Yu.Zuev Ethnic History of Usuns
Yu.Zuev Early Türks: Essays of history
Yu.Zuev The Strongest Tribe - Ezgil
Yu.Zuev Tamgas of vassal Princedoms
Yu.Zuev Ancient Türkic social terms
N.Bichurin Hunnu, Oihors, etc
Ogur and Oguz
V. Taskin Eastern Huns 3 c. BC - 2 c. AD
V. Taskin Eastern Huns 3 c. AD - 5 c. AD
V. Taskin Kiyan Huns 3 c. AD - 5 c. AD
The Huns in Chinese annals
Synopsis of Eastern Hun history
V.S. Taskin (1917-1995)
USSR Academy of Sciences, Institute of Asia
MATERIALS ON THE HISTORY OF HUNS (匈奴)
(According to Chinese sources)
Introduction, translation, and notes by V.S.Taskin
Moscow, Science, 1968, 1000 copies
http://www.i-u.ru/biblio/archive/sima_2/12.aspx (Biography, in Russian)
In the publications of the Chinese annals, the most interesting and useful materials are not the spotty inventory of events and titles, but the commentaries of the translators that bring the annals to our days. The offered extracts from the first publication of V.S. Taskin gives an English translation of the Introduction section with a scholarly summary of the Eastern Huns history from the first records to the 1st c. BC. Focused toward the Huns, it is a nice respite from the Chinese-centered narrations. During his lifetime work on translations of the Chinese annals, V.S. Taskin, who lived and was educated in China, observed numerous Türkic words and expressions in the Hun's lexicon, and came to his own independent conviction that the Huns were a collection of Türkic tribes, who for a relatively long period ruled a vast number of ethnically different people, including Chinese.
We can whine all we want about ambiguity caused by the fractionation of the Chinese ancient appellation in space and time, but the modern situation is not any better, or is even worse, because the ancient ambiguity is overlaid with a conundrum of various phonetization schemes, which are in turn overlaid with a conundrum of various conventional and unconventional spelling conventions. In that respect the scholars that work directly with the text are at an advantage, compared with the scholars who have to first wade through all the strata of later distortions just to get to the ancient Chinese ambiguity, as happened with fairly transparent term Jun/Jung = Hun converted in the Pinyin to a totally divorced Rong. As can be seen in the Taskin's work, there is little resemblance between the Russian, Pinyin, Wade-Giles, and various other renditions found for the same term depicted by an ancient Chinese hieroglyph. At times, a best phonetical correspondence survived not in Chinese, but in the Japanese archaic On tradition. The Pinyin rendition that arose in the latest decades, and the B.Kalgren reconstructions appear to emanate from totally different families of the animal world.
The Hun history started with reflections in the Qin and Han period in the 3rd c. BC intercepts the Hun history on the run, skipping the main events of the Andronov nomads reaching the Far East in about 12th c. BC, their blending with local Melanoid, Austro-Asiatic, Dravidian and Chinese agricultural cultures in the south, and simultaneously with the foot forest hunter Tungus culture in the north, their developing into stratified composite Yin and Zhou civilizations of the 12th-3rd cc. BC that came to be called Chinese, and a coeval civilization of the nomadic steppe that came to be called Huns. Since the Shiji can't be expected to penetrate beyond its temporal horizon, the understanding of the backdrop scenery, in all its archeological, ethnological, anthropological, and linguistic resplendency should fall on the shoulders of those who enjoy the enlightenment afforded by the contemporary science. The utter confusion of the linguistics, unable to discriminate cause and effect, can be turned into productive force built on the foundation of the disciplines that provide it with realistic canvas.
The Issue 1 of the Taskin work re-translated and re-examined the records of Shiji, one of
3 major historical sources:
* * *.
The posting's notes and explanations, added to the text of the author and not noted specially, are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses. Page numbers are shown at the beginning of the page in blue. Where possible the author's Cyrillised Wade-Giles transcriptions were changed to Pinyin, to facilitate search, but because a switch to Pinyin coding frequently distorts or makes phonetics ambiguous, the phonetization of the original is generally retained also. It was noted that the annals, even composed by a single author like Sima Qian, use different expressions for the same phenomenon, in case of Huns they are interchangeably called Hu and Hunnu (Hu 胡 and Pinyin Xiongnu 匈奴); personal and geographical names also come in variety of spellings; where appropriate, the Chinese form is given to facilitate search and verification, and possibly catch inaccuracies in translation. The identification of the Chinese 匈奴 with the historical Huns is beyond any doubts for better then half a century, and this posting replaced all incarnations of Chinese-derived appellations with their modern appellation Hun. Where direct correspondence between the Cyrillised Wade-Giles transcription of V.S.Taskin and their Pinyin counterparts has not been found, a putative Pinyin reconstruction used the following conventions: Ts = X or Q, Tsz = J, S = S or X, all without any systematic rules.
MATERIALS ON THE HISTORY OF HUNS (匈奴)
|98 In the "Han Shu" (b. 13, ch. 94, p. 7a), is an interesting
passage, consisting of 45 characters absent in the "Historical Notes". The absence of
that passage violates integrity and orderliness of presentation because the social
ladder described by Sima Qian has no top level, where stood Shanyu. The excerpt is: "单于
姓 虚 连 题. [二] 异姓 有 呼 衍 氏, 须 卜 氏, 丘林氏, 兰 氏 [三] 四 姓, 为 国 中 名 族, 常 与
单于 婚姻. 呼 衍 氏 为 左, 兰 氏, 须 卜 氏 为 右"
Chanyu âèðòóàëüíîå èìÿ ñ òèòóëîì.  âûçîâà ðàçëè÷íûõ ôàìèëèè ßíü áûòü Áó, Qiulin Øè,  4 èìÿ Ëàíü, îò÷åñòâî äëÿ ñåìüè, ÷àñòî ñ Chanyu áðàêà. Call ßíü ñëåâà, ñèíèé û áûòü ÁÓ çà ïðàâî "
Chanyu virtual name with title.  has a different surname Yan's call to be BU's, Qiulin Shi, Lan's  4 name, middle name for the family, often with Chanyu marriage. Call Yan's to the left, blue s to be BU's for the right "
常 chang2/eternal 与 yu/with 单 chan/shan
于 yu/go 婚 hun1/marriage姻 yan1/marriage
Let us turn to Chinese sources. In the 89-m Juan "Hou Han Shu (History of the Later Han) on the southern Hun reportedly so," Shanyu comes from the names Syuylyanti (虛連題), and other notable names are Huyan, Syuybu, Tsyulin and Lan. Name Huyan refers to the left, and Lan and Syuybu - to the right side. "And in the Qian Han Shu" in the 94-m of Juan Hun period Maodun shangyu, reported that, - (shangyu comes from the names Lyuandi (Chinese 挛 鞮). In their state his name "Chenli Gudo shangyu. Xiongnu call heaven chenli and son - Gudo. [words here] shangyu means" large "and shows that the holder of the title is long, like the sky) [Taskin 1989: 1933]. It is obvious that there are two variants of the same title.
98 Â «Õàíü-øó» (ÕØ, ãë. 94à, ë. 7à) äàëåå ïðèâîäèòñÿ èíòåðåñíûé îòðûâîê, ñîñòîÿùèé èç 45 èåðîãëèôîâ, êîòîðûõ íåò â «Èñòîðè÷åñêèõ çàïèñêàõ». Îòñóòñòâèå ýòîãî îòðûâêà íàðóøàåò ïîëíîòó è ñòðîéíîñòü èçëîæåíèÿ, òàê êàê ñîöèàëüíàÿ ëåñòíèöà, ïðèâîäèìàÿ Ñûìà Öÿíåì, îêàçûâàåòñÿ áåç âåðõíåé ñòóïåíè, íà êîòîðîé ñòîÿë øàíüþé. Âîò ýòîò îòðûâîê.
«Øàíüþé ïðîèñõîäèò èç ôàìèëèè Ëþàíüäè. Â èõ ãîñóäàðñòâå åãî èìåíóþò „×ýíëè ãóäó øàíüþé". Ñþííó íàçûâàþò íåáî —÷ýíëè, a ñûíà íàçûâàþò — ãóäó, [Ñëîâî] øàíüþé îçíà÷àåò „îáøèðíûé" è ïîêàçûâàâàåò ÷òî íîñèòåëü ýòîãî òèòóëà îáøèðåí ïîäîáíî íåáó».
Îáðàòèìñÿ ê êèòàéñêèì èñòî÷íèêàì. Â 89-ì öçþàíå “Õîó Õàíü Øó”(Èñòîðèÿ Ïîçäíåé Õàíü) îòíîñèòåëüíî þæíûõ õóííîâ ñîîáùàåòñÿ òàê, “Øàíüþé ïðîèñõîäèò èç ôàìèëèè Ñþéëÿíüòè , à èç äðóãèõ çíàòíûõ ôàìèëèé èìåþòñÿ Õóÿíü, Ñþéáó, Öþëèíü è Ëàíü. Ôàìèëèÿ Õóÿíü îòíîñèòñÿ ê ëåâîé, à Ëàíü è Ñþéáó - ê ïðàâîé ñòîðîíå. ” À â “Öÿíü Õàíü Øó” â 94-ì öçþàíå î õóííîâ ïåðèîäà Ìàîäóíü øàíüþÿ, ñîîáùàåòñÿ ÷òî, “單于姓虛連題。[二]異姓有呼衍氏、須卜氏、丘林氏、蘭氏[三]四姓，為國中名族，常與單于婚姻。呼衍氏為左，蘭氏、須卜氏為右”- (øàíüþé ïðîèñõîäèò èç ôàìèëèè Ëþàíüäè (êèò. 挛鞮). Â èõ ãîñóäàðñòâå åãî èìåíóþò «×ýíëè ãóäó øàíüþé». Ñþííó íàçûâàþò íåáî ÷ýíëè, à ñûíà – ãóäó. [Ñëîâî] øàíüþé îçíà÷àåò «îáøèðíûé» è ïîêàçûâàåò, ÷òî íîñèòåëü ýòîãî òèòóëà îáøèðåí, ïîäîáíî íåáó) [Òàñêèí 1989: 33]. Î÷åâèäíî ÷òî òóò äâà âàðèàíòà îäíîãî íàçâàíèÿ.
The offered translations relating to the history of the ancient Huns (匈奴) constitute separate chapters, selected from the works of the famous Chinese historian Sima Qian's “Historical Notes” (“Shi Ji“) (aka Shijing 诗经). Only one chapter, the “Biography of Han An-go” is from the “History of Han Dynasty” (“Han-shu“), which is more detailed.
The value of Sima Qian outstanding work for studies of the history on Central Asia ancient peoples is so well known that does not need additional arguments. In 1851, after translation by the Russian Sinologist scientist N.Ya.Bichurin was published under a title “Collection of information about peoples of Central Asia in ancient times”, the chapter “Account about Huns (匈奴)” become a part of European science.
Since then have passed over a hundred years, yet the N.Ya.Bichurin translations of still provide unfailing help for the Soviet scientists researching the ancient peoples of Asia. Such a long period separating us from the N.Ya.Bichurin publication forces a different approach to the assessment of his translations, especially in connection with the successes of archeology, ethnography, history, linguistics and other sciences. The present revision of N.Ya.Bichurin translations relating to the Hun history suggests that his work no longer satisfies modern higher requirements, does not meet the needs of a rapidly developing Soviet science.
The greatest shortcomings of N.Ya.Bichurin translations include the following.
1. N.Ya.Bichurin did not pay due attention to preliminary textual work. The old woodcut
prints that he used
contained a continuous text without any punctuation. For the correct reading of the text,
at first the text
must be split into paragraphs, and inside of each added punctuation, i.e., the text
should be read palaeographically, which was not done by N.Ya.Bichurin. This work was carried out by
the Chinese scientists, whose knowledge and experience in that area can certainly be trusted.
Neglect of the textology, a science absent during the Bichurin time, in many cases led to incorrect reading of the text. Specifically, it resulted in merging of an end of one phrase with a beginning of another phrase, the transformation of direct speech into indirect one, mixing of paragraphs, which change the subject of the action, etc.
2. Serious errors in translation often mislead the contemporary Soviet archaeologists, ethnographers, and historians, who rely heavily on the N.Ya.Bichurin's writings. The importance of this issue needs a few examples.
A. In describing the Hun (orig.: ñþííó/Sünnu = Xiongnu 匈奴 “ferocious slave”) economy, usually is cited a sentence: “Of the livestock keep more horses, large and small horned cattle: partly breed camels, donkeys, mules and horses of better breeds” 1.
Based on that translation, and on archeological data, a Soviet scientist Rudenko believes that under the best breeds of horses are meant tall, swift horses, such as those that were uncovered during excavations of the graves of the Altaian tribal chiefs 2.
But the Chinese text does not have the words “best breeds of horses”, but only list the names of three species of domesticated animals, kuayti, taotu and tehi. Sima Qian did not explain what these animals were, he only relates them to the category of rare animals.
According to commentators, they mean respectively a hybrid of crossing a donkey with a stallion, i.e. hinny; a short wild horse; and wild ass (kiang, onager). These phonetic and semantic designations allow to identify the above hieroglyphs with the equivalent Turkic terms - katyr, totu and tani. (It appears that the identification contains a mistake: tehi in the Bulgar and Hun Turkic, and in the Old Turkic is a generic for “mount”, i.e. a generic riding animal, mostly, but not necessarily, a horse. See calendar in Nominalia.)
