else.

    Let me know what you think! And although this is a long shot... would anyone be interested to help me rewrite/revise the narratives from Maisson and Pepys in a more plausible, 17th Century European tone?
  9. Threadmarks: Bonus 005: I’ve Got Two Good News Yo Which One Y’all Wanna Hear First

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    Bonus 005: I’ve Got Two Good News Yo Which One Y’all Wanna Hear First


    The cover photo is the big gold boots from our Great Liao I saw a few days ago at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The original leather ones have already been presented in Chapter 23, on the feet of the Khitan officer.


    Good news no. 1 is I tried out the converter of Europa Universalis IV to Victoria II. I always worried about too much customised stuff would crash the converter, but the process was surprisingly smooth.

    The test was based on the periodical save in around 1720. Countless fine-tunings are required for the final version, and I can guarantee the conversion of the flags, pop and everything else will go greatly.


    Liao, earliest civilisation of South Asia* (not

    *A meme from the first line of one of the Republic of China anthems, Song of Five Races Under One Union. Here Kara rewrote the line “東亞開化中華早” as “南亞開化遼國早”. The translated lyrics (not sure who did the translation) on Wikipedia may be a bit off, and I personally would rather go with “Liao, so early a state civilised in South Asia” instead.


    Click to check the demographics in detail~


    Good news no. 2 being, I’ve been gone recently as I reset the my focus of life, and found out more more interesting stuff.

    So apart from posting updates, I don’t intend to spend too long on Zhihu, and will be constantly gone.

    The tempo for updates may also change, or not, depending on whether or not life is busy.

    And I will go back to the direction of art history and history of the material civilisation.

    The recent series on politics and history of national relations is actually a divergence. I only wanted to write about stuff on the sea as I myself am a fan of voyages.


    See ya!

    Bonus 005-3.jpg

    As a bonus here’s a statue of Buddha after enlightenment owned by the Shanyang royal house. Pala Dynasty, 9th Century, unearthed in Bihar.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
  10. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    You can refer to my previous reply which is post #178 in this thread. There are some earlier discussions about this too. Mostly these are about the situation within Liao.

    The southern Indian states simply didn't get too much coverage. So if Hinduism seems like a mainstay there, it is. We can assume nothing particular has happened there.
  11. Threadmarks: Chapter 26 Small Theatre: from Cathay to Ireland (Part Two)

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    Chapter 26 Small Theatre: from Cathay to Ireland (Part Two)
    026 – 小劇場:從契丹到愛爾蘭(下)


    Picking up from last time,

    the story was expanded a lot, but I can retract all these storylines…


    Story of Administrator of the Royal Navy Board


    Story of the French Commissioner (Still Quite Long)

    Monsieur Maisson and his colleagues from the French India Company were politely led aside almost as soon as their ship docked. The Khitan mission stayed in Chatham for a few days, negotiated with the English on the repair of the ships, and then Lord Xiao was escorted by the English to London by land. Then, the English led these French out of the critical base of the Royal Navy with maximal efficiency, and “politely placed” them in a disbanded monestry in Dartford.

    Under such circumstances, Maisson still managed to record whatever news he heard about the Khitan mission in England:

    The following three pages are all kinds of fancy complaints Maisson had about food of the English, which I will skip translating here~

    Skipping over the part, let’s now talk about the even grander reception the Khitan envoys had in Paris after they left England.

    Early 1663, after touring the north of France, the mission left the country from Brest. During the return, the Liao mission also visited Grenada, Andalusia, and was warmly welcomed by the king in Alhambra.

    The voyage after that was smooth all the way. The Mahakhitan captains already gained experience of handling long journeys on the sea, and there were also ships from the French East India Company that accompanied the fleet, with more goods and commissioners.

    More importantly, the Mahakhitan sailors found their new favourite during their stay in England of less than half a year – a beverage called beer. The captains trustingly allowed their men to consume it without limitations. As the beverage could also remain fresh for long periods of time, it quickly became the best drink for the Khitan life afloat. The East End of London style beer produced in Wuchuan Circuit even gained the name “Indian Pale Ale” in the English-speaking world ITTL, or IPA in short.


    Story of the Liao Emperor

    1665, 18th Year of Mingshao of Liao.

