Texts and Illustrations from China's Ethnic Minorities

Over the last two millennia the varied peoples of China's many regions and territories from central, northern, and southern Asia have produced a prolific and exciting body of languages and written scripts that include Kuchean, Xiongnü, Uighur, Khitan, Tangut, and Dai. One example is Tangut, a logographical (symbolic) script of about 6,600 characters modeled on Chinese, devised by the peoples of the Xi Xia state, which existed from 1032 to 1227 in northwest China, in present-day Ningxia province. Another example is Manchu, a script comprised of some 1,400 syllabic graphs created around 1599 and used alongside Chinese script during the Qing dynasty for important documents.

The National Library of China is the largest repository in China of documents from these peoples.