Registered & Protected  EWYF-AUCZ-AAR8-HLZT Bulgarians: Huns


Showing posts with label Huns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Huns. Show all posts

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Hunno-Bulgarian language (Bulgar language)

Bulgar language (also spelled Bolgar, Bulghar) is an extinct language spoken by the Bulgars.

The name is derived from the Bulgars, a semi-nomadic people in Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages. A tribal union of Bulgar tribes established the Bulgar state, known as Old Great Bulgaria in the mid-7th century, eventually giving rise to the Danube Bulgaria by the 680s and Volga Bulgaria. The language is extinct in both Danube Bulgaria (10th century) and Volga Bulgaria (16th century)[1].

One of the earliest written sources which mentioned Bulgars is the Chronography of 354 AD. Bulgars came to Europe together with the Huns[2] and both groups of people didn't have written languages. Apparently Bulgars played an important role in the Hunnic union - we are told that Bulgar tribes were active in the North-Western Carpathians at the beginning of 5th century against the Germanic Lombards. There were two battles and the Bulgars were victorious. In the first battle the Lombard king Agelmund was killed. His son Laimicho attempted to revenge his father but was defeated and forced to run away.[3] After the battle of Nedao (455 AD.) in which Attila's sons were defeated, the Huns and Bulgars, as we learn from Jordanes, retreated into their "inner" territory on the river Dnieper (Ukraine) where they reorganized on a smaller scale.[4]

Affiliation of the Bulgar language

Hunno-bulgarian (Bulgar) sample written in Greek alphabet, NE Bulgaria, 8th century
Hunno-bulgarian written in Greek alphabet
Inscription on stone from  Dluzho, north-eastern
Bulgaria, 8th century

The Huns and Bulgars spoke closely related languages different from others “barbarian” languages. The relations between the language of Bulgars and Huns were studied by Harvard professor Pritsak in his notable work "The Hunnic Language of the Attila Clan" (1982).[5] He termed the language of Bulgars as Hunno-Bulgarian. Pritsak analyzed the 33 survived Hunnic personal names and concluded that the language of the Bulgars was Hunnic language:

1. Danube-Bulgarian was a Hunnic language (page 444)

2. Danube-Bulgarian had the suffix /mA/, with the same meaning as the Middle Turkic suffix /mAt/      'the greatest among' (page 433)

3. In the Hunno-Bulgarian languages /r/ within a consonantic cluster tends to disappear (page 435)

4. In Hunno-Bulgarian there was also a tendency toward the develop ment of di > ti > ći (page 436)

5. In the Hunno-Bulgarian there was vocalic metathesis bli- < *bil (page 443)

6. There was initially a g- in the Hunno-Bulgarian languages (page 449)

7. One of the typical features of the Hunno-Bulgarian linguistic group is a cluster in the word initial       position. (page 460)

8. Hunnic (language) shared rhotacism with Mongolian, Old Bulgarian, and Chuvash. (page 470)

According to Pritsak the Hunnic language was between Turkic and Mongolian, probably closer to Turkic. 

According to Antoaneta Granberg (University of Gothenburg) the Hunno-Bulgarian language was formed on the North-Western borders of China in the 3rd-5th c. BC. Analyzing the loan-words in Slavonic, she concluded that Bulgar language was directly influenced by various languages: Turkic, Mongolian, Chinese and Iranian. In the 6th century when Turkic tribes reached the borders of the China, the Huns and Bulgars were not there.[6] Turkic languages contain Hunno-Bulgarian loans but they were taken via Chinese mediator. For example Hunnic ch’eng-li (sky, heaven) was borrowed from Chinese as tängri in Turkic.[7] The Hunno-Bulgarian language has non-Turkic and non-Altaic features. Granberg observes that "Altaic has no initial consonant clusters, while Hunno-Bulgarian does. Unlike Turkic and Mongolian, Hunno-Bulgarian language has no initial dental or velar spirants. Unlike Turkic, it has initial voiced b-: bagatur (a title), boyla (a title). Unlike Turkic, Hunno-Bulgarian has initial n-, which is also encountered in Mongolian: Negun, Nebul (proper names)." In sum, Antoaneta Granberg concludes that "Hunno-Bulgarian language has no consistent set of features that unite it with either Turkic or Mongolian. Neither can it be related to Sino-Tibetian languages, because it obviously has no monosyllabic word structure." Often Hunno-Bulgarian language is termed Turkic which is not correct, Altaic is more to the point.[8]

Some scholars claim that Bulgars were specific Turkic tribes, the so called Oghurs, and that they spoke Oghur Turkic. However this hypothesis cannot explain the genetic tests. Also such people as Oghurs are not documented in any of the Chinese, Iranian, Indian or Armenian sources. Actually we know nothing of the languages of the nomadic people who entered Europe before the 7th century AD. The theories for existence of specific Turkic group (the so called Oghurs), to which Bulgars supposedly belonged, are nothing more than a hypothesis.[2]  


1. The Hunno-Bulgarian Language, Antoaneta Granberg, Göteborg University, 2008, page 7

2. Khazaria in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, Boris Zhivkov, page 37: "It is generally accepted that the Bulgars came to Europe either slightly earlier or during the Hunnic invasion"

3. Pauli Historia Langobardorum, MGH, Scr. rerum Langobardicarum et Italicarum saec. VI—IX, I
    Образуване на българската народност, Димитър Ангелов, p. 123

4. Bulgar people, Encyclopædia Britannica

5. The Hunnic Language of the Attila Clan, OMELJAN PRITSAK, Harvard Ukrainian Studies (1982)

6. Pulleyblank 1963: 239-265

7. Pulleyblank 1963:240

8. The Hunno-Bulgarian Language, Antoaneta Granberg, Danish Society for Central Asia’s Electronic Yearbook, pages 6-10

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Origin of Turks

The ethnonym Turk first appears with certainty in the Chinese sources dealing with events of the mid-sixth century in the form Tujue in Modern Mandarin Chinese. The exact form of the ethnonym masked by the Chinese character remains contested.[1][2]

These Turks were not the first Turkic-speaking people attested in our sources. The first Turkic speaking people identifiable in Chinese sources are a group of three peoples, Dingling, Gekun ( or Jiankun), and Xinli, located to the north in Southern Siberia that were conquered by Modun after he had subdued the Eastern Hu and the Yuezhi on his eastern and western flanks. There is a thread of historical continuity linking the Dingling of Han times with the Tiele of the fifth and sixth centuries out of whom the Uighurs eventually emerge. The Gekun/Jiankun have long been identified with the Kirghiz. The name Xinli is probably the same as Xue of seventh century Chinese sources, transcribing the Turkish tribal name Syr found on the Orkhon inscriptions. A fourth ethnic name of Western Han times that might be Turkish, located farther west, is Hujie or Wujie. A connection has been proposed with Turkish Ogur/Oguz but is less convincing phonetically.[3][4]

The Loulan in Xinjiang, the Yuezhi and the Wusun are Indo-Europeans. Xiongnu ethno-linguistic affiliations remain obscure. They have been identified as Turkic (perhaps, some “Pre-Proto-Bulgaric,”), Iranian or Palaeo-Siberian (in particular Kettic, a theory proposed by Ligeti more than half a century ago) The relationship of the Xiongnu ( EMC Hun-nu) to peoples subsequently appearing in the central - western Eurasian steppes and Europe bearing the ethnonym “Hun” ( or variants of it - Iranian-Sodian (hwn), Indian(Huna), Graeco-Roman Hunni) ) has also been contentious. The most recent considerations of the material argue for a Xiongnu-Hun connection.[4]

The Turkic ancient homeland

Tiele appears to be a later name (or variant) of the ethnonym Dingling - one of the names associated with early Turkic peoples. The Dingling/Tiele come into view in the second century BC in the area north of the Xiongnu, in Northern Mongolia and the Irtys region,extending to Lake Baikal and the Middle Yenisei. The Tiele union included Mongolic, as well as Turkic groupings. They were brought by force into the Xiongnu union and remained recalcitrant vassals. The Tiele formed a number of polities before their incorporation into the Turk Empire.

