Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/131

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TANGUTANS, OR SI-FAN;

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CHAPTER IV.

THE TANGUTANS AND DUNGANS.

Tangutan territory — The people — Characteristic traits — Stature; appearance; mode of wearing hair — Kara Tangutans — Language; dress; habitations — Black tents and wooden huts — Occupations — The domesticated Yak — Its different uses — Nomadising habits — Contrast between Mongols and Tangutans — Industry; food; dirt — Tonkir, a trade centre — Avarice — Polite customs — Monogamy — Religion — Government — Dungans or Mahommedan rebels — Their temporary success — Chinese towns fall into their hands — Revolt becomes brigandage — Opportunities neglected — Causes of non-success — Cowardice of rebels and of Chinese — Inefficient weapons — Siege of Chobsen — Commercial relations between belligerents — Measures of Chinese Government — Chinese soldiers — Bad arms — Want of discipline — Opium smoking — Looting — Government defrauded — Desertion — Punishment — Low morals — Mode of fighting — State of Affairs in Kan-su — Chinese take the offensive — Advance on Si-ning — Assault of this town — Marriage of Emperor of China — Siege operations suspended — Cowardice of besieged — Capture of Si-ning and advance westwards — Tangutan vocabulary.


The Tangutans, or the Si-fan as the Chinese call them, are of the same race as the Tibetans.[1] They inhabit the hilly region of Kan-su, Koko-nor, Eastern Tsaidam, and the basin of the Upper Hoang-ho, and are met with as far as the Murui-ussu,[2] and perhaps beyond it. They regard these countries, to which they apply the name of Amdo, as their own peculiar

  1. The ancestors of the present Tibetans were Tangutans who removed to Tibet from Koko-nor in the fourth century B.C. See Father Hyacinthe's 'Statistical Description of China,' Part II. p. 145.
  2. I.e. the Tibetan course of the Kin-sha Kiang, which eventually becomes the Great Yangtse-Kiang. — Y.