Ancient History of Central Asia

Ancient History of Central Asia



(Article no 01: Notes on Central Asian History during 200 BC and its effects on later history, Role of Yuezhi migration in Ancient History of Central Asia, settlement of Yuezhi after migration and various theories about current form of Ancient Yuezhi tribe: Gurjar/Gujjar/Khazar)



Imp.Note: Till now many researches publoished on the history of Great yuezhi tribe but schollers are not in position to clearify all happinings in a series.  In this article, we are trying to compile all happinings as per their timings. We also would like to clarify that the material under this article is not a copyright matter and main motive of this article is, to attract good scholers to discuss and research on the great Yuezhi Tribes.


Compiled By:

Adesh Katariya

(Chemical Technologist and History Researcher)

E-mail:, Contact no: +91 9540992618



Early History of Yuezhi/Tochorian:

The movement of nomadic Aryans throughout the steppe of Central Asia had been both, from east to west and from west to east. While some tribes had penetrated a long way in the northeastern region and Minusinsk Pazyryk (today Mongoloia Northwest - northern Altai Mountains), Scythian and Sarmatian other town had oases of the Tarim from Kashgar to Kucha, Kara Shahr, Turfan as to the lake in the region of Amdo Qinghai Kokonor. From there they had entered the steppe and alpine meadows Kokonor Tibet. Tocharian Indo-European language spoken in the Tarim Basin. It is an archaic Indo-European language, which was separated at an early date the common Indo-European group and was subjected to considerable isolation of Indo-European languages ​​and the influence of Indo-European languages ​​no place. These people Tarim Basin, Tukhara called, were known as Yueh-Chih by the Chinese. The Yueh-Chih resided in northeastern Kokonor as early as 2500 BC Mahabharat Time.

Reference was made in the name Yuezhi Guanzi around 7th century BCE by the Chinese economist Guan Zhong, though the book is generally considered to be a forgery of later generations. The author attributes, Guan Zhong, described the Yuzhi, as a people which supplies northwestern jade (nephrite) Chinese nearby mountains of Yuzhi.

The name of the Yuzhi occurs in a list of tribute bearers from the Beidi (or northern minorities) for the first time in Yi Zhoushu (Lost Book of Zhou). The Yuezhi reached the Shang court in King Tang’s era (corresponding to 11th century B. C.) and arrived again in the Zhou court to contribute “the Yuezhi’s Taotu” (a kind of horse, equal to “Chigatai” in Mongol) during the Zhou King Cheng’s era (corresponding to 11th century B. C.).[1] Besides, Guan Zi, compiled in third century B. C., states that a politician named Guan Zhong put forward his suggestion that “[we] should accept the jades of the Yuzhi from the North.”[2] These facts show that the Yuezhi had originally lived in north west part of ancient China.

The country of the yuezhi, "Yuzhi" covers the areas of Lyanchzhou, Ganchzhou, Suchzhou and Yanchzhou, which correspond to the modern provinces of Gansu and Shanxi in the northern regions of Modern China. Later Chinese commentators specify that the yuzhi/yushi are “northwest barbarians”. Sima Qian wrote that one of the main sites of the production of jade are the Kunlun mountains and the city of Hotan, or that mountain “Yuzhi” is actually Kunlun.(in  her easternmost branches). The next mention of the "yuezhi" people is recorded written as Yuzhi 禺知, in “The Journey of Mu, Son of Heaven” (Mu Tianzi zhuan), written about 4-3 century B.C.E.. In it, it is stated that "the country Yuzhi is 5 days away on foot and is situated west of the Yanmenguan mountain pass, north of Shanxi and east of the corner of Huanhe, where the Jade- Mountain is1". (YuT-MTZh,pp.9-10)

The name “yuezhi” in the earliest texts is written with Chinese characters in the following way: As or , in the “Guanzi” treatise, and in “Mu Tianzi zhuan, (The Journey of Mu, Son of Heaven). The three different variations are easily comparable: , and can be reduced to two: . At that time the first two the characters: and , were pronounced in a very similar way: *ngīu/*ngük. The latter two the characters, resp. and , also sounded very similar: *tiēg / *diēg.

The foreign name is mentioned in more than two older sources before the Han era, and probably reflected a foreign word that the Chinese speakers interpreted as“Yu-ji” (Ju-dsi).

It is interesting to note that Sima Qian used the characters to relay the name “yuezhi”. Finding the transcription in“Guanzi” inaccurate, he replaced the two alternative the characters and with , the first syllable of the name of which is pronounced as *nīök, while the second the character , is unchanged *diēg, which, in modern Chinese is pronounced as as Yu-ji (Yu-dsi). These fluctuations in the imposition of the transcription of this important ethnic name appear in Chapter 129 of the “Shi-ji” where we find yet another transcription from before the Han era: - *åğ- diēg, which in modern Chinese would sound like, “O-dzi” which shows that the name contains the original, atypical for Chinese sound. The first syllable of the name is obviously difficult, if not impossible to transcribe the way he wrote it. We very well know that in such cases, the sound „n”, or „ŋ” (ng), usually represents the alien and difficult to pronounce for the Chinese “r” sound, which does not have an equivalent in modern Chinese, yet existed in proto-Chinese and exists in the similar Tibetan language. If this were the case, wouldn’t we have seen the word written as *råğ-diēg?


The Yuezhi was the major supplier of horses during the third century BCE, when Xiongnu became a real threat to the border of the Chinese empire.  In dealing with the incursion of the horse riding nomads from the north, mainly the Xiongnu, cavalry was most important.  Securing the supply of horses was a great concern of the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty.  Good horses, however, must have come from the steppe where the vast grassland provides the environment for breeding and training.  Chinese agricultural societies who needed horses and other draft animals had to obtain them from the pastoral peoples.  During the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BCE), the conflicts with the Xiongnu who caused the great endeavor of building the Great Wall created demand rather the supply for horses.  The Yuezhi tribe, which was still powerful on the steppe and kept a friendly trading relationship with Chinese rulers, was naturally the provider for horses.  According to Sima Qian, a chief named Lou of the “Wuzhi” was the major horse supplier of the First Emperor.  “Wuzhi” was another variation of Yuezhi in archaic Chinese.  The chief traded horses and cattle for silks then resold silks to other chiefs of the steppe.  It was said that Lou made ten times profit out of his principle in this trade and became very rich.  The First Emperor was so pleased with his services that granted him a very high status that he could join ministers in the court for the emperor’s audience.

If Sima Qian’s record is reliable, we may consider the Yuezhi as the very people who initiated the Silk Road trade.  While redistributing silks to tribes on the steppe, they stimulated the silk-horse transactions as well as the fame of silk products--yarn, floss and textiles--from China around the third century BCE.  Meanwhile, the Yuezhi sold so many horses to China for silk, the reputation of their horses spread to sedentary societies.

           The fame of Yuezhi horses was not limited in China but spread to the entire Central Asia.  A Sogdhian writer from the third century CE once said in his geographical book that while China was famous for its numerous people, and Rome was famous for its numerous treasures, the Yuezhi was famous for its numerous horses.[1][6]  This reputation of the Yuezhi probably prompted the Emperor of the Han Dynasty, Han Wudi, sent Zhang Qian to the west to seek the alliance with Yuezhi in the warfare against the Xiongnu.  When the Xiongnu made Chinese pay them silks, food grains and other products of agricultural societies, the Han court heard the news of the animosity between the Xiongnu and the Yuezhi.  Meanwhile, remembering the more friendly transactions between the Yuezhi and Chinese, the Han emperor naturally assumed that the Yuezhi should be his ally against the Xiongnu.  Zhang Qian could not convince the Yuezhi, who already settled at the fertile bank of the Oxus, to fight with the Xiongnu again.  But the Han China finally found the Yuezhi who lost from the sight for several decades and resumed the exchanges of goods.

 A large part of the Yuezhi, vanquished by the Xiongnu, were to migrate to southern Asia in the 2nd century BCE, and later establish the Kushan Empire. General Cunningham identified the Kushans as Gurjars or Gujjar. The word Gusur is referenced in the Rabatak inscription of Kushan king Kanishka. According to some scholars, in this inscription the word Gusur, which means Kulputra or a "man or woman born in high family", stands for Gurjara. Kusana is a gotr (Part ) Gurjars living in India and Pakistan.


Occupation OF Yuezhi:


Some of the Yuzhi were farmers but most were known as traders. They often were involved in the long distance trading of jade and horses to the rulers of agricultural China (Liu: 286). The Yuzhi were known for being great traders in their former land of China, where they constantly were trading their resources. According to Sima Quin, an ancient historian, the Yuzhi may be considered as the people that initiated the trading along the Silk Roads. He also adds that the Yuzhi started the horse for silk transactions, and thus gave fame to the Chinese silk products (Liu: 278).

Evidences of Yuezhi/Tochorian: Mummies found in Tarim Besin:

I would like to start my thesis with currently escavated well-preserved human bodies remains—men, women, and infants—around the Tarim Basin of northwestern China. In the dry hills of the central Asian province of Xingjiang, archaeologists have unearthed more than 100 corpses astonishingly well-preserved and Caucasian! Who were these people, and where did they come from? Some evidence indicates, they were displaced Indo-Aryan peoples .All together, these bodies, dating from about 2000 B.C. to 300 B.C., constitute   significant addition to the world's catalog of prehistoric mummies. Although they are no actual mummies but bodies are naturally preserved through desiccation in the arid desert environment. And we are using term “Mummi”for these preserver human bodies.

Xinjiang,(formerly Sinkiang), the northwestern province of China in which these mummies have been excavated, is one of the most landlocked regions in the world, situated justnorth of Tibet. Since then, numerous other mummies have been found and analysed, many of them now displayed in the museums of Xinjiang. Most of these mummies were found on the eastern end of the Tarim Basin (around the area of Lopnur, Subeshi near Turpan, Kroran, Kumul), or from (Khotan, Niya, and Cherchen or Qiemo), along the southern edge of the Tarim Basin. Xinjiang covers over 600,000 square miles, incorporating one-sixth of the entireland area of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (Kamberi 1994: 1). It is also the region inwhich the world’s second-largest desert, the Taklamakan, is situated. The region is surrounded by some of the world’s tallest mountains: the Pamirs on the west, the Altai Mountains on thenorth, and the Kunlun Mountains to the south. The province is bisected by the Tianshan (Tängri Tagh), or Heavenly Mountains. The famous Silk Road passed through this region.In 1884, the Qing Dynasty, the Manchu Dynasty ruling China at the time, named theregion. Xinjiang , meaning ‘New Territory.’ After 1955, the region was renamed the XinjiangUyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (id.), so called because the XUAR is the traditionalhomeland of one of the largest minority groups in China: the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs.However, the XUAR is actually home to 47 different ethnic groups (Mallory and Mair 2000: 9).The Uyghurs arrived in the Tarim Basin ca. 800 CE from their Mongolian homeland. Biologicalevidence, as we shall see, supports the arrival of East Asians, or early Chinese, ca. 300 BCE.Prior to this, the Tarim Basin was inhabited primarily by those we now call ‘Tokharians’.