The various reconstructions, based largely on linguistic evidence showed that the early Turkic linguistic community must have been in a zone in which they had contact with Indo-European, Uralic and Yeniseic in their West and Northwest and Mongolic in their East. This was most probably in the forest-steppe zone of South Siberia around the Altay extending into Mongolia, where they may also have acquired elements of equestrian culture and pastoral nomadism from the Indo-Europeans.

The Indo-European Scytho-Iranians were their neighbors (and likely predecessors) in Mongolia and South Siberia (and perhaps extending into areas of Western Siberia). In Eastern Turkistan/Xinjiang, the early Turks interacted with both eastern Iranian and Tokharian-speaking peoples.[4]

Ashina dynasty

According to the legends Ashina people migrated towards the Altai Mountains from East Turkestan or the Turpan Oasis. As stated in one of these legends the sons of the she-wolf (ten in number) married local women and took their family names, one of which was Ashina. Most probably the name Ashina itself is of Iranian origin. The two most senior titles after that of the Khagan in the Turkic Khaganate were shad, which had Iranian roots ( along with the title of the khagan's wife- khatun) and yabgu , of Tocharian origin. It is presumed that the khagan, khan, tegin, chor and tarkhan titles, as well as the name Turk itself, are also of Iranian origin. The bek title can be added here as well. In addition, the names of the early Turkic khagans : Bumin, Istemi, Muqan, Taspar and Nevar, are not of Turkic origin either.[5]

Many orientalists as Yu. A. Zuev, A. N. Bernstamm and D. G. Savinov argued about the Saka-Wusun origin of the Ashina clan.


1. Studies on the Peoples and Cultures of the Eurasian Steppes, Peter B. Golden, page 20

2. Encyclopædia Britannica, Turkic peoples

3. THE PEOPLES OF THE STEPPE FRONTIER IN EARLY CHINESE SOURCES, Edwin G. Pulleyblank, 1998, University of British Columbia, page 53

4. Studies on the Peoples and Cultures of the Eurasian Steppes, Peter B. Golden, page 27-28

5. Khazaria in the Ninth andTenth Centuries, By Boris Zhivkov, page 23

Friday, December 16, 2016


Bulgars Massagetae in central Asia
The Massagetae were an ancient nomadic confederation who inhabited the steppes of Central Asia betwen the rivers Amu-Daria and Syr-Daria east of the Sea of Aral. They are know primarily from the works of ancient Greek authors as Strabo and Herodotus. At least some of their tribes were East Iranian speakers. Their neighbours were the Aspisi to the north, the Wusun(Isedones) to the east, Dahae and Scythians  to the west. To the south lay Khorasan/(Sogdia). The Massagetae was one of many tribal groups in the region north and east of the river Syr Darya (otherwise known as the River Tanais).

The Massagetae were similar to the Scythians in their dress and mode of living, they lived on their herds and fishing, milk was their main drink. They fought both on horseback and on foot, neither method being strange to them: they used bows and lances, but their favorite weapon was the battle-axe. According to Strabo, the Massagetae worshipped the sun and sacrificed horses to it.

Origin of Massagetae

Numerous hypotheses exist about the identity of the Massagetae and their ethnic background. Massagetae are believed to have been related to the Getae.[1] In Central Asian languages such as Middle Persian and Avestan, the prefix massa means "great", "heavy", or "strong".[2] Some authors as James P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair relate Massagetae with the Yuezhi: "(Greater) Yuezhi or in the earlier pronunciation d'ad-ngiwat-tieg, has been seen to equate with the Massagetae who occupied the oases and steppelands of West Central Asia in the time of Herodotus; here Massa renders an Iranian word for "Great", hence "Great Getae".[3][4] This identification was made by Alexander Cunningham and is supported by B.S. Dahiya (1980, 23), Edgar Knobloch (2001, 15), Zuev, Lozinski, Tolstov and others.[5][6] Dahiya wrote about the Massagetae and Thyssagetae : "The Chinese were right in stating that the Xiongnu were a part of the Yuezhi. These Guti people had two divisions, the Ta-Yue-Che and Siao-Yue-Che, exactly corresponding to the Massagetae and Thyssagetae of Herodotus... Thyssagetae, who are known as the Lesser Getae, correspond with the Xiao Yuezhi, meaning Lesser Yuezhi."(Dahiya 1980, 23).[7][8]

Customs of Massagetae

According to Herodotus:
"In their dress and mode of living the Massagetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on [1.215]
Herodotus world map with Bulgars Massagetae
Herodotus world map
horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favourite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for head-gear, belts, and girdles, of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance." 
" Each man has but one wife, yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massagetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Araxes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures." [1.216]
At the close of the 4th century CE, Claudian wrote of Massagetae that they cruelly wound their horses so that they may drink their blood.

History of Massagetae

Massagetae were known as numerous and warlike nation. According to Herodotus, Cyrus the Great of Persia met his death in a battle with the Massagetae living beyond Araxes river. In the year 530 B.C.  Cyrus the Great's army invaded the Scythian lands. Cyrus who had already beaten the Babylonians was victorious in his initial assault on the Massagetae. He captured the son of Massagetae queen Tomyris, Spargapises, who commits suicide. However the queen's forces promptly destroyed Cyrus' army and killed the Persian king.

About 515 B.C. Darius I invaded into the lands of nomadic Scythians. Generally Scythians were called Saka by Persians and the term Saka was used as a prefix to their tribal names. For example three groups of Saka/Scythians are listed on Darius' (522-486 BCE) inscriptions at Behistun (in north-western Iran) : Saka Haumavarga , Saka Tigrakhauda (translated as "pointed caps"), and Saka Paradraya. The Saka Tigrakhauda occupied open grasslands around the Aral Sea, in modern south-western Kazakhstan. The pointed caps they wear would be sized according to seniority, with the tallest being reserved for the chieftain. It is this group of Sakas that is most likely to be the Massagetae of Strabo.

In the 4th century B.C. Alexander the Great conquers the Persian empire and campaigned in the east. According to Sulimirski Massagetae adopted new military tactics of armoured cavalry from Macedonians and in the 4th-3rd centuries BC were able to subdue nearly all the nomad tribes north-east of Macedonian frontier including the Xiongnu who roamed the steppes further east up to the Chinese border. Xiongnu had to acknowledge the Massagetan suzerainty for about a century. But eventually Xiongnu defeated Massagetae and in 165 BC drove them westwards out of their lands.[9]


[1] Leake, Jane Acomb (1967). The Geats of Beowulf: a study in the geographical mythology of the Middle Ages (illustrated ed.). University of Wisconsin Press. p. 68.
[2] Rishi, Weer Rajendra (1982). India & Russia: linguistic & cultural affinity. Roma. p. 95.
[3] Mallory, J. P.; Mair, Victor H. (2000), The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West, London: Thames & Hudson. pages 98-99 
[4] Pazyrik - The Valley of the Frozen Tombs, John F. Haskins
[5] THE STRONGEST TRIBE, Yu. A. Zuev, page 33: "Massagets of the earliest ancient authors... are the Yuezhis of the Chinese sources"
[6] The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe, Hyun Jin Kim, p. 201/note 79
[7] SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS, Number 127 October, 2003, The Getes,  page 22-24
[8] The glorious Gutians, Samar AbbasMarch 24, 2005
[9] Tadeusz Sulimirski - The Sarmatians,pages 81-82

