Tangut Script

       During the Northern Song Dynasty in China, the Dangxiang tribe, which also included the Han, Tubo, Uighur, Khitan, Nüzhen, and Tartar, established the feudal and secessionist Xixia regime. In Xingqing Prefecture, the capital was established (now Yinchuan City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region). It was in charge of the entire Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region as well as portions of the provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia. The motherland's history was significantly influenced by the Xixia, who helped to shape the country's vibrant and varied culture. The priceless cultural legacy they have left us is the Tangut script. King Li Yuanhao of the Western Xia Dynasty gave his minister Noli Renrong the task of writing the script during the first year of Daqing, prior to his official coronation as emperor. It was finished in three years and has more than 5,000 characters, all of which are square, redundant, and have a structure that resembles Chinese characters but differs in some important ways. The Sino-Tibetan language family includes the Chiang and Moya branches, and the Tangut script is most closely related to these languages.

The Tangut Script book "Wenhai", written around the 12th century


       The Tangut script, also referred to as the Hexi script, Fan script, or Xixia script by some scholars, is an ideographic system that was developed by Xixia after the Chinese script and was used to record the language of the Dangxiang tribe of that region. It was named the "national book" by Western Xia and is a compilation of 12 volumes of characters. The Xixia people used the Xixia script for everything from civil correspondence to Buddhist scriptures and edicts. Xixia also compiled a dictionary to aid people in learning the Tangut script.

Notable Artifacts


Tangut Inscriptions (Collection of Wuwei Xixia Museum)

       Tangut Inscriptions, also referred to as the "Rebuilt Hu Guo Temple Gan Tong Tower Inscription," is a national key cultural relic protection unit that is 2.5 meters high and 0.9 meters wide. It is the best-preserved Tangut inscription, having been written in the fifth year of Qianshun Tiantuo Min'an of Chongzong (1094) and discovered in the ninth year of Jiaqing in the Qing Dynasty (1804). The stele has writing on both sides. An account of what transpired while they were repairing the Gan Tong Tower is written on one side in Tangut script, with the title written in seal script. The first line of the main text, which consists of 28 lines of 65 characters each, reads, "Inscription of Gan Tong stele in Liangzhou, the border of Dabai Gao." The other side of the tablet is written in Chinese, and on the front is written, "Inscription of Senso Pagoda in Liangzhou, the rebuilding of Hu Guo Temple." The main text has 26 lines and 70 characters per line for a total of 3640 characters in regular Chinese script.


Hanging banners in Tangut Script (Lianchi Academy Collection)

       Using information from the former Hebei Provincial Ethnic Affairs Commission, which looked into Hanzhuang in the northern part of Baoding, the former Hebei Provincial Cultural Affairs Bureau's Cultural Relics Task Force discovered the two Tangut banners in the historic Lotus Pond in September 1962. The first structure has a top height of 42 cm, a body height of 158 cm, a base height of 63 cm, and an overall height of 263 cm. The second structure has four different heights: 36 cm, 143 cm, 49 cm, and 228 cm. It was constructed in 1502, the fifteenth year of the Ming dynasty, and is inscribed on all eight sides with the Tangut phrase "Uṣṇīṣa vijaya dhāraṇī sūtra" in regular script. The oldest surviving Tangut script materials were previously thought to be the Tangut stone inscriptions on the Juyongguan Passing Tower cave wall, which were constructed in 1345. This discovery, which once caused a stir in academic circles both at home and abroad, extended the lower limit of Tangut script use by at least 150 years, from the end of the Yuan to the middle of the Ming Dynasty.