This certainty on behalf of most European and American scholars of the IE origin of many of themummies from the Tarim Basin has led to the connection of these mummies with a now-extinctIE group called the Tokharians (Greek Tokharoi, Sanskrit Tukhāra, Chinese Tu Hou luo 吐火 ). This connection, and the name “Tokharian” itself, originally arose from an Old Uyghur translation of a Sanskrit Buddhist text, called the Maitreyasamiti (Uyghur  Maitrisimit) in whichone of the languages into which these texts were translated was called ‘Twghry,’ or tokhri Original Old Uyghur text (based on Adams 1998: 2):3

Scholars then associated tokhri  with Strabo’s writings in which the Tokharians were named as anomadic group that defeated one of the Greek rulers of Bactria (now Kazakhstan), across thePamir Mountains to the west of Xinjiang. Baumer further places these  Kaukasie, Caucasians, inmodern Turkmenistan with the “Yamnaya-Kultur, woraus die Afanasievo-Kultur hervorging”(id.). Later we will see that the Afanasievo Culture was likely formed by migrants from theYamnaya horizon, as Baumer suggests. Many Chinese scholars associate Tokharian-speakerswith the Yuezhi, nomadic residents of the Tarim “mentioned in Chinese texts of the Han period”(Thornton and Schurr 2004: 92).

The Celts have been linked to the Hallstatt Culture that extended across central Europe,ca. 1200-475 BCE (Barber 1999, James 1993), strategically located at the headwaters of theDanube, Rhine, Seine, Loire, and Rhône Rivers. The Hallstatt Culture in turn developed into theLa Tène Culture, which Greeks and Romans documented as Celtic (Barber 1999: 144). TheseProto-Celts are believed to have commanded a lucrative trade network, mining and selling saltand salted meat ,around much of Late Bronze Age Europe, including with the large Greek port,established in what is now France, of Massalia, modern Marseilles (id.).

“The sacred book   Maitreya-samiti which the Bodhisattva guru ācārya Āryacandra,who was born in the country of Nagaradeśa, hadcomposed in the Twghry language out of the Indianlanguage, and which the guru ācārya Prajñaraksita, who was born in Il-bliq, translatedfrom the Twghry language into the Turkish language.” Hal(l) appears to be an old Celtic term for ‘salt’; for this reason, hal - or  gal - seems to recur in place namesthroughout Europe, including the names Gaul, Halych or Galicia, Hallein, and Hallstatt, the latter meaning ‘salt city’(Barber 1999: 136-137).

Although the evidence is inconclusive, the mummies, particularly the earlier ones, are frequently associated with the presence of the Indo-European Tocharian languages in the Tarim Basin. Notable mummies are the tall, red-haired "Chärchän man" or the "Ur-David" (1000 BCE); his son (1000 BCE), a small 1-year-old baby with brown hair protruding from under a red and blue felt cap, with two stones positioned over its eyes; the "Hami Mummy" (c. 1400–800 BCE), a "red-headed beauty" found in Qizilchoqa; and the "Witches of Subeshi" (4th or 3rd century BCE), who wore 2-foot-long (0.61 m) black felt conical hats with a flat brim.6 Also found at Subeshi was a man with traces of a surgical operation on his abdomen; the incision is sewn up with sutures made of horsehair.

The mummies had aquiline nose and long skulls, thin lips, reddish-blond or brown hair; deep-set round eyes and among the adult males, prolific facial hairand other unmistakably Indo-Aryan features. These Aryan feature of mummies, has led to considerable historical and political controversy about all theories about ancient central Asian peoples.

One such mummy of a teenaged girl with blond hair and blue eyes, found in a cave, has become quite a tourist attraction in Beijing. Her remains are in such a remarkable state of preservation that the dead girl looks as if she were just sleeping.She has been nicknamed "The Lady of Tarim" and she is on display to throngs of museum visitors in the Chinese capital. Apparently she was a princess or a priestess of some kind over 3,000 years ago, for she was buried in fine embroidered garments of wool and leather, along with beautiful jewelry, jars and ornaments of gold, silver, jade and onyx. Here it is remarkable point that Yuezhi peoples are famous for jade and jems trade from India to China and these linkages indicates about expansion of the Indo- European people from their homeland, Aryavert (Ancient India) to North.

According to the independent invention theory, the list of things non-Whites have independently invented includes the dozens of Asiatic dialects from Hindu to Punjabi to Uighur, all clearly based on a common Aryan root language; pure coincidence, say the PC profs! The agricultural techniques of the Aztecs and Incas such as crop rotation and terrace farming, so similar to ancient Roman and medieval European practices; bah, say the intellectual gangsters of liberalism, the Indians made it up themselves!

Unlike  the roughly contemporaneous mummies of ancient Egypt, the Xinjiang mummies   were not ruler or nobles; they were not interred in pyramids or other such   monuments, nor were they subjected to deliberate mummification procedures.   They were preserved merely by being buried in the parched, stony desert,   where daytime temperatures often soar over 100 degrees.

In the heat the  bodies were quickly dried, with facial hair, skin, and other tissues   remaining largely intact. Where exactly did these apparent Caucasians come from? And what were they  doing at remote desert oases in central Asia?

Any answers to these questions will most likely fuel a wide-ranging debate  about the role outsiders played in the rise of Chinese civilization. As far  back as the second century B.C., Chinese texts refer to alien peoples called  the Yuezhi and the Wusun, who lived on China's far western borders; the  texts make it clear that these people were regarded as troublesome  "barbarians."

Until recently, scholars have tended to downplay evidence of  any early trade or contact between China and the West, regarding the  development of Chinese civilization as an essentially homegrown affair  scaled off from outside influences; indeed, this view is still extremely  congenial to the present Chinese regime. Yet some archeologists have begun  to argue that these supposed barbarians might have been responsible for  introducing into China such basic items as the wheel and the first metal  objects.

Exactly who these central Asian outsiders might have been, however  - what language they spoke and where they came from - is a puzzle. No wonder, then, that scholars see the discovery of the blond mummies as a sensational new clue. But we should focus on Ancient Indian Sources also. As per Mahabharat and Ramayan, Wheel and metal were used in India from BC 5000 and Indians had knowledge of many languages, Weapons, Clinical techniques, Society rules , Justice Rules at that time. Though the  idea is highly speculative, a number of archeologists and linguists think   the spread of Indo-European languages may be linked to the gradual spread of   horse-riding and horse-drawn- vehicle technology from its origins in Aryavart ,  6,000 years ago.These mummies may help confirm these speculations. Intriguingly, evidence of a long-extinct language belonging to the  Indo- European family does exist in central Asia.



Could the Xinjiang people have been  their ancestors, speaking an early version of Tocharian? "My guess is that  they would have been speaking some form of Indo-European," comments Don  Ringe, a historical linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, "but whether  it was an early form of Tocharian or some other branch of the family, such  as Indo-Iranian, we may never know for sure." Perhaps a highly distinctive language would help explain why the Xinjiang  people's distinctive appearance and culture persisted over so many  centuries. Eventually they might well have assimilated with the local population - the major ethnic group in the area today, the Uygur, includes people with unusually fair hair and complexions.

Yuezhi(Tocharians)and other Central Asian People in Indian Literature:

The Ancient Sanskrit literature refers to Tocharians as Tusharas, Tukharas, Tokharas and Tuharas etc. There are numerous references to this people in the ancient Sanskrit texts.

There are extensive references to people of Central Asia in Indian literature like Atharvaveda, Vamsa Brahmana of Samveda, Aitareya Brahmana, Satapatha Brahmana, Puranas, Manusmiriti, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Raghuvamsa, Brihat-Katha -Manjari, Katha-Saritsagara, Rajaratrangini, Mudra-rakshasa, Kavymimansa and host of other old Sanskrit literature. A brief outline is given below:



Atharvaveda makes references to Gandhari, Mujavat and Bahlika from north-west (Central Asia). Gandharis are Gandharas, the Bahlikas are Bactrians, Mujavat (land of Soma) refer to Hindukush–Pamirs (the Kamboja region).

Post-Vedic Atharvaveda-Parisista (Ed Bolling & Negelein) makes first direct reference to the Kambojas (verse 57.2.5). It also juxtaposes the Kambojas, Bahlikas and Gandharas. At another place, it juxtaposes the Shakas, Yavanas, Tusharas and Bahlikas (Saka. Yavana. Tushara. Bahlikashcha). This shows the Kambojas, Shakas, Tusharas, Bahlikas and Gandharas at this time were all located as neighbors in the Uttarapatha.

Sama Veda

The Vamsa Brahmana 1 of the Sama Veda refers to Madrakara Shaungayani as the teacher of Aupamanyava Kamboja. Sage Shangayani Madrakara, as his name itself shows, and as the scholars have rightly pointed out, belonged to the Madra people.

Prof Jean Przylusky has shown that Bahlika (Balkh) was an Iranian settlement of the Madras who were known as Bahlika-Uttaramadras i.e. the northern Madras, living in Bahlika or Bactria country. These Bahlika Uttara Madras are the Uttara Madras of the Aitareya Brahamana.

This connection between the Uttara Madras and the Kambojas is said to be but natural, as they were close neighbors in the north-west.

The Kambojas as neighbors of the Uttara Madras here obviously refers to the trans-Himalayan branch of the Kambojas who became known as Parama-Kambojas in epic times. Both these nations belonged to Central Asia.