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Xiongnu Empire
The Xiongnu were nomadic peoples  who lived north and north-west of China during the Qin (221-205 BC) and Han (205 BCE-220 CE) dynasties. At the end of the 3rd century BC they formed a tribal confederation and were able to dominate central Asian steppe for more than 500 years. They ruled over the steppes north of China, an area known later as Mongolia. The Xiongnu were a constant threat to China’s northern frontier and their repeated invasions prompted the erection of the Great Wall of China to defend China from the cavalry raids of the Xiongnu. Relations between the Han Chinese and the Xiongnu were complicated but eventually the Han and the Xiongnu achieved a peace agreement which included trade and marriage treaties and regular gifts to the Xiongnu in exchange for the recognition of the Great Wall as a mutual border. However the Great Wall of China slowed but did not stopped Xiongnu from raiding North China periodically. Eventually the Han emperor Wudi (140-86 BC) waged wars against nomadic Xiongnu and expeditions were sent to central Asia and Manchuria to outflank them.
defeating their previous overlord, the Yuezhi, the Xiongnu became a dominant power on the

Origin and early history of Xiongnu

Ordos Loop from where Huns and Bulgars originated
Ordos Loop

The earliest mention of the Xiongnu in Chinese sources dates to 318 BCE, it is a passage in the Basic Annals of Qin (Shiji 5: 207). The ethnic origin of the core Xiongnu tribes has been a subject of varied hypotheses. Xiongnu were driven north of Ordos across the Yellow River in 214 BCE in the time of the First Emperor of Qin. They were akin to people known earlier as Rong or Di who lived as sedentary inhabitants of the upland regions of Shaanxi and Shanxi between the Wei and Fen valleys and the steppe and their conversion to pastoral nomadism was a consequence of the spread of this new military technique across the Eurasian steppes from west to east from around 800 BCE onward. The actual linguistic affinities of the Xiongnu are difficult to determine. Their language may have been unrelated to any known language or it may have belonged to the isolated Yeniseian family of languages, of which Ket is now the sole survivor, as first suggested by Louis Ligeti (1950) and explored further in Pulleyblank (1962). Although the hypothesis of Pulleyblank seems to be well-founded it is by no means certain that all of the tribal groups of the confederation belonged to the same linguistic group. In 2000, Alexander Vovin reanalyzed Pulleyblank's argument and found further support for it by utilizing the most recent reconstruction of Old Chinese phonology by Starostin and Baxter, and a single Chinese transcription of a sentence in the language of the Jie (a member tribe of the Xiongnu confederacy). Previous Turkic interpretations of that sentence do not match the Chinese translation as precisely as the interpretation using Yeniseian grammar.
Ordos region from where Huns and Bulgars originated
Ordos region

According to an ancient and probably legendary Chinese records they were of the same origin as the Chinese and descended from China's first dynasty, the Xia Dynasty. Others believed that they were Siberian branch of the Mongol race, but also it has been debated Turkic, Yeniseian, Tocharian, Iranian and Uralic origin or some mixture. According to Pulleyblank although there were probably already Mongolian speakers in Mongolia when the Chinese first reached the steppe frontier, namely the people known as (Eastern) Hu , the Xiongnu were quite distinct from them. The Xiongnu first appear as nomads at the Ordos Desert.

According to the Chinese historian Sima Qian Xiongnu originated in the Ordos region in what is now Inner Mongolia. He claimed that Xiongnu descended from a Chinese cultural hero in the mythical past and gave us the names by which the Xiongnu were known to the Chinese before the unification of China in the 3rd century BC : Chunwei, Shanrong, Xianyun, and Xunyu. Scholars have identified the names Chunwei, Xunyu and Xiongnu with the later name Hun. The relation between Xiongnu and the Huns who invaded Europe in the 4th century CE was discussed on my article Origin of Bulgarians and will be explore further at the end of this post. The name is the same and there is certainly a lineal connection between groups of Huns (namely Chieh/Jie) from the former Xiongnu confederation who moved westwards in the first half of the 4th century CE and the Huns who a bit later appeared in Eastern Europe. There is no doubt that apart from the ruling tribes that bore the name Hun, the European Huns also included other tribes with different ethnic affinities.

By the Warring States period three groups of barbarian people (Hu) were distinguished by the Chinese: Rong in the west, Di in the north, and Yi in the east. Chinese historical sources have very little to tell us about the actual steppe frontier to the north and northwest before the end of the 4th century BCE. A group called Quanrong ( literally dog martial people) seems to be identical with early Xiongnu according to Sima Qian. The Di, sometimes differentiated into White Di and Red Di, were close neighbours of the Chinese state of Jin. The Eastern Hu as a whole were proto-Mongol in language, see Ligeti (1970), Pulleyblank (1983: 452–454).

The Xiongnu Empire

The Xiongnu tribes were destabilized in 215 BCE by the offensive campaign of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi, a cruel tyrant who unified China in 221 BC. Qin sent the general Meng Tian to occupy and fortify the pastoral areas of the Ordos and to drive the Xiongnu and their shanyu Touman to the north. The first Xiongnu ruler whom we know by name, Touman, had been forced to move north because of pressure from Qin. Qin Shi Huangdi erected the famous Great Wall in order to ward off nomadic Hu. It is said that thousands of workers perished while building the Wall. The Qin dynasty collapsed after a rebellion and China fell into a period of anarchy.

Xiongnu and Han Chinese wars drove the Huns west
Xiongnu and Han Empires

In 209 B.C.E., just three years before the founding of the Han Dynasty, the Xiongnu were brought together in a powerful confederacy under a new shanyu Modu who killed his father Touman. The reason for the creation of the Xiongnu confederation remains unclear. Probably the unification of China prompted the nomads to rally around a political center in order to strengthen their position. Modu expanded the empire on all sides. To the north he conquered a number of nomadic peoples, including the Dingling of southern Siberia. He crushed the power of the Donghu of eastern Mongolia and Manchuria, as well as the Yuezhi in the Gansu corridor. The Xiongnu's political unity transformed them into a formidable enemy. Xiongnu crushed the Emperor Gaozu, forced him to sign a humiliating treaty in 198, and reoccupied the Ordos. Before the death of Modu in 174 B.C.E., the Xiongnu had driven the Yuezhi from the Gansu corridor completely and asserted their presence in the Western Regions in modern Xinjiang. Then Modu subdued the Wusun, Loulan, the Hu Jie and “twenty-six peoples” of the region. In 162 the shanyu Laoshang again crushed the Yuezhi refugees in the valley of the Ili and forced them to migrate to the southwest into sedentary Iranian-speaking Central Asia (Sogdiana, Bactriana). At that time all of Central Asia recognized, at least formally, the suzerainty of the Xiongnu: “whenever a Xiongnu envoy appeared in the region [i.e., western Central Asia] carrying credentials from the Shanyu, he was escorted from state to state and provided with food, and no one dared to detain him or cause him any difficulty” (Shiji, tr. Watson, p. 244). Nevertheless, their control was primarily exercised in the northeast of the Tarim Basin and Turfan, with the Lob Nor as a western frontier: The Office of the Commander in Charge of Slaves, responsible for raising taxes, was established near Karashahr (Qarašahr). Control of the West seems to have been limited to the collection of tribute from the Wusun (Dzungaria) and Kangju (middle Syr Darya and Sogdiana), while further to the south the Yuezhi (Bactriana) were hostile to them.

The Marriage Treaty System and  War with Han China

Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (r. 221 - 206 B.C.E.), who unified China under the Qin, built the Great Wall, extending 2600 miles from modern Gansu Province in the west to the Liaodong Peninsula in the east, to defend China from the raids of the Xiongnu. In the winter of 200 B.C.E., following a siege of Taiyuan, Emperor Gao personally led a military campaign against Modu. At the battle of Baideng, he was ambushed reputedly by 300,000 elite Xiongnu cavalry. The emperor was cut off from supplies and reinforcements for seven days, only narrowly escaping capture.

