WESTERN XIA (1032 – 1227AD)

The Western Xia Dynasty or the Tangut Empire was a state that existed from 1032 up to 1227 in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, and Ningxia. It was established in the 11th century by Tangut tribes. Occupying the area along the trade route between Central Asia and the West, the Tangut were neighbors to Northern China, which was ruled by Song China and later the Jurchen Empire.

The Tanguts called their own state "The Great State of the White and the Lofty". Since it was located in the west, the Chinese name is literally "Western Xia", and thus that name is often used in Sinological literature. The English name "Tangut" comes from the Mongolian name for the country Tangγud.

After coming under military pressure from the Tibetan Empire some Tangut tribes submitted to Tang China under Emperor Dezong in 799. The Tanguts who submitted were moved to the Ordos region near Ningxia, whereas those who stayed accepted Tibetan political dominance and became known in Chinese as Mi-yao.

The Tanguts remained loyal to the Tang during the revolt of Huang Chao but established de-facto independence when Tang fell in 906. They retained their de-facto independence throughout the Five Dynasties period. During this period, their chieftain had the title of Dingnan Jiedushi and nominally remained under the Five Dynasties. Emperor Mingzong of Later Tang made an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Dingnan in 932 after believing incorrectly that Dingnan was about to enter an alliance with Liao.

The foundation of a Tangut state as such goes back to the year 982 under Li Deming. However, it would not be until 1038 that the Tangut chieftain Li YuanhaoLi Deming's son, who also ordered the creation of a Tangut writing system and the translation of Chinese classics into Tangut, named himself emperor of Da Xia, and demanded of the Song emperor recognition as an equal. The Song court accepted the recognition of Li Yuanhao as 'governor', but not 'emperor', a title considered exclusive to the Song emperor. After intense diplomatic contacts, in 1043 the Tangut state accepted the recognition of the Song emperor as emperor in exchange for annual tribute, which implied tacit recognition on the part of the Song of the military power of the Tangut.