Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Nikan Wailan

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3649159Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Nikan WailanGeorge A. Kennedy

NIKAN Wailan 尼堪外蘭 d. 1586, was a chieftain of the Suksuhu 蘇克蘇護 river tribe of Manchus who lived on a tributary of the Hun 渾 river just northwest of Hetu ala (see under Nurhaci). (Nikan is the Manchu word for "Chinese," and Wailan appears to be a corruption of the Chinese official title yüan-wai-lang 員外郎). In 1583 he offered to co-operate with the Chinese general, Li Ch'êng-liang [q. v.], in an expedition against Atai who was constantly raiding the territory around Shenyang and Liaoyang. Atai was the son of Wang Kao (for both see Nurhaci) who had been executed by Li Ch'êng-liang in 1575; he was also a cousin of Nurhaci by marriage, having taken the daughter of Nurhaci's [q. v.] uncle, Lidun 禮敦, for a wife. In 1582 Li Ch'êng-liang besieged the town of Gure 古哷 where Atai was established. According to the official story adopted by the Ch'ing dynasty historians, Giocangga and Taksi (see under Nurhaci)—Nurhaci's grandfather and father respectively—went to the assistance of their relative, and were slaughtered by Li Ch'êng-liang along with Atai when the town was captured. But Chinese records which have escaped the Ch'ing censorship, state that Giocangga and Taksi were in the service of Li Ch'êng-liang, and died while fighting for him in the siege of Gure.

In any case, Nurhaci developed a bitter enmity against Nikan Wailan as having been the indirect cause of his father's death, and demanded of the Chinese that he be turned over to him for punishment. The Chinese generals at the border replied by threatening to install Nikan Wailan as head of all the Jurjen tribes; and this led many tribal chieftains, including some of Nurhaci's own clansmen, to curry favor with their prospective ruler. In spite of the disapproval of his relatives, Nurhaci gathered a few friends and, after fitting them out in thirteen suits of armor left by his father, attacked Nikan Wailan in his stronghold of Turun 圖倫. Nikan Wailan fled to Giyaban 嘉班 where he was pursued by Nurhaci and driven to seek refuge with the Chinese at Fushun. As the Chinese refused to harbor him, he fled northward to the town of Elehun 鄂勒渾. Here he remained until 1586 when Nurhaci, having subdued the tribes that lay between them, appeared again in pursuit of revenge. Nikan Wailan abandoned the city and entrusted himself to the Chinese frontier garrison. The Chinese held him prisoner and, although unwilling to hand him over to his enemies, permitted Nurhaci to send two men to execute him. This episode is set down in the official Ch'ing history as the origin and justification of all of Nurhaci's subsequent wars—the cooperation of the Chinese with Nikan Wailan in the murder of Nurhaci's ancestors being the chief ground for his campaign against the Ming.

[Ming-shih 238; Hauer, K'ai-kuo fang-lüeh, chap. I.]

George A. Kennedy