After the defeat at Pingcheng, the Han emperor abandoned a military solution to the Xiongnu threat. Instead, in 198 B.C.E., the courtier Liu Jing  was dispatched for negotiations. The peace settlement eventually reached between the parties included a Han princess given in marriage to the shanyu (called heqin 和親 or "harmonious kinship"); periodic gifts of silk, liquor and rice to the Xiongnu; equal status between the states; and the Great Wall as mutual border.

This first treaty set the pattern for relations between the Han and the Xiongnu for some 60 years. Up to 135 B.C.E., the treaty was renewed no less than nine times, with an increase of "gifts" with each subsequent agreement. In 192 B.C.E., Modu even asked for the hand of the widowed Empress Lü. His son and successor, the energetic Jiyu, known as the Laoshang Shanyu, continued his father's expansionist policies. Laoshang succeeded in negotiating with Emperor Wen, terms for the maintenance of a large-scale government-sponsored market system.

While the Xiongnu benefited from the marriage treaties, from the Chinese perspective they were costly and ineffective. Laoshang showed that he did not take the peace treaty seriously. On one occasion his scouts penetrated to a point near Chang'an. In 166 B.C.E. he personally led 140,000 cavalry to invade Anding, reaching as far as the imperial retreat at Yong. In 158 B.C.E., his successor sent 30,000 cavalry to attack the Shang commandery and another 30,000 to Yunzhong.

The status quo then prevailed until 134 BCE, a period during which the Xiongnu secured their pre-eminence over the steppe societies of East Asia. This period was brought to an end by the initiative of the Chinese, who expelled the Xiongnu to the north of the Gobi in 121 and 119 BCE. Between the years 115 and 60 BCE, the weakening of the Xiongnu confederation gave rise to a struggle between the Chinese and the Xiongnu for control of the western regions. The principal events of this struggle included the missions of Zhang Qian in search of alliances in 137 and 115 BCE, the raid on Farḡāna (Ferghana) by a Chinese army in 101 BCE, and the battles for control of the region of Turfan (Jushi) between 67 and 60 BCE. In 57 BCE the disintegration of the confederation led to its division between five and then two shanyu, one in the South (Huhanye) who submitted to China in 53 BCE, the other (Zhizhi) controlling the North and West. The latter, finally taking refuge in Kangju, carved out a kingdom in the valley of the Talas and was defeated there by the Chinese general Zhen Tang in 36 BCE, an episode that marks the farthest advance of the Xiongnu and Chinese armies into the Iranian-speaking West.

The ensuing peaceful period ended when the Xiongnu took advantage of troubles in China (reign of Wang Mang, 9-23 CE) and widely recaptured control of the West before once again splitting into two groups, the Southern Xiongnu and the Northern Xiongnu, in 48 CE. The first group took refuge in the north of China in 50 CE, giving rise to areas of Xiongnu population within the frontiers between Taiyuan and the Yellow River that would endure for several centuries. Their last shanyu disappeared at the beginning of the 3rd century, but the Xiongnu, though highly sinicized, preserved their identity and played a major role in the disturbances and plundering that put an end to the Jin dynasty in North China at the beginning of the 4th century. 

While the Northern Xiongnu for a time succeeded in playing a role in the West (their armies intervened at Khotan and Yarkand after 61 CE), China regained control of the region of Turfan in 74 CE and chased them from Mongolia: the shanyu took refuge in the Ili valley in 91 CE, while many Northern Xiongnu tribes surrendered to China and were settled within the frontiers. The Northern Xiongnu, with several thousand men, continued to intervene at Hami and in the region of Turfan throughout the first half of the 2nd century. We know nothing of their fate: in the Wei Lue, written in the middle of the 3rd century, the Xiongnu are completely absent from the plateau north of the Tianshan.

Southern Xiongnu

While we hear nothing more about the Northern Xiongnu after the begining of the 2nd century CE, Southern Xiongnu had a longer history. Economically, they relied almost totally on Han assistance and tensions between settled Chinese and nomadic people were evident. For example there was a large scale rebellion in 94 CE led by Anguo Shanyu against the Han. In 188 the Shanyu was murdered by his own people for agreeing to help Chinese by sending troops to suppress a rebellion in Hebei. Many of the Xiongnu feared that it would set a precedent for unending military service to the Han court. The murdered chanyu's son Yufuluo succeeded him, but was then overthrown by the same rebellious faction in 189 and settled down with his followers at province Shanxi. In 195, he died and was succeeded by his brother Hucuquan. The Xiongnu aristocracy in Shanxi changed their surname from Luanti to Liu for prestige reasons, claiming that they were related to the Han imperial clan through the old intermarriage policy. After Hucuquan, in A.D. 215-216, the southern Xiongnu were partitioned into five local tribes.

Huchuquan Chanyu assumed the patronymic name Liu, thus showing his imperial ancestry. In 304, Liu Yuan became Chanyu of the Five Hordes. In 308, declared himself emperor and founded the Han Zhao Dynasty. Between 311 and 316 CE his son and successor Liu Cong captured two Chinese Emperors from the Jin dynasty, humiliated and finally executed them. North China came under Xiongnu rule. In 318 the Xiongnu prince Liu Yao moved the Xiongnu-Han capital from Pingyang to Chang'an and renamed the dynasty as Zhao. Liu Yao wanted to end the linkage with Han and explicitly restore the linkage to the great Xiongnu chanyu Maodun. However, the eastern part of north China came under the control of a rebel Xiongnu-Han general of Jie ancestry named Shi Le. Liu Yao and Shi Le fought a long war until 329, when Liu Yao was captured in battle and executed. North China was ruled by Shi Le's Later Zhao dynasty for the next 20 years. The "Liu" Xiongnu remained active in the north for at least another century.


Political center of the Xiongnu state was in Mongolia and almost all of the Xiongnu kings buried in Mongolia. In the 1920s, Pyotr Kozlov's excavations of the royal tombs at the Noin-Ula burial site in northern Mongolia that date to around the first century CE provided a glimpse into the lost world of the Xiongnu. Other archaeological sites have been unearthed in Inner Mongolia and elsewhere; they represent the Neolithic and historical periods of the Xiongnu's history. Those included the Ordos culture, many of them had been identified as the Xiongnu cultures. The region was occupied predominantly by peoples showing Mongoloid features, known from their skeletal remains and artifacts. Portraits found in the Noin-Ula excavations demonstrate other cultural evidences and influences, showing that Chinese and Xiongnu art have influenced each other mutually. Well-preserved bodies in Xiongnu and pre-Xiongnu tombs in the Mongolian Republic and southern Siberia show both Mongoloid and Caucasian features. Analysis of skeletal remains from sites attributed to the Xiongnu provides an identification of dolichocephalic Mongoloid, ethnically distinct from neighboring populations in present-day Mongolia. Russian and Chinese anthropological and craniofacial studies show that the Xiongnu were physically very heterogenous, with six different population clusters showing different degrees of Mongoloid and Caucasoid physical traits.

Xiongnu and the Huns

Could these Xiongnu have given rise to the Huns who appeared on the Volga from the year 370 CE before they invaded Europe? The question is highly controversial and has been the subject of numerous works since de Guignes first proposed the identity of the two groups in 1758.

First, we can prove that the names are indeed identical. In 313 it was a Sogdian merchant writing in the Gansu corridor who, in a letter to a correspondent at Samarqand, described with precision the plundering of the Southern Xiongnu in China and called them Xwn, a name which must be connected to that of the Huns (Henning, 1948). In addition one must also cite the Buddhist translations of Zhu Fahu, a Yuezhi of Dunhuang, who in 280 CE translating from Sanskrit to Chinese, rendered Hūṇa by Xiongnu, and then did the same in 308 in another  translation.  

