Western Regions

referred to the regions west of Yumen Pass, most often Central Asia (e.g. Altishahr or the Tarim Basin in southern Xinjiang), ancient China (during the Han and Tang dynasties)

The Western Regions or Xiyu (Chinese: 西域; pinyin: Xīyù) refers to Central Asia, specifically west of the Yumen pass. It was used in Chinese between the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD.[1]

Xiyu 1st century: Persian Parthian empire to southwest; Central Asian kingdoms in the middle; Xinjiang, China to the west

It sometimes refers to Xinjiang or even northern parts of the Indian subcontinent (as in the novel Journey to the West).

Because it is located on the Silk Road, the xiyu have been important since at least the 3rd century BC.


The Han–Xiongnu War (ended 89 AD) was fought there. In the 7th century, the Tang campaign against the Western Regions led to Chinese control of the region.

The xiyu became an important place of exchange between East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Muslim world.

This was especially true during the Mongol Empire. Buddhism spread through the region to China.

The Tang dynasty monk Xuanzang crossed the region on his way to study in India. When he returned to Chang'an, the influential Great Tang Records on the Western Regions was written.


  1. Tikhvinskiĭ, Sergeĭ Leonidovich and Leonard Sergeevich Perelomov (1981). China and her neighbours, from ancient times to the Middle Ages: a collection of essays. Progress Publishers. p. 124.