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The Di or Beidi (Northern Di) were various ethnic groups who lived north of the Chinese (Huaxia) realms during the Zhou dynasty. Although initially described as nomadic, they seem to have practiced a mixed pastoral, agricultural, and hunting economy and were distinguished from the nomads of the Eurasian steppe (Hu) who lived to their north. Chinese historical accounts describe the Di inhabiting the upper Ordos Loop (mostly in northern Shaanxi) and gradually migrating eastward to northern Shanxi and Hebei, where they eventually created their own states like Zhongshan and Dai. Other groups of Di seem to have lived interspersed between the Chinese states before their eventual conquest or assimilation.

The Di were often associated with the Rong; both were considered more warlike and less civilized than the Yi or Man. According to the Records of the Grand Historian, the ancestors of the Zhou lived in lands near the Rong and Di for fourteen generations, until Gugong Danfu led then away to the mid-Wei River valley where they built their capital near Mount Qi.[citation needed]

During the

During the Eastern Zhou, the Chinese states—particularly Jin—expanded into Di territories, after which the Di were often their enemies.[citation needed] The "White Di" lived north of Qin and west of the Yellow River in what is now northern Shaanxi through the first half of the Spring and Autumn Period; tribes began crossing the river into northern Shanxi in the second half.[3]

The Di eventually also established treaties of marriage and trade with the various Chinese states. The Jin prince Chong'er fled to his mother's family among them for many years until assassins sent by his brother forced him to begin wandering through the Chinese states.

The Xianyu and "White Di" moved east from the areas around the Yellow River in north Shaanxi and northwest Shanxi into the Taihang Mountains of Shanxi and Hebei during the 6th century BC.[4] The "White Di" were especially numerous on the upper reaches of the Xinding or Hutuo Valley.[4]