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Kepping K. The Official Name of the Tangut Empire as Reflected in the Native Tangut Texts // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 1, No 3, December 1995. Pp. 22-32.


In the last decade academic interest in Tangut civilization has rapidly grown and recently (August 1995) even a special conference on Tangut problems was held in Yinchuan, China. This is explained by the fact that many scholars throughout the world became aware both of the unique and extremely high level of Tangut culture, as well as its significance in the history of Central Asia. However, not long ago Tangut studies were regarded as one of the backwaters of Oriental studies, while the Tangut state was supposed to be an Empire in quotation marks, which did not play any significant part in history (Clauson, 1964: 54). Such a change in the approach to the Tangut culture is due to the systematic work of an international team of scholars whose mutual efforts have created a new branch of Oriental studies, namely — tangutology. In this connection first of all the great Russian scholar N. A. Nevsky (1892—1937) is to be remembered, since precisely his works have laid the foundation of modern tangutology.

However, it must be kept in mind that now almost everything we know about Tangut is based on Chinese source material (mainly on Chinese dynastic histories). At the same time hundreds of Tangut texts are kept in different parts of the world, the largest collection — the Kozlov collection in St Petersburg, Russia — having more than ten thousand items. Tangut collections usually consist of texts translated from other languages. For tangutology these texts are not as important as the native Tangut texts are. By native Tangut texts I mean the texts not translated from other languages, but primarily written in Tangut language (Tangut code, poetry, proverbs, official documents, etc.). These texts are kept only in the Kozlov collection in St Petersburg. However, and specialists know it quite well, up to now some of the native Tangut texts are still beyond comprehension due to their extremely complicated content.

My assertion that native Tangut texts are of exceptional significance is corroborated by the fact that only in these texts one can find the official name of the Tangut kingdom — (1) phon mbin lhie tha “The Great Kingdom of the White and Lofty”…

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Keywords


Manuscripta Orientalia, selected papers
phon mbin lhie tha
the Tangut Empire
Tangut manuscripts

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