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Tangutology During the Past Decades
Author: Nie Hongyin
Date: 2003-5-26

Introduction

Tangut or Xixia 西夏 was a feudal state of Dangxiang 党项people in Northwest China. It was founded by Weiming Yuanhao 嵬名元昊 in 1038 and destroyed by the Mongolian troops of Chinggis Khan in 1227. In less than 200 years, the people of Dangxiang, Han, Tibetan and Uigur stock, not only set up a state, but created a splendid national culture. The precious historical relics of their culture were buried in oblivion for hundreds of years and reappeared only in the beginning of the present century. Through the remarkable work of many scholars after that time, Tangutology , a comprehensive branch of research into the Tangut historical culture through its own documents and literatures, found its place in the academic arena of Oriental studies throughout the world.

The aim of this paper is to present the recent developments and achievements in the field of Tangutology, particularly in its archaeography, philology, historiography, and archaeology in the past decades.

Retrospect: 1804-1933

According to Songshi 宋史 (juan 485), Weiming Yuanhao, the founder of the Xixia state, entrusted his minister Yeli Renrong 野利仁荣 with the charge of formulating a logographical system to record the Tangut language and had him use the new characters to translate some Chinese texts. With the disappearance of the Xixia people, all of the texts in Tangut characters were lost. Up to the 18th century, there was only one Buddhist inscription preserved at Juyongguan 居庸关 in Beijing, and no one associated it with the famous Tangut characters in history. Even in the second half of the 19th century, Wylie (1870) still misinterpreted it as Jurchen script.

It has been said for many years that the scholar who first recognized the Tangut script was G. Deveria (1902). But in fact, it was a Qing-time scholar named Zhang Shu 张澍 who did this important work. When he discovered the Sino-Tangut Gantong 感通 Stūpa of the Huguo 护国 Temple of Wuwei 武威 county in 1804, Zhang Shu recognized the inscription at the front of the stele to be Tangut script by its Xixia reign title tian you min an 天祐民安 written in Chinese (Zhang, 1837). The inscription recognized by Zhang Shu was written in the same style as that at Juyongguan, so people knew that there was also a Tangut inscription in Beijing.

At the beginning of this century, M. G. Morisse obtained three volumes of a Tangut version of the Saddharma-pundarīka-sūtra. On the first page of these texts, there were some Chinese commentaries. These were the only Tangut texts known at that time. Morisse tried to metaphrase the Tangut sentences on the basis of the Chinese commentaries and wrote a brilliant article, in which he not only recognized some proper nouns in the Buddhist texts, but also summed up some Tangut grammatical rules (Morisse, 1904). As the research materials were limited, it was impossible to metaphrase this sutra thoroughly. People were waiting for more texts in Tangut to be unearthed, especially a Chinese-Tangut glossary. In the year 1908, the Russian Geographic Association sent an exploration party led by P. K. Kozlov to China. The party discovered the ruins of Khara-khoto in Inner-Mongolia, which turned out to be the old haunt of Black City in Xixia and Edzina in Yuan times (see also Klaus Henke, "Zu Folke Bergmans Papiergeldfund von 1931 in Chara-choto", Monumenta Serica 40[1992], pp.245-268 [ed.]). A vast amount of block-printed editions and manuscripts was found in an ancient stupa at the outskirts of the town, among which there were mainly writings in Tangut script. These precious writings were sent to Petersburg, and now they are collected in the Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Black City was highly acclaimed as another rich treasure-house coming after the Mogao Cave of Dunhuang, and the discovery of Kozlov""s party opened a new prospect to Tangutology.

The Russian discovery in Khara-Khoto fascinated A. Stein, thus he led his exploration party there to excavate once more in 1914 and took back with him a lot of historical relics (Stein, 1928). The relics taken by Stein were comparatively fragmentary and dilapidated, so their scientific value is far from the findings of Kozlov.

Among the findings of Kozlov there was a Chinese-Tangut glossary with the title Fanhan Heshi Zhangzhongzhu番汉合时掌中珠, compiled in 1190 by the Tangut scholar Gule 骨勒. Two Russian scholars, A. I. Ivanov and N. A. Nevskij, passed on some copies to China and announced publicly the important finds in an article (Ivanov, 1909). With the aid of Zhangzhongzhu, people became literate in hundreds of Tangut characters, which laid the foundation for metaphrasing the Tangut texts and investigating the Tangut language.

In 1917, five pottery jars were excavated in Lingwu 灵武 county of Ningxia province. These jars were full of Buddhist texts in Tangut script, part of which became later the Tangut collection of the National Library of Peiping. For the aim of cataloguing and metaphrasing these texts, the library organized scholars from China, Russia, and Japan, and published the results of their research in the fourth volume of the Bulletin of the National Library of Peiping (Guoli Beiping Tushuguan Guankan 国立北平图书馆馆刊, Xixia Wen Zhuanhao 西夏文专号, 1932). The authors of this bulletin of 404 pages made up the academic nucleus represented by Luo Fucheng, Wang Jingru, Ivanov, Nevskij, and Ishihama Juntarō 石滨纯太郎 who thereby were able to make Tangut studies known to the broad public and lead it into greater depth.

