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Context and Text: Historicizing Xuanzang and the Da Tang Xiyu Ji
Guo WU 伍國
Keywords: Tang Taizong, Li Shiming, Xuanzang, Tang Dynasty, Western Regions
Abstract: The content of the Da Tang Xiyu ji, or The Great Tang Records of the Western Regions, drew upon Xuanzang’s long-term interest in secular things and its compilation was a response to the imperial order of Li Shimin, or Tang Taizong, with the main goal of finding facts about the Western Regions, which Li Shimin was planning to conquer and govern. The book’s style and focus inherited traditional Chinese geographical books, local gazetteers and the official history’s section on the western borderlands by recording the regions’ products and customs, and it passes moral judgments on local people. The book’s ethnographical character and Xuanzang’s concern with secular affairs and his interest in empirical studies, as well as its goal of providing information to the emperor, are the important aspects that need to be grasped to achieve an in-depth and multifaceted understanding.
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