Utilization of Tangut Script

       The Xixia Dynasty invented and employed the Tangut script. Under the Xixia Dynasty's rule, it flourished for about two centuries as a "national script" in the vast regions of modern-day Ningxia, Gansu, northern Shaanxi, and southern Inner Mongolia. Tangut script continued to be used for about three centuries in some places during the Yuan and Ming dynasties. In Xixia, it was employed in a wide variety of contexts, including official documents, court orders, trial transcripts, sales deeds, literary works, historical tomes, dictionaries, inscriptions, seals, talismans, coins, and Buddhist scriptures that were translated from Chinese and Tibetan. The Tangut script, which is at the heart of Xixia culture, was consistently used during the Xixia period. Its use persisted somewhat after the fall of the Xixia up until the middle of the Ming Dynasty, which has grown into strong evidence to investigate the lineage of the Xixia. After the Tangut script was developed, it was revered as the state character of Xixia and mandated that it be used to write a variety of documents and enumerations that were widely used. Tangut script remained in use even after the collapse of the Xixia state. By the Yuan dynasty (1227 AD), it was also known as Hexi characters, and its culture didn't completely vanish. People in the Yuan dynasty used Tangut script to engrave numerous Buddhist scriptures, and people in the early Ming dynasty also used it to do so for Tangut scripture scrolls. By the middle of the Ming dynasty, it was being used for banners. More than 500 years after the Jizo Sutra's composition, fragments of the text were recently discovered in the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang.

The deed of land in the year of Tianqing Geng Shen of Tangut script

Principle of Construction of Tangut Script

       The twisted script serves as the inspiration for the Tangut script. About 6,000 years ago, pictorial characters from the Yangshao culture were the first to use Chinese characters. There is no doubt that it has undergone at least 2,000 to 3,000 years of development by the time of the Oracle Bone Script. The Tangut script, on the other hand, is only 900 years old and was produced by a small group of individuals in imitation of Chinese characters rather than going through the development process of "pictorial script." According to Xu Shen, the "Six Scripts," or "referential, hieroglyphic, pictorial, phonetic, metaphorical, transcription, and pseudo-imitation," govern how Chinese characters are constructed. These are the "principles of character construction," according to later scholars. The "Six Scripts," as some academics have claimed, are merely "stem and branch tables, that is, the Six Running scripts." Prior to the discovery of the oracle bone inscriptions, the "six scripts" also had an impact on Xixia during the Song Dynasty. For instance, the character "" in Xixia was derived from the Chinese letter "11.png" and its character form was. According to "pictographs," it was made in a manner "similar to the door," according to the "Wenhai." The majority of characters are formed using phonetic principles. As an illustration, phonetic is employed.

For example:
不+动=定              不+信=疑              父+无=孤              心+忧=愁              口+无+水=渴              死+棺+地=墓

图片来自BabelStone: Untangling the Web of Characters

       The construction of Tangut scripts is described in the "Wenhai" written by the Xixia people themselves using the terms "head" (indicating the head of a character), "down" (indicating the lower part of a character), "Pang" (indicating the side of a character), "Gan" (indicating the stem and center of a character), "Cong" (indicating what follows the character), "Fan" (indicating the surroundings of a character), "Quan" (indicating the entire character), "Jian" (indicating the subtraction of a part of a character).

       Similar to Chinese characters, the side of a Tangut character typically contain letters with specific meanings.

For example:

       Tangut script is very regularly constructed.

Word Count And Rhyme

       We frequently use a dictionary called the Xinhua Dictionary, which has about 8,500 words. There are currently about 50,000 Chinese characters, compared to the 47,035 characters in the Kangxi Dictionary, which was put together by Zhang Tingjing and Zhang Yushu during the Qing Dynasty.

       What is the total number of Tangut characters? 3,064 characters make up the "Wenhai" that the Xizhi residents compiled; the "Yintong" has 6,133 characters. (This book was published in 1132 AD (the second year of Shaoxing of Song Emperor Gaozong), when the Tangut script had only 96 years of history and there was still 95 years of history left before Xixia fell (1227 AD), but the script was constantly evolving and changing. The political, economic, and cultural development of the Xixia Dynasty peaked during the Renxiao period (1140–93 A.D.), and thousands of volumes of Tangut scriptures were published. A large number of Tangut script stelae unearthed from Xixia tombs have new characters that are not found in the dictionary. According to the present data, we can conclude that there are more than 6,000 characters in the Tangut script (including variant characters), and there is no problem.