Tangutology of this period was in a primary stage. Many scholars devoted themselves to republishing and metaphrasing the Tangut texts, among which there were the Chinese-Tangut glossary Zhangzhongzhu (Luo Fucheng, 1924) and the Tangut dictionary of homonyms Yintong 音同 (Luo Fucheng, 1935). As for the Buddhist texts studied, besides those published in the Bulletin of the National Library of Peiping, there were also the Tangut versions of Saddharma-pundarīka-sūtra (1919), Pratyut-pannabhadra-kalpa-sahasrabuddha-nāma-sūtra, Guoqu-zhuangyanjie-qian-foming-jing 过去莊嚴劫千佛名经, Mahāmāyūrī vidyārāj ī, and Suvarnaprabhāsot-tamarāja-sūtra (Wang,  1932-1933).  These texts were metaphrased by consulting the corresponding versions in Chinese or Tibetan. These works allowed the scholars to have a good idea about the meaning and pronunciation of the Tangut language, though the understanding at that time was limited and a lot of problems remained unresolved.

Seven years after the publication of Ivanov""s 1909 paper, the first article to study the language with a typical linguistic method came out. By means of the comparative studies of Tangut and other Indo-Chinese Languages, B. Laufer (1916) concluded that Tangut belonged to the Lolo-Moso group of the Indo-Chinese languages. His conclusion might have proved to be right, but there were many misreadings and mismetaphrasings in his Tangut data. Some of the concerned mistakes made by Laufer and Ivanov were pointed out by Nevskij (1930).

The pronunciation of Tangut characters was the first problem appearing to Tangutologists. At first, people used to read Tangut characters in accordance with their Chinese phonetic equivalents in Zhangzhongzhu. Since Chinese characters are more logographic than alphabetic, and one cannot know anything about their ancient pronunciation by their written forms, scholars in the first quarter of the present century had to read them in Mandarin. The phonetic value of Mandarin is far from that of Northwest Chinese of ancient times, therefore some scholars were more interested in studying the structure of Tangut script than the spoken language (Luo Fuchang, 1919; Bernhardi and Zach, 1919).

In the collection of Petersburg (Leningrad), there were some fragments of an unknown Buddhist text containing Tibetan phonetic transcriptions to the left side of each Tangut character. These precious materials made it possible to reconstruct the Tangut language because the Tibetan script is a kind of syllabic-alphabetic writing. After the systematizing and publishing by Nevskij (1926), Wang Jingru (1930, also review by P. Pelliot, 1931), and S. N. Wolfenden (1931,1934) began to discuss the initial consonants and nasal finals of the Tangut language by means of contrasting their Chinese and Tibetan transcriptions, and came to know that most of the Tangut syllables took final vowels or nasalized vowels, but no pure final nasals.

On the whole, the achievements of Tangutology in this period were preliminary and even superficial, but the works of the Tangutological pioneers laid a good foundation for the further development of Tangut studies. Therefore, although the study of Tangutology came to a standstill because of the World War, it presented a completely new appearance as a comprehensive branch of archaeography, philology, historiography and archaeology as it rose again in the 1960s.

Archaeography

After the Second World War, the Russian scholar Z. J. Gorbacheva began to rearrange and catalogue the Petersburg Tangut collection and published her results in a book including a bibliography of 345 Tangut Buddhist texts and 60 non-Buddhist writings from Khara-Khoto (Gorbacheva and Kychanov, 1963). This was the first detailed information on the collection of Khara-Khoto published letters and contracts. Under the influence of the Russians, scholars of other countries also began to do research on the Tangut writings they could find in their countries, such as in the British Museum (Grinstead, 1961) and Beijing Library (Shi and Huang, 1985), but the collections in other countries are far from those in Petersburg (Leningrad) in their quantity and scientific value. During the past thirty years, a large number of research works emerged to systematize and translate Tangut literatures. In contradistinction to the pioneers, Tangutologists of this time have more interest in the non-Buddhist writings than in Buddhist texts because they know that the grammatical features reflected in Tangut sutras are much like those in Chinese or even in Sanskrit, but are not the native features of Tangut language. Thus, there are only two works published to study the Buddhāvatamsaka-mahāvaipulya-sūtra (Nishida, 1975-1977) and other Buddhist texts (Grinstead, 1973), all of the rest are about non-Buddhist writings. Among these works there are the Tangut versions of the Chinese texts Lunyu 论语, Mengzi 孟子, Xiaojing 孝经 (Kolokolov and Kychanov, 1966), Sunzi 孙子 (Keping, 1979), Leilin 类林 (Keping, 1983), the Tangut dictionaries Wenhai 文海, Wenhai Zalei 文海杂类 (Keping et al., 1969; Shi et al., 1983), Zhangzhongzhu Kwanten, 1982; Huang et al., 1989), Tongyin 同音 or Yintong 音同 (Li Fanwen, 1986), a collection of Tangut proverbs Xinji Jinheci 新集锦合辞 (Kychanov, 1974), and the Tangut code Tianshengnian gaijiu dingxin lüling 天盛年改旧定新律令 (Kychanov, 1987-1988). Besides the books written by Tanguts, attention should be paid to the Tangut versions of Xiaojing and Leilin, the former containing the commentaries of Lü Huiqing 吕惠卿, a minister of the Song dynasty, and the latter being compiled by Yu Lizheng 于立政 in early Tang times. As the original editions of the two Chinese books have long been lost, people can get a hint of them only from their Tangut versions.