    When the mission returned to His Majesty’s palace, the Liezong Emperor himself had been tormented by his lung condition for several years and was almost completely drained of his energy. The imperial doctors sent by the emperor of the eastern realm (Ming), monk doctors sent by the King of Ü-Tsang, pharmacists from Baghdad, and the French doctors with all of their Latin and Greek terms had been busy surrounding the emperor for two or three years, racking their brains all day, only showing barely any result.

    His Majesty was in turn at ease himself. The Five Skandhas are all empty after all, the emperor told the imperial preceptor, the 25th-generation guardian of the First Central Gate of Nalanda, Master Jixian (寂賢, lit. “Solitary Virtue”), and although he had led to many killings during the campaign against Pasai, committing deep, grave sins, he would unperturbedly accept any and all retribution and was even curious what would become of him in Saṃsāra.

    The imperial preceptor naturally said things to comfort the emperor, as his duty required.

    The biggest worry of the emperor was still what it meant for the future of the empire as western countries arrived via the ocean. Behind the hospitable reception and even excessive courtesy the English had shown towards the Xiao Gu (蕭固) mission was their powerful might and a kind of stubbornness that was difficult to comprehend. Their handling of the criminals this time showed this tendency precisely: instead of accepting the demand to send the inmates back to Mahakhitan for execution, the English publicly disposed of them on a carefully prepared rite in their own cruel way. Although this punishment of being coated in tar and then hanged in cages was indeed unheard of and quite deterring, so the Liao still managed to win back some face in front of the whole Europe, but what the empire needed the most was after all the old Liao-style punishment for pirates: salt-marinated then wind-dried hands and heads stuck up on the “Three Mountains Pillar”* (三山柱) on the seaside dam near the naval base/camp.

    *A creation of Kara with probably no equivalence IOTL - a wide Trishula about one-man-tall, with the felon's head on the middle tip and his hands on the other two, left to be wind-dried for a year or so.

    The emperor did not have any son that made it to adulthood, which meant Mahakhitan was to receive another empress after two hundred years.

    Princess Yelü Mingxu was fifteen this year, and deeply fascinated by everything during the era of the Yizong Empress. The imperial house arranged her engagement to the crown prince of Hanshan, thus also reminding both the court and the commoners of the story between the Yizong Emperor and King Xuan of Shanyang two centuries ago.

    Some nosy civilians came up the prophetic poem that crotchetily implied the the princess’ rule in the future would be like an echo of the late empress’ time.

    Of course not, the emperor told his little princess. The world is not the same anymore, the ocean is no longer calm, things are changing behind the snowy mountains to the west, and the national treasury that seems to be full is also filled with holes. When you sit on the Diamond Throne, facing the longest day, you must be careful and stay alert.

    The princess nodded, subconsciously clenching the curtain of the imperial bed.


    Lastly we go back, to Story of the English Pirate

    This Henry Barlow dude, eh,

    he fled with his own men after this one robbery of the Ten Thousand Year Convoy he committed. While on the run he also did not forget to make life for his culprit partners difficult. He first did not honour the promise he made to divide the loot with the other captains, ran all the way to the Caribbean, and then trapped his own brothers on the same ship, causing these hapless scums’ arrest by the hand of the Royal Navy. News was, their execution in London ran wild.

    Then Barlow concealed himself and vanished from history.

    But I’ve heard, and everyone seems to be saying this, that after a while Barlow started to slowly sell what he had when he felt the thing was over, but was tailed by a Greek fraud from New Naxos. The man cheated all of Barlow’s money with some financial operation-related gimmicky proposal, and simply disappeared. Word is, Barlow loitered around like a stray dog, got recognised by his former crew, and ended up dead in a drainage ditch in Port John Chrysostom of New Naxos (Fort-de-France Bay of Martinique IOTL).

    I rather like this ending.

    ~ Fin ~ Thank you for reading~


    Record of the Western Regions~ the Returning Part Eight

    It’s been a long time since I last wrote background introduction pieces. The small theatre series this time combines much fiction with historical reality, so I feel it is needed for me to write about the part from historical facts of OTL.


    The entire Ten Thousand Year Convoy robbery of the Afflatus was inspired by the 1690s Indian Ocean big event IOTL – the Ganj-i-Sawai (“Exceeding Treasure”) Incident. The large Mughal vessel en route from Hajj was attacked by the pirate Henry Every and his complices in the Mandab Strait of Red Sea, leading to inhumane pillage and ravage of the male and female pilgrims aboard, while the bountifulness of the loot also became an eternal legend. For those interested, please check further for the unfolding of the event and the subsequent rage of Aurangzeb. But of course for the Mughal Empire, even after 30 years (than the event ITTL), its lack of focus on the sea made sure it could never dispatch large vessels to condemn the King of England.

    The archetypal character of Henry Barlow is the main felon in the incident, Henry Every. As one of the most (in)famous figure in the history of piracy, he went after straggling ships, indulged his subordinates, wronged his partners, and ended up getting scammed to become a stray dog on the street of overseas colonies… these are all true stories. The ending of Barlow getting recognised and beaten to death was created by the negative and vengeful me, to vent the anger for our Great Liao’s convoy.


    François Maisson is an imaginary figure of the Mahakhitan timeline, but his early-life experience is indeed identical to that of François Caron: being a Huguenot, working for the Dutch, becoming a high-rank executive in Japan, and then skipping back to his home country.

    The part of France bears two differences from OTL, one being the French East India Company was actually only established in the 1660s, with Caron being the first director invited by the Minister of Finances of France Colbert. But in this timeline, the prosperity of maritime trade brought by [peace under Mahakhitan dominance] probably caused the company’s early establishment some ten-odd-years in advance.

    The second deviation is that the premiere of Molière’s Le Bourgeois gentilhomme was actually at Château de Chambord in 1670. But I simply love the play and the music from Lully too much, so I made Monsieur Molière finish it early regardless.

    Lully did in fact play as a Turkish mufti, but a big and powerful East Rome instead of the Ottoman Turks emerged in the Mahakhitan timeline’s Near-East, so adjustments were made accordingly.




    Lastly, although Samuel Pepys did not play a big part in the series, he was indeed a figure worth of a lot of coverage. His Excellency established a system of management regulations for modern British Royal Navy, but he is more famous for his diary between 1660 and 1669, in which he recorded important events in Britain back then, many interesting daily-life details of 17th Century, and infinite gossip material. I nearly became addicted to his diary while I was reading it a while back… The Small Theatre series contain two pieces of his diary, which I wrote while referring to the actual thing of roughly the same historical period.

    Didn’t I also mention Sir W. Penn? He was an admiral of England back then, a fierce commander, and made frequent appearances in Pepys’ dairy as he was the latter’s colleague and neighbour. Pepys initially had a decent relation with Penn, but later found out about the admiral’s constant unreliability plus lack of integrity, so he gradually avoided him more. For more details, refer to their English Wikipedia entries.

    But seriously, the young lad Pepys himself had questionable integrity as well… on the day in OTL after seeing the Liao vessels in Chatham in this series, Sunday July 28th, 1661, Pepys first met Penn’s daughter Margret at church (Faust anyone?). His comment was “thought she was a beauty but turned out to be average”, but later Pepys still had inexplicable entanglement with Penn’s daughter and wife… one day I specifically went over Pepys’ diary to look into the story, and it was so fun.

    Oh and also, the King of England owed Admiral Penn money and couldn’t pay him back, so His Majesty instead paid with land in the New World. Penn’s son William Penn got the piece of land, which became known as Pennsylvania, woods of the Penns literally.

    (Finished on the train in Pennsylvania… oops.)


    Boundary marker of Pennsylvania, showing the Penns’ coat of arms; saw this a few days ago at a museum.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  12. Threadmarks: Chapter 27 Mahakhitan Kaleidoscope (1): A Brief Introduction to the Empire’s Administrative Branch in 18th Century

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    Chapter 27 Mahakhitan Kaleidoscope (1): A Brief Introduction to the Empire’s Administrative Branch in 18th Century
    027 – 摩訶契丹萬花筒(1):18世紀帝國的行政機構簡述

    I’ve been very busily in charge of a project recently, getting off work at 11pm everyday. Today I finally got home a bit earlier so I thought I could make some news.

    But still, I really don’t have the energy to write stories or draw a lot these days.

    Mahakhitan has entered the early modern era, so I suddenly felt I needed to dig deeper into the details of this country on various aspects, and depict from perspectives I never managed to cover.

