[Moshui; anc. Mongol. Etzina: ‘black city’; Chin. Juyan]
Site of a major fortress–town and frontier post of the Xixia state (1032–1227) of the Tanguts, near Ejin Qi (Dalain Hob), in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China. The circumstances of the founding of Karakhoto remain unclear. From archaeological findings, however, it is evident that it was a flourishing centre of culture and trade with a multinational population of Tanguts, Chinese and Tibetans. Karakhoto was visited by the Venetian Marco Polo in the 13th century. Significant portions of the city walls and remains of lesser structures can still be seen.
However, what is most important is the large number of artefacts excavated, including religious paintings, sculptures and a vast amount of manuscripts and printed scriptures, mostly written in the Xixia language. Most of this rich material relates to Buddhism and shows how Xixia Buddhist art was multifaceted, containing elements from Chinese, Tibetan and indigenous traditions. Many of the Tantric wall paintings, including such motifs as ...