There are also some articles concerning Tangut fragments, among which there are Tangut poems Xiashenggen zange 夏圣根赞歌(Kychanov,1968a), Xinxiu taixue ge 新修大学歌, Yueyuele shi 月月乐诗 (Nishida,1986), Zaozishi song 造字师颂 (Kychanov, 1989), Tangut private and official documents Tiansheng ershiernian maidi wenqi 天盛二十二年卖地文契 (Kychanov, 1971a), Qianding ernian Heishui shoujiang gaojin bingtie 乾定二年黑水守将告近禀贴 (Kychanov, 1971b) and some postscripts in Buddhist texts (Shi, 1988). These poems and documents prove to be valuable not only in the field of philology, but also in sociology and historiography.

To this day, there is only Terent""ev-Katanskij (1981) who gave a comprehensive exposition to the Tangut literatures. By a highly condensational point of view, he gave a minute description of the form, date, layout and autographs of Tangut books, and summed up the characteristics of Tangut handwritten copies and woodcut printings. Including some materials from the Petersburg (Leningrad) collections being published for the first time, the work of Terent""ev-Katanskij has a substantial content and a brilliant exposition. It will be a typical work in this branch for many years to come.

The principal achievement of Tangut archaeography in the past decades was the publishing and translating of a vast amount of precious books and fragments, which will not only raise the standards of metaphrasing Tangut texts, but also offer rich materials to Oriental studies throughout the world. The shortcomings in this period concern two aspects--the discrepancy of translational practice and the divergence of book classification.

We all know that it is hardly possible to translate a dead language as smoothly as a living one. The Tangut writing system consists of about 6,000 single characters, but only two third of them can be exactly translated so far. Therefore, Tangutologists often have a different comprehension and translation of one and the same Tangut sentence. Take the initial sentence in Heishui shoujiang gaojin bingtie for example, the Tangut original  Nd ziwuw a went through the official career and imperial examination when he was young," but the English translation by Kychanov (1971b) is "now (I), humble Nd ziwuw a, an able official in the past, having gone to the end on the path of knowledge. " This kind of faults incurred an incisive criticism by Huang Zhenhua (1978). Another interesting example is the wrangling between Huang Zhenhua and Li Fanwen. Half a century after Luo Fucheng (1935) copied and published the Tangut dictionary of homonyms Yintong, Li Fanwen (1986) wrote his " Tongyin " yanjiu in which he corrected 864 faults of transcription in Luo""s book, but Huang Zhenhua (1988) pointed out that there were also more than 2,000 writing faults in Li""s new edition. Li was very angry at this so that he wrote another paper in which he found 18 faults with the 25 Tangut characters quoted in Huang""s article (Li, 1988). In fact, this kind of wrangling is worthless because we cannot, at least at present, establish a perfect criterion of Tangut orthography, and hardly one of the Tangutologists can write down all the complicated characters without any slip of the pen.

As for the classification of books, there are no convincing criteria worth accepting. Gorbacheva and Kychanov (1963) divided the Tangut books into the following seven categories: 1) translations from Chinese, 2) dictionaries and phonetic tables, 3) native Tangut literatures, 4) calendars, tables, charts, 5) incantations and medicine texts, 6) native Tangut codes, 7) Buddhist works. To classify the books in this way does not only differ from the practice of Chinese archaeography, but does also not tally with the actual situation of Tangut collections. For example, there is a book with the title Xinji jinsui zhangzhiwen 新集金碎掌置文 in the third category of Gorbacheva and Kychanov""s catalogue. It seems that the book was considered to be a kind of literary work. But in fact, it is neither a poem nor a dictionary, but an elementary reader for children, just like the Chinese reader Qianziwen 千字文. In my opinion, it will be suitable to accept the Chinese classification of the Jingshiziji 经史子集, and Xinji jinsui zhangzhiwen should be put into the category of xiaoxue 小学.

Philology

Tangut philological studies began at the end of the 1950s. Two Japanese linguists, Nishida Tatsuo and studying Hashimoto Mantaro, laid the ground for the reconstruction of the Tangut language. To begin with, Nishida (1975) and Hashimoto (1961) set about to do research on the rules of Chinese phonetic transcriptions of Tangut words. As the materials were limited, they did not succeed in the reconstruction work until the posthumous publishing of Nevskij""s manuscripts of a Tangut dictonary in 1960. This dictionary was originally a large number of reference notes for studying Tangut, in which Nevskij paraphrased each of the Tangut words or sentences in Chinese, English, Russian or Tibetan. What is more, there were also materials of Chinese and Tibetan phonetic transcriptions of Tangut characters, sound categories in Wenhai and Wenhai Baoyun 文海 宝韻, and some of the cognate words in Sino-Tibetan languages. The vast amount of materials provided by Nevskij (1960) made it possible to reconstruct the Tangut phonetic system. Nevskij""s proves to be one of the most important works throughout the research of Tangutology. Up to now, along with the constant publishing of phonetic data, five complete reconstruction schemes have emerged in the field of Tangutology: 1) preliminary reconstruction by Sofronov and Kychanov (1963), 2) reconstruction by Nishida Tatsuo (1964-1966; 1981-1983), 3) revised scheme by Sofronov (1968), 4) reconstruction by Huang Zhenhua (Shi et al., 1983), and 5) reconstruction by Li Fanwen (1986). Within the above-mentioned schemes, only the results of Sofronov and Nishida were accepted by other linguists in their own works.

