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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


This project focuses on Tangut (Xixia) translations of Chinese military classics. The invention of the Tangut script in 1036 was a key event in the legitimisation of the Tangut state, which had a strong incentive to ascert its independence from the Song empire. The earliest  translation projects that utilised the new script were largely Buddhist in nature but from the early 12th century on a number of secular Chinese texts were also translated into Tangut. A distinct category among these are Chinese works on military strategy (e.g. Sunzi bingfa 孫子兵法, Huang shi gong sanlüe 黄石公三略, Liutao 六韜) which were probably translated during the second half of the 12th century. Tangut manuscripts and printed editions of these texts were discovered in the early 20th century in Khara-khoto and are now held in St. Petersburg and London. The project aims at comparing the translations not only with their Chinese originals but also with each other and see to what extent they were able to function as an intertextual corpus, a feature relatively obvious in the Chinese originals. 

Part of this project is the publication of a monograph-length study of the Tangut translation of a military work called The General's Garden which has been traditionally attributed to the legendary strategist Zhuge Liang from the 3rd century but which was almost certainly created during the Song period. In fact, the earliest extant version of this text is a Tangut manuscript recovered from Khara-khoto in 1914 by Aurel Stein and today kept at the British Library. The monograph traces the history of the book in the Chinese tradition and provides a thorough analysis of the Tangut manuscript.


The northern neighbors of the Tangut, Cahiers de Linguistique – Asie Orientale, 40, 2011


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