History of China

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1038 Jan 1 - 1227

Western Xia

Yinchuan, Ningxia, China

The Western Xia or the Xi Xia, also known as the Tangut Empire, was a Tangut-led imperial dynasty of China that existed from 1038 to 1227. At its peak, the dynasty ruled over the modern-day northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, and southwest Inner Mongolia, and southernmost Outer Mongolia, measuring about 800,000 square kilometres (310,000 square miles). Its capital was Xingqing (modern Yinchuan), until its destruction by the Mongols in 1227. Most of its written records and architecture were destroyed, so the founders and history of the empire remained obscure until 20th-century research in China and the West.

The Western Xia occupied the area around the Hexi Corridor, a stretch of the Silk Road, the most important trade route between northern China and Central Asia. They made significant achievements in literature, art, music, and architecture, which was characterized as "shining and sparkling". Their extensive stance among the other empires of the Liao, Song, and Jin was attributable to their effective military organizations that integrated cavalry, chariots, archery, shields, artillery (cannons carried on the back of camels), and amphibious troops for combat on land and water.