Moreover, the Wei shu, taking up information precisely dated to 457, states: “Formerly, the Xiongnu killed the king (of Sogdiana) and took the country. King Huni is the third ruler of the line”. This leads us to place the “Xiongnu” invasion of Sogdiana in the first half of the 5th century. Here, too, there is hardly any reason to doubt this direct testimony stemming from the report of an official Sogdian envoy in China (Enoki, 1955) Also, the personal names found in the Sogdian caravaneer graffiti of the Upper Indus (3rd to 5th century CE) frequently include the first or last name Xwn, whereas it no longer exists in the later texts. This reflects the presence of Hun invaders in Sogdiana and the fusion of the populations (la Vaissière, 2004) during a precise period of time.

From an archaeological point of view, there are now few doubts that the Hunnic cauldrons from Hungary are indeed derived from the Xiongnu ones. Moreover, they were used and buried on the same places, the banks of rivers, a fact which proves the existence of a cultural continuity between the Xiongnu and the Huns (Erdy, 1994; de la Vaissière, 2005b). 

The Huns of Central Asia thus consciously succeeded the Xiongnu and established themselves as their heirs, and an authentic Xiongnu element probably existed within them, although it was probably very much in the minority within a alliance with other people. This is the only hypothesis that accounts for all of the known facts given the current state of our information. Indeed we cannot neglect the fact what we read in ancient sources: 

" swarms of Huns and monstrous Massagetae filled the whole earth with slauther"
( St Jerome, page 182 here

or, the western Huns were actually two groups of people, Huns and Massagetae.  

to be continued...

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Dulo clan of Attila the Hun

Dulo clan or the House of Dulo was the ruling dynasty of the Hunno-Bulgars [1][2][3][4][5][6][7] of states in various parts of Eastern Europe, including Old Great Bulgaria (632 AD), Volga Bulgaria (until the 13th century) and Danube Bulgaria (681 AD). The origins of the Bulgars and Dulo clan are not known precisely, there are many theories about their origin, but it is generally considered that it is intimately related to the origin and activity of the Huns.[8][9] Some researchers point out that the name Dulo is the same as the name Tulo, a tribal division of the Western Turks,[10] but P. Golden considers such connection as speculative[11] and admits that Attilid affinities of the Bulgars indeed may have existed.[12]
Symbol of Dulo clan of Attila the Hun from which Bulgars rulers descended
Symbol of  Dulo clan

The most what is known about the House of Dulo is written in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans.[13] The first two rulers, Avitohol and Irnik, are usually identified by many historians as Attila and his third son Ernak although no documents exist to support this identification. Ernak has often been identified with Ирникъ in the Bulgarian Princes’ ListScholars have proposed many theories, but the origin and meaning of the name Dulo remain obscure. According to one hypothesis the name Dulo is distorted form of the name of Attila.[14][15][16]

Kubrat (605 AD-665 AD), the first historical member of the House of Dulo, was a Utigurs Bulgar. In 632 AD Kubrat founded Old Great Bulgaria on the territory of modern Ukraine unifying different Bulgar tribes and defeating the Avars.[17] During the second half of the 7th century Kubrat's sons split up the Bulgar family and spread over Europe, from the Volga to the shadow of Vesuvius: Batbayan (Ukraine), Kotrag (Volga Bulgaria), Kuber (Balkan Macedonia), Asparuh (Danube Bulgaria) and also Alcek (Italy).[18]

Asparuh of the House of Dulo founded Danube Bulgaria in the year 681, establishing the First Bulgarian Empire south of the Danube after defeating the Romans in the Battle of Ongal.

Tervel (700-721AD) of the House of Dulo played an important role in the history of Europe when in 717-718 AD he defeated Arabs and stopped the Arab siege of Constantinople.

Sevar was the last known ruler of Bulgaria from the House of Dulo, he reigned 738–754 AD. According to David Marshall Lang Sevar is the last ruler of the Dulo dynasty, with him died out the lineage of Attila the Hun.[19] The successor of the last Dulo was a boyar named Kormisosh, of the House of Vokil (or Uokil).[20][21][22][23][24]

Etymology of the name Dulo

Omeljan Pritsak connects the name Dulo with the name of the Xiongnu ruling dynasty Tu-ko (EMC d'uo'klo) by suggesting that the name Vihtun from the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans is the famous Xiongnu emperor Modun.[25][26] According to another hypothesis the name Dulo is distorted form of the name of Attila.[27]

List of Dulo Clan rulers

Translated into English, the List runs as follows:

Avitokhol lived 300 years, his clan Dulo, and his years dilom tvirem:

Irnik lived 100 years and 5 years, his clan Dulo, and his years dilom tuirem:

Gostun as regent 2 years, his clan Ermi, and his years dokhs tvirem:

Kurt reigned 60 years, his clan Dulo, and his years shegor vechem:

Bezmer 3 years, his clan Dulo, and his years shegor vechem.

These 5 princes held their rule, with shorn heads, on the other side of the Danube for 515 years; and after, there came Prince Isperikh to this side of the Danube where they are now.

Isperikh prince, 60 years and 1 year, his clan Dulo, his years her enialem:

Tervel 21 years, his clan Dulo, and his years tekuchitem tvirem:

. . . 28 years, his clan Dulo, and his years dvansh ekhtem:

Sevar 15 years, his clan Dulo, and his years tokh altom:

Kormisosh 17 years, his clan Vokil, and his years shegor tvirem: this prince changed the race of Dulo, that is to say Vikhtum :

Vinekh 7 years, his clan Ukil, and his years shegor alem:

Telets 3 years, his clan Ugain, and his years somor altem, he too of another race:

Umor 40 days, his clan Ukil, and his [years] dilom tutom.

References for Dulo clan and Bulgars Huns:

[1] The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe, 2013, Cambridge University Press, Hyun Jin Kim

[2] Early Mediaeval identity of the Bulgarians, Cafer Saatchi, page 3 : " The early Byzantine texts use the names of Huns, Bulgarians, Kutrigurs and Utrigurs as interchangeable terms. There the Bulgarians are represented as identical, they are a part of Huns or at least have something common with them. The khans Avtiochol and Irnik, listed in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans today are identified with Attila and Ernach."

[3] SOME REMARKS ON THE CHINESE "BULGAR", 2004, SANPING CHEN: page 8 :" In fact contemporary European sources kept equating the Bulgars with the Huns. At the very least, the Hun-Bulgar connection was much more tangible than the Hun-Xiongnu identification. "

[4] Steven Runciman, Book I: THE CHILDREN OF THE HUNS

[5] Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries, Romilly James, page 45 : " The Bulgarians seem to have been in origin Huns, who may well have formed part, and survived as a rump, of the hordes of Attila in the fifth century. ... the so called Onogur Bulgarians are found in large numbers somewhere between the Kuban and the Volga rivers..."

[6] The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 4, Edward Gibbon, page 537: " And both Procopius and Agathias represent Kutrigurs and Utigurs as tribes of Huns. There can be no doubt Kutrigurs, Utigurs and Bulgars belong to the same race as the Huns of Attila and spoke tongues closely related, - were in fact Huns. They had all been under Attila's dominion"

[7] Encyclopedia of the Byzantine Empire Jennifer Lawler, " Utigurs - Hunnic tribe that lived on the east steppes of Don, related to the Bulgars", page 296

[9] The Tale of the Prophet Isaiah, Ivan Biliarsky, page 255 : " Who, after all, were Avitokhol and Irnik? Among historians, there is almost unanimity they were Attila, the ruler of the Huns, and his son Ernack."

[10] The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe, 2013, Cambridge University Press, Hyun Jin Kim, page 59

[11] Golden, Peter B. (2012), Oq and Oğur~Oğuz* (PDF), Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers University, pp. footnote 37

[12]  Nomads and Their Neighbours in the Russian Steppe, Peter B. Golden, page 71

[13] Word and Power in Mediaeval Bulgaria, Ivan Biliarsky, page 218

[14] Otto J. Maenchen-Helfen, The world of the Huns, page 415: "Ernak has often been identified with Ирникъ in the Bulgarian Princes’ List."