It seems that Tangutologists tried to reconstruct the Tangut phonetic system by following the famous principle and method of reconstructing Chinese set forth by Bernhard Karlgren at the beginning of the present century. But unfortunately, they could not work out a perfect scheme because the phonological system of Tangut is much more complicated than that of ancient Chinese, and the research materials for their reconstruction are less sufficient than Karlgren""s. Thus, all the available reconstruction schemes are more assumed than proven, and some revisions had to be made. The revisions began with the comprehension of the basic materials of reconstruction. Gong Hwang-cherng (1981a) and Nie Hongyin (1985,1987) discussed how to treat the Chinese phonetic transcriptions of Tangut characters. Nie Hongyin (1986a) discussed how to treat the Tibetan transcriptions of Tangut. On the basis of a more reasonable comprehension of the phonetic data, Gong (1981b,c) and Nie (1985,1986b, 1989) proposed some revisions of the current reconstructions, but they both could not design a complete and new scheme of Tangut phonology.

A well-known hypothesis in Tangut phonology is the contrast of relaxed vowels and tense vowels (laryngeal constriction), which was assumed by Nishida Tatsuo (1964-1966) and supported by Wang Jingru (1982) and Li Fanwen (1986). The aim of the proposal, in fact, is to explain the complexity of the Tangut phonological system and to simplify the work of reconstruction. This theory bases itself only on other Lolo-Moso languages, for example, Lolo, Hani, Lahu, etc., but not on the Tangut language itself, and moreover, none of the Lolo-Moso words with tense vowels was so far proven to be cognate to Tangut words, so it is reasonable to say that the hypothesis is more an expedient measure than a tested truth.

In the early 1960s, K. Sedláek (1962) made a start in the field of grammatical studies and published an article concerning the etymology of some Tangut particles. Although the conclusion was not accepted by other Tangutologists, his view of particles helped others to find the key to Tangut grammar. Six years later, Sofronov (1968) wrote the first comprehensive Tangut grammar. Following the Indo-European tradition, Sofronov tried to sum up the rules of declension and conjugation in the Tangut language, which, as he claimed, include numbers and cases of the noun, tenses, aspects, voices and moods of the verb, degrees of the adjective, etc. Obviously, Sofronov was too strongly affected by traditional grammar, so that his conclusion made Tangut an Indo-European language, but not, as we all know, a Sino-Tibetan language. Therefore the value of Sofronov""s grammar is less than that of his phonology.

Besides Sofronov""s works, Nishida Tatsuo (1964-1966) and Shi Jinbo (1983) also discussed some questions about Tangut grammar, but it seems that their research did not receive enough attention, though their achievements were perfect to some extent. At present, the most remarkable work on grammar is the research on morphology by K. B. Keping (1985). Following Sedlá

ek, Keping also emphasizes the function of Tangut particles. She casts off the yoke of Indo-European grammar, and shows the originality of the "direction" of some Tangut particles. In Tangut language, there were a dozen of particles used as prefixes to verbs and each one of them, as Keping describes, had its special "direction" in perfect or imperfect aspects, for example, upward, downward, inward, outward, etc. This interesting theory does not only tally with the native Tangut texts, but also conforms to the actual situation of some other living languages in the provinces of Sichuan and Gansu. Having read Keping""s book, we may say that the key to Tangut grammar has been found.

The study of lexicology is a relatively weak link in Tangut philology because many difficulties of metaphrase have not been overcome yet. Within the past ten years, some of the scholars payed attention to the composition of the Tangut lexical system. Gong Hwang-cherng (1981d) and Shi Jinbo (1982) wrote articles on the same subject concerning Chinese loanwords. Nishida Tatsuo (1986) assumed the co-existence of the common parlance of native Tangut words and cultured parlance of Sino-Tibetan words. In fact, the Tangut used to express one and the same concept by more than two characters with different sounds, for example, the word meaning sea" could be written both as  (e) and  (hai), the latter being obviously borrowed from Chinese. By analogy, we believe that there might be other words borrowed from Tibetan, Qiang, etc., but since there is not any research of Tangut etymology and no perfect criterion to distinguish the loanwords from cognate words, we still cannot get a complete picture of Tangut lexicology.

N. A. Nevskij. Tangutskaja filologija. lssledovanija i slovar""

 (Moskva, 1960), vol.1, p.355.

Among recent works, Keping""s research on kinship terms is worth reading. Through her brilliant exposition, Keping (1988) concludes that the Tangut kinship terms had the following two features: 1) distinction between lineal and collateral relatives, 2) sex-of-speaker distinction in sibling terminology, but no age distinction within one generation. Her research suggests the cross-cousin marriage of the Tangut people. It is of great value to both philology and anthropology.

