The Great State of White and High

The Great State of White and High: Buddhism and State Formation in Eleventh-Century Xia

Copyright Date: 1996
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  • Book Info
    The Great State of White and High
    Book Description:

    "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

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6271-8
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Conventions
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Xia Rulers and Reign Era Titles
    (pp. xvii-xix)
  6. Genealogy of Eleventh-Century Xia Dynastic Alliances
    (pp. xx-xx)
  7. Brief Chronology of the Main Events in Xia History
    (pp. xxi-xxv)
  8. [Map]
    (pp. xxvi-xxvi)
  9. Part 1. Buddhism in Eleventh-Century Xia
    • CHAPTER 1 Introduction
      (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 quickly grew into the empire of Xia, or, as they called it in their own language, the Great State of White and High.¹ Xia was a formidable neighbor of the Song, Liao, and Jin states to the south and east, of the Tibetans to the southwest, and of the...

    • CHAPTER 2 Buddhism and Monarchy in the Early Tangut State
      (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 Guo), or Great Xia (Da Xia, its Chinese name), and sent a letter to the Song court demanding due recognition as the sovereign of an independent neighboring state. The Song ruler could not countenance this challenge to the established order, in part owing...

    • CHAPTER 3 Buddhism under the Regencies (1049–1099)
      (pp. 50-84)

      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 records to the end of the eleventh century. Like the Yeli before them, the Mocang and the Liang were two prominent clans in the Tangut elite that supplied military leadership and royal consorts to the Xia court. During the second half of the eleventh century, the throne requested and received...

  10. Part 2. The 1094 Stele Inscriptions from Liangzhou
    • CHAPTER 4 A History of the Dayun (Huguo) Temple at Liangzhou
      (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 (“State Protecting”), although throughout the centuries it went by various other names as well. For the nearby Qingying Temple, where the 1094 stele was actually found in the early nineteenth century (described below), three inscriptions survive, dating to 1588, 1672, and 1741.² These sources, along with other notices from the eighth to twentieth centuries, permit us...

    • CHAPTER 5 Annotated Translation of the 1094 Stele Inscriptions
      (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 Stūpa of the Huguo Temple at Liangzhou.¹ Its origins as one of the 84,000 stūpas erected all over the world by Aśoka to house Buddha relics endowed it with numinous powers to produce resonant prodigies in response to natural and human events. These miraculous powers protected the Xia state on several occasions by repelling invaders or assuring victory on the battlefield. In gratitude, the court undertook to repair this precious national treasure after an earthquake in...

    • CHAPTER 6 Reading between the Lines: A Comparison and Analysis of the Tangut and Han Texts
      (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 claims of ethnicity, culture, rulership, gender, and statehood carried weighty political consequences. In this chapter I will discuss the structure and significance of the two texts translated in Chapter 5.¹

      Both texts of the 1094 stele inscription treat basically the same topics in the same order, and the length of subsections is in...

    • CHAPTER 7 Conclusion
      (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 of the Buddha, whose protective and salvific powers it could then channel on behalf of the state and the Tangut people. The welfare of the state and its subjects, then, depended on the cultivation of that imperial relationship (pursuit of the bodhisattva ideal) and the creation of...

  11. Appendices
    • APPENDIX A Photoreproductions of Rubbings of the 1094 Gantong Stūpa Stele Inscriptions
      (pp. 163-172)
    • APPENDIX B Chronology of Sources Recording or Discussing the Inscriptions on the Gantong Stūpa Stele
      (pp. 173-178)
  12. Abbreviations Used in the Notes
    (pp. 179-180)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 181-242)
  14. A Select Glossary of Chinese Names and Terms
    (pp. 243-252)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-270)
  16. Index
    (pp. 271-278)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 279-279)