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West Xia

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The Dangxiang tribe was living in the area of the present Ningxia, Gansu and northwest part of Shaanxi Province since the middle ages of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In 1038, the chief of the Dangxiang tribe Yuanhao declared himself the emperor and established the West Xia Dynasty (1038-1044) with the capital in Xingqing (the present Yinchuan).

During the reign of the Emperor Yuanhao, the West Xia Kingdom fought against the Song successively resulting in great loss for both sides. Finally in 1044, they reached an agreement that if Yuanhao was no longer the emperor and the West Xia was a feudatory to the Song, the Song would send tribute to the West Xia every year. Until then, peace was re-achieved and the Kingdom disappeared, only existing for six years.

After the West Xia allied with the Southern Song, the uneasy peace was seemingly made possible with the Jin (a confronting regime). The ambitious Jin was unaware of the increasing threat from their former enemies, the Mongolians. In fact, the Jin was in a disadvantageous position, being surrounded by Mongolia to the north, the Southern Song to the south and the West Xia to the west. However, the Jin still didn't take cooperative measures with the West Xia and Southern Song to fight against the Mongols. Jin attacked the Southern Song (including the former West Xia) while resisting the Mongols. This led to Jin's isolation without any neighboring assistance.

In the early period of the West Xia Dynasty, its territory comprised of Ningxia, northewestern Gansu Province, northeastern Qinghai Province, part of Inner Mongolia, and northern Shaanxi Province, stretching for over 20,000 li (6,213 miles). 

Animal husbandry was the base of the economy of the West Xia. People mainly kept cattle, sheep and camels. Barley, rice, beans and highland barley were the major producds. After West Xia allied with the Song, bilateral trade between the two regimes also resumed, which had a good impact on the development of handicraft and commerce of the West Xia.

Confucianism, buddhism and the culture of ancient Tibet and Huihu influenced the culture of West Xia. Many buddhist stone carvings, temples, scripts, and murals were discovered at the ancient site of West Xia kingdom. They also had their own language Tangut script. The government set schools which teaching both Tangut script and Chinese. During the late period of West Xia, imperial examination was applied to choose officials.

 Go to the Song, LiaoJin  dynasties

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