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Licchavi (also Lichchhavi, Lichavi) was an ancient republic which existed in Bihar since the before the birth of Mahavira (b. 599 BC) [1][2], and later a kingdom in Nepal which existed in the Kathmandu Valley from approximately 400 to 750.


[edit] Origins

Early Buddhist legends feature Lichavi as a ruling family during Gautama Buddha's time in India, however links to the Nepalese kingdom are speculative. The language of Lichavi inscriptions is Sanskrit, and the particular script used is closely related to official Gupta scripts, suggesting that India was a significant cultural influence. This was likely through Mithila - the northern part of modern Bihar, India.

A table of the evolution of certain Gupta characters used in Lichavi inscriptions originally published in Kailash - Journal of Himalayan Studies. Volume 1, Number 2, 1973. (pp. 117-134) can be found online [3]

[edit] Records

The earliest known record of the kingdom is an inscription of Manadeva 1, which dates from 464. It mentions three preceding rulers, suggesting that the Licchavi dynasty began in the late fourth century.

[edit] Government

The Lichavi were ruled by a Maharaja ("great king"), who was aided by a prime minister, in charge of the military and of other ministers.

Nobles known as samanta influenced the court whilst simultaneously managing their own landholdings and militia.

At one point, between approximately 605 and 641, a prime minister called Amsuvarman actually assumed the throne.

The population provided land taxes and conscript labour (vishti) to support the government. Most local administration was performed by village heads or leading families.

[edit] Economy

The economy was agricultural, relying on rice and other grains as staples. Villages (grama) were grouped in to dranga for administration. Lands were owned by the royal family, nobles, temples or groups of Brahmans. Trade was also very important, with many settlements positioned along trading routes. Tibet and India were both trading partners.

[edit] Geography

[edit] Domain

Settlements already filled the entire valley during the Licchavi period. Further settlement was made east toward Banepa, west toward Tisting, and northwest toward present-day Gorkha.

[edit] Sites

[edit] Bodhnath

A stupa was located at Bodhnath.

[edit] Bhadgaon

Bhadgaon was a small village called Khoprn (Sanskrit Khoprngrama) along the main trade route. This is the precursor to Bhaktapur.

[edit] Chabahil

A stupa was located at Chabahil.

[edit] Deopatan

A shrine of Shiva was located at Deopatan.

[edit] Hadigaon

A shrine of Vishnu was located at Hadigaon.

[edit] Kathmandu

Modern day Kathmandu consisted of the two villages of Koligrama ("Village of the Kolis"; Nepal Bhasa Yambu), and Dakshinakoligrama ("South Koli Village", Nepal Bhasa Yangala) straddling the main Kathmandu Valley trade route.

[edit] Patan

Patan was called Yala ("Village of the Sacrificial Post"; Sanskrit Yupagrama). It is probably the oldest center of Nepal, though building remains are scarce.

[edit] Swayambhunath

A stupa was located at Swayambhunath.

[edit] Rulers

The following list was adapted from The Licchavi Kings by Tamot & Alsop, and is approximate only, especially with respect to dates. No complete, reliable chronology of Licchavi rulers yet exists.

  • 185 Jayavarmā (also Jayadeva I)
  • Vasurāja (also Vasudatta Varmā)
  • c.400 Vṛṣadeva (also Vishvadeva)
  • c.425 Shaṅkaradeva I
  • c.450 Dharmadeva
  • 464-505 Mānadeva I
  • 505-506Mahīdeva (few sources)
  • 506-532 Vasantadeva
  • Manudeva (probable chronology)
  • 538 Vāmanadeva (also Vardhamānadeva)
  • 545 Rāmadeva
  • Amaradeva
  • Guṇakāmadeva
  • 560-565 Gaṇadeva
  • 567-c.590 Bhaumagupta (also Bhūmigupta, probably not a king)
  • 567-573 Gaṅgādeva
  • 575/576 Mānadeva II (few sources)
  • 590-604 Shivadeva I
  • 605-621 Aṃshuvarmā
  • 621 Udayadeva
  • 624-625 Dhruvadeva
  • 631-633 Bhīmārjunadeva, Jiṣṇugupta
  • 635 Viṣṇugupta - Jiṣṇugupta
  • 640-641 Bhīmārjunadeva / Viṣṇugupta
  • 643-679 Narendradeva
  • 694-705 Shivadeva II
  • 713-733 Jayadeva II
  • 748-749 Shaṅkaradeva II
  • 756 Mānadeva III
  • 826 Balirāja
  • 847 Baladeva
  • 877 Mānadeva IV

[edit] See also

[edit] External links



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