chapter  1
3 Pages

Gule Maocai (12th century)

Gule Maocai 骨勒茂才 was a Western Xia1 scholar versed in both the Tangut language and the Chinese language. Believing that the lack of respect between the Tangut and the Chinese stemmed from language barriers, Gule Maocai compiled, in 1190, a Tangut-Chinese bilingual glossary Zhang zhong zhu 掌中珠 (Pearls in the Hand)2 to alleviate the situation. When the Western Xia Empire was destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1226, the glossary was lost. Centuries later, P. K. Kozlov (1863-1935), a Russian military officer, excavated and removed a quantity of manuscripts and block-printed editions in the Tangut script from Khara-Khoto, an ancient city, now in ruins, in present-day Inner Mongolia. Among that material, the Russian scholar A. I. Ivanov (1878-1937) discovered the bilingual glossary together with a Tangut dictionary of homonyms, the Chinese title of which is Yintong 音同. Ivanov published the material in instalments from 1909 onwards (Nie 1993:330). In 1912 the Chinese scholar Luo Zhenyu 羅振玉 (1866-1940) made a copy of part of Pearls in the Hand. The Glossary was published in full in 1924, as was the Tangut dictionary of homonyms, Yintong 音同. In 1989, the Glossary was edited and republished in China.3 It provides valuable material for research into the Tangut language and the socio-cultural life of the Western Xia.4