A “Carefully Compiled Work”

Xi Xia ji 西夏紀 [Record of the Western Xia].

Ten vols. 8vo, orig. printed wrappers, orig. stitching. [China]: Jing hua yin shu ju 京華印書局, 1924.

First edition of this history of the Tangut kingdom. The Tanguts, known as the Xia or Western Xia in Chinese, ruled a powerful state on the northwestern periphery of the Chinese world from the 11th to the 13th century. As Zhao Erxun 趙爾巽 (1844-1927) wrote in his Preface to our book, “even though the Xia occupied a peripheral territory, they relied on their military power to withstand the Song, Liao, and Jin for over two hundred years.” The Tanguts had a complete set of political institutions, but regrettably lacked a national history, Zhao wrote.

“Attempts to synthesize a history of the Hsia [Xia] from all surviving Chinese sources” began in the 18th century; our book represents the culmination of that process. “The most recent attempt at this type of traditional historical synthesis was the Hsi Hsia chi [Xi Xia ji]…Unlike his predecessors, the author of this carefully compiled work identifies his sources and lists the works he consulted” (Twitchett & Franke, “Bibliographical Essays,” 675).

After the fall of the Qing dynasty, Dai Xizhang (1868-1933), worked on the historiographical commission, led by former Qing official Zhao Erxun, that was to write a history of the Qing empire. While working on the project, Dai met Wang Shunan 王樹枏 (1852-1936) and Ke Shaomin 柯劭忞 (1850-1933), who like Zhao wrote Prefaces for our book. The book furthermore contains Prefaces by professor, museum director, and bibliographer Hu Yujin 胡玉縉 (1859-1940) and scholar Wang Bing’en 王秉恩 (1845-1928). Several of the Prefaces point out that Dai worked for a full ten years on his history of the Western Xia.

Fine set, preserved in a hantao.


Twitchett, Denis & Herbert Franke. “Bibliographical Essays.” In The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 6: Alien Regimes and Border States, 665-726. Edited by Denis Twitchett & Herbert Franke. Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Price: $1,250.00

Item ID: 9847

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