The kingdom of Bohai 渤海 (Korean reading Barhae) was a native state in the north of modern Manchuria (modern province of Heilongjiang). It flourished during 8th and 9th centuries and was a tributary state to the Tang empire 唐 (618-907) in China. This state was founded by a people called Mohe 靺鞨 (Korean reading Malgal). The royal dynasty of Bohai had the family name Da 大. They founded a state called Zhen 震 or Mohe. In 713 the Tang dynasty bestowed Da Zuorong 大祚榮 (posthumous title King Gao of Bohai 渤海高王, r. 698-719) the title of commandery prince (junwang 郡王) of Bohai, a place name that was from then on adopted as the name of the country and state.
The people of the Mohe were, according to Chinese historiography, descendants of the Sushen 肅慎 and Yilou 挹婁 of ancient times. The Sushen and Yilou lived of fishing and hunting and were a tributary people to the state of Fuyu 夫余 during the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE)
. From the 4th century on they threw off the yoke of the Fuyu and became independent. From the Northern Dynasties period 北朝 (386-581) on the inhabitants of this region the Wuji 勿吉 (ancient reading like "Mugi") emerged, which is another transcription for "Mohe". The people of the Mohe was able to overcome the state of Fuyu and to expand southwards and therefore became the sole political entity in the northeastern region. It is known that around 600 there were seven large tribes of the Mohe that were by the Chinese called Sumo 粟末靺鞨, Baishan 白山靺鞨, Boduo 伯咄靺鞨, Anchegu 安車骨靺鞨, Haoshi 號室靺鞨, Funie 拂涅靺鞨 and Heishui 黑水靺鞨. Of these, the tribes of Sumo and Heishui were the largest and most powerful. In 605 the Sumo were defeated by the state of Goryeo 高麗 (i.e. Korea). Its chieftain Tudiji 突地稽 thereupon decided to submit to the Sui empire 隋 (581-618) under which China had just been reunited. The Sui court ordered the Sumo tribe to settle down around Liucheng 柳城 (modern Chaoyang 朝陽, Liaoning). The other tribes of the Mohe were subjugated by Goryeo. In 668 the Tang empire was able to crush the power of the kingdom of Goryeo and forced those of the Mohe that had supported the troops of the Korean kingdom to settle down in Yingzhou 營州 near Liucheng. These tribes rebelled against the Tang in 696, together with a Khitan 契丹 tribesleader called Li Jinzhong 李盡忠. A lot of Mohe tribes used this occasion to move back to their homelands. Da Zuorong, chieftain of the Sumo, also returned to east of the Liao River 遼河 and founded the state of Zhen in the region between Mt. Dongmou 東牟山 (modern Dunhua 敦化, Jilin) and River Aolou 奧婁河 (modern River Mudan 牡丹江). He decided to declare his obedience to the khanate of the Turks 突厥 that reigned over the northern steppe zone. Only in 707 the Tang court sent out Zhang Xingji 張行岌 and was able to convince Da Zuorong to become a vassal of the Tang empire. In 713 Cui Xin 崔忻 was sent to his court to enfeoff him as Commandery Prince and to bestow him the title of commander-in-chief (dudu 都督) of the indirectly administered prefecture (jimizhou 羈縻州) of Huhan 忽汗. Da Zuorong's descendants were reconfirmed in these positions and developed relatively peaceful relations with the Tang empire. It was only under the second king Da Wuyi 大武藝 (King Wu 渤海武王, r. 719-737) that military conflicts arose. After the demise of the Tang, the king of Bohai continued paying tributes to the Later Liang 後梁 (907-923) and the Later Tang 後唐 (923-936) dynasties (see Five Dynasties 五代, 907-960) that ruled over northern China.
The first capital (called jiuguo 舊國 "ancient city") of the Bohai kingdom was located near modern Dunhua, Jilin, but soon shifted to Longquan 龍泉 (called Shangjing 上京"Superior" or "Upper Capital", modern Ning'an 寧安, Heilongjiang). Da Renxiu 大仁秀 (King Xuan 渤海宣王, r. 818-830) was able to defeat the state of Silla 新羅 in the south of the Korean peninsula and to subdue the tribes living north at the banks of River Amur and the Eastern Sea. The southern neighbour of the kingdom of Bohai was Silla, the northern neighbours the tribes of the Shiwei 室韋 (ancestors of the Jurchens), and to the west, the Khitans were living that were soon to found their powerful khanate that would eventually conquer northern China. For each geographical direction of this large state, an own capital was founded. The people living in the kingdom of Bohai were Malgal, Khitans, Turks, Shiwei, Koreans, and some Chinese in the southwestern parts. At the foundation of the kingdom of Bohe, the number of registered households accrued to more than 10,000, with about 3 million inhabitants at the end of the 9th century.