    Don’t wanna write too much about big figures, big events, the usual deal; whereas it is fairly interesting to explore the material, system, art and culture during this transitional period. About the history of the 18th Century, let me lay it out as subplots here, just like I did before.

    It has been my consistent direction to “realistify” this country and make it actually touchable to the readers. So when it comes to these side topics, I’ve been more or less thinking about them all along, and accumulated quite a lot of notes. I shall roughly organise them this time, also as preparation for the coming, colourful modern-contemporary times!

    The series is called “Mahakhitan Kaleidoscope of 18th Century” and can be regarded as a compilation of settings composed of my notes~! Each and every piece will vary by length, chronological order, and sometimes with illustrations. I still want to try my best showing you the beauty of this country.

    Still, one’s mind has limitations. If my effort falls short sometimes, your creative help will be needed.

    Right now let’s get to it.
    The Imperial Government, 1700-1750.

    The Mahakhitan central bureaucratic system in 18th Century still retain the Three Departments and Six Ministries (三省六部) model since Tang, in name. The distinct Khitan system of the Southern and Northern Administrations (南北院) were integrated during the migration to the south in 13th Century, whereas the powers and responsibilities of the Three Departments had been in constant changes amidst the central-local powerplay since 15th Century. Especially by 18th Century where we are, Mahakhitan is experiencing drastic domestic shuffles.

    We will talk about specific events later, but trying to describe the central administrative hierarchy of this era will only lead to a self-troubling mess. We shall put our focus on the relatively stable Six Ministries under the Shangshu Department (尚書省, Department of State Affairs as translated in Wikipedia), and the local administrative system.

    Speaking of the Six Ministries, let’s use the Ministry of Works (工部), in which I’ve humbly served, as the example.

    The Ministry of Works is usually regarded as the last among the Six Ministries and has a low sense of presence. During the 17th to 18th Centuries it commanded five agencies (司): Building and Renovation (營繕), Land Opening (屯田), Gardens, Mountains and Lakes (園虞)*, Water and Rivers (水川), Transportation and Sailing (輿航).

    *園 has relatively definitive meaning, but 虞, in this context, likely refers to the responsibility of managing 山澤 (a traditional Chinese word that literally refers to “mountains and lakes” but generally means “wilderness with natural resources”), hence the translation.

    In our Agency of Building and Renovation, we have the director (郎中), deputy director (員外郎), secretaries (令史), deputy (record) secretaries (書令史), gatekeepers (亭長), storage keepers (掌固), which is basically identical to the Tang system. The storage keepers in our agency are responsible for managing the agency’s files, records, documents and so on. One of these storage keepers is my boss, so I am one of those unlisted nobodies, and in the Ministry of Works facility of the Eastern Capital there are more than two hundred nobodies like me.

    The other ministries are more or less similar. Each ministry has agencies under it, and the six ministries all have “rear offices” (留守機構, where 留守 means “staying behind” – there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent term in English) in the Central and Southern Capitals. As of today (1700), although the Central Capital is still the theoretical capital of Liao, due to the wartime damages caused in early 16th Century and the decline of the Hanshan trade route in recent years, it is no longer as prosperous, while the emperor only goes there for major ceremonies or summer-time vacations. The administrative centre of the empire has now gradually been moved to the Eastern Capital, Zhuchuan Prefecture – it is very convenient to govern the increasingly prosperous eastern half of the empire from here.​



    An old map, but during the 200 years the administrative division has not changed a lot~! What’s worth mentioning is the establishment of the Governor’s Office of Jinzhou (translated from "Sauvarnadvipa", or "Land of Gold"), the Governor’s Office of Niuhe, and the General-Governor’s Office of Videha*. The territory is very different too.

    Link to the translated uncompressed map:!h8hgHAIK!ntNbYOQv0OK1usDSYNB9ugCpCWYQafTZa3db6memIBY

    *總管府 is translated as Governor’s Office, whereas for Videha the title has an extra character 都 so I’ve decided to translate it as the General-Governor’s Office. A previous mention of the Governor’s Office of Jinzhou in Chapter 25 has been revised accordingly (where “General-” has been removed) to reflect the change.

    Also, again, I got the transliteration for 衛 or “Garrison” wrong. It should be “Wei” instead of “Zhen” 鎮 as shown on the map… but changing it is a lot of work so…

    Outside of the capitals, the Great Liao adopts the tertiary administrative hierarchy of circuit-zhou-county, and it has been largely stable for hundreds of years.

    Primary-level administrative units: Circuit, Zhaotao Si (“Agency of Pacification and Expedition”):

    On the level of a circuit, there are the Inspector’s Office (觀察使司) and inspector (觀察使). The former is in theory not a local agency but instead an outpost dispatched by the Zhongshu Department (中書省, or Secretariat as translated in Wikipedia).

    The circuits of Hanshan, Shanyang and Puti all have their own kings in theory (nowadays, the emperor also holds the title of Hanshan King; the title of Shanyang King usually and conventionally is conferred to His Highness the crown prince; Puti King simply enjoys a luxurious care-free life) so for these circuits a Royal House (大王府) instead of Inspector’s Office is in place, and the chief official is called the (Royal) Chancellor (相). In practice between the Chancellor of Hanshan and the Inspector of Wuchuan Circuit, there is barely any difference.

    A Zhaotao Si, on the other hand, has an chief general of pacification and expedition (招討使) and Chief General’s Office (大詳穩司) as a district of military governor-generalship, and answers directly to the Office of Generalissimo (都元帥府) instead of the Zhongshu Department.

    In terms of supervision, the circuits also have the Chief Supervisor’s Offices (監察使司), which as dispatched outposts of the Menxia Department (門下省, translated as the Chancellery in Wikipedia) are in charge of judicial matters as well as keeping the Inspector’s Offices and local lords in check. On the zhou level, there are also the Supervisory Agencies (監察司).

    In terms of finance and taxation, under a circuit there is the Chief of Transportation’s Office (轉運使司) led by the chief of transportation (轉運使). Under a zhou there is the Money and Silk Agency (錢帛司) led by the tally chief general (都點檢), whereas on the county level there is the tally chief (點檢).

    About local military matters, under a circuit there is the Chief of Garrison’s Office (守禦使司) managing the policing and patrolling in both cities and rural areas as well as defense. However the chief of garrison does not command troops of the circuit. Some special fortresses, such as the Huomu Wei/Garrison (活木衛, where 活木/Huomu is the shortened transliteration of Hormoz), also fall directly under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of War and the Office of Generalissimo, instead of the circuit’s Chief of Garrison’s Office.

    Secondary-level administrative units: Fu/Prefecture, Zhou, Hunting Field, Chief of Herding’s Office (群牧使司):

    Places where upper-class clans gather and of geographical importance are designed to become prefectures that nominally fall under the central’s direct rule. Unlike in post-Song China where the status of prefecture has been overused, prefectures in Liao are still quite rare.

    The biggest privilege of a prefecture is it has its own Advisory Board (諮議局), where aristocrats and gentlemen discuss local political affairs – this is a rather recent change.

    For overseas territories there are Governor’s Offices (總管府) and General-Governor’s Offices (都總管府). These are not prefectures but joint administrative-military governing institutes. The chiefs of them are called Governors (總管) and General-Governors (都總管) respectively. The system probably came from Yuan and was inherited by the Liao people in their overseas territories. They are hard to classify administratively and directly managed by the imperial house.

    If a prefecture happens to be a jing (京 - capital), then there is a Rear Agency (留守司) executing the powers of the Prefecture Mayor (府尹). For such a prefecture there is also a Xuanhui Yuan/Court (宣徽院, basically a palace management agency with the original meaning of the title 宣徽/Xuanhui unfound online) responsible for the maintenance of the palace facilities.

    Oh the chief officials of the various courts (院) and agencies (局) are still called Linya (林牙, claimed by many sources to be the Khitan word for Hanlin/翰林 – the Imperial Academy scholars), a fairly ancient title.

    The administrative chief of a zhou is called Cishi (刺史, an ancient title from Han Dynasty, originally bearing the meaning similar to “remonstrative official” but soon became an administrative position).

    Whereas the chief official of a zhou under feudal (enfeoffed) territories is called a Jiedu (節度, famous ancient title from Tang Dynasty) – these are the hereditary dukes. Legally speaking, their reign of their territories is authorised through the conferment of their Jiedu titles, instead of their titles of nobility.

