Tangut script

The Art of War written in Tangut
Script type
CreatorYeli Renrong
Time period
Directiontop-to-bottom, columns right-to-left, left-to-right 
LanguagesTangut language
Related scripts
Parent systems
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Tang, 520 , Tangut
Unicode alias

The Tangut script (Tangut: 𗼇𗟲; Chinese: 西夏文; pinyin: Xī Xià Wén; lit. 'Western Xia script') was a logographic writing system, used for writing the extinct Tangut language of the Western Xia dynasty. According to the latest count, 5863 Tangut characters are known, excluding variants.[1] The Tangut characters are similar in appearance to Chinese characters,[2] with the same type of strokes, but the methods of forming characters in the Tangut writing system are significantly different from those of forming Chinese characters. As in Chinese calligraphy, regular, running, cursive and seal scripts were used in Tangut writing.

According to the History of Song (1346), the script was designed by the high-ranking official Yeli Renrong in 1036.[3][4] The script was invented in a short period of time, and was put into use quickly. Government schools were founded to teach the script. Official documents were written in the script (with diplomatic ones written bilingually). A great number of Buddhist scriptures were translated from Tibetan and Chinese, and block printed in the script.[5] Although the dynasty collapsed in 1227, the script continued to be used for another few centuries. The last known example of the script occurs on a pair of Tangut dharani pillars found at Baoding in present-day Hebei province, which were erected in 1502.[6]

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