The Imperial Pyramids of- China?
Visitors to the Helan Mountains in Yinchuan, China may have noticed strange, pyramid-shaped structures rising from the earth. These are some of the only remnants of the Tangut Empire that was exterminated by the Mongols in 1227 CE.
Although there are over 200 tombs of varying sizes, only nine of them belonged to members of the Imperial family. The tomb complexes were originally covered with glazed green tiles but in many cases, the tiles were pulled off and the tombs were cracked open. This was part of the campaign to exterminate the Tangut Empire that was carried out by Genghis Khan’s descendents.
The Tanguts were a fairly advanced people. The empire was founded in 982 CE, under the rulership of Li Deming. In 1038, Li Yuanhao (also known as Emperor Jingzong) commanded that a Tangut system of writing needed to be created and, after this was accomplished, then ordered that Chinese classics should be translated into that writing system. It took fifty years for the Chinese Buddhist canon to be translated into Tangut. Over time, the Empire developed an organized and efficient military and also became quite advanced in art, literature, architecture and music.
The Tanguts also had a strict legal system especially where religion was concerned. It was believed that the Tanguts were Buddhist, although there may have been some people who followed Confucianism as well. A person who wanted to teach was required to be screened by state officials and receive approval from local authorities before he was able to teach in the Tangut Empire. Charlatans and fortune-tellers in particular were persecuted by the authorities.