    There is only one hunting field across the country, the Kasmira Hunting Field, and it is managed by the Manager’s Office (部署使司, where 部署 was an ancient military position), which is in turn administered by the Interior Service Department (內侍省), the Zhongjing (Central Capital) Xuanhui Court and the Gardens, Mountains and Lakes Agency of the Ministry of Works.

    The Chief of Herding’s Offices are seen in the circuits of Hanshan, Tianzhu and Persia and enjoy the administrative level of zhou. They are responsible for providing meat as well as work horses for the Liao cavalry and artillery forces.

    Under a zhou there are also the Bureau of Works (工事司), Bureau of Police and Patrol (警巡司), Bureau of Punishment and Jail (刑獄司), Zhou Academy (州學) and so on.

    The Bureau of Foreign Shipping (市舶司) under any zhou belongs to the imperial house directly. In early 18th Century, there are altogether ten Bureaus of Foreign Shipping across the empire and they are all located in Mahakhitan’s vital ports. They are, from west to east (except the capital): Nanjing (南京, Southern Capital), Niuhe (牛賀, Horn of Africa), Huomu (活木, Hormoz), Suluo (蘇羅, Surat), Qidao (七島, “Seven Islands” - Mumbai), Guo’a (果阿, Goa), Lengjia (楞迦, Lanka), Kutuo (苦陀, Cuttack), Sunuogong (蘇挪貢, Sonargaon), Roufo (柔佛, Juhor).

    The chiefs of foreign shipping (市舶使) are usually eunuchs. Since the era of the empress, seventy percent of the revenue of the Bureaus of Foreign Shipping has been directly allocated to the internal imperial treasury.

    The Bureau of Shipbuilding under the zhou is jointly administered by the Agency of Transportation and Sailing of the Ministry of Works, and the Agency of Warships (艨艟司) of the Ministry of War – yet another complicated mess.

    The tertiary-level administrative unit is the county (縣/xian4).

    Under the county, except the common position of the county magistrate (縣令), assistant county magistrate (縣丞), county sheriff (縣尉) and county educational chief (縣學官), the lower positions vary between the circuits, as traditional local institutions has been kept depending on different circumstances. Names of the counties are also usually the transliterations of the original names.


    I did not cover other aspects such as the wei (garrison), which will be saved for the introduction to the systems of the Khitan army and navy.

    Good night!

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
  13. manitobot Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2014
    Even with forced Islamic conversions in our world, that only led to about 7% of the South Asian population converting. How does Buddhism become so popular a religion in South Asia?
  14. darthfanta Offline

    Feb 15, 2015
    Through the untouchables?I used to hear from my high school teacher about how a lot of Indians converted to Buddhism or Christianity to stop getting classified as untouchables.
  15. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    It seems to me that Buddhism is much more compatible with the originally Hindu and other "native" South Asian religions than Islam. Also one of the Mahakhitan emperors dismantled the caste system ITTL, and it may have helped the process.
    BootOnFace and darthfanta like this.
  16. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    Also I've found this:

    So I'm not sure where the 7% figure came from. Maybe at a very early stage when Islam just arrived in South Asia?
    merkmuds likes this.
  17. BootOnFace Buoyant Armiger

    May 15, 2012
    Commune of Cascadia
    At the time of the Mahakhitan conquest of India, Bengal was still primarily Buddhist. That's a huge base of native Buddhists. Also Buddhism would probably not be seen as the foreign religion of conquerors, but as a different kind of Hinduism, as it acknowledges Hindu gods and is from India. All of its holiest sites are in India. And with huge support from the government, many low-caste Hindus would convert just for the material benefits.
    darthfanta likes this.
  18. Srihari14 Banned

    May 30, 2018
    I might have missed this, but what is the official language of the nation, Sanskrit or Mandarin?
  19. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2018
    That lil' fishing village
    The official language is the "Liao language", which is a hybrid based on Khitan with Chinese, Gaochang Uyghur and South Asian influences. Everything official is also written in Chinese (Middle Chinese, plus the future developments ITTL).

    For more, refer to, or search for "language" within the thread.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
  20. CountofDooku Emperor of Amra

    Oct 16, 2016
    Empire of Amra
    Love this TL, wish I could make maps like these. :D
    Batman16 and Shoulder Monkays like this.