Graphemics is a relatively developed branch of Tangutology. Half a century after the preliminary research by Luo Fuchang (1919), Nishida Tatsuo (1964-1966, 1967) made good progress in this domain. Having carefully analysed the writing structure, Nishida distinguished the character stems from the derivatives, summed up 329 elements or radicals in the Tangut writing system, and induced about fifty rules of character composition. His description proved to be excellent, but slightly complex. After that, Li Xinkui (1978), Shi Jinbo (Shi et. al, 1983) and Gong Hwang-cherng (1984,1985) tried to give a simple explanation of the structures, but as a result, they all described them in detail as well. Perhaps the generative processes of Tangut script were really very complex, and no one can artificially make them simpler.

Another important work on this branch is Analysis of the Tangut Script by Eric Grinstead (1972). In his book, Grinstead analysed the script from a graphemic point of view. He designed a telecode number system of Tangut characters by following the system used in Oshanin""s Chinese-Russian dictionary, and in the last 100 pages of his book, he made an effort to metaphrase the Tangut version of the XiaoJing, which is one of the most difficult texts in the Tangut collection because it is a manuscript written in a cursive hand. Grinstead successfully transcribed most of the Tangut characters into regular forms, and translated its preface into English and Chinese. His arduous efforts were highly appraised by all Tangutologists.

As to the origin of the Tangut language, no important progress has been made since Laufer""s hypothesis (1916) of Lolo-Moso. Though many evidences adduced for his theory, as mentioned above, prove to be misreadings and mismetaphrasings, the conclusion is still accepted by most of the linguists. Only Luc Kwanten (1988) tried to put the Tangut language into the Altaic family by claiming that the Tangut script was polysyllabic, but his suggestion is entirely ignored by others. In fact, to give an eloquent proof of Sino-Tibetan, there is still a long way to go.

Historiography

Dozens of articles on Tangut history have been published in Japan since the 1950s. But the first systematic description and examination was done by Kychanov (1968b). Kychanov, by using a vast amount of precious historical materials both in Chinese and Tangut, discussed the origin and development of the Dangxiang nationality, the establishment and institution of the Xixia kingdom, the political and military situation, the cultural undertakings, and the destruction of the state. Most of his conclusions were brilliant and admirable except for the misunderstanding of some Chinese materials: he tried, for example, to prove that Xixia had Baiguo (White State)as its abbreviated form of name according to bai guozhu 白国主 in Songshi, but actually, the Chinese phrase here means "to report to the king," not "the king of the Bai State" (Huang, 1978).

After the 1970s, five monographs of all-sided deliberation on Tangut history were published by Okazaki Seirō (1972), Lin Lüzhi (1975), Zhong Kan, Wu Fengyun and Li Fanwen (1979), Wu Tianchi (1980) and Bai Bin (1989), but not all of the historians used the Tangut materials in their studies. Being related with the real Tangut materials, the principal questions repeatedly dealt with were: 1) the meaning of the name of the Xixia state in the Tangut language, 2) the national origin of the Dangxiang imperial lineage, 3) the political institution of the Xixia state, and 4) the process of formulating the Tangut writing system.

The real discussion about the state-name of Xixia began in the year of 1932 when scholars already knew that the Tangut people called their state according to the autograph on a Tangut version of the Suvarna-prābhāsot-ta-marāja-sūtra. The first Tangut character meaning ‘white’ and the third means ""state"", but we have no idea about the meaning of the second one. Before that time, Luo Fuchang (1919) translated the second Tangut character as ""up"", and Luo Fucheng assumed in the Bulletin of the National Library of Peiping (vol.4, no.3, p.342) that the state-name meant "upper reaches of the White River". Since there was not enough evidence for the presumed "White River", Wang Jingru (1932-1933) had to make a fresh start by translating the second character phonetically. In his opinion, the said Tangut character should be transcribed mi which means ‘people’ in some other Sino-Tibetan languages, so he proposed that "White Up State" probably meant "the state of White people". Another explanation was given by Wu Tianchi (1980), who said that the Tangut state-name probably meant "the state advocating white" because the character ‘up’ (shang ) and ‘advocate’ were interchangeable in ancient Chinese. It was beyond all expectations that all the three assumptions would prove to be wrong after we saw in a fragment of a Buddhist text from Khara-Khoto (Men""shikov, 1984, p.497) that the Tangut state-name in Chinese was "White High" 白高, not "White Up" 白上. There have not been any new explanations on "white high" for years, but in my opinion, the solution to the problem can be found in some native Tangut poems. In the Tangut epic Xiashenggen zange (Kychanov, 1968a), there is a verse meaning "the kindhearted ancestors come from the west with the color. "It is very clear that "white", the color of the Xixia state, indicates "the West" as the birthplace of the Tangut nationality. This conception originated from the theory of Five Elements 五行 in archaic China, in which the "West" had its attribution of gold and white. Another Tangut poem, Zaozishi song (Kychanov, 1989) furnishes useful evidence to "high" when it says:" the state of Tibetan people is on the highlands in the West, where Tibetan script is used; the state of Chinese people is on the lowlands in the East, where Chinese script is used. " It is reasonable to say that the word "high" indicates the highlands in the West where non-Chinese people lived because the West is higher than the East in the relief of China. Therefore, we may propose a new solution of the state-name of Xixia: "the state on the highlands in the West" which is something like the Mongolian address, Hexi 河西.

