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), the name of a nomadic people who founded the Liao dynasty which ruled much of Northern China from 907 to 1125, and who later migrated west after they were overthrown by the Jurchens to form the Qara Khitai centered on today's Kyrgyzstan for another century thereafter.

Originally, Catai was the name applied by Central and Western Asians and Europeans to northern China; the name was also used in Marco Polo's book on his travels in China (he referred to southern China as Mangi).

On this 1570 map by Abraham Ortelius, Cataio is located inland of China (referring to today's Guangdong) and Chequan (Zhejiang), and borders on "Thebet" in the southwest and "Camul" in the west.

There is also mysterious Mangi (between "Cataio" and Xanton (Shandong)).The objects in "Cataio" are based on Marco Polo's description and include the capital Cambalu, Xandu, and a marble bridge The Khitans were known to Muslim Central Asia: in 1026, the Ghaznavid court (in Ghazna, in today's Afghanistan) was visited by envoys from the Liao ruler, he was described as a "Qatā Khan", i.e.the ruler of Qatā; Qatā or Qitā appears in writings of al-Biruni and Abu Said Gardezi in the following decades.(presumably, referring to the Liao and Song Empires, respectively).The name's currency in the Muslim world survived the replacement of the Khitan Liao dynasty with the Jurchen Jin dynasty in the early 12th century.When describing the fall of the Jin Empire to the Mongols (1234), Persian history described the conquered country as Khitāy or Djerdaj Khitāy (i.e., "Jurchen Cathay").In about 1340 Francesco Balducci Pegolotti, a merchant from Florence, compiled a guide about trade in China, a country he called Cathay, noting the size of Khanbaliq (modern Beijing) and how merchants could exchange silver for Chinese paper money that could be used to buy luxury items such as silk.Words related to Khitay are still used in many Turkic and Slavic languages to refer to China.However, its use by Turkic speakers within China, such as the Uyghurs, is considered pejorative by the Chinese authority who had tried to ban it. The word Manzi (蠻子) or Mangi is a derogatory term in Chinese meaning "barbarians of the south" (Man was used to describe unsinicised Southern China in its earlier periods), and would therefore not have been used by the Chinese to describe themselves or their own country, but was adopted by the Mongols to describe the people and country of Southern China.As European and Arab travelers started reaching the Mongol Empire, they described the Mongol-controlled Northern China as Cathay (in a number of spelling variants) as well. The division of China into northern and southern parts ruled by, in succession, the Liao, Jin and Mongol Yuan dynasties in the north, and the Song dynasty in the south, ended in the late 13th century with the conquest of southern China by the Mongol Yuan dynasty. Meanwhile, in China itself, people usually referred to their nation state based on the name of the ruling dynasty, e.g.The name occurs in the writings of Giovanni da Pian del Carpine (c. While Central Asia had long known China under names similar to Cathay, that country was known to the peoples of South-East Asia and India under names similar to China (cf. Da Ming Guo ("the state of the Great Ming"), or as the "Middle Kingdom" (Zhongguo 中國); see also Names of China for details.

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