Under the influence of the Tang empire, the administration system of the kingdom of Bohai was shaped in a style similar to the Chinese one. The central government consisted of three departments (sansheng 三省), namely the Department of State Affairs (zhongtai 中臺), an office of transmission (? xuanzhao 宣詔) and the Administration Chamber (zhengtang 政堂), and six ministries whose names were given according to Confucian ethics, namely loyalty (zhong 忠), humankindness (ren 仁), propriety (yi 義)， ritual (li 禮), wisdom (zhi 智) and trustworthiness (xin 信). There were also seven courts (si 寺) administering the needs of the central government, as well as .
The local administrative structure also imitated that of the Tang empire, with prefectures (1st class fu 府 and 2nd class zhou 州) and districts (xian 縣). At the height of its power the kingdom of Bohai encompassed 15 first class prefectures, 62 second class prefectures, and more than hundred districts. The military was organized in 16 guards (wei 衛), as in the Tang empire.
With the foundation of capitals commerce and trades (metalwork, porcelain) flourished in the kingdom of Bohai. While the inhabitants of the north continued pursuing their traditional business of hunting and fishing, it was especially in the southern regions that agriculture played an important role. Under the influence of Tang China, the production of silk products flourished. Some craftsmen were specialized in the fabrication of products made from the fur of rabbits, for instance, brush tips. The cities of Bohai included many buildings erected in the style of imitating the glorious palaces of Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi), capital of the Tang empire. It was especially in the field of cultural acheivements that people from Bohai were attracted by the splendour of Chang'an and brought back Confucian learning, the religion of Buddhism, the Chinese script, Chinese music, and painting. Bohai produced several famous scholars like Pei Ting 裴頲 and pPrince Da Mouze 大某則 who composed Chinese poems.
In the late 9th century the royal house lost its dominance over the nobles of Bohai. The Mohe of Heishui began to make themselves free of the dynasty of the family Da. Their rebellion, and internal weakness resulted in an external vulnerability. The increasing attacks by the Khitans in the early 10th century could not be warded off. In 926 they occupied the ancient city of Fuyu and rushed forward to the Supreme Capital Huhan. In the same year Da Yinzhuan 大諲譔, the Last King 渤海末王 of Bohai (r. 907-926), submitted to the Khitans.
The capitals of Bohai were five, following the pattern of the Tang that had a central capital with several secondary capitals:
|Shangjing 上京 "Superior Capital"||Longquan 龍泉府||Ning'an 寧安, Heilongjiang|
|Dongjing 東京 "Eastern Capital"||Longyuan 龍源府||Hunchun 琿春, Jilin|
|Xijing 西京 "Western Capital"||Yalu 鴨淥府||Ji'an 集安, Jilin|
|Nanjing 南京 "Southern Capital"||Nanhai 南海府||Hamhŭng 咸興 ("Xianxing"; DPR Korea North)|
|Zhongjing 中京 "Central Capital"||Xiande 顯德府||Dunhua 敦化, Jilin|
Kings of Bohai 698-926
|title, reign||personal name|
|Bohai Gaowang 渤海高王 698-719||Da Zuorong 大祚榮|
|Bohai Wuwang 渤海武王 719-737||Da Wuyi 大武藝|
|Bohai Wenwang 渤海文王 737-793||Da Qinmao 大欽茂|
|The Deposed King (Bohai Feiwang 渤海廢王) 793||Da Yuanyi 大元義|
|Bohai Chengwang 渤海成王 793-794||Da Huayu 大華璵|
|Bohai Kangwang 渤海康王 809-812||Da Yuanyu 大元瑜|
|Bohai Xiwang 渤海僖王 812-818||Da Yanyi 大言義|
|Bohai Jianwang 渤海簡王 818||Da Mingzhong 大明忠|
|Bohai Xuanwang 渤海宣王 818-830||Da Renxiu 大仁秀|
|830-857||Da Yizhen 大彝震|
|857-872||Da Qianhuang 大虔晃|
|872-894||Da Xuanxi 大玄錫|
|894-907||Da Weixie 大瑋瑎|
|The Last King (Bohai Mowang 渤海末王) 907-926||Da Yinzhuan 大諲譔|
Source: Wei Guozhong 魏國忠 (1992). "Bohai 渤海", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 1, pp. 53-54. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu.