A once strong nation, a once glorious kingdom, disappeared like the wind in the dust of history, becoming a mystery through the ages, attracting people to explore, to interpret, to reveal. This nation is the party; This kingdom is Western Xia.
In mid-April, after celebrating my father's 90th birthday in our hometown, my wife and I traveled through Lanzhou to Yinchuan, Ningxia, where we visited Zhenbeibao Film City, the Western Xia Tombs, Xixia Park, Baohu Park, Helan Mountain Petroglyphs, Han Meilin Memorial Hall, Ningxia Museum and other scenic spots and venues. Here, we learned about the Dangxiang nation and the kingdom of Western Xia, and felt the diversity and integration of the Chinese nation and the richness and diversity of Chinese history.
Western Xia is an ethnic minority local separatist regime established by the Dangxiang ethnic group in the northwest in the history of the mainland, calling itself the "Bangniding State" or "Dabai Gao State", named because it is located in the northwest. The Dangxiang clan is a northwestern ethnic group in ancient China, derived from the Xianbei Tuoba clan. Xianbei was an ancient nomadic people who rose on the Mongolian plateau after the Xiongnu, and was also a nomadic people who had the greatest influence on China during the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties. The state was established in 1038, the capital is now Yinchuan Plain, named "Xingqing Fu", accompanied by the capital in present-day Wuwei, Gansu, the first emperor is Li Yuanhao, who was destroyed by the Mongols in 1227, existed for 189 years, and went through ten dynasties of emperors. Some people may ask, Li Yuanhao is an ethnic minority, why is his surname Li? This is because Li Yuanhao's ancestor helped the Tang Dynasty quell the Huangchao Rebellion and was given the surname Li. In the early period of Western Xia, it formed a situation of three kingdoms with the Liao State and the Northern Song Dynasty, ushering in China's second "Three Kingdoms Era", and later co-established with the Jin Dynasty. The territory covers parts of present-day Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, etc., east to the Yellow River, west to Yumen, south to Xiaoguan (present-day Tongxin, Ningxia), and north to control the desert, covering an area of more than 20,000 li and administering 22 prefectures. Western Xia established a relatively complete and stable political, military, economic, cultural, diplomatic and other political systems, and was once a relatively powerful kingdom. After the fall of Western Xia, there are two theories about where the remnants went, one is: scattered in many places, integrated into other local ethnic groups in all directions; The other is: after several migrations, it finally settled in the area of present-day Kangding, Sichuan, and established a small regime, the "Western Wu Kingdom", which was later destroyed by the Kangxi Dynasty of the Qing Dynasty. In any case, after the demise of Western Xia, the party as an ancient nation gradually disappeared, integrated into other ethnic groups, and lived in the big family of the Chinese nation.
In the history of civilization development on the mainland for more than 5,000 years, many nationalities have appeared on the stage of history. These ethnic groups were born, divided, and blended, and finally formed today's fifty-six ethnic groups. All ethnic groups have jointly developed the splendid rivers and mountains and vast territory of the motherland, and jointly created a long Chinese history and splendid Chinese culture. The majestic style of Qin and Han, the flourishing Tang Dynasty, and the prosperous era of Kang Qian are the splendors jointly forged by all ethnic groups. Although the Western Xia dyed out as a kingdom and the party as a nation, they also contributed to the unification and development of our unified multi-ethnic country, leaving their mark in the history of the Chinese nation.
Perhaps in order to calm down many years of war, or perhaps to relieve blood hatred, the Yuan Dynasty once took the meaning of "Xia Di Tranquility" and set up "Ningxia Road" in Yinchuan, which later had the name "Ningxia".
On the 16th, we visited the Western Xia Tomb Scenic Area. It is not far from Yinchuan city to the Western Xia Tomb Scenic Area, only about 40 minutes by car. The tour guide is a retired soldier, lean and clean, warm service, and constantly introduces us to the history of Western Xia on the way.
The Western Xia Tombs Scenic Area is located at the eastern foot of Helan Mountain, mainly including the Western Xia Museum and the Western Xia Tomb Ruins, which are not large, and can be visited on foot or by ferry.