The presence at the Huns (匈奴) of such types of domesticated animals shows that their level of animal husbandry was higher than that understood from the Bichurin's translation. The experiments conducted in our time demonstrate that to bring up a breed of the onagers is much harder than that of a mule.
The inclusion in the Hun (匈奴) language of the Turkic words to some extent contributes to the solution of the question about their ethnogenesis.
B. “In the autumn, when horses grow fat, all gather together to circle around the forest” 3.
This quote is often used as a confirmation about the existence of the encircling hunts among the Huns (匈奴). In fact, the Chinese text says: “In the autumn, when the horses have grown fat, they gather for a great assembly at Dailin (代). As can be seen, the geographical term Dailin was translated by Bichurin with the words “to circle the forest”.
1 N.Ya.Bichurin (Iakinth), Collection of information about peoples of Central Asia in
ancient times, vol. 1. p. 39
C. “Their laws: who pulls a sharp weapon one foot - is death” 4. N. Ya.Bernstam and S.I.Rudenko think based on this translation that a foot is referring to the bronze maces found in Noin Ula kurgans, and are trying to confirm that with a series of arguments. However, in the Chinese text the phrase: “Who pulls out his sword one foot is subject to death” apparently speaks about a development among the Huns (匈奴) of tribal mutual aid and social solidarity, violation of which is punishable by death.
D. “The dead are buried in a casket, but they do not have cemeteries surrounded with trees or mourning dresses” 5.
With that interpretation is dropped an important testimony about the outer appearance of the Hun's (匈奴) graves, because the Sima Qian text in fact states: “But they do not pile grave mounds, nor plant the trees.” According to Sima Qian, the Hun (匈奴) graves had no external markings, and the Oglahta cemetery is closest to them by its type (See Chinese archeological news on Shun-wei (淳維) cemeteries immediately north of Beijing).
The number of incorrect translation examples, that often mislead scientists, can still be increased. In addition, many other inaccuracies are encountered, which are easily detectable by collation the N.Ya.Bichurin's translation with the proposed new version (In all fairness, it should be noted that the N.Ya.Bichurin's “translation” was not a translation, but his rendition of the contents of the Chinese annals. N.Ya.Bichurin never billed his work as a translation, he accurately called it “Collection of information”, but among the readers of his works it was usually called with a short “translation“).
3. In his work, N.Ya.Bichurin has almost no comments, without which in many cases the translation is understandable only for the Sinologist historians versed in the ancient history of China (In all fairness, N.Ya.Bichurin work has enough comments to explain basic forms and expressions peculiar to the Chinese annals, geographic terms, and basic historical and ethnological facts. It was not a scientific research project, even though N.Ya.Bichurin investigated and traced a mountain of geographical and ethnological information. Unfortunately, his work was taken as a final product by the Russian scientists, and no independent follow up was done for more then a century).
4. The translation has numerous omissions of individual words, phrases and paragraphs.
5. Omitted or retained without a translation the nomenclature of the Chinese officials.
The above shortcomings caused a need to revise the N.Ya.Bichurin's translation of Sima Qian's chapter “Account about Huns (匈奴)”.
Furthermore, it seems advisable to supplement the materials, directly related to the history of Huns (匈奴), with translated biographies of the persons, closely related by their activities with the history of that people. In each of these biographies are often found some interesting for the science details, as well as are clearly transpiring the relations between China and its neighbors.
4 Ibid, p. 50.
* * *
The vast space of Asia where formed and exst the Chinese People Republic not always and not in the whole area had been occupied by the people to whom they belong today.
The archeology, epigraphic monuments, and a variety of narrative materials (books, chronicles, poems, and historical legends, writings of of ancient historians and philosophers) are eloquently convincing that three or four thousand years ago the ancestors of the modern Chinese occupied a fairly narrow band in the middle course in the valley of the Yellow River.
The alluvial deposits of the rich in silt Yellow River that were accumulating as a result of recurrent floods created fertile floodplain there. The soft and more humid than the modern climate, combined with rich soils favored a early development of sedentary lifestyle and farming in that area.
As a result, by the middle of the 2nd millennium BC in the middle part of the Yellow River valley emerged a strong settled agricultural center, which economic foundation was plow farming that replaced the hoe agriculture of the Neolithic tribes.
Around that center lived numerous tribes, with which, judging from the preserved data, the Chinese had lead a continuous and fierce struggle.
Particularly perpetual and tenacious was the fight with the northern tribes, who mainly lived in the territory of Mongolia.
The sources are filled with countless reports about armed clashes with these peoples, which were happening form the very outset of the Chinese history. Thus, according to the Sima Qian, the legendary Emperor Huang Di (黃帝/黄帝, 2697-2597 BC, legendary dates; Huangdi 黃/黄 hwang/yellow帝 dai/ruler of bear 有 熊 tribe [Youxiong 有 yau/have 熊 hung/bear, lit. have bears] fought with Chi You tribe 蚩尤 [蚩 chi, shi/ignorant, rural, worm 尤 yu/distinct] of southern Hmong, assisted by Xuannü 玄女 [玄 yun/deep 女 jyu/river in Henan]), with whose time the great historian begins the history of his country, after ascending the throne first of all “in the north drove off [the tribe of] Sünyuys (aka Xuannü, Su nü jing, Xuan nü jing 玄女 [玄 hyen, yun/deep 女 jyu/river in Henan], Syun-Yuys, Sun-Yuis, Syun-Yous 蚩, 尤 yu/distinct etc.).” 6 We can not entirely rely on the credibility of that message, because it relates to the mythical period. But because the myths are real events reflected in people's minds, carried by the folk memory in a distorted form to the later time, it is reasonable to assume that in the mists of centuries, in the north of the Chinese lived some other people, unlike themselves, whom their forefathers had to face.
The first reliable reports of the China's northern neighbors are in the inscriptions on the so-called Yin oracle bones, composed at about fifteen centuries BC. The texts of the inscriptions have about two dozen tribal names, some of which remain undeciphered. The location of all tribes is also not determined yet, but it is known that some of the largest tribes occupied the following lands: Tufan - the district of the modern city Baotou, Lyuyfan - the Ordos region, Kufan - the territory at the junction of Shaanxi Province, Ningxia and Suiyuan. The Guifang tribes (Gui Fang 鬼方) probably lived in the northern part of Shaanxi Province 7. (The etymology of fang is perfectly clear, fang is people, tribe, branch, division, type; it is synonymic with English -ans in Oregonians; the only unknown is to what language family it belongs; it would point to what language the ancient Yins spoke)
6 Sima Qian, Historical Notes, ch. 1, p. 46.
The most numerous of these tribes were apparently Guifangs (Gui Fang 鬼方). According to the “Book of Changes” (I Ching, Yì Jīng 易經), the Yin (Shang 商 朝 or Yin 殷 代, 1600-1046 BC) ruler Wu Ding (武丁, 1250-1192 BC) took three years to win a victory over them 8, and the Zhou (周朝, 1045-256 BC) ruler Kang-wang (Kang of Zhou 周康, 1020 BC-996 BC) just in one battle with Guifangs (Gui Fang 鬼方 ; the fang/feng 方 was tribe or community in the Yin language) captured more than 13 thousand captives 9 (Like the 女 jyu/river in Henan => Uigur, the name of the river is Gui => Guifang , and like in many other Türkic tribes, their ethnonym coincides with the name of the river; in nearly all cases it is impossible to tell, which is primary, the river or the tribe; the consonant “g” in “gui” may be a dialectal prosthetic “k/h/g/j/s”, and both terms are reincarnations of the same base “ui”; the ancient word, habitually truncated in Chinese to Ui/Gui, might as well be the same modern Ui-gur; the Tufang 土方 would hail from the name of the Tu(ul) river).
It was estimated that the Yin (殷 代) rulers run against the Tufang (土方) tribe four, and against the Kufang (Kung Fang 攻防) tribe 26 raids. 10
The first attempts of the Chinese scientists to classify numerous tribes surrounding China belong to the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty (周朝, 1045-256 BC). Those who lived in the west, in the modern Gansu province, and in Tibet, received the name Jung (pin. Rong 戎, semantically means archer, archers in the grasslands from Gansu to Taklamakan, Andronovo nomads); in the territory of the North-Eastern region in the east received the name I (Yi 東夷, Tunguses, future Manchu, Jurchens, Koreans, Japanese, Evenks, and Turkified Tunguses called Mongols), in the southern China received the name Man (蠻); in the north in Mongolia received the name Di (aka Ti 氐, eastern extension of the Andronovo nomads). The basis of the division, finally accepted by the Zhan-Guo period (Warring States Period, Zhanguo Shidai 战国时代, 476–221 BC), was quite inaccurate classification. These terms referred not to one people or ethnic group, but were associated with particular parts of the world.
The shortcoming of such system, which can justly be called territorial, is absolutely clear. During historical development some tribes were disappearing, they were replaced by newcomers. The other, who led a nomadic life, constantly shifted from place to place (within the same fairly stable territory). As a result, the ethnic concepts were confused, and not surprisingly Sima Qian, the first in China who created a coherent history of some neighboring peoples, applied to the northern Huns (匈奴) not only the term Di (氐), but also Jung (戎), and I (Yi 東夷) (and Hu 胡, used in some direct citations of the text).
As testify the sources, the life, economic activity, language and customs of the peoples living in the north differed sharply from the Chinese.
In 569 BC, a councilor Wei Jiang, advising the Qin (秦, 778-207 BC) ruler Dao-gun to conclude peace with Jung (戎) and Di (氐), cited five arguments in favor of that. Wei Jiang in particular said: “The Jung (戎) and Di (氐) live of the grass, they value wealth and deride the land, so the land could be bought” 11 (This perennial Chinese definition of the Jung (戎) and Di (氐) was corrupted in the Indo-European theory, which nonchalantly extended it to the settled agriculturists of the Middle Asia).
The early Han commentator Fu Qian explains the word “live on the grass” with a cliche formula employed by Chinese historians for all nomadic peoples (“The Di (氐) live without permanent residence, moving from place to place in search of water and grass“). 12
8 “Book of Changes”, vol. 2, p. 339.
The word “wealth” is found in one of the oldest monuments of Chinese writing “Shang-shu” 13 and, according to Kun Ying-da (574-648 BC), was used in a general sense, meaning “gold, jasper, linen and silk”. Ban Gu (32 - 92 AD) suggests almost the same interpretation: “cloth and silk, which can be worn as clothing, as well as metal, money, tortoise shells and clam shells”. 14
An analysis of the quotes allows to state that in the 6th c. BC the northern neighbors of China were already typical nomadic pastoralists, but because the nomadic pastoralism nowhere and never satisfied all the needs of the nomads, they were interested in getting from the farming China of necessary for them commodities not produced in the steppe, such as linen and silk (As though the agricultural Greece, Rome, and Persia did not need Chinese silks and luxury goods dragged for them on camels across Eurasia by the same needy nomads. On the other hand, the introduction of the Bronze Age to China, cultural and economical innovations of introduction of domesticated horses, carriages, monetary knifes, kurgan burials, centralized power structure, nomadic dress and warfare is credited to the influence and direct admixture of the husbandry nomads with the indigenous Neolithic river agriculturists).
The emergence and simultaneous existence of two different economical modes is a fact of great importance, which greatly facilitates a study of relations between China and its neighbors with nomadic way of life (Neolithic China, with its own settled agriculture, had Neolithic agricultural neighbors on her north-east and on the south, and Neolithic foot hunters on the north and north-east. The influence of the Bronze Age nomads profoundly affected not only China, but its neighbors too).
It is known that the relationships between agricultural areas and nomadic steppe generally existed everywhere in the same forms, and China, of course, is no exception. A constant raiding by the nomads was normal. In that way the nomads eked out necessities for their existence. The sources are full of reports about capture of large booty during the raids. and rustling of cattle and prisoners. It would be wrong, however, to stipulate that the relations between nomads and China were only limited to a constant hostility, and the raids of nomads were followed by campaigns of Chinese commanders into the Mongolian steppes. The military operations at times alternated with peaceful relations, when both parties swore inviolable friendship, and established normal trading, diplomatic, and other relations (The concept accepted universally today, in the middle of the 20th c. in Russia was a daring step to venture).
In addition to the differences in the economies, the sources provide data on the existence of differences in language and customs.
In the 14th year of Xiang-gun (558 BC) rule in the Lu (陸), a tribal leader of Tszyanjungs (Jianjungs/Jianrong 建嵘 is a branch of the tribe or tribal union Luhun (Luh-hwan) 陸渾 Jungs 戎 connected with modern Songxian 嵩县 County in Henan Province, if their exonym was composed today, they would be called Songhuns (Song-hwans); the Luhuns left a prominent trace in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, they are salient players in the history of China, Southern Caucasus Georgia (Lykhny) and Kurdistan, and Northern Caucasus Balkars and Digors; Luhun 陸渾 = 陸 luk/army 渾 hon/mix) Tszyuychji (Jiuychji ? Juichi ?) bitterly complained about the harassment from the Qin (秦, 778-207 BC) : “Drinks, food and clothing we have among various [tribes of the] Jungs (戎) differ from those in China, we are not familiar with the existing in China] rules of gift offering, we do not understand the language.” 15
According to Confucius (551-479 BC), the northern nations, unlike the Chinese, went about with untucked hair on their heads, and had the lapel closed on the left. 16 (The Huns had their caftans buttoned to the left when in the Caucasus the Indo-Iranians still were Median vassals and took orders in the Median agglutinating language, and long before as Persians they borrowed Türkic traditional caftan with buttons on the left.)
