Western Regions

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Western Regions of the first century at B.C.

The Western Regions or Xiyu (Hsi-yu; Chinese: 西域; pinyin: Xīyù; Wade–Giles: Hsi1-yü4) was a historical name specified in the Chinese chronicles between the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD[1] that referred to the regions west of Pass of the Jade Gate, most often Central Asia or sometimes more specifically the easternmost portion of it (e.g. Altishahr or the Tarim Basin in southern Xinjiang), though it was sometimes used more generally to refer to other regions to the West of China as well, such as the Indian subcontinent (as in the novel Journey to the West).

Because of its strategic location astride the Silk Road, the Western Regions have been historically significant since at least the 3rd century BC. It was the scene of conflict between the Han dynasty and the Xiongnu until 89 AD. In the 6th century the Tang dynasty took control over this area until the An Lushan Rebellion.

Emperor Taizong's campaign against the Xiyu states (640–648)

The region became significant in later centuries as a cultural conduit between East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Islamic world and Europe, such as during the period of the Mongol Empire. One of the most significant exports of the Western Regions was some Buddhist sutras, which was carried by traders and pilgrim monks to China. The Tang dynasty monk Xuanzang's journey crossed the region on his way to study in India, resulted in the classic text Great Tang Records of the Western Regions upon his return to the Tang capital Chang'an.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tikhvinskiĭ, Sergeĭ Leonidovich and Leonard Sergeevich Perelomov (1981). China and her neighbours, from ancient times to the Middle Ages: a collection of essays. Progress Publishers. p. 124. 
  • Joseph P. Yap Wars with the Xiongnu - a translation from Zizhi Tongjian Chapters 4-17. AuthorHouse (2009) ISBN 978-1-4490-0604-4