The problem of the national origin of the Dangxiang imperial lineage emerged from the divergence of Tangshu 唐书 and Songshi. The imperial lineage having the surname Tuoba 拓跋 may have originated either in the Qiang nationality (Tangshu) or the Xianbei 鲜卑 nationality (Songshi) .The latter record was supported by some historians. The reasoning of this group was that the ruling and the ruled class of Xixia belonged to different nationalities (Tang Jiahong, 1955), and there was a tribal society with a ruling nucleus of Tuobas of Dangxiang at the end of Sui times (Tang Kaijian, 1986), so it was concluded that the Tuobas of the Dangxiang nationality originated from the Xianbei, but the ruled class belonged to the Qiang nationality. The record of Tangshu was supported by other scholars. Their reasoning was that the language and customs of the Dangxiang were far from those of the Xianbei, and that the king of Xixia, Weiming Yuanhao, posed as the descendant of the Tuobas (Songshi, juan 485) only because he wanted to rank among the ancient nobles, but in fact, the Tuobas of the Later Wei 后魏 dynasty had changed their surname into Yuan by the end of the fifth century (Han, 1983). The discussion is still underway. We can only add here an evidence of an inscription from the Yulin Cave in Anxi (Shi and Bai, 1982). In Cave No.29, there is an inscription autographed by a senior monk having as surname   (* se bi) which is undoubtedly the Tangut phonetic transcription of Xianbei. If the rulers of Xixia were from Xianbei nationality, they would not, in my opinion, allow people to take the name of nationality as their surname.

After the establishment of Xixia, the emperor set up an integrated official system according to the political institution of the Song dynasty, but a puzzle came into being with the existence of Han officials and Tangut officials. Lin Lüzhi (1975) and Wu Tianchi (1980) both believed that there co-existed two systems of officials in Xixia, the officials of one of which were called Han officials, the others, for example, ningling 宁令, moningling 漠宁令, etc., were called Tangut officials in the native system which continued to be used after the Xixia had accepted another system from the Song dynasty. This conclusion was opposed by Bai Bin (1987) and Tang Kaijian (1989). The so-called Tangut officials, in their opinion, were only Tangut translations from those of Song, and the difference in names between Tangut and Song officials was but an artificial distinction of nationality, not their organization. Tang Kaijian also tried to prove that the Tangut names ningling and moningling mentioned in Mengxi bitan梦溪笔谈 originated from the Chinese dawang 大王 and datianwang 大天王, but he thought to have failed because he did not know that the adjectives in Tangut, on the contrary to Chinese, were always put behind the nouns. In fact, ningling indicates the Tangut   (* ne le, king great) and moningling indicates    (* mo ne le, heaven king great),it is very clear that they were translations from dawang and datianwang in Chinese.

The discussion about the time the Tangut script was formed came forward in the divergence between Songshi and Liaoshi 辽史   Before the 1970s, almost every Tangutologist believed that the Tangut script was formulated at the time of Yuanhao (1032-1048), but Luc Kwanten (1977)and Chen Bingying (1985) held that the script was created in the period of Deming 德明 (1003-1032). Since the writings in Tangut script are dated not earlier than the 1040s, the problem about the time of devising the Tangut script will remain unresolved for many years. Two books published in China ought to be mentioned here. One is "The Xixia Culture " (Xixia wenhua 西夏文化), and the other is "A Brief History of Xixia Buddhism"(Xixia Fojiao shilue 西夏佛教史略). Both of them were written by Shi Jinbo and represent the research level of Tangutology in the People""s Republic of China.

In "The Xixia Culture," Shi Jinbo (1987) comprehensively approached the subjects of Tangut script and language religion, politics, education, art, technology, and custom in the Xixia state. By using the vast amount of historical and archaeological materials both in Chinese and Tangut, Shi described the cultural features of the Dangxiang nationality, and pointed out that the Xixia culture was not a culture existing in isolation, but a mixed culture consisting of Han, Tibet, Uighur, Khitan, Jurchen, and Mongol elements.

The examination of Tangut Buddhism had been carried on since Morisse metaphrased the first Buddhist text in 1904, but a monograph in this field was only published more than 80 years later. In his "A Brief History of Xixia Buddhism" (Shi, 1988), Shi Jinbo systematically investigated the early native religion of the Dangxiang people, the development of Buddhism in the Xixia state, the Tangut Tripitaka, temples, monks, schools, arts, and, at last, the Buddhist movements of the Dangxiang people after the destruction of Xixia. The appendix of this book is of great value to the study of history and religion. Shi collected all prefaces, postscripts and inscriptions from the Tangut Tripitaka, and catalogued all the Buddhist texts collected in China, Japan, Germany, England, Sweden, and France, and then translated them into Chinese. This book, in my opinion, is the most brilliant work of its kind in recent China.

