Hexi Corridor (Chinese: 河西走廊; pinyin: Héxī Zǒuláng;
Wade–Giles: Ho2-hsi1 Tsou3-lang2, Xiao'erjing: حْسِ
ظِوْلاْ, IPA: /xɤ˧˥ɕi˥ tsoʊ˨˩˦lɑŋ˧˥/) or Gansu
Corridor refers to the historical route in
Gansu province of China. As
part of the
Northern Silk Road
Northern Silk Road running northwest from the bank of the
Yellow River, it was the most important route from North
China to the
Tarim Basin and
Central Asia for traders and the military. The
corridor is a string of oases along the northern edge of the Tibetan
Plateau. To the south is the high and desolate
Tibetan Plateau and to
the north, the
Gobi Desert and the grasslands of Outer Mongolia. At
the west end the route splits in three, going either north of the Tian
Shan or south on either side of the Tarim Basin. At the east end are
Lanzhou before one reaches the
Wei River valley and
The central and western parts of the modern province of Gansu
correspond to the
1.1 Early crop dispersal
1.2 Qin dynasty
1.3 Han Dynasty
1.4 Tang Dynasty
Western Xia Dynasty
1.6 Yuan Dynasty
2 Geography and climate
3 See also
Early crop dispersal
Cultivated wheat, originating at the Fertile Crescent, already
China around 2800 BC at Donghuishan at the Hexi corridor.
Several other crops are also attested at this time period. Xishanping
is another similar site in Gansu.
According to Dodson et al. (2013), wheat entered via the Hexi Corridor
into northern Gangsu around 3000 BC, although other scholars date this
The Chinese millets (Panicum miliaceum, and Setaria italica), rice, as
well as other crops travelled the opposite way through the Corridor,
and reached western Asia and Europe from the fifth millennium to the
second millennium BC.
As early as the 1st millennium BCE, silk goods began appearing in
Siberia, having traveled over the Northern branch of the
Hexi Corridor segment.
At the end of the
Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE), the
previous settlers, the
Wusun and Qiang, occupying the western Hexi
Corridor. Later, Northern Xiongnu armies vanquished the
established dominance here during the early Han dynasty.
Main article: Han dynasty
During the Han–Xiongnu War, Han
China expelled the Xiongnu from the
Hexi Corridor in 121 BCE and even drove them from
Lop Nur when King
Hunye surrendered to
Huo Qubing in 121 BCE. The Han acquired a
territory stretching from the
Hexi Corridor to Lop Nur, thus cutting
the Xiongnu off from their Qiang allies. Again, Han forces repelled a
joint Xiongnu-Qiang invasion of this northwestern territory in 111
BCE. After 111 BCE, new outposts were established, four of them in the
Hexi Corridor, namely Jiuquan, Zhangye, Dunhuang, and Guzang (Wuwei).
From roughly 115–60 BCE, Han forces fought the Xiongnu over control
of the oasis city-states in the Tarim Basin. Han was eventually
victorious and established the
Protectorate of the Western Regions
Protectorate of the Western Regions in
60 BCE, which dealt with the region's defense and foreign affairs.
During the turbulent reign of Wang Mang, Han lost control over the
Tarim Basin, which was conquered by the Xiongnu in 63 CE, and used as
a base to invade the Hexi Corridor.
Dou Gu defeated the Xiongnu again
Battle of Yiwulu in 73 CE, evicting them from
chasing them as far as
Lake Barkol before establishing a garrison at
After the new Protector General of the
Chen Mu was
killed in 75 CE by allies of the Xiongnu in
Karasahr and Kucha, the
garrison at Hami was withdrawn. At the Battle of the Altai Mountains
in 89 CE,
Dou Xian defeated the Northern Chanyu, who retreated into
the Altai Mountains.
Main article: Tang dynasty
Mural commemorating victory of General
Zhang Yichao over the Tibetan
Empire in 848. Mogao cave 156, late Chinese Tang Dynasty
Tang-era map showing the
Hexi Corridor connection
China proper to the
Tang dynasty fought the
Tibetan Empire for control of areas in
Inner and Central Asia. There was a long string of conflicts with
Tibet over territories in the
Tarim Basin between 670–692 .
In 763 the Tibetans even captured the Tang capital of
fifteen days during the An Lushan Rebellion. It was during this
rebellion that the Tang withdrew its western garrisons stationed in
what is now
Gansu and Qinghai, which the Tibetans then occupied along
with the area that is modern Xinjiang. Hostilities between the Tang
and Tibet continued until they signed a formal peace treaty in 821.