Aitareya Brahmana

Aitareya Brahmana refers to some ancient nations lying beyond Trans-Himalaya boundaries. As an illustration, the name of Uttara Kuru and Uttara Madra are given. But other literature affirms that, besides Uttara Kuru and Uttara Madra, the janapadas of Parama Kambojas, Rshikas and the Lohas etc were also located beyond Himalaya boundaries into Central Asia. These Central Asian people were undoubtedly in intensive intercourse with ancient Indian people.

Indian epics

The vast area across the Himalayas and Hindukush from Pamirs up to Arctic (Somagiri) is stated by some to form ancient Uttara Kuru. There is picturesque mention of this region in the epicsRamayana and the Mahabharata. There are also numerous references to the people forming part of this vast region.

Valmiki Ramayana

The Valmiki Ramayana portrays the topography of the whole land of Central Asia in very details and in some cases, very picturesquely. It gives very vivid account of Uttarapatha and several countries located in that direction. It mentions the lands and towns of the Kambojas, Shakas, Yavanas, Varadas (=Paradas: according to Dr Jayswal, Dr Singh and others) along with Himavanta. After this mentions is made of Uttara Kuru and Somagiri (Arctica). The region is described as without the sun and yet very much lighted. There are said to be no National boundaries there.

The Bala Kanda section (1.55/2-3) of Ramayana refers to a joint mythical creation of the Central Asian tribes of the Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakas, Paradas and Mlechchas by sage Vasishatha through the divine powers of his Kamdhenu.

Bala Kanda  of Ramayana also refers to the famed horses imported by princes of Ayodhya of Mid India from the Central Asian nations of Kamboja and Bahlika (Bactria).


According to Mahabharata, the kings of the Kambojas and the Tusharas were present in the Rajasuya Yajna of Yudhisthira. They had later participated in Mahabharata war from the Kaurava side. They were very ferocious warriors.

The Shakas,  Xiongnu as, Paradas and Tusharas had paid tribute to Yudhishtra. The epic also mentions that Pandava Nakula had defeated the  Xiongnu as, Pahalvas, Yavanas and Shakas in the western horizon.

Mahabharata mentions that Arjuna had brought tributes from the Daradas, Kambojas, Lohas, Rishikas, Parama Kambojas and the Uttara Kurus of trans-Himalyan regions.

Mahabharata attests that the northern Rishikas and the Lohas were close neighbors and allied to Parama-Kambojas i.e. Trans-Hindukush Kambojas of the Trans-Himalyan territories.17

At other places (5.4.18) in Mahabharata also, the Rishikas are shown as very intimitately connected with the Kambojas.

The Rishikas are said to be same as the Yuezhis (Dr V. S. Aggarwala). The Kushanas or Kanishkas are also the same people (Dr J. C. Vidyalnkara). Prof Stein says that the Tukharas were a branch of the Yue-chi or Yuezhi. Tusharas/Tukharas (Tokharois/Tokarais) and the Yuezhi are stated to be same people (Dr P.C. Bagchi).

According to Vayu Purana and Matsya Purana, river Chakshu (Oxus) flowed through the countries of Tusharas (Rishikas?), Lampakas, Pahlavas, Paradas and Shakas etc.

The above references indicate that the countries of Rishikas (=Tusharas?), Parama-Kambojas, Lohas, Pahlavas, Paradas, Shakas etc were close geographical neighbors and were all located in Central Asia.

King Drapupada of Panchala had advised Yudhishtra to invite the Kambojas, Shakas, Pahlavas, Rishikas and the Daradas (Paradas?) in the Mahabharata war on Pandava's side. But it was too late for Yudhishtra.

General Sudakshina of the Kambojas had joined the Mahabharata war on Kurus' side leading one Akshauhini army of ferocious Central Asian warriors which included Shakas, and Yavanas, besides the Kambojas.  Of the ten distinguished military Generals appointed by Duryodhana to efficiently manage his vast host of army, Suadakshin Kamboj was one of such distinguished Generals.

This ancient epic evidence shows that there was an intensive political and military intercourse between the Mid Indians and the Central Asians.

Mahabharata brackets the Kambojas, Shakas and the Khashas together and styles them as tribes of Udichya or Uttarapatha, which obviously means Central Asia.

The Bhishamaparava and Shantiparavas of Mahabharata repeatedly assert that beyond the Uttara (north) are located the Mlechcha Janas (tribes) like the Yavanas, Kambojas, Darunas, Kiratas and other Mlechchas/Barbarians.

These above references also obviously point to Central Asian fringe of people located on the north of Bharatavarsa.

However, the Anusasanaparva of Mahabharata also asserts that the clans of the Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakas, Pahlavas were formerly noble Kshatriyas, but in later time had turned into degraded Kshatriyas due to the wrath of the Brahminas.


Manusmriti asserts that the Kambojas, Sakas, Yavanas, Paradas, Pahlavas etc were originally Kshatriyas of good birth but were gradually degraded to the barbaric status due to their not following theBrahmanas and the Brahmanical code of conduct.

This statement of Manu is designed to accommodate these foreign hordes into the social set-up of the Hindus. The foreigners were expected to practice same normal pieties as the Hindus and the later, in return, regarded them henceforth as belonging to their own social organisation.24

According to James Tod, this ancient testimony from Manu presents a conclusive proof of a perfect intercourse which had existed between the people of Oxus (Central Asia) and those of the Gangesregion in remote antiquity.


According to Bahu-Sagara legend, the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Paradas and Pahlavas, the so-called five hordes (panca-ganah), from north-west were invited by the Haihaya Yadavas for military support against king Bahu of Ayodhya. Bahu was defeated and ran off Ayodhya. A generation later, Bahu's son, Sagara regained Ayodhya after totally destroying the Haihaya and Talajangha Kshatriyas in the battle. He was about to annihilate the five assisting hordes, but Sagara's priest Vashishta intervened and persuaded him to save their lives by subjecting them to lighter punishments. Story says that King Sagara consented to the advice of his spiritual guide but punished these foreigners by changing their hair-styles and turning them into degraded Kshatriyas.

These are the first known invaders in the recorded history of the sub-continent. The invaders were eventually assimilated into the local community as Kshatriyas 2.

Alberuni refers to this Puranic story in his classic book Alberuni's India and testifies that the above referred to five hordes belonged to his own people i.e. Central Asia.

Puranic traditions (Bhagavata Purana) say that Budha, the patriarchic figure the Yadu, Turvasa, Druhyu, Anu and Puru clans had come from Central Asia to Bharatkhand to perform penitential rites and he espoused Ella, the daughter of Manu, by whom was born Pururavas. Pururavas had six sons, one of whom is said to be Ayu. This Ayu or Ay is said to be the patriarch figure of the Tartars of Central Asia as well as of the first race of the kings of China.

Whatever may be value of these conjectures, this literary tradition definitely alludes to intimate relations which existed, since antiquity, between the Indian people and the Central Asians.

Puranic cosmography divides our earth into seven concentric islands, viz. Jambudvipa, Plakasadvipa, Salmalidvipa, Kushadvipa, Krounchadvipa, Shakadvipa, and Pushkaradvipa, separated by seven encircling seas. Insular continent Jambudvipa forms the innermost concentric island in the above scheme of continents. Jambudvipa includes nine varsa and nine mountains. Varsa of Illa-vrta lies at the center of Jambudivipa at whose center is located Mount Meru (Plateau of Pamir). The varsa of Uttara Kuru lies to the north of Mount Meru and extending beyond north-wards. The varsa of Illa Vrta includes parts of Central Asia.

The Puranic Bhuvanakosha attests that the boundaries of Bharata varsa extended in the Uttarapatha as far as the Vamkshu or Oxus in Central Asia. The Oxus to be the northmost limit of thegeographical territories once included in the Bharata varsa was a real fact in political history of ancient India. It was the most well-defined geographical feature delimiting the boundaries of Bharata Varsa in the north.

The Puranic Bhuvanakosha attests that Bahlika or Bactria was the northern-most Puranic Janapada of ancient India and was located in Udichya or Uttarapatha division of Indian sub-continent.

The Uttarapatha or northern division of Jambudvipa comprised very vast area of Central Asia, as far as the Urals and the Caspian Sea to the Yenisei and from Turkistan and Tien Shan ranges to as far as the Arctic (Dr S. M. Ali).

Mudra-Rakashasa drama

The Buddhist drama Mudra-rakshas by Visakha Dutta as also  the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan refer to Chandragupta's alliance with Himalayan king Parvatka. The Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a composite formidable army made up of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Kiratas, Parasikas and Bahlikas as attested by Mudra-rakashas. With the help of these frontier martial tribes from Central Asia, Chandragupta was able to defeat the Greek successors of Alexander the Great and the Nanda/Nandin rulers of Magadha so as to found the powerful Maurya empire in northern India.


Poet Kalidasa provides graphic picture of northern mountainous region of India. This is especially so in the case of his works like Meghdoota, Vikramorvashiam and Raghuvamsha. He also brings refreshing reference of the Uttara Kuru.

Raghuvamsha tells of a war expion of king Raghu (Chandragupta Vikramaditya) against the Parasikas (Sassanians),  Xiongnu as and the Kambojas located in northern division or Uttarapatha. The encounters with the  Xiongnu as and the Kambojas had occurred around river Oxus, right in Central Asia.32


Rajatarangini of Kalhana makes king Lalitaditya Mukatapida of Kashmir undertake a war expion against his neighboring countries. He launched onto the region of north (from Kashmir) against the Kambojas, Tusharas, Bhauttas, Daradas, Valukambudhi, Strirajya and Uttarakurus (mythical or not). There is also a reference to the humiliation of the  Xiongnu as by Lalitaditva in the Rajataramgini.34The nations named above are all located in Central Asia.

Brahata Katha of Kshmendra

Brahata Katha indicates that king Vikramaditya of Ujjaini (60 c BC) had mobilised his forces against the invading hordes of the Mlechchas from north west. He had ridded the mother earth off the sinfuls by completely destroying the Mlechcha hordes of the Sakas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Parasikas etc.

Katha-Saritsagara of Somadeva

The Katha-Saritsagara of Somadeva also refers to the subjugation of numerous kings and the destruction of the Sanghas (republics) of the Mlechchas by king Vikramditiya. Those who survived paid tributes to him or joined him militarily. The reference to the Sanghas of the Mlechchas, undoubtedly alludes to the Sanghas of the Kambojas, Yavavans, Abhiras as well as of the Vahikas etc.

