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Great State of White and High

Buddhism & State Formation in Eleventh-Century Xia

Ruth W. Dunnell

Publication Year: 1996

“A major contribution to our understanding of the rise of the Tangut as a cultural and political unity.” —Studies of Central and East Asian Religions

“Ruth Dunnell's long-awaited book on Buddhism and Tangut state formation expands on themes raised in her earlier work on Tangut history, in particular, the place of Buddhism in the early Xia state officially founded by Li (Weiming) Yuanhao in 1038 and the role of the empress dowager regents in preserving that state against external and internal enemies.” —China Review International

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

This book grew out of an appendix to my doctoral dissertation, “Tanguts and the Tangut State of Ta Hsia,” containing a translation of the Chinese text of a stele inscription in both Tangut and Chinese, dated 1094, from a Xia temple in Wuwei, Gansu. The dissertation relied mainly on Chinese sources and Russian translations of Tangut...

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pp. xiii-xvi

The ethnonym “Tangut” first appeared in the Orkhon Turkic runic inscriptions of 735 (see Dunnell, “Who Are the Tanguts?” for details). It remained the North Asian term of reference to a people called Dangxiang in the Chinese histories from the seventh century on. Various forms of the name “Tangut” appear in Chinese histories...

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Xia Rulers and Reign Era Titles

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pp. xvii-xix

The main source for Xia dynastic titulature is Song shi, 485–486. Li Fanwen, in Xi Xia yanjiu lunji (1983), 76–99, has tabulated Tangut honorary titles not found in Song shi or other non-Xia Chinese sources, including a special set of short honorifics ending with the...

Genealogy of Eleventh-Century Xia Dynastic Alliances

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p. xx

Brief Chronology of the Main Events in Xia History

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pp. xxi-xxvi

PART 1 Buddhism in Eleventh-Century Xia

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Chapter 1 Introduction

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pp. 3-26

In the late tenth and early eleventh centuries a group of people, known in Western and Japanese scholarship as Tangut and in Chinese as Dangxiang Qiang, established an independent regime in the Ordos (the steppe region within the loop of the Yellow River, present-day Ningxia, Shaanxi, Gansu, and Inner Mongolia). It...

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Chapter 2 Buddhism and Monarchy in the Early Tangut State

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pp. 27-49

Tangut imperial history formally begins with the reign of Li (Weiming) Yuanhao (Jingzong, r. 1032–1048), the third ruler of the autonomous Ordos state founded in 981 by his grandfather Li Jiqian. In the winter of 1038 the Tangut ruler was enthroned as the first emperor of the Great State of White and High (Bai Gao Da...

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Chapter 3 Buddhism under the Regencies (1049–1099)

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pp. 50-83

After Weiming Yuanhao’s death the vital role of Tangut empresses in promoting Buddhism emerges in sharper focus. Owing largely to the youth of later emperors, their mothers occupied prominent political and military positions. Three empresses, a Mocang and two Liang, along with their male kin and allies dominate the historical...

PART 2 The 1094 Stele Inscriptions from Liangzhou

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Chapter 4 A History of the Dayun(Huguo) Temple at Liangzhou

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pp. 87-117

Five stele inscriptions from the Dayun Temple at Liangzhou survive in one form or another today. They date to the years 711, 1094, 1563, 1622 and 1697.1 All except the 1094 inscription call the temple Dayun (“Great Cloud”); under the Tanguts it became Huguo...

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Chapter 5 Annotated Translation of the 1094 Stele Inscriptions

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pp. 118-132

In the first month of 1094, according to its inscription, a stele was erected to celebrate the completion of state-sponsored repairs to the Gantong St

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Chapter 6 Reading between the Lines: A Comparison and Analysis of the Tangut and Han Texts

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pp. 133-156

Back to back on a stone slab, the 1094 inscriptions of Liangzhou capture the tensions in the fine balancing of protocol, pragmatic compromise, and political defiance at work in late-eleventh-century Xia. Between them unfolds a dialogue over the formulation of Tangut/ Xia identity, at a time when competing...

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Chapter 7 Conclusion

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pp. 157-160

In late-eleventh-century Xia, faith in the Buddha, his word, and the divine powers of protection adhering in relics and the structures housing them had become one of the underpinnings of the Weiming dynasty and the state it founded. The throne strove to establish a particular, even unique, relationship between itself and the potency...


Appendix A. Photoreproductions of Rubbings of the 1094 Gantong Stūpa Stele Inscriptions

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pp. 163-172

Appendix B. Chronology of Sources Recording or Discussing the Inscriptions on the Gantong Stūpa Stele

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pp. 173-178

Abbreviations Used in the Notes

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p. 179


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pp. 181-241

A Select Glossary of Chinese Names and Terms

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pp. 243-252


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pp. 253-270


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pp. 271-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780824862718
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824817190

Publication Year: 1996

OCLC Number: 47010540
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Great State of White and High

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Subject Headings

  • Tangut (Chinese people) -- History.
  • Buddhism -- China -- History -- 960-1644.
  • Buddhism and state -- China.
  • China -- History -- Xi xia dynasty, 1038-1227.
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