13 “Shang-shu”, Vol. 4, ch. Hung-fan, p. 411.
While we can talk about fundamental differences in the economic structure, language and customs of the northern peoples and the Chinese, yet to determine who were the ancient peoples inhabiting Mongolia, to trace their genetic links with later populations of Asia, and to restore the true picture of their relationship with China is not possible (In 1960's, V.S.Taskin used the term “genetic” in general, and not biological sense. The biological genetical identification became possible in the 2000's). The earliest Chinese sources, which give a fairly diverse and versatile information about the initial period of the Chinese history, contain very few references to these nations. The materials of these sources are only isolated points, separated from each other by centuries, their light is too weak to illuminate the entire space.
In that sense is typical the chapter of “Account about the Huns (匈奴)”, a part of the Sima Qian immortal work “Historical Notes”. The information on the ancient population of Mongolia in that chapter is repeating some information contained in the works “Shang-shu”, “Kuo-yu”, and annals “Chun-Qiu”, presenting a sporadic account with extensive chronological breaks, at times the duration of the lacunas exceeds three hundred years. The historian clearly did not succeed in compiling and explaining fragmentary data available to him, in creating a seamless, coherent picture of the Hun (匈奴) prehistory. Apparently, Sima Qian himself was well aware of that, pointing out that from the legendary ancestor of Huns (匈奴) Shun-wei (淳維, 淳 seun/simple, honest舜 wai/preserve) to Tuman (? - 209 BC), a first Hun Shanyu (匈 hung/clamor 奴 nou/slave單 sin/single于 yu/go = Hun-nu Sin-yu ≈ Hun Shanyu) whose name is mentioned in the history, “has passed more than a thousand years, during which the Huns (匈奴) sometimes grew stronger, sometimes grew weaker, fractioned and divided, but it was a long time ago, and therefore it is impossible to learn and orderly compile the transition of power from one ruler to another”. 17
Starting with the Han dynasty, the events are outlined with more details and better cohesion. As a chief historian at the court of the Emperor Wu-di (武帝), Sima Qian undoubtedly was aware of the events and policies of the Han court in respect to the Huns (匈奴), and had access to the state archives. In addition, he personally knew many prominent figures of his time, and met with them. For example, Sima Qian wrote about a famous commander Li Guan: “I saw that the commander Li was simple and sincere as a villager, and his lips could not express eloquently”. 18 Su Jian, a father of Su Wu, who have shown exceptional dedication to the Han Dynasty during a visit to the Huns (匈奴) as an envoy, discussed commander Wei Tsin (卫青 orig.: Vei Tsin) with Sima Qian. 19
17 Sima Qian, Historical Notes, ch. ON, p. 9a.
Access to public records, direct communications with major civil and military officials, and also his personal observations allowed Sima Qian to illuminate a coherent history of the Huns (匈奴) during the Han era. The story about the period of Emperor Wu-di is relayed from a witness of the events at the time who was close to the imperial court. The earlier events are apparently described from the archives and reminiscences about recent past. Even with the extreme paucity of information on the Mongolian inhabitants' history, the talent and exceptional knowledge of Sima Qian allowed him to honorably pull out from seemingly hopeless position.
First of all, Sima Qian broke with the traditional division of the people neighboring with China by a territorial basis, and in his own way resolved the ethnic conundrum that arose at that time, connected with the transhumance of various tribes, definitely stating that the earlier peoples inhabiting the territory of Mongolia, known in the Chinese annals under the names Jung (戎) and Di (氐), are direct ancestors of the Huns (匈奴) [唐虞以上有山戎、獫狁、荤粥，居于北蛮，随畜牧而转移 (“Before the time of the sage-kings Yao [Tang Yao] and Shun [Yu Shun] there were the Mountain Jungs [Shan Jung, Shanrong 山戎族], Xianyun, and Xunyue living in the northern barbarian lands, and moving around with their herds of livestock.”)]. Subsequently, the Sima Qian's view was unconditionally accepted by the Chinese traditional historical school. For example, a Tang (唐朝) commentator Sima Zhen (司马贞) thought that before the legendary emperors Tang (Tang Yao, Yaotang-shi 唐堯 ca 2333–2234 BC) and Yu (Yu Shun 虞舜 ca 2233–2184 BC) the Huns (匈奴) were called Shan Jung (aka Shanjung, Shanrong, 山戎, Mountain Jung, Dagger Grave Culture) or Syanyun (Xianyun 猃狁 “White Hound Tribe” or 玁狁, or Xunyu 葷粥 or 獯鬻, aka Hunzhu, Hunzhou 葷粥, Qianrong 犬戎 “Western Dog Tribe”, Baigou 白狗 “White Dogs” or Bailang 白狼 “White Wolves”; Qiang 羌), during the Xia Dynasty (ca. 2070-1600 BC) were called Chunwei (淳維 “Chun tribes”), during the Yin Dynasty (殷代,1600-1046 BC) - Guifang (Gui Fang 鬼方), at the Zhou Dynasty (周朝,1045–256 BC) - Syanyu-ni (Xunyu 葷粥 or 獯鬻), at the Han Dynasty (汉朝 206 BCE – 220 CE) - Syunnu (匈奴). 20 The same also state the earlier commentators Ying Shao (應劭 ca 195 AD), Jing Shao (Jing Shao ?Jing Shao-ying ? Zhong Shao 种劭 ?) and Wei Zhao (韋昭; 204-273). 21 The statements of the old Chinese historians are not backed up by any arguments. Nowadays, Wang Guo-wei (aka Wang Guowei, 王國維) (1877 - 1927), based on the analysis of inscriptions on bronze, and the structure of hieroglyph characters, as a result of phonetic research and comparisons of the findings with the materials of various sources came to a conclusion that in the sources the tribal names Guifang (Gui Fang 鬼方), Hunyi (混夷), Xianyuy (Xian Yu 鲜虞), Xianyun (猃狁), Jung (戎), Di (氐) and Hu (胡) signified one and the same people that later in history went down as Sünnu (匈奴). 22
Sufficiently convincing theory of Wang Guo-wei has found supporters among a majority of the Chinese historians 23. Another achievement of Sima Qian is that the Huns' (匈奴) prehistory correctly reflects a main trend in the relations between China and its northern neighbor. He noted a slow but inexorable creeping of Chinese to the north displacing the Huns (匈奴) from their lands.
20 Ibid, ch. 1, p. 46, note.
Evidently, the process of slow, but planned seizures is best described by a Chinese term “tsan-shi” (“gradually feed on like silkworm eats leaves”). To better understand the nature of the Chinese creeping, it can be compared with the colonization of the East European plain by the Slavic population, which “spread across the plain not gradually by fecundity, not by settling, but by hopping, bouncing with bird leaps from fringe to fringe, leaving their abodes and settling in new spots”. 24 What was then preventing a rapid advance of the Chinese to the north? The answer should be primarily sought in the physical and geographical conditions and associated major field of economic activity. The Chinese were sedentary farmers, their welfare was totally dependent on the success of the crop. Initially, the agriculture was developing in the valley of the Yellow River, on the fertile alluvial soils. The recurrent floods from year to year covered the flooded areas with fertile silt, as a result the land was not exhausting, and did not need any reprieve from tillage. A strong precipitation made irrigation unnecessary. The soft alluvial soils were easily handled with most primitive wooden tools. Only later, when the main tracts of the favorable for agriculture wetlands have been surmounted, the ancestors of the Chinese people had to turn to the less favorable for farming northern areas nearby. However, for the tilling of the hard virgin land, in addition located in the more arid areas, were required irrigation and better agricultural implements. For that, was needed iron, a metal which, according to archaeological evidence and numerous sources, became widely used in farming only during the Zhan-guo Period (Zhanguo, “Warring States” 战国时代 476–221 BC). The emergence and wide spread of the iron tools revolutionized agriculture. The lands that were before were viewed as useless suddenly acquired economic importance and become an object of conquest by the agricultural China. From the Zhan-guo (战国时代) period the pace of Chinese encroachment to the north has accelerated.
The other, not less important reason hindering occupation of the northern lands was of a purely military nature. The ancestors of the Huns (匈奴) by no means were inclined to volunteer to give up the pastures they owned, but on the contrary, they fought hard for them, and like the nomads of all ages and nations, they themselves were not averse to profiting from their sedentary neighbors who were unable to respond to the onslaughts that rained down on them.
The history of the Zhou Dynasty, a first dynasty in China about which is available sufficient credible and detailed information in the writings that came down to our time, is replete with reports on the raids of the nomads, which often put that dynasty on the brink of disaster.
24 Kluchevsky, Works, vol. 1, Moscow, 1956, p. 31.
Following the markers punctuated by Sima Qian in the historical path of the ancient inhabitants of Mongolia, even before the Zhou Dynasty (orig.: Chjou) one of the ancestors of the ruling house Gu Gong Dangfu (approx. 1300-1200 BC) under a pressure from Xunyus (葷粥 or 獯鬻) was forced to abandon his possession Bin and settle at the foot of the Qi mountain.
The flight of Zhou (orig.: Chjou) did not save them from further attacks by the steppe dwellers. Therefore, Wen Wang, a grandson of Gu Gong Dang-fu, had to undertake a punitive expedition against his overly restless neighbors.
The son of Wen Wang, U-wan, drove to the north of the river Jing and Lo the tribes of the Jungs and Yi, who started coming to the Chinese court to present a tribute named “undefined duties”. This term implied a duty of the nomads to come to the Chinese court to be introduced to the new holders the Zhou (orig.: Chjou) throne, and since it was impossible to establish any schedule, these obligations were called “undetermined”.
Such duties had no real encumbrance, and likely should be understood as visits of tribal leaders to the court of the Chinese Son of Heaven during relatively peaceful relations. The Chinese, flattering their vanity, valued these visits as an expression of obedience and voluntary recognition of the dependence on China.
In connection with that is of interest the statement of the Han government officials, who were thinking in more real categories.
In 134 BC Chjufu Yan presented to the Emperor Wu (Wu Di 武帝) a report with a warning against a war with the Huns (匈奴). The report said in part that “The Huns (匈奴) is difficult to get hold of and control, this situation has existed for generations. The robbery, raids, rustling cattle and prisoners are their occupations, because they are their innate properties. In the mists of time, during the reign of Yu, Xia, Yin and Zhou (orig.: Chjou), they neither were bound and nor controlled, they were treated as wild birds and animals, not viewed as the people. Now, the methods of control used in ancient times during the reign of Yu, Xia, Yin and Zhou (orig.: Chjou) are paid attention to, and the mistakes made in the recent past are repeated, causing me a great anxiety, and causing suffering to the people” 25.
In the same year, Emperor Wu-Di, intending to attack the Huns (匈奴), summoned high officials for a council. The discussion led to a dispute between a chief of the diplomatic service Wang Huy, a supporter of the war, and a chief censor Han An-go, a peace supporter.
25 Sima Qian, Historical Notes, ch. 112, l. 7a.
Han An-go, like Chjufu Yan, referring to the rulers of antiquity who preferred peace to war and were not able to subjugate “the barbarians”, despite all their wisdom. He said: “In addition, even in the period of three dynasties (Xia, Yin and Zhou (orig.: Chjou) ] the barbarians did not accept the system of chronology nor the color for the clothes, not because they lacked authority to curb them or did not have a strength to subjugate them, but because it was believed that unsuitable for control people that live in remote, inaccessible places, is not likely to cause troubles for the Middle Kingdom. 26
In 3 BC a bodyguard Yang Xiong advised Han Emperor Ai Di not to harm Huns (匈奴) : “In reality, five emperors could not make servants the Di (氐 ), who are living in the northern lands, the founders of the Three Dynasties could not curb them, hence it is clear that to lead to hostility with them is bad”. 27
And yet, despite the sober statements, the visits of the foreigners to the imperial court up to the new time have always been considered in China as an expression of vassalage relations. The self-consoling illusion, created in the ancient times, was stronger than reality.
More than two hundred years after Wu-Wang, during a fifth ruler of the Zhou (orig.: Chjou) dynasty, Mu-wan (10th c. BC) the presentation of indeterminate obligations ceased. The author of the work “Kuo-yu” explains that by the actions of Mu Wang, who ostensibly wanted to force Jungs (戎) to pay tribute with white wolfs and white deer. For that, he raided them, and although he managed to reach his goal, the offended Jungs (戎) stopped coming to the court. 28 In other words, Mu-van apparently wanted to change the status quo, making an unsuccessful attempt to convert a nominal dependency into real obligations. In fact, that led to a rupture of peaceful relations.
A grandson of Mu-Wang, I-wang (Yi-wang ?), under blows of the nomads was forced to flee from the capital Hao to Huayli, whereas the population of the country suffered from continuous raids. Ban Gu illustrates the ensuing difficult situation with the following lines from the “Book of Songs”:
No family and no home is any more. Trouble -
26 Ban Gu, History of the Han dynasty, ch. 52. ll. 17a, 17b.
In the future, the ruler Xiao Wang (孝王, 891–886 BC) could only with difficulties and briefly succeed in blocking the Huns (匈奴) raids. The reign of his son Yi Wang (夷王, 782-771 BC) witnessed even more powerful blows of the nomads, who for the first time in the Chinese history openly interfered in its affairs, acting like in a legal action, and not just as greedy robbers.
