An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Ili Baliq 亦力把里

Apr 6, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Ili Baliq (Chinese rendering Yilibali 亦力把里) is the name of a khanate in Eastern Turkestan that flourished during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). It is also the early Ming period name for what is today the so-called Autonomous Region of Xinjiang. The state of Ili Baliq whose Türkic name means "Cities of the River Ili" came into being when the khanate (ulus) of Čaqadai 察合台 disintegrated in the mid-14th century. Its western parts were called Beš Baliq (Chinese rendering Bieshibali 別失八里) "Eight Cities".

While the population was Uyghurian the ruling elite were Mongols. In 1391 the khan, Qidr Hoja 黑的兒火者, accepted the suzerainty of the Ming empire and sent a tribute embassy to China. In 1418 the Vais Khan 歪思 moved his seat more west to the valley of River Ili and renamed his state into Ili Baliq. His city had the name Ili 伊犁 (modern Yining 伊寧, Xinjiang).

After Vais Khan' death in 1432 his state (also called the Eastern Čaqadai khanate) disintegrated. One branch of his descendants stayed in Ili, while another branch ruled the eastern town of Turfan 吐魯番. The rulers of Turfan were hostile to the Ming and often interrupted the tributary relations of Ili with the Ming empire. In 1465 the Ming court regulated the number and size of tributary missions of its various vassal states. Ili was to deliver tributes all three to five years, with no more than ten emissiaries. These missions became in effect less and less, and finally ended when Turfan conquered Ili in the early 16th century.

In Ming sources Eastern Turkestan was from then on known with the name Turfan.

Chen Gaohua 陳高華 (1992). "Ili Baliq 亦力把里", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 3, 1400.
Gao Wende 高文德 (1995). Zhongguo shaoshu minzu shi da cidian 中國少數民族史大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin jiaoyu chubanshe), 872.
Xinjiang baike quanshu bianzuan weiyuanhui 《新疆百科全書》編纂委員會, ed. (2002). Xinjiang baike quanshu 新疆百科全書 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 96.