       The Tangut script section of the Ancient and Modern Script Integration Tangut script from other sources is included in accordance with the Unicode standard, and is based on the Concise Xia-Han Dictionary's (2012 edition), which contains 6074 single characters (including variant, rhyming, and incorrect characters). According to the Preface of his book, the author of the Xixia State Book "Tong Yin" dictionary used "6133 large characters and 6230 note characters." It should be noted that although academic circles have incorrectly claimed that "the total number of words of the Tangut are more than 6000 words," it is clear from the information at hand that the Tangut only contains more than 5800 words, with the remaining words being variants and erroneous characters. It is challenging to verify the missing portions of the word books "Tong Yin," "Wen Hai," and other word books; however, the "Concise Xia-Han Dictionary" not only includes the "Tong Yin" A, B, and C three versions and "Wen Hai" re-core alignment, but also tests the absorption of "Tong Yi," "Wen Hai Qie Yun," "Tong Yin Wen Hai Bao Yun compilation," and "five Yin Qie Yun" and other word books, rhyme book for 80 more new words, and strive to provide more information to readers.

The Book of Tangut Script - Yintong

       The "Wu Sheng Qie Yun" were created in accordance with Sima Guang's "Image of Qie Yun Zhi Zhang," the "Yintong" was created in accordance with Xixia's classification of the nine tones in the "Yun Jing," and the "Wenhai" was created in accordance with the "Guang Yun." The "Pearl in Palm," which uses dots to represent the four tones in Chinese, also reflects the Ping, Shang, Qu, and Ru tones. Why is this the case, though, when there aren't many characters that have the sounds of Qu and Ru? The Xixia translation of the language to the Chinese sound as the standard, without the sound of Ru, and to turn the sound of Ru into the sound of Ping, according to Luo Fu Chang, was made from Song's capital, Bianjing. Future generations would benefit from learning this spirit of absorbing knowledge from advanced culture.

In Game

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       Some important studies on the political, economic, and cultural aspects of Xixia have been conducted in recent years on the basis of the study of the Tangut language and script. The idea of "the independently developed and self-contained Xixia culture originated from the culture of the peoples of Central Asia" is spread by some so-called scholars who attempt to divide the history of the Xixia and the unified multi-ethnic state of China. They also attempt to narrow down and erase the fundamental components of the general idea that the Xixia culture originated from the unified culture of the Chinese nation. The political day of dividing our territory and downplaying the great creative ability of our working people of all nationalities is also contained in this, which alters the true picture of Xixian history. "In the name of criticizing Confucianism and evaluating the law, Luo Siding, the imperial tool of the Gang of Four, distorted the conflicts and struggles between the ruling classes of Xixia and the Northern Song Dynasty into a war of aggression and anti-Chinese sentiment, by Red Flag, No. 11,1974. From this, it can be seen that the accurate explanation of the social outlook of the Xixia and the historical process of its occurrence and development with Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought is of great practical significance in maintaining the unity of the motherland and national unity, in addition to being of profound historical significance in exploring the development of ancient Chinese ethnic culture and ethnic cohesion.

       The invention of writing is a significant symbol of the maturation of national culture. The Dangxiang people have benefited greatly from the Tangut script in terms of communication and cultural transmission, and future generations will benefit greatly from the study of this culture, their language, and related writings.

Font Download

       The Jing Yongshi, Liu Changqing, and Tangut versions of the Japanese Mojikyo font are currently the most popular Tangut fonts. Please see the list of common Xixia fonts at for more information. The Mojikyo is the Tangut font that is easiest to locate online, but there are more typos. The Jing Yongshi font is currently the one that academics use the most. Formerly using the script mirror font, Ancient and Modern Script Integration has switched to the Jing Yongshi font that has been modified from the Unicode file. Please click here to download additional Tangut script fonts: tangut.php

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