The matter was that Yi Wang (夷王), carried away with his concubine Bao-Sy, pushed aside his main wife, a daughter of the ruler of the possession Shen, and deprived her son Yi-tszu of the right to inherit the throne. This led to protests of the ruler of the possession Shen, who in the name of justice called for assistance Xuan Jungs (orig.: Tsuan Jungs), attacked with them the Zhou (orig.: Chjou) Yi Wang (夷王) at the Mount Lishan, killed him, and under a name Ping-Wang enthroned a son of his daughter.
At the same time the Xuan Jungs (orig.: Tsuan Jungs)(戎), using a favorable opportunity, seized land around the Lake Tszyaohu, settled between the rivers Jing and Wei, and from there began attacking the Middle Kingdom.
The Qin's Xiang-gun came to the Pin Wang (周平王) assistance against such insidious recent allies. Despite his support, in 770 BC Pin Wang still had to relocate the capital to the east to Luo Yi (洛邑 orig.: Loi), and the former Zhou (orig.: Chjou) lands west of the Qi mountains he bestowed to Xiang-gun, who, before exercising his rights still had to drive out the Xuan Jungs (Quan Jungs, orig.: Tsuan Jungs)(戎).
Only five years later, exercising his rights, Xiang-gun attacked Xuan Jungs (orig.: Tsuan Jungs)(戎) and reached the Qi mountains. During the campaign Xiang Gong died, and the Jung (戎) were only finally driven out by his son Wen-gun.
Pin-Wang's (周平王) relocation to the east marked an end of the of Zhou (orig.: Chjou) Dynasty initial period (Western Zhou), and opened a new period, known in Chinese history under a name Eastern Zhou (orig.: Chjou).
So ended the first, historically visible stage of the fight between China and the ancestors of Huns (匈奴), which lasted for about five centuries. That struggle, that unfolded mainly in the territory of the China, brought the Chinese more defeats than victories, and only much later that they were able to take revenge. The start of the Chinese military successes begins at about the middle of the period known as a Chun-Qiu period (770-403 BC) (Spring and Autumn Period).
Because of the Eastern
Zhou (orig.: Chjou) Dynasty defeat, after the capital was moved to Loi,
the China in essence no longer was a unified state. The old, well-established political order founded
upon the authority of the Son of Heaven, a recognized head of the state, was jarred. The
country whose rulers proved unable to protect from external threats,
fragmented into many independent and semi-independent domains headed by zhuhou
(诸侯), who were leading fierce struggles, during which
the strong absorbed the weaker.
“As a result, out of 1,800 possessions that existed in the early Zhou (orig.: Chjou) Dynasty, in the Chun-Qiu period remained only a little more than a hundred, out of which the largest were only 14 - Qin (orig.: Tsin), Jing (orig.: Tszin), Qi (orig.: Tsi), Chu (orig.: Chu), Lu (orig.: Lu), Wei (orig.: Vei), Yan (orig.: Yan), Cao (orig.: Tsao), Sun (orig.: Sun), Chen (orig.: Chen), Dai (代 orig.: Dai), Zheng (orig.: Chjen), Wu (orig.: U) and Yue (orig.: Yue), and of them, in-turn, the most powerful were the Jing (orig.: Tszin), Qin (orig.: Tsin), Qi (orig.: Tsi) and Chu (orig.: Chu)”. 30
These possessions, in contrast with the past times, in fact dictated their terms to the Zhou (orig.: Chjou) rulers, who were powerless to influence the course of the events. The Eastern Zhou (orig.: Chjou) turned into a similar possession with the rest, even weaker, and although its leaders continued to carry the title of Wang (King 王) and were called the Son of Heaven (tianzi 天子), it was of no real significance.
The political fragmentation naturally helped to increase the pressure of nomadic tribes, who did not face significant resistance. In 706 BC, Shan Jung (Mountain Jung 山戎) undertook unprecedented in scale invasion. They crossed the possession Yan and attacked Qi, and fought with its ruler Lee Gun under the walls of the capital Linji (orig.: Lintszy).
After 44 yers Shan Jung (Mountain Jung 山戎) attacked again the possession Yan, which appealed for help to the Qi ruler Huang-gun. The combined efforts were able to stop and expel the Shan Jung (Mountain Jung 山戎), but how great was the threat to China can be judged from the words of Confucius: “If not for [the councilor of Huang-gun] Guan Zhong, we would have to go with unknotted hair and clothes flapped to the left”. 31 According to Confucius, China was threatened with alien domination and accompanied forsaking of the national dress as a symbol of independence.
The affairs were not confined to only the raids. Not only the rulers of individual holdings, but even the Son of Heaven, a nominal head of the country, often saw desired allies in the nomads, and turned to them for help. This happened for example with the Zhou's Xiang-Wang. Xiang-wang out of political considerations married a daughter of a leader of one of Jung (戎) tribes, proclaimed her to be his senior wife, awarded her a title Di-how and with the Jungs (戎), who became his relatives, attacked the possession Zheng. However, having achieved a victory, he dethroned Di Hou, raising a sense of resentment and anger in her. In addition, Xiang-Wang had a stepmother with a title Hui Hou, who unsuccessfully tried after a death of Xiang Wang to raise to the throne her son Tzy-dai.
The insulted wife, the resentful stepmother, and deceived in his hopes Tzy Dai devised a conspiracy. They established secret communications with the Jungs (戎), and when they arrived, opened for them the gates of the capital. Xiang-Wang had to flee. To the Son of Heaven throne by the grace of the Jungs (戎) was raised Tzy Dai (The historical memory that the Huns played kingmakers in China remained with the Huns and Uigurs till their final dissolution, and by recurrently preventing them from reaching compromise that respects the real power ratios, invariably brought them down again and again).
30 Shan Yue, Studies in the History of China, p. 17.
Xiang-Wang was wandering for four years, and only in 632 BC, with a help of possession Jing ruler Wen-gun, he returned to the capital.
The story of the unfortunate Xiang Wang, according to Sima Qian, was a last milestone denoting a major success of the nomads during the Zhou (orig.: Chjou) Dynasty, after which the edge switched to the side of China. For that were objective reasons.
The first period of Eastern Zhou (orig.: Chjou) Dynasty, which began with the Ping-Wan evacuation to the east, is little attractive for studies. The previously unified state based on stable common interests and broad public connections split into countless possessions, each one enclised in its tight circle, with limited narrow interests, and external relations limited to the closest neighboring connections.
Studies of these tiny worlds that lasted for centuries gives too little food for the mind, a mass of tiny events are not forming any bright image, the insignificant ambitious actions of individual rulers do not feed the imagination.
However, under external little noticeable events expressed in constant warfare and occupations, intrigues and monstrous betrayals, in the depths of the Eastern Zhou (orig.: Chjou) matured seemingly subtle at a first glance processes of great historical significance. In the fire of continuous turmoil and unrest were incinerated the old, firmly ordered social relations, and to replace them were coming new relations, declaring themselves with irresistible force during the Zhan-guo Period (Zhanguo, “Warring States” 战国时代 476–221 BC).
The Zhan-guo epoch (403-221 BC), or Warring States, is rightly regarded as a turning point in the Chinese history. It was then that become apparent the qualitative changes in the development of the productive forces, a prerequisite for which was the development of techniques for processing of iron (The Iron Age in China came half a millennia later then the Iron Age among the steppe nomads).
Not by chance the Zhan-guo period is called an era of the wide spread of iron tools in China. The progress in the technique of iron smelting multiplied the number and assortment of manufactured iron objects. Almost all agricultural implements became manufactured of the iron, the use of which caused intensive development of agriculture. The use of iron also facilitated a rapid development of handcrafts. In place of the bronze implements of labor and military weapons from bronze came the iron.
The growth of agricultural production and handcrafts
brought about a widespread development of
trade both within the individual domains, and between them. The active trading contributed
unprecedented urban growth. The expanded trade demanded improvement of transport, including
the water transport, one of the most convenient and cheap means of communication. Emerged an entire
system of channels connecting different areas of the country. A desire
to establish economic ties between possessions has led to casting of identical forms of
In addition to establishing economic and cultural contacts, is observable a convergence of different domains, and are taken first incidental steps for unification of writing.
The wide propagation of iron tools, intensification of trading relations, development of transportation links, unification of the coin form, a cultural convergence of individual holdings, all that pointed to the ongoing during the Zhan-guo (“Warring States”) period consolidation of different regions of the country, which was laying a solid foundation for its unification, which then actually occurred during a reign of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang (Qin Shi Huang, Shi Huangdi 始皇帝 246–210 BC).
In the progressive development of China, in activization of its farming and urban life, in the development of handcrafts and political awareness, in the rise of the spiritual attitudes is born the main reason for the Chinese success in the fight against the Huns (匈奴).
A general revival could not fail to affect the military parity. From the standpoint of the military art theory, China during the Zhan-guo (“Warring States”) period was at a much higher position than the Huns (匈奴). During centuries of internecine warfare was accumulated a wealth of experience, analyzed and generalized by the authors of numerous so-called military treatises. When during the early Han dynasty the superiors Zhang Liang and Han Xin (韩信, orig.: Sin) took up a systematization of available military treatises, they encountered the works of 182 authors. 32
In the field of military technology, China also surpassed its rivals. The new types of weapons have appeared, such as the crossbow and halberd.
The crossbow consisted of a bow attached to the butt with a trigger and a foot stirrup for the for drawing bow. The effort required to arm a crossbow into a firing position was estimated in dans, and, according to Xun Zi (荀子, orig.: Sün-tszy), existed crossbows where that effort was equal 12 dans, 33 which with one dan equal 29 kg 960 g 34 gave in modern units 359.5 kg. The bowshot was in excess of 600 steps.
A halberd was a long pole with an ax blade, terminated with a sharp tip, it could be used both as a chopping and stabbing weapon. It was a successful combination of two different types of weapons, a spear and a battle axe.
The crossbow and halberd remained for centuries the weapons of the Chinese troops.
32 Ban Gu, History of the Han Dynasty, ch. 30, p. 28a.
For example, analyzing the military strengths and weaknesses of the Huns (匈奴), a councilor Chao Tso (? - 154 BC) noted in his report to the Han Emperor Wen Do: “Tight crossbows shoot long distances, and long halberds reach far out, so the Huns' (匈奴) bows are unable to resist them.” 35 The penetrating power of crossbows was so great that, according to the same Chao Tso, the Huns' (匈奴) leather armor and wooden shields could not withstand the impact of the striking arrows.
Were also established new types of troops. If previously a main strike force was clumsy and heavy chariots, now they were replaced by the infantry, and in the northern possessions neighboring the nomads, following the example of nomads was established cavalry. The emergence of the China's cavalry is associated with the name of Ulin-Wang, a ruler of the possession Zhao (orig.: Chjou), which went for direct imitation, “modifying the existing customs, began wearing the clothing of the Huns (胡), and learn horsemanship and archery”. 36
In addition to the of attack weapons, the defenses also improved greatly. The cities were encircled with strong walls, against which the unfamiliar with siege machinery nomads were powerless. In the whole history of the Huns (匈奴), the sources never mentioned any city they took by storm.
The military supremacy, achieved on the foundation of the global development of the productive forces, allowed the Chinese in the middle of the Chun-Qiu (Spring and Autumn Period, 770-403 BC) period to switch to a counter-offence. A new page in the relations between China and continuously disturbing it nomads was opened by the Qin (秦, 778-207 BC) ruler Mu-Gun (秦穆公, died 621 BC), who subjugated the Western Jung 37 (For a sedentary state to subjugate nomadic nation is like for a walrus to subjugate a pack of wolves. You can chance to assault them, you can steal their herds for a minute, but before you subjugate them you need to catch them. No walls, crossbows, or halberds are able to catch a mounted rider. History tells us that only by buying a part of a tribe, and playing off one part against another, were Chinese ever able to achieve a supremacy. Even a giant army without corroboration of the nomads could inflict not any serious blows. The “subjugation“ amounted to permanent occupation of the nomadic territory, displacement of uncooperative husbandry nomads, accommodation of cooperative families, and creation of defensible positions to prevent return of the nomads to their traditional pastures).
The successors of Mu-Gun (秦穆公) continued to press the Jungs (戎). By the time of Zhou-Wang (possibly reference to Zhou Xianwang 顯王 368–321 BC), about 300 years later, the power of Qin (秦, 778-207 BC) had already spread to the former Jung (戎) lands, where were created districts Lungxi (龍溪), Beidi (北狄) and Shantszyun, and to defend them from attack by Huns (匈奴) was built a Long Wall.
Around the same time, the ruler Wuling-wang (武靈王, 326–299 BC) of the Zhao possession defeated the northern tribes Linhu and Loufan, established on the occupied territories districts Yunchzhun, Yanmyn and Daytszyun, and built a protective wall along the foot of the Inshan mountains to the Gaotsyue in the west and to the borders of the possession Yan in the east. Thus, the possession Zhao acquired the entire territory of the modern Ordos.
Somewhat later in the Yan possession was promoted a commander Qin Kai. At one time he was sent as a hostage to the Dunhu, who grew to trust him. However, after his return to Yan, Qin Kai suddenly attacked Dunhu, defeated them, and forced them to withdraw at more than 1000 li (400-500 km). The Yan possession established in the occupied lands the districts Zhang, Yuyyan, Yubeypin, Lyaosi and Liaodong, protecting them with a long wall stretching from Tszaoyan to Syanpin.