This, again affirms the ongoing inter-action between the Indian-mainland and the people of Central Asia.

Kavyamimamsa of Rajashekhara

The 10th century CE Kavyamimamsa of Pandit Rajashekhara knows about the existence of several Central Asian tribes. He furnishes an exhaustive list of the extant tribes of his times and places the Shakas, Tusharas, Vokanas,  Xiongnu as, Kambojas, Vahlika, Vahlava, Tangana, Limpaka, Turukshas etc together, styling them all as the tribes from Uttarapatha or north division. There is also a mention of Tushara-Giri (Tushara mountain) in the Mahabharata, Harshacharita of Bana Bhata and Kavyamimansa of Rajshekhar.

Conclusion of India Literaure about Central Tribes:

This ancient epic evidence shows that there was an intensive political and military intercourse between the Mid Indians and the Central Asians.Mahabharata brackets the Kambojas, Shakas and the Khashas together and styles them as tribes of Udichya or Uttarapatha, which obviously means Central Asia.The Bhishamaparava and Shantiparavas of Mahabharata repeatedly assert that beyond the Uttara (north) are located the Mlechcha Janas (tribes) like the Yavanas, Kambojas, Darunas, Kiratas and other Mlechchas/Barbarians. These above references also obviously point to Central Asian fringe of people located on the north of Bharatavarsa.The Rishikas are said to be same people as the Yuezhis (Dr V. S. Aggarwala, K. D. Sethna). The Kushanas or Kanishkas are also the same people (Dr J. C. Vidyalnkara). Prof Stein says that the Tukharas (Tokharois/Tokarais) were a branch of the Yue-chi or Yuezhi. Thus, the Rishikas (q.v.), Tusharas/Tukharas (Tokharoi/Tokaroi) and the Yuezhis probably were either same or an allied people. Prof Stein says that the Tukharas (Tokharois/Tokarais) were a branch of the Yue-chi or Yuezhi. Thus, the Rishikas (q.v.), Tusharas/Tukharas (Tokharoi/Tokaroi) and the Yuezhis probably were either same or an allied people.

In Balmiki Ramayan , there is no details about Tocharion unlike other Central Asian tribes of the Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakas, Paradas and Mlechchas.In Balmiki Ramayan, King Dasratha was known as Gurtar, i.e. Gurjar . In many research it is proves that Yuezhi is Chineeese nomenclature for Gurjars. Also it is proves that Tocharion and Yuezhi were same . "It is important to note that the Chinese word 'Yue-che" is pronounced as "Gu( r )t-tia" according to Karl-Gren, meaning the "Moon People".

While Tocharians/Rishikas are mentioned in later Indian literatures. Exception is Atharavaveda, but it could be later amendment in original Atharavaveda. However, the Anusasanaparva of Mahabharata also asserts that the clans of the Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakas, Pahlavas were formerly noble Kshatriyas, but in later time had turned into degraded Kshatriyas due to the wrath of the Brahminas.

On behalf of Indian Literature it could be an theory that Tocharian(Yuezhi) were belong to Ancient India during Ramayan Period and They would full/partially moved into North before Mahabharata period, may be due to political reason or for trade.As per Chineese Literatures, Yuezhi were sell Zade in Ancient China. May be , these people gone for another places for trading of Zade and James. From ancient period, Gurjaratra (Gujarat) Region of India was well known for Jems.




Tocharian languages



Wooden plate with inscriptions in the Tocharian language. Kucha,China, 5th-8th century. Tokyo National Museum.

The Tocharians appear to have originally spoken two distinct languages of the Indo-European Tocharian family, an Eastern ("A") form and a Western ("B") form. According to some, only the Eastern ("A") form can be properly called "Tocharian", as the native name for the Western form is referred to asKuchean (see below). Tocharian shares of course commonalities with all other Indo-European languages, which does not help in identifying a next neighbor. However, nearly all lexicostatistical studies put it as next neighbor to Hittite, with which it e.g. shares the absence of palatalization, common among the regional neighbors as Indic and Iranian.

Tocharian A of the eastern regions seems to have declined in use as a popular language or mother tongue faster than did Tocharian B of the west, where it was more insulated from outside linguistic influences.6 It appears that Tocharian A ultimately became a liturgical language, no longer a living one, at the same time that Tocharian B was still widely spoken in daily life. Among the monasteries of the lands inhabited by Tocharian B speakers, Tocharian A seems to have been used in ritual alongside the Tocharian B of daily life.



Early Relation of Yuezhi with Xiongnu


 Xiongnu were ancient pastoral nomadic-tribe that formed a state and confederacy locatednorth of China in Inner Mongolia. Xiongnu Tribe referred as “Barbarian of the North Mangolia”. This nomadic tribe of Mongolia depended on grazing lands for their animals with limited vegetation and agricultural resources. Their survival dependent on the access of grazing lands for their domesticated animals. The meat and dairy products from the animal provided thefood while skin hide provided clothing and tents for nomads. Primarily of Bronze Age culture, they were fierce and warlike nomads and excelled in horse riding and “hit and run” military strategy. Later they developed the access to the Iron Age weapons that produces devastating effect on other neighbors. China was one of the most effected Chineese kingdoms of the warring states to suffer from Xiongnu raids. Xiongnu must have realized that daily hunt for food stealing is not the final solution to their problem but to find alternate sites forgrazing lands that Yueh-Chinh had control over. The earliest known Xiongnu ruler was Touman, who reigned approximately between 225 BCand 210 BC. He spent much of his rule over uniting the various nomadic components living in Mongolia


Starting of Great Migration of Yuezhi (Tocharian):

First War between Xiongnu and Yuezhi:

215-214 BCE General Meng Tian of the Qin drove barbarian tribes(  Xiongnu s) out from the Ordos and he began construction of a "Great Wall."

The Grand Historian Sima Qian (Ssu-ma Ch'ien) (c.145-c.90 BCE) writes in Shi Ji 110: The Account of the Xiongnu.

Finally Qin overthrew the other six states, and the First Emperor of the Qin dispatched Meng Tian [Meng T'ien] to lead a force of 100,000 men north to attack the barbarians [Hu]. He seized control of all the lands south of the Yellow River and established border defences along the river, constructing forty-four walled district cities overlooking the river and manning them with convict labourers transported to the border for garrison duty. He also built the Direct Road from Jiuyuan [Chiu-yüan] to Yünyang . Thus he utilized the natural mountain barriers to establish the border defences, scooping out the valleys and constructing ramparts and building installations at other points where they were needed. The whole line stretched over 10,000 li from Lintao [Lin-t'ao] to Liaodong [Liao-tung] and even extended across the Yellow River and through Yangshan [Yang Mountains] and Beijia [Pei-chia].

"At this time the Eastern Barbarians were very powerful and the Yuezhi were likewise flourishing. The Shanyu or chieftain of the Xiongnu was named Touman. Touman, unable to hold out against the Qin forces, had withdrawn to the far north, where he lived with his subjects for over ten years.".After that ,  Xiongnu s did not return to the area till the end of Qin Dynasty. The Xiongnu s in 209 B.C.E. sent elder prince Mote (Modu) to the Yuezhi as hostage, and then attacked the Yuezhi to induce them into killing Mote (Modu). The Yuezhi (Yueh-chih) people were not weak at the beginning. The  Xiongnu s, in fact, needed to send in hostage to the Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) on the contrary. The father of  Xiongnu nic Chanyu Mote (Modu) had at first planned to borrow the Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) knife in killing Mote (Modu) so that he could have his junior son succeed him. Mote (Modu) was dispatched to Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) as a hostage, but the Xiongnu s attacked the Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) thereafter. Up on receipt of Modu, Touman gave him a unit of 10,000 cavalries under his command. Modu trained his men like a “special force”, expert in “hit and run” guerrilla warfare.  Mote (Modu) had barely escaped the Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) alive.

In Shi ji 110: The Account of the Xiongnu, Sima Qian writes:

"Touman's oldest son, the heir apparent to his position, was named Maodun [Modun], but the Shanyu also had a younger son by another consort whom he had taken later and was very fond of. He decided that he wanted to get rid of Maodun and set up his younger son as heir instead, and he therefore sent Maodun as hostage to the Yuezhi nation. Then, after Maodun had arrived among the Yuezhi, Touman made a sudden attack on them. The Yuezhi were about to kill Maodun in retaliation, but he managed to steal one of their best horses and escape, eventually making his way back home. His father, struck by his bravery, put him in command of a force of 10,000 cavalry.

"Maodun had some arrows made that whistled in flight and used them to drill his troops in shooting from horseback. 'Shoot wherever you see my whistling arrow strike!' he ordered, 'and anyone who fails to shoot will be cut down!' Then he went out Xiongnu ting for birds and animals, and if any of his men failed to shoot at what he shot at, he cut them down on the spot. After this, he shot a whitling arrow at one of his best horses. Some of his men  Xiongnu g back and did not dare shoot the horse, whereupon Maodun at once executed them. A little later he took an arrow and shot at the horse, whereupon Maodun at once executed them. A little later he took an arrow and shot at his favorite wife. Again some of his men shrank back in terror and failed to discharge their arrows, and again he executed them on the spot. Finally he went out  Xiongnu ting with his men and shot a whistling arrow at one of his father's finest horses. All his followers promptly discharged their arrows in the same direction, and Maodun at last knew that at last they could be trusted. Accompanying his father, the Shanyu Touman, on a  Xiongnu ting expedition, he shot a whitling arrow at his father and every one of his followers shot a whistling arrow in the same direction and shot the Shanyu dead. Then Maodun executed his stepmother, his younger brother, and all the high officials of the nation who refused to take orders from him, and set himself up as the new Shanyu(in 209 B.C.). He adopted suitable policies to stabilize society and develop the economy. Hence his country became very prosperous and strong and surpassed the Yuezhi.


Second War between Xiongnu and Yuezhi:

When the king of Eastern Hu nomads heard about Mote (Modu)'s patricide, he challenged Mote (Modu) by sending emissary to Mote (Modu) and demanding the 'qianli-ma' ('winged steed') and again Mote (Modu)'s wife. Mote (Modu) gave up the horse and his wife on the first two occasions and then attacked the Dong Hu nomads when asked to secede the land between the Xiongnu s and the Dong Hu. Mote (Modu) defeated the Dong Hu nomads and killed their king. The Xiongnu s then defeated two other tribal states called 'Loufan' and 'Baiyang' (white sheep) which were located between the Xiongnu s and the Chinese. (Baiyang King was recorded to have dwelled south of the Yellow River.)