On the whole, because of the lack of detailed historical materials about Xixia, people have to find out the cause and effect of one incident in hundreds of books, thus one should not expect that the research level of Tangut history will catch up with that of Chinese history in the foreseeable future.

Archaeology

Along with the destruction of the Xixia kingdom, almost every art heritage was destroyed or damaged in varying degrees. Up to the present century, the few Tangut buildings that remain are two or three stupas in Yinchuan 银川 and a temple in Zhangye 张掖. In addition, dozens of caves in Dunhuang敦煌 and Yulin榆林, according to recent studies, prove to have been cut in Xixia times.

The archaeological excavation of Xixia relics began in the early 1970s,when a herbalist of Wuwei 武威 in Gansu province discovered two caves with Tangut relics in them, among which there were mainly some fragmentary Buddhist texts and inscribed wooden slips in Tangut and Tibetan script, some proclamations and notes and calendars in Chinese script, besides, there were also some pieces of paper cash and clay stupas (Gansu Museum, 1974). The principal Tangut fragments were researched by Wang Jingru (1974) and Shi Jinbo (1974).

From 1972 to 1977, the Museum of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region excavated one tomb of a Xixia emperor, four accompanying tombs and two stele-pavilions in the Xixia tomb region, and unearthed some golden, silver, copper or pearl decorations and some building materials (Ningxia Museum, 1978a,b). The most valuable gains in this excavation were thousands of stele-pieces which had been broken by the Mongolians. Some pieces of stele were partly knocked together and the characters of them were metaphrased by Li Fanwen (1984). As the steles were extremely damaged, Li could only identify a small number of separate words or phrases on them. In 1983 and 1984, archaeologists of the Inner Mongolian Institute of Archaeology re-excavated the famous ruins of Khara-Khoto which had been explored by Kozlov more than 60 years before. They identified the original appearance of the city in Yuan times, and unearthed not only building materials, production instruments, arms, articles for daily use, stationeries and articles of religious art, but also nearly 3,000 fragmentary books and notes written in Chinese, Tangut, Uighur-Mongol, Tibetan and HPhags-pa script (Inner Mongolian Institute of Archaeology, 1987). Some of the Tangut fragments were introduced and researched by Shi Jinbo and Huang Zhenhua (1987), but the scientific value of these literatures is far from that of the writings collected by Kozlov.

In 1982-1986, large numbers of Xixia porcelain were unearthed in Inner Mongolia and Ningxia Autonomous Region, the most valuable findings of which were those from the china kilns in Lingwu county of Ningxia. The features of decorative pattern and sintering technology of Lingwu porcelain were discussed by Ma Wenkuan (1988).

Up to the present, four stone inscriptions in Tangut characters were repeatedly researched. The most recent studies of the inscriptions of Juyongguan and the Gantong Stupa of the Huguo Temple, as mentioned above, were dealt with by Sofronov (1970) and Ruth Dunnell (1988). At the end of the 1970s, a discussion arose about the title of two Sino-Tangut Buddhist stone pillars unearthed from the Han Village in Baoding 保定City. Zheng Shaozong and Wang Jingru (1977) and Li Fanwen (1979) translated the title of the pillars as "Shengxiangchuang" 胜相幢, but Shi Jinbo and Bai Bin (1977, 1984) proposed that it should be translated as " Xiangshengchuang" 相胜幢. The discussion among them ended without an agreement, but it seems that we had better translate the title as "Zunshengchuang " 尊胜幢, which just tallies with the content of the pillars, Dhāranī Fodingzunsheng 佛顶尊胜.

There are two monographs published in China, one of which is "The Xixia Relics" (Xixia wenwu 西夏文物) by Shi Jinbo, Bai Bin and Wu Fengyun (1988), the other is "Studies on Xixia Relics " (Xixia Wenwu Yanjiu 西夏文物研究) by Chen Bingying (1985). Shi and others published many precious photographs of Tangut relics for further study, but the research articles within their book are of less value. On the contrary, Chen did a lot of comprehensive research in describing Tangut relics and metaphrasing Tangut literatures, but nearly all of the materials he used were out-of-date, without anything new. On the whole, archaeology in China has achieved more in excavation and description than in conclusive analysis, so this is a vulnerable spot of Tangutology.

Summary

In short, the achievements of Russian Tangutologists are remarkable because most of their works are based on the original Tangut writings. The Chinese Tangutologists published the maximum of research works, but these works, on the whole, are of less value than those of Russians because there are not enough source-materials in China, and the Chinese scholars are traditionally not well informed in the research fields in which they do not specialize. For example, most of the Chinese scholars majoring in Xixia history refrain from studying Tangut script and any foreign languages because they do not feel competent in linguistics. This kind of mistaken idea induced many Chinese Tangutologists to study Tangut history only from the materials in Chinese script, but to ignore the research achievements in other countries.

Tangutology grew quickly in the past decades, but it still is not a well researched field of Oriental studies. Because there are only less than twenty scholars being literate in Tangut characters throughout the world, and the international academic exchange has not been actively launched, each Tangutologist uses his own method and sticks to his own view, so that some unprincipled debates arise about unimportant problems. Now, it is necessary to establish a generally recognized criterion of metaphrasing Tangut texts so as to allow a systematic methodology for Tangutology to assume shape in the future.