35 Ban Gu, History of the Han Dynasty, ch. 49, p. 96.
The remains of the wall survived to present, particularly survived a section of the wall about 30 li long, passing along a northern bank of the river Silutszya in the Chifeng county, near villages Laoemyao, Batszyatszy and Sashuipo. The height of the wall, in places of clay, in places of stone, ranges from 2 to 5 m. At that site are also visible remains of three small forts. 38
After taking Ordos, the Zhao possession come to a forefront of a struggle with the Huns (匈奴), for whom Ordos had a great economic value. The sand dunes with good grass cover, saline meadows in the lowlands, and numerous freshwater lakes created extremely favorable conditions for nomadic herding. Because of that, despite the defensive wall erected by the Chinese, the Huns (匈奴) repeatedly raided the Zhao possession, which at the end of the Zhan-guo (“Warring States” 476–221 BC) period was forced to keep on the northern borders a standing army headed by commander Li Mu (李牧).
Because the wall could not stop the raids of the nomads, and the defense along its entire length demanded a huge number of soldiers, Li Mu chose a peculiar defensive tactics. The troops were ordered: “If the Huns (匈奴) invade to plunder, immediately collect the property and take refuge in fortifications. Who would dare to go catching barbarians will be beheaded. 39
The Li Mu calculation was based on the Huns (匈奴) lacking siege equipment. Once the placed everywhere signal beacons reported an appearance of the enemy, the troops were gathering people and cattle, and hid in walled fortifications, where they felt fully safe. As a result of such tactics, “the Zhao possession did not bore any losses. 40
However, Li Mu was accused of cowardice, and a new commander was appointed to command the troops. The successor of Li Mu, whose name is unknown, faced the enemy several times in open battles, but suffered heavy losses, and performed so poorly that “agriculture and animal husbandry became impossible at the borders.” Li Mu was appointed again. In few years, he prepared 13 thousand chariots, 13 thousand horsemen, 50 thousand brave soldiers, and 100 thousand archers. Li Mu resorted to a ruse: he let the cattle loose in the steppe, and when the Huns (匈奴) pounced on the prey, pretended to be defeated and retreated. Upon learning of that, Shanyu (單于) hastened to invade the land of Zhao, where for him was prepared an ambush. Li Mu surrounded the Shanyu (單于) troops and routed them, destroying more than 100 thousand horsemen (100 thousand Hun's families numbering 500,000 population lost their man, The combined numbers of suffering loss and escaping loss population is compatible with the population of today's Mongolia, within the honesty of Chinese reports. These numbers, however, pale in comparison with the numbers of exterminated Melanoid population).
After suffering a crushing defeat, the Huns (匈奴) for over ten years did not dare to approach the border wall of the Zhao possession.
38 Yang Kuan, History of Zhan-guo period, p. 142.
However, possession Zhao did not enjoy peace and quiet for long. In 222 BC it was liquidated by the ruler of Qin possession, a creator of the first centralized state in China, known in history under a title Shi Huang (Shi Huangdi 始皇帝 246–210 BC).
While the Qin possession struggled with its less fortunate rival, Shanyu (單于) Touman (Tumen 頭曼) took back the territory of the Ordos seized by the Zhao possession.
The sources give no indication on the behavior of the Huns (匈奴) in regard to China after they returned their land. We only know that in 215 BC the Emperor Shi-huang, visiting north-eastern and northern possessions of the empire, drove through the Shantszyun district, which was located in the former Huns' (匈奴) lands. Apparently, the appearance in the Ordos of the former owners alarmed the emperor, who knew very well the cost of the fights with Huns (匈奴) born by his ancestors. Because of these concerns, he decided to send to the frontier against the restless neighbors a commander Meng Tian (蒙恬, ?-210 BC) with a huge army, which numbers, according to some sources, was 300 thousand, and in the others 500 thousand.
Perhaps no single act of Shi Huang caused such violent attacks in the sources as the initiated war with the Huns (匈奴). Even a sufficient pretext was not seen for the initiation of hostilities.
Sima Qian, for example, explains the Emperor's decision by his inherent superstition. Ostensibly one of the many magicians surrounding the Emperor predicted: “Qin will perish of Hu” 41. Under Hu, the magician had in mind a weak-willed and vicious emperor's son, Hu Hai, during whose reign the dynasty was in fact destroyed. However Shi-huang, thinking that the subject were Huns (匈奴), called Hu (胡) in China, decided to destroy them, to avert the danger looming over his dynasty.
A counselor Chjufu Yan ascribed it all to the inordinate ambition of the emperor, and his passion for conquest: “In the past, the emperor of the Qin Dynasty, relying on his invincibility in battle, like a silkworm feeding on a leaf, gradually captured the Celestial kingdom, swallowed rival possessions, united everything within the limits of four seas into one whole, and by his exploits equated with the three dynasties. Without stopping his striving for victories, he conceived to attack the Huns (匈奴)”. 42
A Wang Mang's a commander Yan Yu said that the war with the Huns (匈奴) showed Shi-Huang's lack of any action plan, and was initiated because Shi-huang was unable to take petty grievances, and flouted the people. 43
41 Ibid, ch. b, l. 216.
Regardless of the reasons, the war was a foregone reality, and in 215 BC the Chinese troops under the command of Meng Tian (蒙恬) started on a campaign. While the sources did not preserve any details about that campaign, apparently for the Chinese the campaign was successful, and ended with expulsion of the Huns (匈奴) from their lands. This is articulated by energetic measures taken by Meng Tian (蒙恬) for retaining Ordos. Among such measures first of all should be mentioned the construction of the Great Wall from Lintao (Minsyan county in Gansu Province) in the west to the district Liaodong in the east (the wall terminates near a river Datuntszyan in China), providing safety for the northern borders of China for over 4 thousand km. The Wall was completed by 212 BC.
In 212 BC Meng Tian (蒙恬) built by an order of Emperor a straight road that connected a newly created in Ordos district Jiuyuan (九淵, near Baotou, Inner Mongolia, orig.: Tszyuyuan) with Yunyang (in Shaanxi), the latter was already connected to the same straight road with Xianyang (咸阳, orig.: Syanyan), a capital of the Qin empire. Thus, the interior of the Qin empire (大秦帝国) became connected with its northern frontier, which had not only military and political, but also economic importance.
Finally, the newly occupied lands were divided into 34 counties, where were sent settlers from the interior of the country. The started plowing up of the pasture lands, and the consequent development of agriculture, to some extent contributed in solving a problem of supplying the border troops and the masses rounded up for the construction work.
The military victories of Meng Tian (蒙恬), along with significant advances in the development of Ordos, leave no doubts. But all that was achieved paying a price of the great effort and sacrifice by the population of the country. Discussing the war with the Huns (匈奴), a Han official Zhufu Yan (主父偃) said: “The Emperor Qin sent against the Huns (胡) troops led by Meng Tian (蒙恬), who expanded the territory of the State for 1000 li (400 km) and established a border along the Yellow River. The acquired land consisted of lakes and marshes, did not produce the “five cereal species“, but nevertheless in the future from the China were sent recruits to defend Beihe (Northern River). For more than ten years the sun was beating down soldiery, and the dew soaked the troops, countless soldiers have died who have never managed to reach the northern shore of the Yellow River. Was not there enough people or enough weapons and armor? No, the terrain conditions did not allow that.
In addition, the Celestial Empire was ordered to urgently send straw and pull [carts and boats with] grain, which were transported to the [area] Beyhe (Northern River) from the Huang and Chui counties and Lanie district, located by the sea, and as a rule out of each 30 jungs (?) of grain [the destination] reached only one dan (30 kg). Though the men diligently cultivated fields, the food for the troops was in shortage, and although the women were spinning, the fabric for tents was in shortage. People were fatigued, the orphans and singles, the elderly and children were not able to support each other, the roads were everywhere strewn with corpses, and apparently that was why the Celestial rebelled against the Qin Dynasty”. 44
44 Sima Qian, Historical Notes, ch. 112, ll, 6a, 6b.
In the 11 BC a commander Yan Yu in a report to Wang Man wrote: “The Qin Emperor Shi-huang, unable to ignore small invectives and flouting the the stamina of the people, began building Great Wall, which stretches over 10 thousand li, and the [continuous] train of the transported goods began from the sea. However, when the creation of heavily fortified border was completed, the Middle Kingdom was exhausted, which the extinguished the dynasty, and that shows that the Qin had no plan.” 45
Despite the enormous efforts and the colossal cost, the dynasty Qin possessed Ordos for just over ten years. In the summer of 210 BC Shi-Huang, returning from a routine inspection tour of the eastern regions, died in Shatsyu in the modern province of Shandong.
To the throne ascended his youngest son, Hu Hai. Lacking any brains, nor the will of Shi-Huang, the young emperor tried to continue all policies of his father, but his despotism and cruel exactions provoked strong opposition, against which he turned out to be powerless.
The first uprising raised Chen Sheng and Wu Guang, and although the rebellion was quelled, it was an impetus that stirred all anti-Qin forces. The riots broke out across the whole country. The largest of these was a revolt of Xiang Yu in the modern province of Hubei. He was joined later by a man from the lowest layer of bureaucracy Liu Bang (劉邦). Under the powerful blows of the insurgents, in 206 BC the Qin dynasty dissolved, and started a fierce power struggle between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang (劉邦). In 202 BC, Liu Bang (劉邦) won, and proclaimed an establishment of a Han Dynasty.
Taking advantage of the unrest in China, the Hun Shanyu (匈奴單于) Touman (Tumen 頭曼) crossed to the south bank of the Yellow River, and the Huns (匈奴) again began grazing livestock on the Ordos lands.
The Shanyu (匈奴單于) (匈 hung/clamor 奴 nou/slave單 sin/single于 yu/go = Hun-nu Sin-yu ≈ Hun Shanyu) Touman (Tumen 頭 tau/chief曼 man/vast = Tau-man ≈ Touman, 240 - 209BC, in Tr. “tumen” stands for “countless”, a la semantic “endless” in “Kul” and “Tengiz” ≈ derivative 10,000, the appellation is supported by the impressive size of his army) had two sons. According to tradition, after his death to the throne was to be raised his eldest son Maodun (冒 bo, mou/brave顿 tun/stop = Bo/Mo-tun ≈ Maodun/Batur). Touman (頭曼) wanted to make a younger son a Shanyu (單于), so he sent Maodun (冒顿) (冒顿, 209 - 174BC, “ Maodun (冒顿)” is being interpreted as “Batur/Baγatur” in Chinese rendition), as a hostage to Yuezhi (月支), who lived in the western part of today's Gansu Province. Then he suddenly attacked Yuezhi (月支), hoping that they would kill his son. The carefully conceived plan failed, because Maodun (冒顿) managed to steal a horse and flee back to his father. Delighted with the daring of his son, Touman appointed him to command 10 thousand horsemen (The succession mechanism, driven by common lateral succession law, would have the dauphin prince command the left wing of the state, and the next-in-line command the right wing, in Chinese transmission Eastern and Western Chjuki-Prince, Türkic “ükü“/“jükü“ 屠耆 = wise, only the word “jükü“ was rendered phonetically without a Chinese translation; since in the absence of Maodun (冒顿) the position of the Eastern Jükü-Prince was held by his unnamed younger brother, the re-appearance of Maodun (冒顿) forced his younger brother down one step, to the Western (right) Jükü-Prince 右屠耆王 position . As an Eastern (left) Jükü-Prince 左屠耆王, Maodun (冒顿) was in command of way more then one tumen/10,000 troops, but his standing force may have been a nominal one tumen. Chinese annals do not delve into the conflict between two princes, but for both princes the situation must have been precipitous from day one).
45 Ban Gu, History of the Han Dynasty, ch. 94b, l 24b
Shortly thereafter, Maodun (冒顿), having taught his riders in a spirit of unquestioning obedience, killed his father and seized the throne. First he defeated Dunhu in the east, and then drove away the pastural Yuezhi in the west. The Hun's (匈奴) state has grown incredibly, in the east to Korea, and in the west to the modern Xinjiang. The sources cite the Hun's (匈奴) troop strength at 300 thousand archers, and the state they established was so strong that the Chinese compared it with the Middle Empire.
Having conquered the eastern and western neighbors, Maodun (冒顿) turned his sights to China. By that time the civil war in China ended with a victory for Liu Bang (劉邦), who founded a dynasty Han and began to strengthen the central power. During the furious internecine struggle, Liu Bang (劉邦) generously was doling out to his cohorts the high titles of princes and huge land holdings. However, since a strong central authority is incompatible with a feudal fragmentation, after his victory he started revoking the handed out titles and possessions, which was reflected in a famous formula “except those with surname Liu, nobody can be a Wang (King).”
One of those who were granted a title Wang was Han Xin (韩信, orig.: Sin) from the aristocracy of the ancient possession Han (a western part of modern Henan Province). The existence of other's possessions in the heart of the empire did not suit Liu Bang (劉邦), so he soon gave Han Xin (韩信, orig.: Sin) a new possession in the Dai, in the northern Shanxi province.
The Dai lands were located next to the Huns (匈奴), who often raided them. In the autumn of 201 BC, Maodun (冒顿) surrounded Han Xin (韩信) in a city Mai with large forces. A few times Han Xin (韩信, orig.: Sin) sent to the Huns (匈奴) messengers, trying to peacefully resolve the conflict, but the emperor learned of that, suspected Han Xin of treason, and sent an official to him with an expression of disapproval.