"At this time the Han forces were stalemated in battle with the armies of Xiang Yu, and China was exhausted by warfare. Thus Maodun was able to strengthen his position, massing a force of  ver 300,000 crossbowmen." Now Modu Decided to super power in that area   and subsequently Modu launched another war against the Yuezhi, which was second war against Yuezhi. This war took place in the 7th year of Modu era (203 B.C.). From this war, a large area of the territory originally belonging to the Yuezhi was seized by the Xiongnu, the hegemony of the Yuezhi started to shake, but their nation was not yet exterminated. It appears that the Yuezhi did not yet migrate from Dunhuang.


The Xiongnu invaded Taiyuan in 200 BCE and were aided by the defected fiduciary allies; Xin Emperor Gaozu (Shin Huangdi) personally led his forces through the snow to Pingcheng (near modern Datong, Shanxi). In the ensuing Battle ofBaideng, Gaozu's forces were heavily surrounded for seven days; running short of supplies, hewas forced to flee. After this defeat, the court adviser Liu Jing convinced the emperor tocreate a peace treaty and marriage alliance with the Xiongnu Chanyu called the “Heqin agreement”. By this arrangement established in 198 BCE, the Han hoped to modify the Xiongnu’s violent cultural values with luxury goods given as tribute (silks, wine, and food-stuffs, ivory) and to make Modu's future children born of Huangdi daughter, a Chinese successor and a subordinate to grandfather Huangdi. The exact amounts of annual tribute aspromised by Emperor Gaozu- Huangdi given to the Xiongnu in the 2nd century BC after thedefeat are unknown. The emperor was known with many names such as Gaozu, Huangdi,shuangadi etc. Emperor Gaozu was initially set to give his only daughter to Modu, but underthe opposition of Empress Lü, Gaozu (Sinn Huangdi) made a female relative, a princess andmarried her to Modu. The offering of princess brides and tributary items scarcely satisfied the Xiongnu King.

Third War between  Xiongnu and Yuezhi and  Yuezhi Migration

In the fourth year of the Han Emperor Wen Qianyuan era (176 B.C.), Modu waged the third war against the Yuezhi. The result of this war was declared in a letter written to the Han Emperor Wen by Modu. The  Xiongnu nic Chanyu wrote to Han emperor saying that he ordered one of his kings, Youxianwang (rightside virtuous king), to go west to strike at the Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) as punishment for breaking peace near the Chinese border. Yuezhi certainly did not expect an attack, so they were completely massacred. In this war, Xiongnu defeated the Yuezhi and dominated all of what is now the modern province of Xinjiang (Sinkiang). Yuezhi King  was killed and  a cup was made from his skull (The skull utensil would become  Xiongnu nic legacy which would be retrieved for employment on major celebrations. People would have to admire the Xiongnu nic spirit to preserve this piece of work after Xiongnu dreds of years of wars, turmoil and relocations.). The cat and mouse game between Xiongnu and Yueh-Chinh that lasted over several generation and killed number of people and resulted into massive displacement of the tribes from their original homeland and subsequent influx into subcontinent that was clearly unprecedented (and partly explains How Indian Purana failed to track the Genealogy andmigration of various rulers of tribes and clans into India.)  The Yuezhi queen acted as a regent and led her people in a further move to the west to their “Big Exit” – the valley of the river Ili, and forever left the fertile lands around Huanhe in Hesi. The valley of the rivers Ili and Chu iscalled “Sedmorechie” today (in Russian), meaning “Seven rivers” (Kazakh - Zhetisu, Jetisuw, Jetysu) but in the early Middle Ages it bore the name “Argu6”, “Argun”, “Organa” – a name most likely related to the Arsi (Arsan) / Yuezhi. This is a unique and fateful migration of the majority of the Arsian / Yuezhi community.They stumble upon the valley of the rivei Ili and after that in Sogdiana in Central Asia. Here, they founded a new kingdom, which alter grew in the Kushan Empire. (CD-GYuE, p.13-26) But not all reach Central Asia. The son of Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) was ordered to stay behind, One part of the Yuezhi follow him, known in Chinese chronicles as “Xiao Yuezhi” 月氏 or “Small Yuezhi”.


The defeat of the Yuezhi, submission of the Loulan (Lou-lan), the Wusun (Wu-sun), the Huzhieh (Hu-chieh), and twenty-six states contiguous to them gave the Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu) control of the prosperous oasis-city-states of Sinkiang as well as contact with the rulers of Ferghana and Sogdia.4 (Ferghana was spread across what is now part of central and eastern Kyrgyzstan and eastern Tajikistan, east of the Syr Darya (Jaxartes) River. Sogdia was centered in what is now southeastern Uzbekistan, between the Amu Darya (Oxus) and Syr Darya (Jaxartes) Rivers. Sogdia also included part of what is now western Kyrgistan and western Tajikistan.)

In a letter to the Han emperor Wen, Modun stated:


"With the assistance of Heaven, the talent of officers and soldiers, and the strength of horses the wise king of the right has succeeded in destroying the Yüe-chih, and in unspairingly killing them or bringing them into submission. Lou-lan, the Wu-sun, the Hu-chieh, and other twenty-six states contiguous to them are now part of the Hsiung-nu. All the people who draw the bow now become one one family and the northern region has been pacified."


Xiao Yuezhi 月氏 or Small Yuezhi:


It is assumed, that they withdrew a little higher up in the mountains in the region of Tibet and found a kind of coexistence with the Qiang tribes, already living there and later formed the kingdom of Nanchao, presently in the Yunnan province and adopted the language of the Chiang. The Kingdom of Dian was established around Kunming in Yunnan, and the township of Yizhoujun was established in 109 BC. The Dian Kingdom was built on the east bank of the Dianchi Lake. There the nobles and the common people, the warriors and the slaves, all were fond of songs and dances. They showed a vibrant culture that became among the best bronze cultures of the world. Then Nanchao Kingdom took over Yizhoujun, and made Kunming one of its capitals.

. The other, aforementioned part of the Yuezhi remained in the area of Lake Hu-Bostan and laid the foundation of the kingdom of Agni. It is possible that the land originally belonged to the kingdom of Kuca.


Yuezhi burn graves near Hami - Yuezhi burned their deads


Typical landscape in Gansu - Yuezhi raised horses, it would not be very easy to day, it is too dry. The moderne landscape seems to be better suited for camels


Note how "Qiang People" described in the classical document "Weilu."

                                                                                                                      "Section 3 - Qiang tribes

From Dunhuang in the western area of Chou Qiang (insurgent Qiang) in Nanshan Mountains (South Mountains) and several thousand li against west to Congling (Pamir) are remnants of Yuezhi and Congzi Qiang (Brown Onions Qiang) - Baima Qiang (White Horse Qiang) - and Huangniu Qiang (Yellow Ox Qiang)."


Iaroslav Lebedynsky and Victor Mair speculate that some Scythians may also have migrated to the area of Yunnan in southern China following their expulsion by the Yuezhi in the 2nd century BCE. Excavations of the prehistoric art of the Dian civilization of Yunnan have revealed hunting scenes of Caucasoid horsemen in Central Asian clothing. The scenes depicted on these drums sometimes represent these horsemen practicing hunting. Animal scenes of felines attacking oxes are also at times reminiscent of Scythian art both in theme and in composition.

A Tangard at Koko Nor and in the Nanshan Mountains

The greek geografer, Ptolemy, who lived in Egypt, knew about a people called "Tha-gouroi", which was roughly located in the Nanshan Mountains in Qinghai ("The Cambridge History-" page 152). Ptolemy lived from 90 to 168 AC, and the Xianbei tribe Tuyuhun first established their kingdom at Koko Nor in 329 AC; Therefore, we must believe that this Tha-gouroi was a little Yuezhi's territory.

 The Yuezhi king Shaka with big nose and royal horse tail hair style.



In notes to the translation of "Weilu" John E. Hill writes: "Little Yuezhi were descendants of the Yuezhi people, who took refuge in the Qilian Mountains in the early period of Han, when Yuezhi was attacked by the great Xiongnu leader, Modun, and their main force was driven westward into Central Asia ", and continued, "In late Han Dynasty time they could apparantly put in the field around nine thousand armed men, their main centers were the Xi Ning valley and Lianju Territory (east and west of Koko Nor) in Wuwei, with a few groups in the north of Zhanggye. See HHS 87/77 , 2899. " de Crespigny (1984), p. 478, n. 15".

Another comment found by John E. Hill: "Xia Hou's Lieutenant Chang Ho crossed Huang Ho (a river) (late in the year 217 AC) and reached Little Huang Tung's territory east of Koko Nor, the center of Yuezhi tribe, who had been the main force in the uprising."            (Weilu)

So this indicates that it was the Yuezhi, who lived at Koko Nor.


The Kingdom of Tuyuhun at the Koko Nor

However, it is also known that in 329 AC the Tuyuhun Xianbei people created a kingdom, centered around the salty lake Koko Nor and the Qaidam basin in the northeastern part of the modern Chinese province of Qinghai. What became of the little Yuezhi people, and how the country was taken over by Tuyuhun, I do not know.                                         .
Maybe they had already left the Tibetan plateau and sought new land to the west, like so many other people in the Migration Age did. Perhaps little Yuezhi were displaced by the invaders, or they found a form of coexistence with the Tuyuhun. Maybe they were absorbed by Tuyuhun; nobody knows.
The migration state Tuyuhun around Koko Nor.The appearance of the Xianbei tribes was commented by the learned Yan Shigu, who worked at the court of the first Tang ruler Li Shimi. He wrote in a comment in Sima Qins historic work, Shi Ji: "Nowadays, these "Hu" peoples have green eyes, red beard and their appearance is like bearded monkeys, and they are originally from this kind."   

Tu-Yu-Hun omkring Koko Nor

On the time of Yan Shigu the dominant steppe barbarians were the Xianbei tribes, so it must have been those, he spoke about.The Tuyuhun people was a branch of the Murong Xianbei people.

The scriptures from Dunhuang give us some information about Tuyuhun's language.

Stone lion in Qinghai made by the Tuyuhun people

Stone lion near Dulan in Qinghai made by the Tuyuhun people.                                    .