[15] The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century, John Van Antwerp Fine, University of Michigan Press(2000), p. 66: "According to their traditions their ruling family, known as the house of Dulo, was descended from Attila the Hun. Though the scholars have advanced many theories, the origin and meaning of the name Dulo remain obscure."

[16] Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 11, р. 228

[17] Nicephori Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani Opuscula Historica, Carl G. De Boor (Editor)

[18] Steven Runciman, Book I: THE CHILDREN OF THE HUNS, стр. 21: "Thus the Bulgar family split up, and spread over Europe, from the Volga to the shadow of Vesuvius. It remains now only to consider the strongest branch of all, the only branch to survive the tempests of the centuries. Asperuch, less restless than his younger brothers, but more enterprising than his elders, moved along the Black Sea coast, across the great rivers of the Steppes, to the land of lagoons and marshes where the Danube joins the sea."

[19] The Bulgarians: from pagan times to the Ottoman conquest, David Marshall Lang, p. 49: "... and was the last of the great house of Dulo to occupy the throne, with him died out the lineage of Attila the Hun"

[20] A History of the Eastern Roman Empire, J. B. Bury, p 334

[21] Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans

[22] Transferred in Translation: Making a State in Early Medieval Bulgarian Genealogies, Antoaneta Granberg,University of Gothenburg

[23] Byzantium and Bulgaria, Panos Sophoulis
[24] Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, Florin Curta
[25] The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe, 2013, Cambridge University Press, Hyun Jin Kim, page. 59
[26] Teoderico e i Goti tra oriente e occidente, Antonio Carile, page 28
[27] Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 11, р. 228

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Yuezhi and Bulgars

Yuezhi were an ancient Indo-European people who were first reported in Chinese sources as
Yuezhi migration from China to Bactria
The migrations of the Yuezhi through Central Asia
nomads living in an arid grassland area spanning the modern Chinese provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu (northwestern China), before the 2nd century BCE. In the second century BC Xiongnu defeated them and the main body of the Yuezhi, later called the Great Yuezhi,  moved westward into Sogdiana and Bactria, putting an end to Greek rule in both regions. They and related tribes are the Asi (Asiani) and Tocharians (Tochari) of Western sources. About 128 bce the Yuezhi were recorded living north of the Oxus River (Amu Darya), ruling Bactria as a dependency, but a little later the Great Yuezhi kingdom was in Bactria, and Sogdiana was occupied by the Dayuan (Tocharians). The remnant in Gansu were called Little Yuezhi. According to Otto Maenchen-Helfen some of the Yuezhi tribes migrated far to the west and were present in the steppes north of the Caucasus and on the shores of the Black Sea as early as 1st century BC.[1]

During the 1st century BCE, one of the five major Yuezhi tribes in Bactria, Kushanas (Chinese: 貴霜; Guishuang), began to subsume the other tribes and neighbouring peoples. A new dynasty, the Kushan, was subsequently founded by one of the five chieftains among whom Bactria was divided. The Kushan kingdom extended its power southward and eastward into India and northward into Central Asia. From the 3rd century, however, Kushan power declined, and about 400 ce the Kidara dynasty arose in Gandhara; the latter survived only to about 450 ce, when it was overwhelmed by the Hephthalites.

The name Yuezhi

The Chinese name "Yuezhi", written with the characters yuè () "moon" and shì () "clan", is translated as Moon people or Moon clan. The Kushanas, who were among the conquerors of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom during the 2nd century b.c., are widely believed to have originated as a dynastic clan or tribe of the Yuezhi.

Origin of the Yuezhi

The Yuezhi may have been an Europoid people, as indicated by the portraits of their kings on the coins that were struck following their exodus to Transoxiana (2nd–1st century BCE), portraits from statues in Khalchayan, Bactria in the 1st century BCE, some old place names in Gansu explainable in Tocharian languages, and especially the coins which they struck in India as Kushans (1st–3rd century CE).

Some authors as James P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair relate the Yuezhi with the Massagetae : "(Greater) Yuezhi or in the earlier pronunciation d'ad-ngiwat-tieg, has been seen to equate with the Massagetae who occupied the oases and steppelands of West Central Asia in the time of Herodotus; here Massa renders an Iranian word for "Great", hence "Great Getae". This identification was made by Alexander Cunningham and is supported by B.S. Dahiya (1980, 23) and Edgar Knobloch (2001, 15). Dahiya wrote about the Massagetae and Thyssagetae : "These Guti people had two divisions, the Ta-Yue-Che and Siao-Yue-Che, exactly corresponding to the Massagetae and Thyssagetae of Herodotus... Thyssagetae, who are known as the Lesser Getae, correspond with the Xiao Yuezhi, meaning Lesser Yuezhi."(Dahiya 1980, 23)[2]

The first theory on their origin was developed by W. B. Henning who connected the name of the Yuezhi with the Guti people from the Zagros Mountains in Iran/Iraq who supposedly left their homeland about 2000 BC heading to the Steppes of the heart of Asia, and eventually to the Gansu in China.[3] The only evidence presented by Henning on the basis of similar ceramics is considered to be unconvincing.[4] More convincing argument was made by H. W. Bailey who reconstructed the name of the Yuezhi in 9-10 century Khotan-Saka texts as Gara people. According to Bailey the forms of the name tu-γαρα or Great Gara are many, some of them are Θογαρα (Greek) but also thog-gar/ bho-gar in Tibetian.[5] Mallory and Mair suggest that the Yuezhi and Wusun were among the nomadic peoples, at least some of whom spoke Iranian languages, who moved into northern Xinjiang from the Central Asian steppe in the 2nd millennium BCE

Early history of Yuezhi

The Yuezhi were recorded by the Chinese during the period of Warring States (495-221 B. C.) as
nomadic people living in the the lands of the Western Region, specifically around Dunhuang and Guazhou. The Yuezhi had occupied Dunhuang district and became very strong nation in the
Yuezhi in Dunhuang, China received tribute from Xiongnu Huns
Yuezhi in Dunhuang, China
Northwest China. Han Shu further records:
" The Great Yuezhi was a nomadic horde. They moved about following their cattle, and had the same customs as those of the Xiongnu. As their soldiers numbered more than hundred thousand, they were strong and despised the Xiongnu. In the past, they lived in the region between Dunhuang and Qilian [Mountain](south of Hexi Corridor)" 
The Yuezhi was so powerful that the Xiongnu monarch Touman even sent his eldest son Modu as a hostage to the Yuezhi. The Yuezhi often attacked their neighbour the Wusun to acquire slaves and pasture lands. Wusun originally lived together with the Yuezhi in the region between Dunhuang and Qilian Mountain. The Yuezhi attacked the Wusuns, killed their monarch Nandoumi and took his territory. The son of Nandoumi, Kunmo fled to the Xiongnu and was brought up by the Xiongnu monarch. Gradually the Xiongnu grew stronger and war broke out between them and the Yuezhi. There were at least four wars between the Yuezhi and Xiongnu according to the Chinese accounts. The first war broke out during the reign of the Xiongnu monarch Touman (who died in 209 B.C) who suddenly attacked the Yuezhi. The Yuezhi wanted to kill Modu, the son of Touman kept as a hostage to them, but Modu stole a good horse from them and managed to escape to his country. It appears that the Xiongnu did not defeat the Yuezhi in this first war. The second war took place in the 7th year of Modu era (203 B.C.). From this war, a large area of the territory originally belonging to the Yuezhi was seized by the Xiongnu and the hegemony of the Yuezhi started to shake. The third war probably was at 176 BC (or shortly before that) and the Yuezhi were badly defeated. The forth war was during the the period of Xiongnu monarch Laoshang (174 BC-166 BC) and was a disaster for the Yuezhi, their king was killed and a drinking cup was made out of his skull. Probably around 165 BC the majority of the Yuezhi migrated from the Tarim basin westward to Fergana. They finally settled in Transoxiana and Bactria.[6][7]