Fearing for his life, Han Xin (韩信, orig.: Sin) reached an agreement with the Huns (匈奴) about a joint attack on the Han, raised a revolt, surrendered the Mai city, and attacked the Taiyuan District. In the winter of 200 BC, the Han Emperor personally defeated Han Xin (韩信, orig.: Sin) at the town Tundi, and beheaded his commander Wang Xi. Han Xin (韩信) fled to the Huns (匈奴).
At that time Maodun (冒顿) dispatched more than 100 thousand horsemen from Daigu, where his troops were quartered, and they lured Liu Bang (劉邦) into an ambush on the Baiden mountain. For seven days the vanguard of the Chinese army, with the emperor in the head, remained surrounded without food provisions. The critical situation forced Liu Bang (劉邦) to send a messenger, who ostensibly secretly handed over to the Maodun (冒顿) wife rich gifts, and she told her husband: “You are two sovereigns, you do not interfere with each other. If now the Han's land will be captured, still you Shanyu (單于) will never be able to live there. In addition, the Han ruler may also have cunning plans, think about that, Shanyu (單于).” 46
46 Sima Qian, Historical Notes, ch. 110, pp. 12a.
A messenger was sent at a suggestion of councilor Chen Ping, but sources reported that the details about the secret Chen Ping's plan the contemporaries were unable to learn “47
A commentator In Shao argues that Chen Ping advised the Emperor to order an artist to paint a portrait of a beauty, and sent it to the Shanyu (單于) wife with the words: “The Han have a beauty, and now when the emperor found himself in an uncomfortable position, he is going to present her to the Shanyu (單于). The Shanyu (單于) wife, fearing that her husband might grow cold to her, persuaded Maodun (冒顿) to remove the siege.
However, most likely Maodun (冒顿) lifted the siege because he has not received a promised reinforcements from Han Xin (韩信, orig.: Sin) in time. Nevertheless, the ubiquitous in the Chinese literature version about the existence of a mysterious plan by Chen Ping clearly demonstrates the humiliation endured by the Han emperor, surrounded by the Huns (匈奴). Perhaps, to cover up the impotence of the military, was concocted such version, which allowed the Chinese to talk about a tactical superiority of Liu Ban (劉邦) over his enemies.
The escape of Liu Bang (劉邦) from the siege has not stopped fighting. At that many Han's generals were switching over to the Huns (匈奴), and Maodun (冒顿) often attacked the land of the Dai district and robbed them.
The continuous raids distressed the emperor, and he turned for advice to a high official, Liu Jing (刘京). Liu Jing (刘京) suggested: “If you, Your Majesty, would give Maodun (冒顿) to marry your eldest daughter from your senior wife, and send him generous gifts, he will understand that the daughter of Han Emperor may bring wealth to the barbarians, and therefore being seduced by them, he certainly would make her his wife, and when she would have a boy, he would surely pronounce him his heir, who would become Shanyu (單于) instead of him. Why would it happen this way? Because of a greed for the Han valuable gifts. And you, Your Majesty, according to the seasons of the year, send to them the gifts that are available in excess at the Han, but lack at the Huns (匈奴), inquire about the health of Shanyu (單于) and use the occasion to send eloquent people, for them to imperceptibly instruct him in rules of demeanor.
While Maodun (冒顿) stays alive, he of course will be your son-in-law, and when he dies, a son of your daughter will be a Shanyu (單于). And was it ever been heard that grandson related to his grandfather as an equal? So gradually the Huns (匈奴) can be turned into your servants without a war.” (This advice demonstrates a complete change of guard at the helm of the Chinese state. Both Yin and Early Zhou would know the principles of dynastic marriage, and impossibility of a concubine son to raise to the throne, but the Han Chinese apparently did not) 48
47 Ban Gu, History of the Han Dynasty, ch. 40, p. 17a.
Liu Bang (劉邦) took a girl from a simple family, posed her as his eldest daughter, and gave her to Shanyu (單于) in wives, pledging to send annually a certain quantity of gifts, which in fact were a disguised tribute. Thus, in 198 BC was established a beginning for humiliating for China treaties with nomadic neighbors, known in history as the treaties of peace and kinship (heqin 和亲 “peace marriage”, aka “peace and kinship”, 198 BC - 129 BC).
In 195 BC Liu Bang (劉邦) died. Since his heir son was a minor, the country was ruled by the Empress Lu Hou (Lü Taihou 呂太后, 202-195 BC + 195-180 BC), a dowager wife of Liu Bang (劉邦). Her seven-year regency was marked by a fierce struggle of the court aristocracy for power, that sucked all the energy and time.
Taking advantage of favorable conditions, Maodun (冒顿) not only made numerous raids on border areas, but also attempted to gain the whole of China. In 192 BC he proposed the Empress to marry him, hoping to get the whole Chinese empire as dowry. The Empress refused, citing her old age. Between the parties continued relations established by the heqin treaty of peace and kinship.
After a death of Empress Lu Hou (Lü Taihou 呂太后) the country was ruled by Emperor Wen Di (文帝, 179 – 157 BC). Despite the great efforts to consolidate peace, in 177 BC the Hun's (匈奴) right Yu Xian-wang (Right Jükü-Bek 右贤王) settled on lands south of the Yellow River, from where he raided the Shantszyun (Shanjyun/Shanjun/Shanzhun ?) district (The Right Jükü-Bek 右贤王 was a head of the maternal half of the dynastic union, which was the legal owner of the Hun lands, and the capture of their land by Qin was a personal assault on the rightful owner).
Wen-Di (文帝) sent to Gaon army of 85 thousand people. It was the first military operation launched by the Han dynasty after the failure of Liu Bang (劉邦) on the mountain Baiden in 200 BC. To raise the spirit of troops the Emperor himself accompanied the troops. The Huns (匈奴) retreated without a battle. But when the emperor was about to take the battle into the steppe, rose a revolt of Tszibey-wang, forcing China to abandon further struggle. In their turn, the Huns (匈奴) also did not continue fighting. They got involved in another war with Yuezhi in the west. In a Maodun (冒顿) letter to the Emperor Wen Di (文帝) mentioned that war, explained the reasons for the conflict with the Han, and contained a proposal for restoration of the peace.
After receiving the letter, the Emperor Wen Di (文帝) started a discussion, what is more beneficial, the war or peace based on kinship. The councilors found: “Shanyu (單于) just defeated Yuezhi, is encouraged by the victory, and now he must not be attacked. In addition, if we acquire Huns' (匈奴) land, then we still can not live among the lakes and saltine marshes. Most advantageous is a heqin peace based on kinship.” 49
Following the advice of the councilors, the Emperor sent to the Huns (匈奴) envoys with rich presents to conclude a peace. In a letter he recognized the Hun (匈奴) state equal with the Chinese empire, and called Shanyu (單于) his brother. For the Huns (匈奴) that was an unprecedented success, so far no leader of the nomadic peoples ever dreamed to be equal with the Chinese emperor.
49 Ibid, ch. 110, p. 14b.
Shortly after conclusion of the treaty Maodun (冒顿) died, and his son Jizhu (稽粥, orig.: Tsziyuy) was raised to head the Huns (匈奴) under a name Shanyu (單于) Laoshang (Laoshang 老上單于, r. 174-160 BC). To consolidate the peace treaty, Wen-di (文帝) again sent him a new princess of the imperial family to marry. Despite that, in 166 BC 140 thousand of Hun (匈奴) riders entered China through the Chzhaona county and Syaoguan outpost, killed a district commander of the Beidi district, captured many people and livestock, and approached Penyan. From there they sent a light squad which captured and burned the Huychzhun palace, and the Hun (匈奴) mounted scouts came to the Gantsyu-An palace (The episode fails to mention that the Huns repossessed their lands in Ordos, and apparently their retaliation was provoked by Chinese encroachment that attempted to re-establish a Beidi military district in their land, an objective which Chinese continued to attempt on many occasions after they first captured the land and expelled the Hun tribe “Bei Di” = “Northern Di” = Tele Huns. The Hun's action appears more a demonstration then a war, and the captured people and cattle were squatters or planted colonists. In these conflicts, the Shanyus were consistently on the side of the China, defending China at all assemblies where complaints against China were raised, and trying to mollify the infringed side by proposing diplomatic interventions and peaceful meditation. Unlike the Chinese autocratic monarchs, Shanyus were presiding over the confederate assemblies under a threat to their personal safety and dissenting revolts, and had to pay attention to the complaints of the chieftains, each of which commanded his own corps of cavalry, was a necessary contributor to the state's army, and was responsible for the well-being of his own tribe. The retaliatory strikes were authorized only as a last resort, when no assuagement was possible, the majority did not want any half-measures, and the Shanyu's own position was seriously threatened).
In response, China gathered a thousand chariots, and 100 thousand horsemen near Chang'an, and sent many troops against invading Huns (匈奴). The Shanyu (單于) remained in the Han lands for more than a month, and turned back. The Han troops chased him until he crossed the border. While the Han Dynasty was sending annually rich presents and supported the peace treaty by all means, for four years the Huns (匈奴) continuously raided the frontier lands. Especially hard were hit the districts Yunchzhun and Liaodong, in each of them were killed or captured more than 10 thousand people (What Chinese called frontier lands for the Huns was their ancestral land, likely with sacral traditions and undoubtedly with the cemeteries containing graves of their revered ancestors, unjustly claimed and encroached on by their peace partner).
The continuing raids distressed Wen-di (文帝) , therefore he sent to Shanyu (單于) several letters with proposal to restore the heqin peace treaty signed in 162 BC. For China, the heqin peace was heavy and shameful. Wen-di (文帝) recognized Huns (匈奴) a state equal in strength, and undertook to send annually to Shanyu (單于) a gift of certain amount of malt from glutinous millet, gold, silk fabrics, silk, wool and other things. The older defectors were not returned, but the new defections were forbidden under a pain of death (Maodun was a first to introduce a novel concept in the nomadic world, that the state is not only its people, but the territory also. That lesson may have been taught by Chinese, who were stealing the Hun's lands for 200 years before Maodun. But Maodun was also a first who had to face a new problem: the Chinese were methodically and systematically stealing manpower from the Hun's state, to fill in their lack of cavalry. Chinese were successful in attracting deserters from the ranks of discontented, playing on internecine conflicts ever present in the nomadic voluntary confederations. By ca 150 BC, the Chinese accumulated enough deserted tribes to mobilize a 100,000 of Hun's cavalry to fight against the Huns. The subject of returning the deserters was a constant point of contention between the Chinese and the Huns, and the numbers clearly illustrate that Chinese consistently violated the terms of the treaties. In the end, this far-flung policy brought down the Huns, and after them all other Türkic states neighboring China. The cycle was repeated over and over again, a new retribution, a new appeasement heqin peace treaty, a new pledge, a new violation, a new retribution, until the balance of power came to the side of China).>.
Four years later, the concluded peace treaty was violated by a new Hun Shanyu (單于) Jiunchen (aka Gunchen 單于, 162-126 BC, orig.: Tszyunchen) when two detachments of Hun Hun (匈奴) cavalry of 30 thousand riders each invaded the border districts Shantszyun and Yunchzhun. While the Chinese government was raising an army, the Huns (匈奴) soundly devastated those districts and without any losses returned back to the steppes.
In 157 BC after a death of
Wen-Di (文帝) his son Jing Di
(景帝, 156-141 BC) ascended the throne. Emperor Jing Di
continued his predecessor's policy aimed at strengthening the central government. On the
advice of a councilor Chao Tso he confiscated a considerable part of the land from
the possessions Zhao, Chu, and Jiangxi, intending to also do the same with the most powerful
possession Wu, that occupied the territory of the modern Zhejiang Province and a greater part of
the Jiangsu Province.
At the head of possession Wu stood Liu Pi (劉濞), a younger brother of the late Emperor Wen-Di (文帝) . Liu Pi (劉濞), who was unable to mount the throne after the death of his brother, gathered around him all discontented with the central government. He succeeded in winning over the rulers of possessions Zhao (赵), Chu (楚, 1030–223 BC = Jing 荆 = Jingchu 荆楚), Jiaodong (膠東 ≈ Shandong, orig.: Tszyaodun), Jiaoxi (礁溪, orig.: Tsziao-si), Jinan (济南), and Zichuan (淄川, now Zibo, Shandong, orig.: Tszychuan), with whom in 156 BC he raised a rebellion known as a “rebellion of seven kingdoms (七国之乱).” The ruler of the Zhao kingdom Liu Sui (劉遂) was ordered to establish close relations with the Huns (匈奴) and persuade them to attack the Han from the north.
The rebellion was quickly extinguished, and Liu Pi (劉濞) killed. The imperial troops surrounded Liu Sui (劉遂) in Handan (邯郸). Convinced about futility of resistance, he committed suicide. The Huns (匈奴), without an ally, dropped the idea of invading the Han lands.