The Dunhuang documents, P. 1283 (in Tibetan), tells of the Qi Dan (See Chapter 17 "Qi Dan people") people's language: "In the language they (Qi Dan) and Tuyuhun could broadly communicate with each other." As Tuyuhun was a branch of Murong Xianbei and Qi Dan descended from Tuoba Xianbei, this indicates that the migration time's Xianbei tribes spoke very much the same language.                           .    

The Xianbei peoples created the Wei Dynasty and many other migration states. Sui and Tang Dynasty originated from Xianbei people, who had accepted Chinese culture. Their language must necessarily have had a marked influence on the development of the Chinese language.

And since there are many words in both Danish and Chinese, that are similar and there are other cultural similarities, this could indicate that the original Xianbei language and culture was a common source, which has affected both Scandinavian and Chinese culture.

Ancient burial mounds in the Qaidam Basin of Qinghai


Ancient burial mounds in the Qaidam Basin of Qinghai.                                                           .

Around the salty Lake Koko Nor and in the Qaidam basin in the northeast of the modern Chinese province of Qinghai hundreds of traces of ancient burial mounds have been found, believed to origin from the Tuyuhun. In some of the old documents, which Stein and Pelliot brought back from Dun Huang, it is said that an "Aza" people still had a foothold around Koko Nor about 800 to 900 AC. They conducted raids into the Chinese Dun-Huang area, where they abducted children and young people as slaves or perhaps "thralls" (trælle in danish) (See "Life Along the Silk Road" page 176). In modern Tibetan slaves are still called "tralpas".                                           .
In "The History of Tibet" by Alex Mcay (page 46) he makes the point that it was the royal family, who called themselves "A-cha'i" (found in Tibetan Literature as "A-sha") and the people were called "T'u-yu-She", in Tibetan "Thogon", "Tho-Yu-Gon."                                          .   
Tomb from the Tang Dynasty period in the Qaidam Basin

Tuyuhun tomb from the Tang Dynasty period in the Qaidam Basin on the Tibetan plateau.                                     .

Tuyuhun was a rather mysterious kingdom, as one does not know much about. When the kingdom was at its greatest extent it covered very near the same area as the later Dan Xiang kingdom, namely the North Qinghai and parts of the modern provinces of Gansu, Xin Jiang, Ning Xia and Sichuan. A branch of the Silk Road passed through the Qaidam Basin, and it seems to have made the Tuyuhun people rather wealthy. Persian and Byzantine coins and hundreds of remains of silk have been found.                                .

It is said about the A-Zha people: "After many years of war, they were finally defeated by the Tibetans in 663 AC and never again regained their independence.

"See: Mole (1970), p. 2, 30 and 73, n. 22" (Hill).

The Tuyuhun kingdom lasted for about 300 years. It ceased to exist around 663 AC. Some sources say it was destroyed by the king of Tibet, others say it was conquered by the King of Turfan, and still others say it was conquered by the Western Wei.
The high altitude plateau in Qinghai Province

The high altitude plateau in Qinghai Province.                            .

The nationwide Chinese CCTV 1 Television Channel in cooperation with The Japanese TV brought an excellent series about the Silk Road. Among was a episode about Qinghai, which make up the western part of the Tibetan plateau, where the little Yuezhi, Tuyuhun and Aza once lived.The broadcasting showed the Qinghai plateau, which has an altitude of around 3000 m. The landscape reminds about parts of Iceland, as far as I could see. Completely without trees, cold, even in the summertime there can fall snow.On the plains are a lot of ancient burial mounds, all robbed once in the past. They are dug up, and everything has been removed. By the construction of these mounds large amounts of wood has been used. They are built up in layers of timber logs and soil.                                                                                             .

Logs of cypress used in Tuyuhun burial mounds I

Logs of cypress used in Tuyuhun burial mounds.                                                                 .

So many parts of Qinghai may in a remote past have been covered by forest. It can be shown, that for the older graves bigger timber logs had been used than for the younger graves. This suggests, that big trees were increasingly difficult to find. It complies with the fact that cypress grows extremely slow. Today the area is absolutely treeless. Some Tuyuhun graves from the Tang Dynasty times resemble tombs on China's northern plain.  
Despite the fact that the graves were robbed, there have been found some things in Qinghai. The most interesting is some silk carpets produced with the same technique that was used in the West and what nowadays is called Middle East. The reconstructed silk rug motifs showed an apparently dark-haired people of European appearance, big noses, eyes, etc.. The subject of the carpets displays people, who live an active and cheerfull life, they go hunting, drinking and gets some good dinners. A man is shown throwing up, as if he had got too much to eat and drink. Many other findings indicate that they had good connections with the West and the Greeks in Bactria.



Great Yuezhi Migration (Westward Path):

The Yuzhi migration was one of mass proportions. Some scholars believe that their migration of people comprised of hundreds of bowmen and the group of millions people of all ages and genders (Smith 1999:248).

In their westward search for adequate agricultural land the Yuzhi encountered numerous hostile groups. The first of these groups, the Wu-san, were located along the basins of the Ili River (Smith 1999: 248).


First Yuezhi– Wusun War

174 BCE Modun, the shanyu of the Xiongnu, died; his son Lao Shang,(Laoshan,proper name: Jizhu) succeeded him as shanyu. The  Xiongnu s' attack against the Yuezhi to the west triggered a chain reaction, In 173 BCE the Yuezhi attacked and overran the Wusun. Wu-san, were located along the basins of the Ili River (Smith 1999: 248).Nandoumi, the kunmo (supreme chieftain) of the Wusun, was killed. After that defeat, the Wusun people and the heir to their throne, still an infant, moved to Xiongnu and sought protection. They become vassals to the Xiongnu Some time later, his infant son Liejiaomi was left in the wild. Liejiaomi was eventually found by the Xiongnu. According to a legend recorded in the Hanshu (an ancient Chinese history text that is sequel to Sima Quien's Shiji), Liejiaomi was suckled by a she-wolf and fed meat by ravens while he was in the wild. Liejiaomi was eventually found by the Xiongnu. The Xiongnu's shanyu Jizhu (a.k.a. Lao Shang) adopted Liejiaomi and raised him. When Liejiaomi came of age, Jizhu saw to it that he was made the kunmo of the Xiongnu like his father had been. Jizhu also made Liejiaomi the commander of the far western region of the Xiongnu Empire as a vassal of the Xiongnu. Later, he was sent by the shanyu, together with his people, to protect the western borders of the state. 




First Scythian-Yuezhi War

Under the attack of the Wusun, the Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) migrated southwest to the Oxus Valley, pushing out the Scythians again,
who had a larger number of individuals then the Wu-san, and also tried to defend themselves but fell to the mass fighting force of Yuzhi. The Yuzhi then settled in the prosperous agricultural region occupied by the Sakas (Smith 1999: 249).

  According to the ancient Book of Han: "The Yuezhi attacked the king of the Sai who moved a considerable distance to the south and the Yuezhi then occupied his lands." This forced the Scythians to undertake their own migration, south to the Iran Plateau, Afghanistan and northern India, where for a time they established a loosely defined Indo-Scythian Rule.  The Yuezhi's high percentage of men under arms relative to their total size (ancient sources estimate the Yuezhi could deploy 200,000 horse archers out of a total tribal population of 400,000) made them a formidable opponent. The new country in Central Asia would be called Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) Major the Greater Yüeh-chih. This touched off a wave of 'chain reactions'. The Scythians went to take over the Greco-Bactria kingdom. They then settled west of the Yaksarat river (Syr Darya) in Sogdiana. The event is briefly hinted at by Strabo, who simply calls them “Sakas”(Sakai) and places them there in his “Geography”. At that time, Sogdiana was probably still Greco-Bactrian territory.


Yuezhi’s Further Migration to South West

Second Yuezhi– Wusun War

In 173 B.C., Han Emperor Wendi replied to Mote (Modu) (Modok, wrongly pronounced as Maodun) Chanyu emphasizing the wish for peace. With Mote dead, his son, Jiyu, got enthroned as Laoshang Chanyu. Wendi ordered that an eunuch by the name of Zhongxing Shuo accompany a Han princess to the  Xiongnu s. Zhongxing Shuo tricked Laoshang Chanyu in saying that Han Dynasty intended the  Xiongnu s to wear the silk clothes instead of the cavalry clothes. Zhongxing Shuo would instigate the Xiongnu s in attacking Han, and he also taught the Xiongnu s how to count cattle and horses.

In about 161 B.C.E., when Laoshang Chanyu was still alive, the Wusun Prince, Liejiaomi became a strong young man and a ruler, he requested that the shanyu (Laoshan) allow him to take revenge on the Yuezhi. He received permission and attacked the Yuezhi who were then living west of him, defeated the Yuezhi and took over today's Ili area. The Yuzhi remained in this agricultural region for fifteen to twenty years (Smith: 249). At the time of Junchen Chanyu, under the attack of  Wusun- Xiongnu alliance  ,the Yuezhi,  continued their march westward and settled in the valley,Oxus where they conquered the Ta-hai who had lived there (Smith: 250).

However, shortly afterwards the shanyu died and “kunmo” remained in his new country and declared himself independent. In other words, the war with and the conquest of the Yuezhi occurred during the last years of Laoshan’s reign, therefore in 160/161, when he died, the Wusuns were already masters of the Area of the Seven Rivers, which tells us the Yuezhi only inhabited the region for a few years.The Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) people were driven away from the Scythian land by the Wusun Statelet. Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) moved on to occupy Bactria .


