There's no way they are from the Qara Kitai period. Xuanhua is in Hebei en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xuanhua_District near the Zhangjiakou Great Walls. Zhangjiakou/Kalgan used to be the frontier post (Xuan Fu) facing the Tumed Mongols (The Mongols of Hohhot) during the Ming.
Why they can't be from Qara Kitai?
From the dresses I can see a lot of styles similar to the Liao's southern neighbors the Song. The Liao did have a "one state, two systems" setup for dresses, lifestyle and administration. For the nomadic portion of the vast northern steppes the Liao followed the "Northern System", and for the provinces they annexed from the Shatuo and the Song, which were called the "Mi-Yun 16 Shires" the administration and dresses have absorbed much Tang and Song influences.
Kalgan was part of the "Yun" provinces.
In the tomb painting, even ethnic Khitais would wear the black Song-style "scarf hats", which signifies Confucian social order.
However, from all the accounts I've read about the Qara Khitais, which was founded by (in fact a Confucian scholar) Yelu Dashi, the vast Naiman, Karluk influences have probably led the Khitais to discard the confucian cultural and administrative system they implemented in the Mi-Yun provinces. I've heard descriptions of a central asian Qara Khitai tomb painting depicting a Khitai wearing a felt hat with a wide rim. I haven't seen that pic. But I suppose it is probably much like the kalpak worn by some Kazak tribes today.
Just look at the two felt hatted courtiers of the Prince of Dong-Dan in the painting below
My guess is: While in Mi-Yun, the Khitais were vastly outnumbered by their Confucian and Buddhist Han Chinese subjects. As a result, the Khitai aristocrats that administered Mi-Yun governed these subjects while adopting to their confucian and buddhist lifestyle.
While in Central Asia, though, the Qara Khitai hordes were largely populated by ethnic Naimans, Kereits. And the Qara Khitai subjects were the more numerous Oghuz, Karluk, Karakhanid, Kypchak, Tajiks etc. Any sedentary confucian styles were no longer necessary to rule over the hordes or the subjects. The Khitai rulers continued, like their Mi-Yun days, to be influenced by the religions of their subjects: the Assyrian Christianity of the Kereits and Naimans, the Buddhism of Mi-Yun and Islam of the Central Asian subjects.
The Qara Khitai Gur-Khans held on to Buddhism as the "official religion" of the high aristocracy but each Gur-Khan continued to adopt Christian names in order to maintain solidarity with the Christian elements in the hordes. In late Qara Khitai, there were even mixed aristocracy that adopted Islam. And the Qara Khitai that retreated to Kerman, Iran were basically all Muslims.
My guess is: the Khitais were probably as pragmatic as the Mongols in dress, lifestyle and religion. As you know, the Mongols dressed as Kypchaks while in Russia, and dressed as Khwarezmians while in Central Asia. Likewise, our Khitais dressed as the Tabgach while in Mi-Yun, and I don't really know what their dresses were like while in Central Asia, but probably much like the Naimans.
The funny thing is that the occupants of that tomb weren't even Khitans. The Zhang family were Han Chinese who served the Liao government and lived in a place where Khitan culture was dominant. Scholars believe they just adopted the dominant culture around them, even though they weren't ethnic Khitans.
Yeah, I have a book about those tombs ("Differences Preserved: Reconstructed Tombs from the Liao and Song dynasties"). It's an interesting case of Chinese people adopted the culture of a minority instead of vice versa.
Hi babu21 it seems you have a kind of expertise about the Liao tombs in Xuanhua so I d like to ask you if you have been there recently. I actually did, last week, for the first time and without knowing anything about those tombs; I was driving by and I saw a signboard and out of curiosity I decided to go and take a peek. What a dismal !!! it seems the place was abandoned: rubbish everywhere, no one at the ticket office and the main gate was opened. After getting in I saw two small buildings and some white cumulus peeping out from high grass, then I heard a dog barking and then I an old couple came towards me, very nice people indeed. they told me they were living inside the graveyard as a kind of guardians.
Although 1996 some of the best chinese archeologist and some high political figures unanimously agreed the need to preserve the Liao tomb frescoes as there were no similar examples of traditional Han burial practices mixed with Khitan ones. To cut the story short I have just a simple question which is how it is possible to leave to rot such unique frescoes? how??