After suppression of the “rebellion of seven kingdoms (七国之乱)”, the Emperor Jing Di (景帝) again confirmed the heqin peace treaty with the Huns (匈奴), opened border crossing points for trade, sent a new Chinese princess to the Shanyu (單于) as a wife, and sent rich gifts. As a result, during his reign Huns (匈奴) committed only small inroads, without undertaking major military actions (For the Huns, a major component of the heqin peace treaty was free trade commitment on the part of China. Without a free trade clause, the Huns would not have signed the heqin treaty. Various Chinese governments on many occasions continued to attempt to control the trade relations, restricting the locations for the border trade, restricting the contents of the trade, and using trade as a tool of war during peaceful times, to press the Huns into subordinate position. The first victims of the free trade violations were the tribes whose winter kishlaks were located along the border, a relocation of the border trading post from the area of one tribe to the area of another tribe was a device to sow enmity between neighboring tribes, and since a tribe that accepted Chinese supremacy was exempted from the trade restrictions, in addition to sowing discontent within the Hun state, the restrictive trade policy served as a drafting device to acquire domestic husbandry production by the nomadic Huns for the Chinese cavalry industry. Throughout the Chinese history, the husbandry and cavalry was run by the nomadic, mainly Türkic communities, whose main initial motivators were to avoid internecine conflicts and to have unrestricted access to peaceful trade. Generally speaking, for China to have reasonably open trade with the pastoral steppe neighbors always meant to live in peaceful times).
In 140 BC the throne the emperor Wu Di (武帝, 140 – 87 BC). By that time the situation in China has radically changed. The suppression of “rebellion of seven kingdoms (七国之乱)” has lead to the entrenchment of the central government, and the policy of over several decades aimed at improving the welfare of the population gave into Wu Di (武帝) hands vast material resources. Being in such favorable conditions, immediately after accession to the throne Wu Di (武帝) began preparing for a war against the Huns (匈奴) (Unlike the Huns, the Chinese never took to heart the treaties they signed, kinship or else, seeing them only as a tool to gain time and upper hand. In the Huns' etiology, built on the kinship bonds, the paradigm of kinship was supreme, towering over any other attribute, including personal ambitions, superiority complex, and national patriotism. The history of the Huns, and previous and later Türkic peoples and states is an epitome of the kinship loyalty, manifested in inseparable unions, predominantly known as political unions, but at a closer inspection invariably founded on marital kinship: As and Tochars, Huns and Yuis/Huis/Suis, Ashina Türks and Ashide, Uigur Djalairs and Kangars, Kangars and Badjanaks, Alan Ases and Tochar Digors, etc. The underlying etiology was that as for marital spouses, it is better to perish together then to prosper separately. In that concept, treachery is unfathomable).
In the discussion of the councilors surrounding the emperor in the 133 BC about the policy toward the Huns (匈奴), opinions had diverged. A majority favored preservation of the peaceful relations, believing that the Huns (匈奴) are strong, the invasion into the steppes they occupy is dangerous because of the far distance, and the acquisition of the Huns' (匈奴) land for the Han is useless, because these lands do not produce anything. A long war will only exacerbate the hardships of the (Chinese) population, which could lead to unrest.
The other councilors, headed by Wang Hui (王恢, minister of vassal affairs), objecting to these arguments stated that
Huns (匈奴) are strong, China can win, as it was
during Zhao (赵) Wuling-wang (武靈王,
326–299 BC) and Qin's (秦,) Shi Huang (Shi Huangdi 始皇帝
246–210 BC). The
Huns (匈奴) can not be trusted, because they constantly violate the
heqin Peace Treaty, and the peace policy toward them is dictated by the
temporary adverse circumstances, and causes irreparable harm to the border population. Wu
Di (武帝) ,
dissatisfied with the heqin peace treaty based on kinship, had leaned to the side of Wang Hui (王恢).
It was decided to lure the Huns (匈奴) to the Chinese land, and then destroy them. According to the plan, one of the merchants in the border town Mayi (馬邑, in modern Shuozhou, Shanxi), some Nie Yi (聶壹), came to Shanyu (單于) and said: “I can kill the head of the Mayi district and his assistant, and turn the city to you, then you will receive all the wealth there then you will get all the wealth there” 50
Shanyu (單于), tempted by the riches of Mayi, in 133 BC led à 100,000-strong invading army inside China. Near the city was hidden a 300,000-strong Chinese army was waiting for him in ambush. On the way to the Mayi, the Huns (匈奴) captured a petty border official who was making rounds on the border. He was aware of the Han court plans, and to save his life, he told about ambush. The scared Shanyu (單于) quickly turned back, while the Chinese troops were waiting for the Huns (匈奴) entry into Mayi. The failure so enraged Wu Di (武帝) that he indicted the chief commander Wang Hui (王恢).
The fruitless for both sides events at the city Mayi launched a violent military campaign, which lasted with a few interruptions throughout the reign of the Emperor Wu Di (武帝) . First of all the Han dynasty, which took the hostile initiative in in their hands, tried to take the Ordos, from where the Huns (匈奴) raided China.
The first campaign started in the spring of 129 BC. Four Chinese divisions with 10 thousand (of presumably Hinnic) riders each, simultaneously advanced against the Huns (匈奴). The campaign ended unsuccessfully. Only one commander Wei Qing (卫青 orig.: Bei Tsin) managed to capture 700 prisoners, two others were defeated, and the fourth returned without gaining anything.
In their turn, the Huns (匈奴) increased raids on the border areas, creating a real threat to Chang'an, a capital of the Han empire. To eliminate the threat, in 127 BC Chinese troops again went on a campaign from the district Yunchzhun under the command of Wei Qing (卫青 orig.: Bei Tsin). They advanced to the west along the northern bank of the Yellow River to Gaotsyue, then turned south and reached the district of Lunsi, i.e. they bypassed Ordos by its northern and western borders, the princes of the Hun (匈奴) tribes Loufan (楼烦, 樓煩, Hun tribe of pastoral nomads; the origin of the term comes from the same time as the other “fang/feng“ terms, like Guifeng, leading to a conclusion that those names reflected a geographical location, like “tribes from river Gui“, “tribes from river Lou“, etc. The endonym of the tribe could have no relation to the Chinese moniker, they could for example be called Huns, Lans, Yuis, Quyans, etc. The phonetic sillable Lu 楼 = 烦 = lau4 does not carry any suitable connotation) and Bayan (Baiyang 白羊王), pasturing in Ordos, fled in fear of encirclement, and thus the land lost during the late Qin Dynasty more than 80 years before fell back into the hands of the Chinese (The tribe Bayan occupied a prominent place in the Türkic history, and in the history of the states adjacent to the Eurasian steppes. The first Kagan of the European Avars was Khan Bayan, A leader of the European Bulgars was Khan Bat-Boyan, who entered the Slavic folklore as a famous minstrel, and gave a name to the Russian harmonica).
After reoccupation of the Ordos, the Han Dynasty formed there district Shuofang (朔方城) and restored the old wall along the Yellow River, built during the Qin Dynasty. In addition, for the development of the newly occupied area Chinese transplanted 100 thousand peasants, whom the government provided with farm implements and draft power for agriculture.
For several years, the Hun's (匈奴) right Yu Xian-wang (Right Jükü-Bek 右贤王 = Right Wise Prince) attacked the newly created district Shuofang (朔方城), unsuccessfully trying to regain the lost land. That lasted until 124 BC, when the one hundred thousand-strong Chinese army suddenly surrounded the right Yu Xian-wang (Right Jükü-Bek 右贤王) at his headquarters, where he had been drinking, thinking that the enemy is far away. In the slaughter fell more than 15 thousand people, including more than 10 lower princes.
50 Ban Gu, History of Han Dynasty, ch. 52, p. 19a.
In the autumn of that year, furious Huns (匈奴) raided district Daytszyun, killed the District Chief Chu Yan and captured more than a thousand people.
In 123 BC Wei Qing (卫青 orig.: Bei Tsin) campaigned twice from the district Dingxiang, penetrating into the Hun (匈奴) lands to the north a few hundred li. During these campaigns, more than 19 thousand people were killed and captured, but the Han troops suffered heavy losses. Two mounted detachments were lost. A commander of one of them, Su Jian (蘇建) managed to escape, but the commander of the second detachment Zhao Xin (趙信) surrendered when he was surrounded.
Zhao Xin (趙信) was a minor Hun (匈奴) prince, who switched to the Han. Once again among his tribesmen, he married the sister of the Shanyu (單于) Ichjise (pin. Ichise 伊稚邪) and became his chief adviser on matters related to China. On the advice of Zhao Xin, Shanyu (單于) moved his headquarters to the north of the Gobi Desert, to avoid direct Chinese assaults on the one hand, and to lure Chinese troops deep into the steppes and there destroy them on the other hand. The struggle for the Ordos thus concluded with a complete victory for China (in the name Zhao Xin 趙信, the 趙/is meaningless jiu/yiu in Cantonese; 信 shin/sin is synonymous with 伩 shin/sin, both meaning trust, believe, consistent in expressions; altogether the meaning is Loyal Yui, i.e Loyal Uigur. Yuis/Suis/Huis/Uigurs were a maternal dynastic tribe of the Huns initially from the Tele tribes; being a maternal side, its male offsprings were ineligible for succession, and occupied more mundane positions within the state. Not too many tribal ethnonyms were registered in the Chinese annals for the Hun tribes that China lured to join the Chinese Empaire; Zhao Xin testifies that some Uigurs fought for the Chinese in the 2nd c. BC).
Reliably securing themselves against attacks from the Ordos, the Han dynasty shifted to the west against the Hun (匈奴) nomadic tribes in the territory of modern Gansu province.
In the spring of 121 BC Chinese cavalry division of 10 thousand (presumably, Hunnic) horsemen headed by a commander Huo Qubing (霍去病 orig.: Ho Chu-bin) from the Lunsi district invaded the Hun (匈奴) lands of the Prince Syuchu (Süču = Sü = Army + ču/chu = affix of profession seen in many Hunnish words; most likely, that is another title-name for the heir apparent Left Jükü-Prince/Wise Prince 屠耆; the pin. phonetization Xiutu 休屠王 is not helpful, 休 yau1/stop, 屠 tou4/butcher, 王 Wang/Prince depicts a Prince of Border Cordon; the same character 休 is used to denote a tribe You, so the combination can be read as derisive Butcher Prince of You, i.e. Uigur Prince). After several battles, Huo Qubing (霍去病 orig.: Ho Chu-bin) captured many prisoners and a golden idol, perhaps a statue of Buddha, used for sacrifices to the Sky (The unit of military strength count used by Chinese is the Türkic tumen, equal to 10,000. The 10,000 was the base how the Hun state, and all nomadic states before that and thereafter, were organized. The minimal unit of 10,000 was not an ethnic parameter, it is a community or subdivision that produced a combined force of 10,000, in less populated places, defined by the availability of forage needed to support dozens of scattered tribes, extending to hundreds kilometers. The largest tribes could provide more then one tumen, and in those cases tumens had an ethnic parameter. The 10,000 value of tumen was a nominal value, more likely then not the actual number in a tumen was much smaller, from 2-3 thousand to 6-7 thousand. The fact that Chinese could post up to 10 tumens allows to estimate the number of households that joned Chinese, the total population, the grazing area they occupied, and the combined size of the herds. The Sky in the text is the Scy-God Tengri).
In the summer of the same year (121 BC), Huo Qubing (霍去病 orig.: Ho Chu-bin) campaigned in the west a second time, but with greater forces. Two divisions were sent simultaneously, headed by the commanders Li Guang and Zhang Qian to attack the left Zuo Xian wang (左贤王) (Türkic “ükü“/“Jükü“ = wise; in pinyin “Xian“ for “Jükü“ = wise is distorted beyond recognition: Eastern (left) Zuo/Tso Xian-wang 左屠耆王 and Western (right) Yu Xian-wang 右贤王; without N.Bichurin's phonetization, as Eastern and Western Chjuki-Prince, we would never learn the straight-forward Türkic word in the second-highest title of the Eastern Huns: pinyin Zuo Xian wang 左贤王 = Zuo Chjuki-wang 左贤王 = Eastern/Left Jükü-wang 左贤王, “Wang” stands for “Bek”. The Eastern/Left Jükü-Bek commanded the largest contingent of the army, and in the absence of Shanyu was a Supreme Commander, in most Türkic languages “Su-bashi” = Head of Army. Going after the powerful heir apparent Left Jükü-wang, Huo Qubing was going for a kill).
Near the modern city Zhangye (张掖, 38.5°N 100.5°E) Huo Qubing (霍去病 orig.: Ho Chu-bin) inflicted to the Huns (匈奴) a crushing blow, taking prisoner more than 2,5 thousand people and killing over 30 thousand enemy soldiers. Two other generals were less successful. The detachment of Li Guang was surrounded, he was threatened with annihilation. The troops of Zhang Qian arrived just in time to save from a death a few surviving soldiers. The fatigued troops were not able to pursue the fleeing Huns (匈奴) (Seems to be an error in translation that combined two names, Zhao Yiji (趙食其) and Cao Xiang (曹襄) into one Zhang Qian, orig.: Chjan Tsan > Zhang Qian).
Shanyu Ichjise (pin. Ichise 伊稚邪),
enraged by two serious defeats that Huo Qubing (霍去病 orig.: Ho Chu-bin)
inflicted on the Huns (匈奴)
within one year, blamed the failures on the princes Hunie
(Hunxie 渾邪王) and Syuchu (pin. Xiutu 休屠王), and wanted to summon them to his
quarters for execution. Both princes conceived to switch to the Han side,
but then Syuchu (pin. Xiutu 休屠王) refused to switch. Then Hunie
(Hunxie 渾邪王) killed him and fled to the Han
(One of the names has a transparent etymology. The Eastern/Left Jükü-Bek
or Jükü-Ban, N.Bichurin's Chjuki-Prince, was a first in the line od succession, commanded
the largest contingent of the army, and in the absence of Shanyu was a Supreme
Commander, in most Türkic languages called “Sü-bashi” or “Süchi” = Head of Army. A second title for Eastern/Left Jükü-Bek or Jükü-Ban in Chinese annals is
pin. Xiutu-wang 休屠王, N.Bichurin's Huchjui-Prince, a good to fair rendition of “Suchi” = Head of Army. That both titles were applied to the same person certifies correctness of both etymologies).