Bactria and Transoxiana

The Yuezhi were visited in Transoxiana by a Chinese mission, led by Zhang Qian in 126 BCE which sought an offensive alliance with the Yuezhi against the Xiongnu. The request for an alliance was denied by the son of the slain Yuezhi king, who preferred to maintain peace in Transoxiana rather than seek revenge. Zhang Qian spent a year in Transoxiana and Bactria and later wrote a detailed account about the situation in Central Asia at the time. He reported that the Great Yuezhi continue to live as nomads moving from place to place with their herds, and their customs are like those of the Xiongnu. They have some 100,000 or 200,000 archer warriors.[8]

The Chinese missions to Bactria and Transoxiana may have been driven by other incentives in addition to the possible alliance with the Yuezhi against the Xiongnu. The Chinese emperors during the Han period were interested in possessing the so called Heavenly Horses which had the property of sweating blood. The Chinese poet Li Bai wrote in his "Song of the Heaven Horse" that the horses of Heaven come out of the caves of the Yuezhi and their backs were tiger-striped.[9] In 101 BC the Han emperor Wu sent military expedition to Sogdiana to obtain the so-called Heavenly Horses. The quest for perfect horses may have been more spiritual than practical or military. The emperor Wu even composed a "hymn" as he waited the arrival of 30 "superior" horses. The desire to get Heavenly Horses was driven by the hope that they would carry him to Kunlun Mountains, the holy mountain that was the home of the immortals.[10] Some authorities see a connection between the Heavenly Horses and the yellow mares found in the first royal burial at Pazyryk,[11] and possibly the memory of Yuezhi survived with Pazyryk burials.[12][13]

Customs and language

It is hard to say if the Yuezhi (Yue-Chi) should be included in any of the recognized divisions of Turanian tribes such as Turks or Huns. Nothing whatever is known of their original language. Judging by the physical type represented on the Kushan's coins the Yue-Chi type is Turkish rather than Mongol or Ugro-Finnic. Some authorities think that the name Turushka or Turukha sometimes applied to them by Indian writers is another evidence of the connexion with the Turks. But the national existence and name of the Turks seem to date from the 5th century A.D., so that it is an anachronism to speak of the Yue-Chi as a division of them. The Yue-Chi and Turks, however, may both represent parallel developments of similar or even originally identical tribes. Some authors consider that the Yue-Chi are the same as the Getae and that the original form of the name was Ytit or Get, which is also supposed to appear in the Indian Jat.[14]

According to Hyun Jin Kim the nomadic Yuezhi possessed political institutions that closely resemble the Xiongnu and later Hunnic models. The Chinese refer to the five xihou or Lords of the Yuezhi who rule the five tribes of their imperial confederation. According to Pulleyblank the Yuezhi were Indo-Europeans and they spoke a Tocharian type language.[15] The title xihou corresponds in the pronunciation to what would later become the Turkic title yubgu. This originally Yuezhi royal title appears on the coins of their rulers as IAPGU/yavuga,[16] and it came to the Xiongnu from the Yuezhi.[17] Among the Turks, the title yabgu gained a new lease of life. In the Turkish inscriptions of Mongolia, it refers to a noble ranking immediately after the qagan.[18] Kuyan/gayan was a "common Uechji" symbol for a terrestrial embodiment for the Moon and Milky Way.[19]

Some scholars have explained the words connecting the Yuezhi 月氏 or the Kushans as coming from the Turkic languages, thus concluding that the language of the Kushans was from the Türkic language branch. this theory is inadequate. In the Zhoushu 周書, ch. 50, it is recorded that: “The ancestors [of the Türks] came from the state of Suo 索.”34 It has been suggested that “Suo索” [sheak] is a transcription of “Sacae.” In other words, it may be possible that the ancestors of the Türks originally were kin of the Sacae. If this is true, it would not be difficult to understand why some words and titles connected with the Yuezhi 月氏 or the Kushans can be explaned by the Türkic languages. In the Rājataraṅgiṇī (I, 170) there is a reference to the fact that the Türkic ruler in Gandhāra claimed his ancestor was Kaniṣka, and maybe this is not merely boasting. Other scholars have judged that the language of the Kushans was the Iranian language. This theory is also inadequate, for the following reasons. First, they were a branch of the Sacae, a tribal union composed of at least four tribes, i.e., Asii, Gasiani, Tochari and Sacarauli. Of these there were some tribes who spoke the Iranian language, but also some who spoke Indo-European languages other than the Iranian language, e.g., the Tochari. Next, the tribes that spoke Tokharian were in close contact with the tribes that spoke the Iranian language, and the words connected to them that can be explained with Iranian possibly originally were Tokharian.[20]

Yury Zuev included the Yuezhi (Uechji) among the tribes of early Turks. He wrote that "in the Northern Caucasus they spoke East - Iranian language, and in the Kangju they spoke in Turkic."[21] His sketches about early Türkic tribes and state type confederations showed that "ideological views coincide in many respects and have a common foundation, which ascends to the last centuries BCE. Such foundation was the pantheon of the ancient confederations of Uechji (Yuezhi) and Kangars that left a trace in the ideological complexes of Ashtak Türks, Oguzes, Kypchaks, Az-kishes, Kimeks, Kangly, etc. Certain features of it still are in the folklore of the modern Türkic peoples. The tradition of the ideological continuity is permeating the history of these peoples from extreme antiquity until the new time."[22] Probably one of the most striking customs was the custom of the population to completely shave their heads. "The seven-tribe Uechji -"Tochars” were “White-headed” i.e. with completely shaven heads. "Bold-headness" was equivalent to Moon-headness."[23] Remember that the word Yuezhi is a Chinese exonym, formed from the characters yuè (月) "moon" and shì (氏) "clan" - hence they shaved their heads to resemble the Moon. The same custom is attested among the rulers of Bulgarian Dulo clan : "These five princes ruled the kingdom over the other side of the Danube for 515 years with shaven heads and after that came to this side of the Danube Asparuh knyaz and until now (rules).[24]

The Little Yuezhi

The Little Yuezhi remained in North China and were included into Xiongnu confederation under the name Chieh people (AY: Jie people). Chinese chronicles documented them as one of the 19 tribes of Xiongnu.[25] Obviously their number wasn't small at all, as it is usually assumed, because we are told that between 184 AD and 221 AD there was a serious revolt of the Little Yuezhi in Gansu and the Chinese couldn't suppress it for almost 40 years.[26] At the beginning of 4th century under the pressure of Rouran Khaganate the Little Yuezhi started migration toward Kazakhstan and Bactria under the name War-Huns.[27] In 349 AD there was a massacre of Chieh people in North China, Maenchen-Helfen points out that 200 000 of them were slain. Probably we can consider that as the final date of their migration from North China/Tarim basin toward Kazakhstan and Bactria. The Jie/Chieh who remained in north China became known as Buluoji Bulgars.[28]

The Kushans

About 135 bce a loose confederation of five Central Asian nomadic tribes known as the Yuezhi wrested Bactria from the Bactrian Greeks. These tribes united under the banner of the Kushān (Kuṣāṇa), one of the five tribes, and conquered the Afghan area. The zenith of Kushān power was reached in the 2nd century ce under King Kaniṣka (c. 78–144 ce), whose empire stretched from Mathura in north-central India beyond Bactria as far as the frontiers of China in Central Asia.
Missing Buddha of Yuezhi, Bamiyan valley, Afghanistan
Missing Buddha