It is clear that the two events, the migration the “Royal Sakas” and the conquest of the Area of the Seven rivers, and the Yuezhi by the Wusuni, with their subsequent migration to the southwest,around Dayuan in the land of Kangju (The lands between the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya) (1) and the conquest of Eastern Bactria, or Daxia (Tachara / Tochara) (2) occurred within a few years of each other, almost similtaneously. TheChinese historian Xu Sung, who lived in the XVIII - XIX century (1781-1848) drew attention to this fact in his commentary to “Han-shu”. He was subsequently quoted by Stan Konov. If we look at the sentence Pompeiy Trogus uses in his “Prologues”: “How the Asians became kings of the Tocharians and destroyed the Sakaraulians”, we see a full match. The Asians / Wusun conquered the Tocharians who are, technically, Yuezhi / Arsians, and drove the “Royal Sakas” from their land. (HSh), (CD-ZhQ, p. 39)                                                           


Yuezhi Occupy Bectria:

The Yuezhi 月氏 then conquered the land of Kangju 康居 and settled westward along the valley of the Syr Darya (Yaxarat) river .There, they encountered the Sakaraukas / Sai-wang 塞王once again and drove them south from Sogdiana. The “Sai-wang” had no other choice but to cross the Hissar ridge and invade the land, which Chang Jiang called “Daxia (Tachara / Tochara)”, located along the upper stream of the Ox river (Amu Darya). They conquered the territory and kept for half a generation. They are the elusive nomads, who stormed and burned the ancient Hellenistic city of Ai Hanuman (called Eucratideia at the time) to the ground. With the fall of this great Greek fortress, the road is open for them to take over Tochara in its entirety or the eastern part of Bactria. Bactria was a key centre on the extensive trade routes developed to transport lapis lazuli, spinel rubies and, quite possibly, emeralds – see Giuliani et al (2000), pp. 631-633 – from the mines in the mountains. Lapis lazuli from Badhakshan was being traded to Mesopotamia, and Egypt as early as the second half of the fourth millennium BCE and to the Indus River cultures by the third millennium. These routes were later to form the basis of the so-called ‘Silk Routes.’

Following the settlement of the Yuezhi (referred to by the Greeks as Tókharoi), the general area of Bactria came to be called Tokharistan. The territory of Tokharistan was identical with Kushan Bactria, including the areas of Surkhandarya, Southern Tajikistan and Northern Afghanistan.


Around 145 BC, the Yuezhi sacked the Greek city of Alexandria on the Oxus, present-day Ai Khanoum. Archaeological evidence about this event was found during the  excavations of the Old Town of Alexandria / Eucratideia (Ai Hanum). Archaeological analysis shows that the fortress was conquered and burned about 145 B.C.E.


Political Structure of Yuezhi States:


 ."The Yuezhi were organized into five major tribes, each led by a yabgu, or tribal chief, and known to the Chinese as Xiūmì (休密) in Western Wakhān and Zibak, Guishuang (貴霜) in Badakhshan and the adjoining territories north of the Oxus, Shuangmi (雙靡) in the region of Shughnan, Xidun (肸頓) in the region of Balkh, and Dūmì (都密) in the region of Termez.".

 The claim that Da Yuezhi 大月氏 established the five Xihou 翖侯 after they had destroyed the state of Daxia 大夏 in the Hou Hanshu 後漢書, ch. 88, is based on the Hanshu 漢書, ch. 96A. In the latter it is recorded:

Originally Daxia 大夏 had no major overlord or chief, and minor chiefs were frequently established in the towns. The inhabitants are weak and afraid of fighting, with the result that when the Yuezhi 月氏 migrated there, they made them all into their subjects. They provide supplies for Han envoys. There are five Xihou 翖侯. The first is entitled the Xihou 翖侯 of Xiumi 休密, and the seat of government is at the town of Hemo 和墨; it is distant by 2,841 li from [the seat of] the Protector General and 7,802 li from the Yang Barrier. The second is entitled the Xihou 翖侯 of Shuangmi 雙靡, and the seat of government is at the town of Shuangmi 雙靡; it is distant by 3,741 li from [the seat of] the Protector General and 7,782 li from the Yang Barrier. The third is entitled the Xihou 翖侯 of Guishuang 貴霜, and the seat of government is at the town of Huzao 護澡; it is distant by 5,940 li from [the seat of] the Protector General and 7,982 li from the Yang Barrier. The fourth is entitled the Xihou 翖侯 of Bidun 肸頓, and the seat of government is at the town of Bomao 薄茅; it is distant by 5,962 li from [the seat of] the Protector General and 8,202 li from the Yang Barrier. The fifth is entitled the Xihou 翖侯 of Gaofu 高附, and the seat of government is at the town of Gaofu 高附; it is distant by 6,041 li from [the seat of the] Protector General and 9,238 li from the Yang Barrier. All the five Xihou 翖侯 are subject to the Da Yuezhi 大月氏. According to this, the five Xihou 翖侯 were in fact not the Yuezhi 月氏 people, but were the people in the state of Daxia 大夏. This is because there was no sovereign who could order the whole country in the state of Daxia 大夏, where each town carried out its affairs in its own way and was ruled by a so-called “minor chief.” The Yuezhi 月氏 did not wipe out these “minor chiefs,” but “made them all into their subjects” after they had conquered the state of Daxia 大夏.


Locations of Yuezhi States:


Xiūmì (休密) in Western Wakhān :(Region of modern Ishkashim):

This easily defended territory controlled all the main strategic routes north into Badakhshan, southeast over the Dorah Pass (4,554 m or 14,940 ft) to Mastuj and Chitral, and southwest to the Panjshir Valley and Kabul. 

“There are two roads towards Chitral from Gow-khanah and Zé-bak; one leading through the district of Sanglich and crossing the chain of Hindú Kosh by the pass named Dorah, nearly south of Zé-bak; the other runs to the south-east, and affords three distinct passes over the mountains. The route by one of these, the Nuksan pass, has been recently traversed and surveyed by one of Major Montgomerie’s emissaries. The road into Kaffiristan also leads by Sanglich, and thence by a pass called the Dozakh Dara, or valley of hell. – (Faiz Baksh).” Wood (1872), p. 202, n. 1.     

In this ancient period, Xiumi might have been bordered by the region of Ishkashim. Between Ishkashim and Wakhan stands the ancient fortress of Yamchum [= Qala Panja – Qal‘eh-ye Panjeh or Kila Panj], which was in existence in the Kushan period, perhaps marking the border between Xiumi as a part of the Great Yuezhi and Nandou.”


Shuangmi 雙靡 in theregion of  Shughnān:

In the Hanshu the capital of the xihou of Shuangmi is said to have the same name as the country.

Shughnān was of great strategic importance. Not only was it on the track running through Wakhān to Badakhshān, but also formed the western terminus of an important route through the Pamirs leading north to Sary-Tash. Here it connected with two other major caravan routes. These were the main east-west route between Kashgar and down the Kyzyl Suu Valley towards modern Dushanbe, and the main route northwest into the Ferghana Valley and thence to Samarkand. Along the way to Sary-Tash there are at least two reasonably easy passes across the ranges to the east into the Kashgar oasis. They had the added advantage of avoiding the Ak Baital (‘White Horse’) Pass that, at 4655 metres (15, 272 feet), was the highest pass on the route between Khorog and Sary Tash. Shughnān was famous for its climate, good water and wine. It was also the source of the celebrated “Balas rubies” (actually spinel, not true rubies) of the ancient world.

Shughnān nowadays refers to the area centred near the modern town of Khorough (Korog) on the upper Oxus or Ab-i-Panj River, north of Ishkashim and the entrance to the Wakhān Valley, but separated from them, and from lower Badkashān by narrow and difficult gorges. In winter, if the upper Oxus freezes over, it is sometimes possible to travel from Shughnān to Badakhshān on the ice, but this was not possible every year.


Guishuang [Kuei-shuang] :

Guishuang referred to the region of modern Badakhshān plus the adjoining region to the north of the Amu Darya or Oxus river, particularly the Vakash and Kafirnigan valleys where imitations of Eucratides and a number of coins of Heraos have been found. It seems likely that their control may have included the region around modern Dushanbe where several important routes converge: the route north via Ayni and then west to Panjakent to Samarkand; the route north through Aini and the Ura Tyube oasis to the Ferghana Valley, and the route to the northeast along the Alai valley through Garm and Sary Tash to Kashgar. According to the Chinese sources , it was located about 100 km east of Termez, in the territory later controlled by Heraus (cfr. Hulsewe & Loewe 1979, 122- 3, n. 296).

The circumstances of the formation (in the first century BC?) of the five yabghu mentioned by the Chinese sources towards Termez, in the territory which was earlier occupied by the Sacaraucae, have still to be determined (Hulsewe & Loewe 1979, 122- 3, n.296).


Xidun [Hsi-tun] :

It seems to have included at least the region of Bactra or Balkh and the Shibirghan oasis to the east. The name of the seat of the ruler of Xidun is given in the Hanshu as Bomao 薄茅 [Po-mao].This state was located near Panjshir River. The heavily fortified town of Yemshi-tepe, just five kilometres to the northeast of modern Shibarghan on the road to Akcha, is only 450 to 500 metres from the now-famous necropolis of Tillya-tepe where an immense treasure was excavated from the graves of the local royal family by a joint Soviet-Afghan archaeological effort from 1969 to1979.
This was in the westernmost section of ancient Bactria which had, by this time, been under Kushan rule for over a hundred years.
Six royal tombs were excavated at Tillya-tepe revealing a vast amount of gold and other treasures. The latest date for any of these burials is indicated by the find of several coins dating up to the early 1st century CE with none dating from after that point indicating, presumably, the extinction of the local royal dynasty after the conquests of all the other Yuezhi xihou by Kajula Kadphises around the middle of the century. It is probably worth quoting the discussions of the various coins found in the tombs – as they are critical for dating the burials.

“Two coins were recovered from the third tomb. One is of gold and bears the bust in profile of the wreath-crowned Roman Emperor Tiberius. On the reverse is an enthroned, sumptuously draped female figure holding a spray and scepter. Coins of this order were minted in the city of Lugdunum in Gaul, between A.D. 16 and 21. the Tillya-tepe coin is the first case of such a coin to be found not merely in Afghanistan, but in contiguous Central Asia.
   The second coin is silver and has on the obverse the stamped, bearded head of a ruler in profile wearing a diadem. Depicted on the reverse is a seated archer holding a bow in his right, outstretched hand; an inscription in Greek runs around the rim. the coin was minted by the Parthian king Mithridates II, who ruled between 123 and 88 B.C.
   Proceeding from the later Roman coin we may presume the third tomb to date from the first century A.D.”
Sarianidi (1985), p. 34. Note: Mark Passehle (personal communication, 7 July 2003) has kindly pointed out that G. R. F. Asssar (2003), VI, pp. 26-29, has recently “proven” that Mithradates II actually ruled ca. Oct. 122 – Oct. 91 B.C.

