From Academic Kids

The Tangut, also known as the Western Xia were a Qiangic-Tibetan people who moved to the highlands of western Sichuan sometime before the 10th century AD. They spoke Tangut language a now-extinct Tibeto-Burman language.



The Tangut were a nomadic tribe which moved from place to place to eventually settle in West Sichuan. From the moment they entered this region they have undergone a process of sinicization. This meant that they've taken over a lot of things from the Chinese culture. Eventually the Tangut state was founded in the year 982 by Li Deming (李德明). The Tangut state is also known under the name Xi-Xia (西夏) in China and the Tangut called the state "phiow-bjij-lhjij-lhjij" which translates to "The Great State of White and Lofty"

Li Deming's rule wasn't very conservative, and the Tangut culture quickly lost it's personality as the culture started to adopt more and more things from the Chinese. His son Li Yuanhao (李元昊) was a lot more conservative. He tried to bring back identity to the Tangut people. He intialized several attempts to give the country it's own personality. One way was by ordering the creation of their own Tangut script. He created laws which told people to wear ethnic clothing. And also did he create a law for the people to have short or bald hair, instead of the long braided hair which was a normal custom in China in that time. He took a Tangt name, instead of the comoon chinese name Li. He also renamed the capital city to Xingqing (興慶). Eventually in 1038 Li YuanHao claimed the title Emperor the Tangut state.

(More will follow)

The Tangut state was destroyed by Genghis Khan in the year 1227 and its capital discovered by Pyotr Kuzmich Kozlov in 1907.

Missing image
An example of the Tangut script


The Tangut used a siniform script which was based losely on Chinese. The script was introduced in the year 1036. The script has probably been designed by "The teacher Iri" under the supervision of the Emperor of the Tangut state Li Yuan Hao. The script consists of approximately 6600 logographic characters. These characters are build up out of radicals, in much the same way as they are in the Chinese script. Occasionally the Tibetan script was used to write down the Tangut language, though only for religious purposes.


Religion played a very important role in the Tangut state. The main religion of the Tangut state was Buddhism. It is believed that the Tangut emperors were seen as half-spiritual leaders. Some sources even seem to claim that the emperors were referred to as bodhisattvas. The entire Buddhist canon was translated to Tangut in no more than 50 years. Something truly remarkable if you compare it to the time the Chinese took to do the same. There are some conflicting documents which seem to refer to the Tangut religion being Confucian.

There were very strong laws on the spreading of religion in the Tangut state. Any preacher coming from Tibet or India first had to present himself to the local authorities before they were allowed to do any preaching. Preachers were strongly supervised on what the preached as to prevent people from misunderstanding the teachings. Any types of fortune-tellers or quacks were immediately persecuted. Asking for a reward for the services as a preacher were also strictly forbidden as it distorted the ethics of Buddhist believes.

The state did not support any school of Buddhism but did protect all objects of cult within the country's boundaries.

Just like in China, one could not become a monk if the government did not approve. Taking the vows of becoming a monk without the governments supervision led to severe punishment. A remarkable thing is that even women could become Buddhist nuns, but only if they were Widows, or unmarried and a virgin.

See also

External Links

Template:Ethno-stub Template:China-stub

bg:Тангути fr:Tangoutes fr:Tangoute ja:タングート ja:西夏文字 zh:西夏文


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools