Western Xia Dynasty

The Western Xia was founded by Yuan Hao, who was the leader of Dangxiang nationality. The capital located in Xingqing (now Yinchuan, Ningxia). The Western Xia lasted 190 years and was a rival of the Liao, the Northern Song, the Jin and the Southern Song.

The Dangxiang nationality was a group of Qiang nationality.formerly lived in the vicinity of the Yellow River valley located in the southeastern area of present-day Qinghai. Ever since the late Tang Dynasty to the Northern Song Dynasty, the Tuoba family of this nationality controlled the Central Plain Due to the efforts of Li Jiqian (Li Yuanhao's grandfather) and Li Deming (Li Yuanhao's father), this nationality pursued a strategy of allying with the Liao. They made peace with the Song, attacked the Turfans and the Uygurs, and conquered the Xiliang Prefecture (now Wuwei in Gansu), the Ganzhou Prefecture (north of present-day Zhangye in Gansu) and the Guazhou Prefecture (present-day eastern Anxi in Gansu). Thus, the Dangxiang controlled all the areas along the western bank of the Yellow River and laid a solid foundation for Yuanhao to establish a dynasty. In the 9th year of Tiansheng (1031) Li Deming died and his throne went to his son Li Yuanhao. The new chief then refused the title conferred by the central government, replaced the surnames of Li and Zhao awarded by the Chinese court with Wei (his own creation) and declared himself "Wuzu" ("Son of Heaven"). Yuanhao then carried out a series of reform, including changing the hairstyle, the dress code, creating a written language, simplifying ceremonies and setting up an administrative system. At the same time, he made Xingzhou the Xingqing Prefecture. He attacked the Northern Song in 1034 and defeated her forces in Fuzhou (now Fugu in Shanxi), Huanzhou (now Huanxian in Gansu) and Qingzhou (now Qingyang in Gansu). In 1038, Yuanhao formally assumed the imperial title, and his dynasty, the Great Xia, also known as the Western Xia. His empire extended as far east as the Yellow River, as far west as Yumen (west of Dunhuang, Gansu), as far south as Xiaoguan (north of Huan County, Gansu) and as far north as the Gobi Desert. At its height, the Western Xia consisted of 22 prefectures covering northern Ningxia and Shaanxi, northwestern Gansu, northeastern Qinghai and part of Inner Mongolia.

Largely influenced by the Song Dynasty, the Western Xia basically adopted her civil service system. The military service system was a mix of the tribal military service system of the Dangxiang and that of the Song.

The Dangxiang nationality had originally lived by livestock husbandry and hunting, but later learnt more advance agricultural techniques from Han people. By the time the Western Xia was founded, farming had become the main sector in its economy. The government was pay more attention about agricultural development. The large-scale irrigation works were built, Afterwards, the areas of Xingqing and Lingzhou became the main bases for grain production. Attention was also paid to animal husbandry. In central government, a special department was set up to be responsible for its development. Livestock husbandry areas were mainly scattered north of the Heng Mountain and along the corridor on the western bank of the Yellow River. Sheep, goats, horses, camels, cattle, asses, mules and pigs were the main animals domesticated. Handicrafts and commerce also flourished. The Western Xia had a high output in the industries of metallurgy, salt collecting and refining, brick and tile making, pottery and china making, textiles, paper making, printing, wine making, and the making of gold, silver, and wooden utensils.

With the promotion of its rulers, the Dangxiang received more of the Han culture than any other nationality at the time. One can say that the core culture of the Western Xia was Confucianism.
In the 2nd year of Baoyi (1227) of the last emperor's reign, the Western Xia ended in the hands of the Mongolia.