Wu Di (武帝) generously rewarded Prince Hunie (Hunxie 渾邪王), transported to Chang'an, and the nomads that came with him were settled along the border districts Lunsi, Beidi, Shandzyun, Shuofang (朔方城), and Yunchzhun (N.Bichurin: “Hunshe-Prince (pin. Hunxie 渾邪王) killed Huchjui-Prince (Xiutu 休屠王), seized his people, and submitted to China, in total 40,000 people, under a name of hundred thousand (i.e. with 4 tumens while nominally a commander of 10 tumens).” The description alludes only to the 40,000 army, not to the 200,000 people that furnished that army. The nominal strength of the pin. Xiutu 休屠王 Suchi” = Supreme Commander was 10 tumens, or 100,000 army, representing 500,000 tribesmen that furnished that army. Deducting for the losses, another 40,000 part of the army did not follow Hunxie 渾邪王 to China and remained loyal to the Shanyu Ichjise).
The Hunie's (Hunxie 渾邪王) treason affected favorably the Chinese position on the western section of the front. The Huns (匈奴) stopped raiding, and for the relief of the population the Han Dynasty reduced in half the number of garrison troops in the districts Lun-si, Beidi and Shantszyun.
Although after occupation of Ordos and victories in the northwest the China's border security was guaranteed, Wu Di (武帝) did not stop the war, deciding to strike a final blow to the sheltered in the steppes north of the Gobi Desert Shanyu (單于). To that end was assembled a huge cavalry army of 100 thousand horsemen, which departed to a campaign in 119 BC under a command of commanders Wei Qing (卫青 orig.: Bei Tsin) and Huo Qubing (霍去病 orig.: Ho Chu-bin).
Hearing about approach of the Chinese troops, Shanyu Ichjise (pin. Ichise 伊稚邪) sent out supply trains to the rear, and with selected warriors waited for the enemy on the northern edge of the Gobi. A fight broke between him and Wei Qing (卫青 orig.: Bei Tsin). By the evening unexpectedly raised strong wind, lifting clouds of dust. Using that, the Chinese advanced their flanks and surrounded the Huns (匈奴). At the head of several hundred brave men Ichjise (pin. Ichise 伊稚邪) broke through the encirclement and fled. The Chinese pursued him for 200 li to a city Zhaoxing, but could not catch up with him.
Another commander, Huo Qubing (霍去病 orig.: Ho Chu-bin), whose troops started from the districts Daytszyun and Yubeypin, achieved even greater success, crushing the right Yu Xian wang (Right Jükü-Bek 右贤王).
After losing a total of about 90 thousand people killed and captured, the Huns (匈奴) abandoned the areas south of the Gobi Desert. The Chinese also suffered very significant losses: a few tens of thousands of soldiers and over 100 thousand horses. Both sides were so exhausted that neither the Huns (匈奴), nor China could continue the war.
On the advice of Zhao Xin (趙信), Ichjise (pin. Ichise 伊稚邪) sent envoys to the Han court, hoping to resume the
peace treaty. Wu Di (武帝), for his part, suggested
that Huns (匈奴) acknowledge their dependence on China.
The enraged Shanyu (單于) detained
the Han's envoy which arrived with that proposal. China again
started preparing army, but a war did not ensue. The sources attribute that to the death
of the commander Huo Qubing (霍去病 orig.: Ho Chu-bin, however
Wu Di (武帝) apparently needed troops for
a war against two Yue states located south from China, Davan
(Fergana) and Korea.
The Huns (匈奴) received a long break, which only
rarely was broken by small-scale assaults (Shanyu Ichjise died
in 114 BC, his son Uwei was installed as a Shanyu, 114-105 BC, then reigned a minor Err Shanyu Ushylu, 105-102 BC, then a younger brother of Uwei Shanyu Guilihu Shanyu, 102-101 BC, then Chediheu Shanyu, 101-99? BC).
In 101 BC, Chediheu (Qiedihou 且鞮侯, 101-97? BC, 且 che/no meaning 鞮 dai/boots 侯 hau/lord ), became a Hun Shanyu (匈奴單于), wishing to establish relations with the Han, he said immediately after accession to the throne: “I am a child. How can I view the Han Emperor as an enemy when I have a venerable old man in front of me.” 51 He returned to the Han all detained ambassadors.
Considering the Chediheu (Qiedihou 且鞮侯) words and actions favorable for China, Wu Di (武帝) decided to get his old goal, persuading Shanyu (單于) to switch his allegiance to China. The difficult economic situation in the country, created by though successful, but long struggle with the eastern, western, and southern neighbors, also prompted Wu Di (武帝) to try to settle relations with the Huns (匈奴) through peaceful negotiations.
In 101 BC an embassy headed by Su Wu (蘇武, 140 BC - 60 BC), with rich gifts, left to the Huns (匈奴). However, contrary to the expectations of the Han, the Shanyu (單于) behaved very arrogantly, so that no question of any allegiance could be raised. In addition, a Su Wu (蘇武) deputy, a man called Zhang Sheng (張勝), established links with Chinese prisoners that conspired to revolt, kidnap Shanyu's (單于) wife, kill his adviser Wei Lyui, and flee home. The plot was uncovered, and one of its leaders fingered Zhang Sheng (張勝). A furious Shanyu (單于) executed the conspirators, and urged the members of the embassy to admit their guilt and switch to the side of Huns (匈奴). When Su Wu refused to betray his country, he was sent to Lake Baikal, where he spend 19 years before he could return.
After the failure of the peace talks, Wu Di (武帝) resumed hostilities. In 99 BC three groups were sent to a campaign. A commander of one of them, Li Guang-li, attacked the right Yu Xian wang from the Tyanynan mountains, killed and captured more than 10 thousand people. On the way back Huns (匈奴) surrounded him, he lost about 70% of his soldiers, and barely managed to escape. A second military commander did not find any enemy and returned empty-handed. The third commander, Li Lin, fought strenuously with Shanyu (單于), but was surrounded, and surrendered after exhausting ammunition and food. Only 400 of his warriors returned to the Han.
In 97 BC was mounted a new major offensive under a command of Li Guang-li. The main battle took place south of the river Yuyu. After more than ten days fighting, the Chinese were forced to retreat.
Successfully repelled two Chinese offensives, the Huns (匈奴) again began raiding the frontier lands. In 91 BC they invaded district Zhang, Uyuan and Jiuquan, killed two district commanders, and captured officials and people. In response, in 90 BC three armies of Chinese troops crossed the border again.
A commander Shangqiu Cheng started from the Sihe district, and invaded the steppe leading more than 30 thousand soldiers. Without meeting anybody, he turned back. During his retreat the Huns (匈奴) attacked him, they had to arduously fight non-stop in scattered places for nine days. In the end, another commander, Man Tong heading 40 thousand horsemen came to the Tyanynan foothills. There the Shanyu (單于) troops, seeing the masses of Chinese, pulled back.
51 Sima Qian, Historical Notes, ch. 110, ll. 31b, 32a.
The offensive of the main 70 thousand-strong army headed by the commander Li Guang-li went on initially successfully. They defeated a 5000-strong Hun (匈奴) detachment that blocked their way in a gorge, and vigorously pursued the fleeing enemy. At that time Li Guang-li learned that his family was imprisoned on charges of engaging in shamanic spells. The shamanistic spells were conjuring the spirits to send down calamities on this or that person. The practice boiled down to an elementary ritual. A wooden figurine of man that depicted a person for whom a disaster was called for was buried in the soil, and then a shaman uttered spells over it.
Li Guang-li understood the threat hanging over him, and decided to buy a mercy of the Emperor with his warfare victories. He recklessly advanced to the north, and came to the river Chzhitszyuy, where he defeated a 20,000-strong Hun (匈奴) unit. However, the lightheaded actions of Li Guang-li raised a protest among senior commanders, who conspired to take him into custody. Li Guang-li executed all participants in the conspiracy, but nonetheless began a retreat.
Exploiting the fatigue of the Han troops, Shanyu (單于) with 50 thousand riders personally blocked Li Guang-li path by the Yan-jan mountain. In the ensuing battle, both sides suffered very heavy losses of killed and wounded. At night, the Huns (匈奴) dug up a trench in front of the Han troops, and in the morning burst down on them from the rear. The Chinese panicked. Li Guang-li gave up, and his whole army has perished. China has suffered an unprecedented defeat, which undermined all progress achieved so far against the Huns (匈奴).
In 89 BC, i.e. one year after their victory, Shanyu (單于) Hulugu sent Wu Di (武帝) ambassador with a letter stating: “In the south is the great state of Han, in the north are the mighty Hu (胡); the Hu (胡) are favorite sons of the Heaven, so I do not burden myself with petty rules of decorum. Now I want to open, together with great Han, large posts for trade, take in marriage a daughter of the house of Han, I want that annually was sent to me 10 thousand dans of rice wine, 5 thousand hu of millet, 10 thousand pieces of various silk fabrics, and all the rest in accordance with the old treaty, and in that case, at the borders will be no mutual robberies.” 52
Ban Gu, History of the Han Dynasty, ch. 94, pp. 29b.
The letter repeated the mutual obligations and what was provided in the old treaty, and significantly increased the number of gifts.
The Han court also sent an ambassador to Shanyu (單于), but the response is unknown. However, judging by the so-called Repenting Edict of Luntai (輪台悔詔) 53, Wu Di (武帝) deeply regretted the war. The Edict of Luntai was proclaimed in connection with the report of the agricultural minister Sang Hongyang (桑弘羊), in which he asked to send settlers to the land east of Luntai possession (Uigur Autonomous Region of Sinkiang) for its development. Rejecting the proposal, Wu Di (武帝) said in a decree that a war with the Huns (匈奴) was launched foolishly, to show his own greatness, that the Li Guang-li defeat constantly raises in his heart a great sorrow, and he can not hear about the working distant lands in Luntai and about construction there of watchtowers, because it would exhaust the Celestial, but will not bring abundance to the people.
In 87 BC Wu Di (武帝) died. His goal, to subdue Huns (匈奴), was not achieved, despite long and arduous struggle. It was accomplished later, under Emperor Xuan Di (宣帝, 73-49 BC), with the help of the nomadic peoples dependent on the Huns (匈奴).
53 Ibid, Sec. 96b, ll. 10a, 13a.
Ethnical names ( see Wikipedia “Tribes in Chinese history” for partial and at times misleading listing)
For details on Altaic people , refer to Lu Simian, History of Chinese Ethnicities , "Study on Chi Di and Bai Di" and "Huns". Wang Zhonghan History of Chinese Ethnicities "Eastern Yi, Southern Man, West Rong and Northern Di" gave a detailed list of the name of various Jung/Rong and Di people in Northern China and Northwestern, in today's Hebei, Shanxi ,Shaanxi, and inland Henan. The Quan Rong (dog barbarian), Chang Rong (long barbarian), Chi Di (red barbarian) and Bai Di (white barbarian) were white people related with Huns. As late as in Sixteen Kingdoms (316-420 AD), their offspring in central China still had "deep eyes and high nose". Wang Guowei mentioned the face feature of Huns in his Continued Study on Western Hu:
"Deep eyes and large beard was not only features for Western Hu (Central Asian). It's possible tht Huns called Hu in the the ancient times also looked like that. Although the history books written in Han Dynasty do not describe Huns, the Hu people in Jin dynasty are all descendants of southern Huns. Jin Shu Biography of Shi Jilong said:" the chamberlain of Crown Prince Sun Zhen asked Cui Yue: "I have eye disease, do you have any prescription to cure it? Yue want to make fun with him and said: "Pissing on your eyes can cure you" . Zhen responded: "Why should my eye get pissed on?" Yue said: "Your eyes are very deep so it's a good container for piss." Zhen hated that and told Shi Xuan. Among his father's sons, Xuan was the one most like Hu people with deep eyes, so he was in big rage and killed Yue and his sons. Also, Ran Min led Zhao people to kill all Hu and Jie: noble and plebeians, men and women, the youngsters and elders. More than two hundred thousand people were killed. The provincial officials also began massacre after they got letter from Min. Many people with high noses and large beards were slaughtered. The Jie people of Jin were a branch of the Huns. Since they had same features of high nose and large beard as the Western Hu, the face features of ancient Huns can be known". So it's possible that the Di people were white people.
During the ancient Shang and Zhou period, China had even more white Altaic people. They were all nomadic people or descendant of nomadic people. Among them, the Huns ( Guifang, Hunyi, Xunyu, Hunzhou, Xianyun, Hu were the biggest trouble for China for almost 2000 years, from the age of Wuding to Northern Wei (386AD-534AD).
Yu.Zuev Ethnic History of Usuns
Yu.Zuev Early Türks: Essays of history
Yu.Zuev The Strongest Tribe - Ezgil
Yu.Zuev Tamgas of vassal Princedoms
Yu.Zuev Ancient Türkic social terms
N.Bichurin Hunnu, Oihors, etc
Ogur and Oguz
V. Taskin Eastern Huns 3 c. BC - 2 c. AD
V. Taskin Eastern Huns 3 c. AD - 5 c. AD
V. Taskin Kiyan Huns 3 c. AD - 5 c. AD