THE NAME OF THE TANGUT EMPIRE* BY KSENIA BORISOVNA KEPPING Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St.-Petersburg Translated by George van Driem In memory of the eminent Russian orientalist Nikolaj Aleksandrovic Nevskij (3 III 1892-24 XI 1937) 1. Introduction . The Tangut empire existed since 1032 on the territory of what is today Nmgxia-Hui Autonomous District and Shanxi and Gansu provinces. The Tangut empire was destroyed in 1227 during the Mongol invasion led by Chinggis Khan. The invention of an in- digenous ideogrammatic script, which came into use in 1036- only four years after the Tangut state was established-was the single greatest cultural achievement of the Tangut state. It is widely 358 held that the Tangut script "is perhaps the most complicated sys- tem ever invented by a human mind" (Laufer 1916: 4-5). After the destruction of the Tangut empire, the Tangut script continued to be used sporadically for several centuries, the latest known Tangut written document dating from the early 16th cen- tury. Thereafter the Tangut nation disappeared entirely from the arena of history, together with their language and culture. For centuries, until the discovery of the Tangut inscription in- side of the Juyongguan. passageway
T'oung Pao – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1994
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