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Army Notes

Hsi-Hsia (982-1227 AD)
The Great State of White and High
(DBA III/66)

Often treated in histories as little more than a speed bump in the road of Mongol expansion, the Hsi-Hsia (Xi-Xia) or Western Hsia Kingdom was actually an interesting and well-developed nation that flourished for nearly two centuries before drawing the ire of one Genghis Khan.

As the Tibetan Empire receded under pressure from the Uighers, the Tangut tribes residing in the Ordos region (modern Kansu and Sensei) of northwestern China became nominal tributaries of the new Sung Chinese Dynasty in 960 AD. Enriched by the trade that flowed along the Silk Road, competing Tangut warlords began to flex their muscles, which prompted efforts by the Sung to reinforce their overlordship. Fear of absorption by the Sung state gave spawn to an independance movement of sorts, beginning in 982 or 983 AD, lead by Li Jiqian, which helped to unify the Tangut tribes. This movement culminated in the establishment of a Tangut capital at Xinghou in 1020 AD.

In 1038 AD, Li Yuan-hao (aka Weiming Yuanho) , declared himself emperor of the Tanguts, named his dynasty and kingdom (Hsi-Hsia) after the ancient Chinese state of Hsia, and set about a series of military campaigns to conquer China. Ultimately, he was unsuccessful in his grand design, but the Hsi-Hsia threat was sufficient to prompt the Sung to buy him off with annual tribute, beginning in 1044 AD, although border clashes and conflict with the Sung continued as late as 1119 AD.

A Buddist, Yuan-hao had the Buddhist canon translated into Tangut script and made Buddhism the state religion. He formed a centralized government, brought the army under centralized administration, and drafted a wide variety of social regulations, covering such topics as permissible hair styles. Following his death in 1048 AD, power passed to the leaders of the Tangut Mocang and Liang clans, who assumed the roles of regents.

For roughly two centuries, Hsi-Hsia maintained an uneasy three-way peace with the Sung Chinese and with the Khitan-Laio Dynasty. Although Buddist, their society and government was influenced by the institutions of the Sung Chinese. In 1207 AD, however, Genghis Khan and his Mongol Hordes defeated the Hsi-Hsia and reduced them to tributary status. Their failure to honor promises to provide troops to the Great Khan, however, prompted a punitive campaign which resulted in the toppling of the Hsi-Hsia Dynasty and the absorption of Hsi-Hsia state in 1227 AD.


The Hsi-Hsia list includes the following element types:

3Kns General's element comprised of Tangut guard cavalry, as well as elements of Tangut noble cavalry. Tangut cavalry is thought to have been modelled on the earlier, occupying Tibetan cavalry, and fought with similar arms and tactics.
2Lh Nomadic horse (Mercenary Uighers, Mongolians)
4Bd Halberdiers with mixed spearman.
3Bw (optional) Tangut or subject Chinese archers
2Ps (optional) Tangut or subject Chinese archers. Psiloi could also include a random figure(s) with hand-hurled bombs or Chinese "fire-lances."
7Hd Levy infantry.


Uighers (III/11a), Tibetan (III/15), Tribal Mongolian (III/44), Khitan-Liao (III/55), and Sung Chinese (III/61)


Karl Heinz Ranitzsch: I suggest you use the Outpost Miniatures 15 mm Sui and Tang, they are very nice figures and the closest historically. As a second choice, Sung Chinese (Essex or Irregular), plus some Mongol/Turkish light horse.

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Last Updated: April 19, 2001