When I arrived at the gate of the scenic area, I saw four big characters on the door, which looked like Chinese characters, but no one recognized them. I asked what words these were, and the tour guide said that this was the Western Xia script, which means "Great White High Country", which is also the name of the Western Xia country.
We first visited the Xixia Museum. The tour guide said that visiting the museum first can understand the history of Western Xia, so that it is easy to have an experience when visiting the royal tomb.
The Western Xia Museum is a thematic museum with the Western Xia royal tomb as the background and a comprehensive reflection of the history of Western Xia, sitting east facing west, with two floors above and below, with a total of 9 exhibition halls. The exterior wall is earthy yellow, the appearance is a two-story pavilion style, the roof is octagonal spires, and the front and two sides of the inclined wall are decorated with two shallow niches, which is a pagoda eaves style building, with a unique shape, which not only has a modern architectural momentum, but also echoes the ruins of the royal tomb, reflecting the strong Western Xia architectural style. The exhibition is mainly composed of six parts, including "Party Migration and the Rise of Western Xia", "Western Xia Politics, Law and Military", "Western Xia Social Economy", "Western Xia Culture", "Western Xia Religion" and "Western Xia King Mausoleum", displaying more than 700 cultural relics such as portrait steles, Wen Chen heads, small stone horses, carved dragon railings, Kaling Pinga (a sacred bird in the Buddha world), silk paintings, clay statue Buddha heads, Arhat heads, Western Xia scriptures, Chinese steles, Buddhist scriptures, Western Xia porcelain, official seals, Western Xia coins, Western Xia building materials, etc., many of which are national first-class cultural relics. With sand table models, stupa models, miniature landscapes, character statues, copying murals, picture tables, sound and light images, etc. as auxiliary means, the image truly shows the rise and fall history of the Western Xia Kingdom. When you arrive here, you can appreciate the splendor and thousands of weather of the Western Xia Kingdom in the past.
During the visit, the Western Xia script displayed in the museum aroused our great interest. The first feeling when I saw the party item text was that it looked like Chinese characters, but when I looked closely, I found that I didn't know a single word. According to the tour guide, the Western Xia script is created after Chinese characters, based on the structure of Chinese characters, but it is a different script from Chinese characters. Although the Western Xia script is modeled on Chinese characters, it has its own characteristics, for example, there are more oblique pens and no vertical hooks; There are fewer simple words, and synthetic words account for the vast majority; Two words are combined into one word, and three words or four words are combined into one word; When synthesizing, only a part of a word is generally used, and sometimes all of a word is used; Some characters are composed of the left and right or upper and lower parts of another word interchangeably, etc. Xixia created more than 5,900 characters, which is very remarkable. The creation of words is an important symbol of the development of a national culture to a mature stage. Being able to create words shows that the Western Xia civilization was once quite prosperous. After the fall of Western Xia, the Western Xia script also disappeared.
At the museum, we also watched a 3D movie "Xixia Love", which is a 3D theme film of Xixia cultural tourism specially created by the scenic spot. The plot mainly revolves around the touching love story between a Song Dynasty envoy and the daughter of a Western Xia general, reproducing the social, political, economic and cultural outlook of Western Xia during the Northern Song Dynasty, and also showing the inextricable connection between Western Xia and the Song Dynasty.
After visiting the Western Xia Museum, we will visit the ruins of the Western Xia King Mausoleum. Walking into the scenic spots, but seeing the Helan Mountain in the distance majestic, like a giant dragon across the sky, holding the tombs of the kings in his arms. Many large and small loess mausoleums, like mysterious castles, are scattered on the gentle hillsides that stretch for several kilometers, which look very magical under the vast blue sky.