The terms of this treaty, including fixed borders between the two
countries, are recorded in a bilingual inscription on a stone pillar
Jokhang in Lhasa.
Western Xia Dynasty
Main article: Western Xia
Western Xia Dynasty, known also as the Tangut Empire, was
established in the 11th century by Tangut tribes. Western Xia
controlled from 1038 CE up to 1227 CE the areas in what are now the
northwestern Chinese provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, and Ningxia.
Main article: Yuan dynasty
Further information: Mongol conquest of the Jin dynasty
Genghis Khan began the
Mongol conquest of the Jin dynasty
Mongol conquest of the Jin dynasty around 1207
Ögedei Khan continued it after his death in 1227. The Jin dynasty
Jurchen people fell in 1234 CE with help from the Han Chinese
dynasty of the Southern Song.
Ögedei also crushed the
Western Xia in 1227, pacifying the Hexi
Corridor region, which was later controlled by the Yuan dynasty
established by Kublai Khan, the fifth
Khagan of the Mongol Empire. The
Yuan lasted officially from 1271-1368.
Geography and climate
Hexi Corridor is a long, narrow passage stretching for some 1,000
kilometres (620 mi) from the steep Wushaolin hillside near the
modern city of
Lanzhou to the Jade Gate at the border of
Xinjiang. There are many fertile oases along the path, watered by
rivers flowing from the Qilian Mountains, such as the Shiyang,
Jinchuan, Ejin (Heihe), and Shule Rivers.
A strikingly inhospitable environment surrounds this chain of oases:
Qilian Mountains ("Nanshan") to the south; the Beishan
mountainous area, the Alashan Plateau, and the vast expanse of the
Gobi desert to the north. Geologically, the
Hexi Corridor belongs to a
Cenozoic foreland basin system on the northeast margin of the Tibetan
The ancient trackway formerly passed through Haidong,
Xining and the
environs of Juyan Lake, serving an effective area of about
215,000 km2 (83,000 sq mi). It was an area where
mountain and desert limited caravan traffic to a narrow trackway,
where relatively small fortifications could control passing
There are several major cities along the Hexi Corridor. In western
Gansu Province is
Dunhuang (Shazhou), then Yumen, then Jiayuguan, then
Jiuquan (Suzhou), then
Zhangye (Ganzhou) in the center, then Jinchang,
then Wuwei (Liangzhou) and finally
Lanzhou in the southeast. In the
Dunhuang was part of the area known as the Western Regions.
Gansu Province, in the middle just over the provincial
boundary, lies the city of Xining, the capital of
Xining was the chief commercial hub of the Hexi Corridor.
The Jiyaguyan fort guards the western entrance to China. It's located
in Jiayuguan pass at the narrowest point of the Hexi Corridor, some 6
kilometres (3.7 mi) southwest of the city of Jiayuguan. The
Jiyaguyan fort is the first fortification of Great Wall of
Juyan Lake Basin
Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
^ Li, Xiaoqiang; et al. (2007a). "Early cultivated wheat and
broadening of agriculture in Neolithic China" (PDF). The Holocene. 17
^ a b Stevens, C. J.; Murphy, C.; Roberts, R.; Lucas, L.; Silva, F.;
Fuller, D. Q. (2016). "Between
China and South Asia: A Middle Asian
corridor of crop dispersal and agricultural innovation in the Bronze
Age" (PDF). The Holocene. 26 (10): 1541–1555.
doi:10.1177/0959683616650268. ISSN 0959-6836.
Silk Road, North China, C.Michael Hogan, the Megalithic Portal, ed.
Dunhuang History". Retrieved 2009-06-12.
^ Zhihong Wang, Dust in the Wind: Retracing Dharma Master Xuanzang's
Western Pilgrimage, 經典雜誌編著, 2006 ISBN 9868141982
^ Youli Li; Jingchun Yang; Lihua Tan; Fengjun Duan (July 1999).
"Impact of tectonics on alluvial landforms in the Hexi Corridor,
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Yap, Joseph P. (2009). "Wars With The Xiongnu - A Translation From
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Northwest University for Nationalities
Northwest Normal University
Lanzhou University of Technology
Gansu Agricultural University
Chinese Islamic cuisine
Lanzhou beef lamian
Silk Route Museum
Gansu Provincial Museum
Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park