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Tang Jiahong 唐嘉弘.1955. "Guanyu Xixia Tuobashi de zushu wenti" 关于西夏拓跋 氏的族属问题. Sichuan daxue xuebao 四川大学学报 1955.2, pp.166-180. Also in Bai Bin 1984, pp.26-48.

 

Tang Kaijian汤开建. 1986. "Guanyu Xixia Tuobashi zuyuan de jige wenti" 关于西夏  拓跋氏族源的几个问题. Zhongguoshi yanjiu 中国史研究1968.4, pp .125-135.

 

--.1989. "Xixiashi zhaji" 西夏史札记. In Zhongguo minzushi yanjiu, vol.2, pp.186-200.

 

Terent""ev-Katanskij, Anatolij Pavlovich. 1981. Knizhnoe delo v gosudarstve tangutov: pomaterialam kollektsii P. K. Kozlova. Moskva.

 

Wang Jingru 王静如.1930. "Xixiawen Hanzang yiyin shilüe" 西夏文汉藏译音释略. Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo jikan 2.2, pp.171-184. (Review by Paul Pelliot. T""oung Pao 28 [1931], pp.490-491. )

 

--.1932-1933. Xixia yanjiu 西夏研究.3 vols. Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo dankan 中央研究院历史语言研究所单刊 A:8, 11, 13.

 

--.1974. "Gansu Wuwei faxian de Xixiawen kaoshi" 甘肃武威发现的西夏文考释. Kaogu 1974.3, pp.205-207.

 

--.1982. "Xixiayu yinxi daoyan" 西夏语音系导言. Minzu yuwen 1982.2, pp.1-13.

 

Wolfenden, S. N.1931. "On the Tibetan Transcriptions of Si-Hia Words. " Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1931, pp.47-52.

 

--.1934. "On the Prefixes and Consonantal Finals of Si-Hia as evidenced by their Chinese and Tibetan Transcriptions. " Ibid.1934, pp.745-770.

 

Wu Tianchi 吴天墀. 1980. Xixia shigao 西夏史稿. Chengdu. New ed., 1983.

 

Wylie, A.1870. "On an Ancient Buddhist Inscription at Keu-Yung-Kwan. " Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 5, pp.14-44.

 

Zhang Shu张澍.1837. Shu Xixia Tianyoumin""anbei hou 书西夏天民安碑后. Yangsutang wenji 养素堂文集, juan 19. Donghua shuwu 东华书屋.

 

Zheng Shaozong 郑绍宗 and Wang Jingru.1977. "Baoding chutu Mingdai Xixiawen shichuang" 保定出土明代西夏文石幢. Kaogu Xuebao 1977.1, pp.133-141. Also in Bai Bin 1984, pp.564-573.

 

Zhong Kan 钟侃, Wu Fengyun and Li Fanwen. 1979. Xixia jianshi 西夏简史. Yinchuan.

 

Other Recent Works [Ed.]

 

Dunnell, Ruth W., "The Hsia Origins of the Yuan Institution of Imperial Preceptor. "Asia Major, 3rd Series 5 (1992) 1, pp.85-111.

 

--."Locating the Tangut Military Establishment: Uraqai (Wulahai) and the Heishui Zhenyan Army. " Monumenta Serica 40 (1992), PP.219-234.

 

Franke, Herbert, "Sha-lo-pa (1259-1314), a Tangut Buddist Monk in Yuan China. "Religion und Philosophie in Ostasien. Festschrift für Hans Steininger zum 65. Geburtstag. Hrsg. von G. Naundorf, K. H. Pohl und H. H. Schmidt. Würzburg: K nigshausen und Neumann, 1985, pp.201-222.

 

Gong Hwang-cherng. " Phonological Alternations in Tangut. " Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo jikan 59.3 (1988), pp.783-834.

 

--. "The Phonological Reconstruction of Tangut through Examination of Phonological Alternations. " Ibid.60.1 (1989), pp.1.45.

 

Keping, K. B. "Rekonstruktsija tangutskoi systemy radostra. " Narody Azii i Afriki 1989.2, pp.46-53.

 

Kychanov, E. I. "Tibetans and Tibetan Culture in the Tangut State Hsi-Hsia (9821227). " Proceedings of the Csoma de K r s Memorial Symposium held at Mátrafüred, Hungary 24-30 September, 1976. Ed. by Louis Ligeti. Bibliotheca Orientalis Hungarica 23. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1978, pp.205-211.

 

Lin Yingjin 林英津. "Sunzi bingfa Xixia yiben zhong suojian dongci citou de yufa gongneng" 孙子兵法西夏译本中所见动词词头的语法功能 [The Grammatical Function of Verbal Prefixes in a Tangut Translation of Sun-tzu Ping-fa]. Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo jikan 58.2 (1987), pp.381-445.

 

Nie Hongyin (聂鸿音), Master of Arts, Professor of the history of national minorities in the Institute of Nationality Researches. He specializes in Tangutology and archaeography and has published more than one hundred papers and ten books concerning philology and ancient literature of Chinese and national minorities. 

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