The Western Xia Imperial Mausoleum, also known as the Western Xia Imperial Mausoleum, the Western Xia Imperial Mausoleum, was built in the early 11th century to the early 13th century, covering an area of 58 square kilometers, the core mausoleum area of more than 20 square kilometers, distributed 9 royal tombs, more than 250 funerary tombs, the scale is comparable to the Beijing Ming Tombs, is one of the largest existing imperial cemeteries in China, the most complete ground site, is also the largest Western Xia cultural site in the mainland, and is also the most important historical heritage and the most mysterious cultural landscape in Ningxia. Among the 9 royal tombs, 7 were owned by the first seven emperors such as Li Yuanhao, and two were owned by Li Yuanhao's grandfather and father, and the later three emperors failed to build the tombs for some reason. Li Yuanhao's tomb is called Tailing, also called Yuanhao Tomb, which is the largest of the royal tombs and the most visited by tourists. The shape of the tomb is different from other Chinese tombs, with an inverted nest head shape, known as the "Pyramid of the East". The mausoleum is grand in scale and tightly laid out, each sitting north to south, rectangular in shape, and is an independent and complete architectural group. In terms of construction style, the Western Xia Imperial Mausoleum draws on the Tang and Song Emperor Mausoleums, with a tall dense-eaves tower-like mausoleum as the center, and integrates with Helan Mountain and the Yellow River, forming a harmonious scene integrated with the natural environment, which is unique in the architecture of the mainland cemetery, and also reflects the historical facts of the fusion of various cultures in the mainland since ancient times. People were also surprised to find that the nine royal tombs formed a Big Dipper pattern, and the funerary tombs were all arranged according to the star layout, blooming with the brilliant light of Chinese culture. In 2006, the Western Xia Tomb was included in the National Natural and Cultural Dual Heritage Preliminary List; In 2018, it was rated as "50 Views of the Yellow River in China"; In 2021, it was rated as "Top 100 Archaeological Discoveries in 100 Years". Among the many key scenic spots in the mainland, the Western Xia King Mausoleum is the only scenic spot composed of a single royal tomb.
At present, only the three royal tombs of Li Yuanhao, Yuling and Jialing can be visited on the spot. Yuling is the tomb of Li Yuanhao's grandfather, and Jialing is the tomb of Li Yuanhao's father. Due to time constraints, we only visited the Li Yuanhao Mausoleum on the spot, Yuling and Jialing were traveled around from the outside by car, and also visited other royal tombs by car.
After entering Li Yuanhao's mausoleum, I saw that there were still gates, stele pavilions, mausoleums, divine walls and other buildings in the mausoleum area, and the layout was clearly distinguishable, especially the huge inverted semicircular mausoleum standing in the Gobi desert, like a Lindynasty emperor standing up to the sky and the earth. In the mausoleum area, we passed through the gate, went to the mausoleum platform, the viewing pavilion, and walked around the mausoleum. During the tour, looking at the quiet and silent Li Yuanhao Mausoleum in front of him, looking at the Helan Mountain with ravines in the distance, his heart suddenly felt sad and desolate. "The ancient cairns under Helan Mountain are thick, and the height is like floating water. Dao Fenggu told me that Yun is the king and marquis of the past..." This "Ancient Tomb Ballad" by Zhu Zhijiong, the king of Ansei in the Ming Dynasty, is a true portrayal of the Western Xia royal tomb, and it is also his own inner feeling when visiting the Western Xia royal tomb.
On the 17th, we came to Xixia Park for a tour. Xixia Park is themed on Xixia culture, with clear lake water, heavy Yu stacking buildings, weeping willows, colorful flowers, beautiful and quiet, and a bit of Jiangnan garden taste. There are many attractions in the park that reflect the cultural characteristics of Western Xia, the most famous of which is the Xixia Cultural Square, with a 12-meter-high bronze statue of the head of the Western Xia bull in the center, symbolizing the bravery and wisdom of the Western Xia Party. The bronze statue is surrounded by rows of Western Xia historical and cultural sculptures, and not far away there is an antique building - Xixia Cultural Center, which allows people to understand the unique history and culture of Western Xia. When visiting, the strong Western Xia cultural atmosphere here is like a fresh breeze.
Although Western Xia has long disappeared in the long river of history, the huge rammed earth royal tombs under Helan Mountain are still solemn, as if telling the historical rise and fall of a dynasty, the vicissitudes of thousands of years, and also welcoming tourists from all walks of life to come to appreciate Western Xia culture and explore the secrets of Western Xia.
The night before leaving Yinchuan, I had a small gathering with a few comrades-in-arms who had transferred to Yinchuan, and when talking about Western Xia, old comrade-in-arms Zhang Ming said that Western Xia chose the capital city in Yinchuan, which shows that this is a good place, and I hope we will stay a few more days to get better and have a good look in Ningxia. I said leave some regrets and come back later.