The Kushāns were patrons of the arts and of religion. A major branch of the Silk Road—which carried luxury goods and facilitated the exchange of ideas between Rome, India, and China—passed through Afghanistan, where a transshipment centre existed at Balkh. Indian pilgrims traveling the Silk Road introduced Buddhism to China during the early centuries ce, and Buddhist Gandhāra art flourished during this period. The world’s largest Buddha figures (175 feet [53 metres] and 120 feet [about 40 metres] tall) were carved into a cliff at Bamiyan in the central mountains of Afghanistan during the 4th and 5th centuries ce; the statues were destroyed in 2001 by the country’s ruling Taliban. Further evidence of the trade and cultural achievement of the period has been recovered at the Kushān summer capital of Bagrām, north of Kabul, including painted glass from Alexandria; plaster matrices, bronzes, porphyries, and alabasters from Rome; carved ivories from India; and lacquers from China. A massive Kushān city at Delbarjin, north of Balkh, and a major gold hoard of superb artistry near Sheberghān, west of Balkh, also have been excavated.[29]

Connection to Bulgars and Huns

The Great Yuezhi entered Europe together with the Huns and in the beginning they were called with their old name Massagetae.[30] For example St Jerome tells us about the Great Hun raid of 395-6 into Armenia and Syria that " swarms of Huns and monstrous Massagetae filled the whole earth with slauther".[31] However despite the fact that Romans called the Huns Massagetae, the Huns and not the Massagetae, attacked the Alans, who threw themselves upon the Goths.[32] After the battle of Nedao the Huns and Massagetae, the latter called now with the name Bulgars, retreated to their "inner" territory east of the river  Dnieper, as we learn from Jordanes, where they reorganized on a smaller scale.[33][34]
Yuezhi and Bulgars were the same peple; Bulgarians
Bulgars were Yuezhi tribes

The results of the research on the origin of Bulgars lead to one particular region in middle Asia - the lower and middle reaches of the Syr Darya. During the second century AD, the culture of the Sarmatians on the lower reaches of Volga underwent significant changes. The burial rites became more homogeneous and were dominated by a number of new and uncharacteristic for the previous period features such as the northern orientation of the burials, the artificial deformation of the skulls. These features are also found in later Bulgar necropoles. The Huns, Bulgars and part of the Yuezhi share some common burial practices as the narrow burial pits, pits with a niche and the northern orientation of the burials.[35] Yuezhi/Kushans practiced the same annular type of artificial skull deformation as the Huns and Bulgars.[36-39]  The Huns and proto-Bulgarians practiced artificial cranial deformation[57] and its circular type can be used to trace the route that the Huns took from north China to the Central Asian steppes and subsequently to the southern Russian steppes. Circular modification appeared for the first time in Central Asia in the last centuries BC as an ethnic attribute of the early Huns. The distribution of the skulls parallels the movement of the Huns.[40]

Edwin G. Pulleyblank, Yury Zuev and some modern Bulgarian scholars identify the Bulgars Utigurs as one of the tribes of the Yuezhi.[41-43] According to Edwin G. Pulleyblank and Yury Zuev the Utigurs of Menander are Uti, and the word Uti was a real proto-type of a transcription Yuezhi < Uechji < ngiwat-tie < uti.[44]


Huns, Bulgars, Yuezhi and Magyars 

Sources for Yuezhi and Bulgars:

1. The Yüeh-Chih Problem Re-Examined, Otto Maenchen-Helfen, Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 65, No. 2 page 81

2. SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS, Number 127 October, 2003, The Getes, page 22-24

3. The first Indo-Europeans in history, Henning, W.B. (1978)


5.  Indo-Scythian Studies: Being Khotanese Texts; Gara, H. W. Bailey, page 110

6. The Yuezhi and Dunhuang

7. Selections from the Han Narrative Histories, Ta Yue-she (Massagetae)

8. Watson, Burton (1993). Records of the Grand Historian of China: Han Dynasty II (revised ed.).

9. The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction, James A. Millward

10. The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia, Frances Wood, page 55

11. Chinese and Indo-Europeans, E. G. Pulleyblank, page 31

12. EARLY TURKS: ESSAYS on HISTORY and IDEOLOGY, Yu. A. Zuev, Uechji, page 14

13. The Yueh-chin and their migrations, K. Enoki, G. Koshelenko, Z. Haidary,: The Yueh-chin and Pazyryk, page 177


15. THE PEOPLES OF THE STEPPE FRONTIER IN EARLY CHINESE SOURCES, Edwin G. Pulleyblank, University of British Columbia, (1999), Summary, page 35

16. The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe, Hyun Jin Kim, (2013, Cambridge University Press), page 256
17. Turks and Iranians: Aspects of Turk and Khazaro-Iranian Interaction, Peter B. Golden, page 17, footnote 89, Zuev, Early Turks, p.31 : "This title is first of all an Uechji title, or, in the opinion of the eminent scientist [F. Hirth, 1899, p. 48-50], it is a “true Tocharian” title. "

18. ENCYCLOPÆDIA IRANICA, JABḠUYA : "Although yabḡu is best known as a Turkish title of nobility, it was in use many centuries before the Turks appear in the historical record. ... Among the Turks, the title yabḡu gained a new lease of life."

19. Yu. A. Zuev, EARLY TURKS: ESSAYS on HISTORY and IDEOLOGY, page 39

20. SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS, Number 212, 2011, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, (Victor H. Mair, Editor) The Origin of the Kushans, YU Taishan, page 15

21. EARLY TÜRKS: ESSAYS on HISTORY and IDEOLOGY, Yu. A. Zuev, page 153

22. EARLY TÜRKS: ESSAYS on HISTORY and IDEOLOGY, Yu. A. Zuev, page 178

23. EARLY TÜRKS: ESSAYS on HISTORY and IDEOLOGY, Yu. A. Zuev, page 71

24. Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans: These five princes ruled the kingdom over the other side of the Danube for 515 years with shaven heads and after that came to this side of the Danube Asparuh knyaz and until now (rules).

25. The World of the Huns, Otto Maenchen-Helfen, р. 372-375

26. The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, Volume 1, Denis Sinor, р. 170


28. Multicultural China in the Early Middle Ages, Sanping Chen, p. 83

30. SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS, Number 127 October, 2003, The Getes, page 22-24 : Da Yuezhi -> Ta-Yue-ti (Great Lunar Race) -> Ta-Gweti -> Massa-Getae

31. The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, Volume 1, Denis Sinor, p.182

32. The World of the Huns, Otto Maenchen-Helfen, page 4-6: "But considering that Themistius, Claudian, and later Procopius called the Huns Massagetae,..."

33. The Hunnic Language of the Attila Clan, OMELJAN PRITSAK, Harvard Ukrainian Studies 1(982), page 429

34. Encyclopædia Britannica, Bulgar people

35. Khazaria in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, Boris Zhivkov , pages 30-33

36. The Kushan civilization, Buddha Rashmi Mani, page 5: "A particular intra-cranial investigation relates to an annular artificial head deformation (macrocephalic), evident on the skulls of diverse racial groups being a characteristic feature traceable on several figures of Kushan kings on coins."

37. The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe, Hyun Jin Kim, (2013, Cambridge University Press) page 33

38. The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, Volume 1, Denis Sinor, page 172: "A striking resemblance may also be noted in the deformed heads of the early Yueh-chih and Hepthalite kings on their coinage",


40.  Cranial vault modification as a cultural artifact, C. Torres-Rouff and L.T. Yablonsky, HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology, Volume 56, Issue 1, 2 May 2005, Pages 1–16 ; free excerpts :

41. EARLY TURKS: ESSAYS on HISTORY and IDEOLOGY, Yu. A. Zuev, p.38 and p.62 : " The Utigurs of Menandr are Uti, associated with Aorses of the Pliny "Natural history" (VI, 39). The word Uti was a real proto-type of a transcription Uechji < ngiwat-tie < uti (Pulleyblank, 1966, p. 18)"



44. Chinese and Indo-Europeans, E. G. Pulleyblank, 1966, Cambridge University Press