In Search of the Outstanding Xixia Kingdom

In the year of his death, the great Genghis Khan and his horse-riding Mongol warriors conquered the Xixia Kingdom, destroying much of their culture. But the Xixia had flourished for too long to be entirely ravaged and annihilated. Xixia antiques, found in the Gobi desert where the kingdom was once located, are now on exhibit at Hangzhou Museum.


The 1,000-year-old culture has been wrapped in mystery due to its remote location, but the new exhibition is trying to shine a light on Xixia history and customs.

The Xixia Kingdom covered what is today known as Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, northwestern Gansu Province, northeastern Qinghai Province, northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and northern Shaanxi Province.

The Dangxiang people, a nomadic minority from the Yellow River in Qinghai Province, established the kingdom in 1038.

It was until the 20th century that archeologists began to excavate what Genghis Khan had left, and that their craftsmanship, religion and architecture were brought to light.

Xixia’s first emperor, Li Yuanhao, ordered officials to create a language and characters once the kingdom was established. A chancellor named Yeli Renrong drew lessons from Chinese characters and created 6,000 Xixia characters.

A tablet discovered at the Wenshou Tomb in Ningxia region shows the resemblance of Xixia and Chinese characters.

Although the Mongols wiped out the kingdom in 1227, the Xixia descendants continued using these characters until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

In the early 20th century, piles of books were unearthed from Heishui City in Inner Mongolia, which helped archeologists research Xixia culture and history.

The kingdom had an imperial printing department, a sign that the emperor placed much importance on the development of their own characters.

Xixia also developed craftsmanship by importing metals and learning from the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

A copper ox on display at the exhibit was a burial object discovered in Ningxia region.


As with printing, the kingdom had an imperial department dedicated to developing craftsmanship, from improving agricultural tools to silk and ceramics.

Nomadic characteristic and patterns were featured on the ceramics as well as peonies that were sculptured onto the ceramics, influenced by the Han people. But unlike Han Chinese multicolor porcelains, the Xixia’s were mostly monochrome.

A flattened pot that was used to carry wine, milk and water on horse and camel and is now on exhibit in Hangzhou is a good example of these monochrome peonies.

Xixia was a Buddhist kingdom and their religious belief is reflected in their paintings as well as in clay objects that are also on exhibit.

Date: Through April 20 (closed on Mondays)

Address: No. 18, Liangdao Hill

Source: HiCenter