   “Discovered in this fourth tomb was but one gold coin; its obverse has embossed upon it a male figure resting on the Wheel of Dharma and also carries and inscription in the old Indian language (ill. 131). The reverse depicts a lion with upraised paw and carries the inscription “as fearless as a lion.” The coin is unique and will not be found in any numismatic catalogue in the world. King Agathocles from the Greco-Bactrian city of Ai Khanoum is known to have minted a similar type of coin; further, the lion was often portrayed on coins struck by the kings of ancient India and the Sakas. Evidently, the coin is of a type struck during the transitional stage between the Indo-Greek and Kushan epochs, and most likely is of the first century A.D., when the warrior in the fourth tomb was apparently interred.” Ibid. p. 44.

   “When the dead woman was laid to rest, a silver coin was inserted into her mouth – quite in keeping with the Greek ritual of internment, as the coin was intended to symbolize the fee to Charon for ferrying the dead person across the Styx to Hades (ill. 129). Depicted on the obverse is the embossed bust of a bearded king wearing a diadem that is knotted at the nape of the neck with long, flowing ribbons. To one side the coin has been counterstamped with the design of a miniature helmeted warrior enclosed in a dotted circle. The reverse carries the figure of an enthroned archer and a Greek legend that tells us that the coin was initially struck during the reign of the Parthian King Phraates IV (38-32 B.C.)
   The countermark, which is of particular interest, was impressed during the reign of Sapaeisis, a nomad Yüeh-Chih tribal chieftain, who ruled Bactria before the rise of the Great Kushan Empire. Note that the counterstamp was neatly added so as to not damage the portrait of the reigning Parthian ruler, which, as experts contend, indicates a certain degree of dependency of local potentates upon their Parthian neighbours.
   Clasped in the deceased’s left hand was one more coin, this one of gold (ill. 128). The obverse depicts the profile of a bearded king with finely etched features, a slightly aquiline nose, deep-seated eyes, and fullish lips; he wears a round tiara. In the empty field behind his head is a heavily worn countermark in the shape of a miniature full-faced head. The revers bears the image of an enthroned archer holding a bow, and along the rim runs a Greek inscription mentioning a Parthian king. No numismatic catalogue in the world reproduces anything like it, from which it may be deduced that this gold Parthian coin is unique.” Ibid. pp. 52-53.

          It is clear from the above finds that Shibarghan was the seat of an important Yuezhi family up until the early 1st century CE. It seems very likely that it formed the stronghold of the xihou of Xidun until Kujula Kadphises combined all five Bactrian (or Yuezhi) xihou into a single unity around the middle of the first century.
          Although much of this fabulous treasure now seems to have disappeared during the recent depredations of the Taliban regime, the details of these excavations and beautiful colour photographs of the extraordinary finds have, most fortunately, been carefully preserved for us in a series of articles and books by the famous Russian archaeologist, Viktor Sarianidi (see the Bibliography under Sarianidi for some of what is available in English).
          Here is a survey of what little has been preserved for us in the later history of Shibarghan until the time of Marco Polo:

          Xuanzhang, after repeated entreaties from their kings, made brief visits to two ‘kingdoms’ to the southwest of Balkh: Ruimotuo [Jui-mo-t’o] and Hushijuan [Hu-shih-chien]. “The kings, being overjoyed, offered him gold and precious stones, and abundance of drink and food ; the Master of the Law declined all such gifts, and returned.” Beal (1911), p. 51.
          The name of the second of these ‘kingdoms,’ Hushijuan, was, according to Watters (1904-5), p. 114, identified first by M. Saint Martin with the district the Persians called Juskān (modern Jowzjān) between Balkh and the district of Merv; the main city of which we know was Shibarghan. This identification appears to be correct. Xuanzhang says about it:

“This country is about 500 li from east to west, and about 1000 li from north to south. The capital is 20 li in circuit [or, roughly 6.5 km based on the Tang li equivalent to about 323 metres]. It has many mountains and river-courses. It produces excellent (shen) horses [literally: ‘divine’ or ‘Heavenly’ horses]. To the north-west is Dalajian.” Adapted from Beal (1884) I, p. 48. Note: this Dalajian seems to be identical to the Talaqan of the later Muslim writers which has been variously identified in the region of modern Chechaktu or Qala Vali (which are very close together) about 200 km southwest (not northwest) of Shibarghan. It was on the upper eastern reaches of the Murqap River that flows into the Merv oasis and considered Persian territory at that time.

Dumi 都密 [Tu-mi]:

 almost certainly refers to ancient Tarmita (modern Termez), on the north bank of the Oxus or Amu Darya, and probably included the whole of the Surkhan Darya region where “Heliocles imitations dominate by far” (Sebastian Stride, email, 5 January 2003). Also, see Pulleyblank (1963): pp. 124, 213, 222-223; and the excellent discussion in CICA, p. 122, n. 296.
Yu (1998), pp. 27-28 proposes that this was the principal court of the Da Yuezhi situated north of the Oxus River at the time when Zhang Qian visited the region c. 119 BCE and later on (presumably after Yuezhi power became centred in Bactra [= Lanshi/Jianshi?] became the seat of one of the xihou. This suggestion makes very good sense both on strategic grounds and commercial grounds and the fact we also know it was a major centre for the Yuezhi/Kushans.
          Termez not only controlled one of the major crossing points of the Oxus, but the northern approaches to Bactra/Balkh, the major trading city of the region. These included the main routes leading from Kashgar via Xiuxun and along the valley of the Kizyl Su river past the region of modern Dushanbe, and the routes leading south over the ranges from the Ferghana Valley. It was also strategically placed to guard the western approaches to the region along the river and was close enough to maintain control over the strategic “Iron Gates” guarding the main route through the Hissar range from the plains of Sogdiana to the north.
          Yu (1998), pp. 27-28 agrees with the identification of Dumi with Termez/Taramita/Tirmidh and adds the interesting and suggestion that:

“The Da Yuezhi had possibly established its principal court in Tirmidh at the beginning of their conquest of Daxia. Later, after having moved their capital to the south of the River Gui [Oxus], the Da Yuezhi might have established another Xihou in Tirmidh.”

          Later, as they gained more secure control of the region, they presumably moved “seat of government” across the river to Bactra (now Balkh), the largest and most important city of the region, about 50 km to the south, leaving Termez to become one of the five xihou.
          Now, the Hanshu (see CICA, pp. 138-139) says that the “seat of the king’s government” of Xiuxun (called Xiuxiu in the Weilue) was in the Niaofei Valley (‘the valley where the birds fly’), and that the Da Yuezhi were 1,610 li [669 km] to the west. This is almost exactly the figure one gets if one measures on the map along the valley from the region of modern Dushanbe to Bactra/Balkh, providing additional support for both identifications.


Zhang Qian's Trip to Central Asia:


When Chineese Emperor Jingdi got enthroned in 156 B.C., he continued the inter-marriage policy. At one time, King of Zhao, together with Chu King and Yue King, for sake of rebelling against the emperor, had requested with the Huns for support. Once Zhao rebellion was quelled, Huns agreed to inter-marriage. Huns had small scale border harassment throughout Emperor Jingdi's reign.Han Emperor Wudi's Abortive Attempt At Ambushing the Huns
It would be during the reign of Emperor Wudi (140-86 BC) that the Chinese fought back with their regular enemy Huns . Huns and Chinese traded with each other at the foot of the Great Wall till a Han emissary from Mayi city was dispatched to the Huns for setting up a trap to ambush the Huns. Huns were seduced to Wuzhou-sai border garrison with the offer of riches of Mayi city. A Han general by the name of Wang Hui was the person who proposed that Han army set up a trap to attract the Huns into an ambush. Yushi Dafu Han An'guo led 300,000 army and set up a trap at Mayi, but Hunnic Chanyu, suspicious of the quietness along the way, caught a Han captain [Shi Xingjiao at Yanmen] who disclosed the ambush scheme. Huns, in the number of 100,000 cavalry, fled home. Chanyu conferred the title of "tian-wang [heaven king]" onto Shi Xingjiao. Wang Hui, with 30,000 men, did not dare to attack the Huns when Huns retreated and he was imprisoned for his cowardice. Hence the Huns declined inter-marriage and began to raid into China frequently. Ban Gu stated that the Huns also traded with Han Dynasty in border fairs at the same time. From the mouth of a defecting Hun, Emperor Wudi learnt about the relocation of the Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) Major to the west of the Huns. Hence, in 138 B.C.E., Wudi sent an emissary called Zhang Qian, a Hun guide called Tangyifu (Ganfu) and 100 people on a trek across the west. Zhang Qian was arrested by the Huns soon, and he was forced to live among the Huns for dozens of years and he had married and born two children. Zhang, however, did not forget about Wudi's order, and he fled with his Hun guide to the west and reached the state of Dayuan [Dawan] (Kokand?, Fergana Valley) at about 128-127 B.C.E. With the assistance from Dayuan [Dawan] king, he was escorted to Kangju where the Kanju king assisted him further on his trip to Bactria, the place where the Yueh-chih (Yuezhi) Major had settled down. After a stay of about one year, Zhang Qian returned east at about 125 B.C.E.


Zhang Qian, recorded his observations, which provide an insight into the situation on the north side of the Oxus at that moment. Zhang Qian wrote:
      "...the Great Yuezhi live ... north of the Gui Oxus river. They
      are bordered on the south by
Daxia Bactria and on the west
Anxi Parthia... They are a nation of nomads, moving from
      place to place with their herds... They have some 100,000 or
     200,000 archer warriors."

A description of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom made by Zhang Qian after the conquest by Yuezhi is revealing:

       "Daxia Greco-Bactria is located ... south of the Gui Oxus
        river. Its people cultivate the land and have cities and houses.
        ... It has no great ruler but only a number of petty chiefs
        ruling the various cities. The people are poor in the use of
        arms and afraid of battle, but they are clever at commerce.
        After the Great Yuezhi moved west and attacked the lands,
        the entire country came under their sway. The population of
        the country is large, numbering some 1,000,000 or more
        persons. The capital is called the city of Lanshi Bactra,
        present-day Balkh and has a market where all sorts of
        goods are bought and sold. ... The men have deep-set eyes
        and ... are skilful at commerce and will haggle over a
        fraction of a cent."

On his return trip he was again captured by the Xiongnu who again spared his life because they valued his sense of duty and composure in the face of death. Two years later the Xiongnu leader died and in the midst of chaos and infighting Zhang Qian  fled back to China with Hunnic wife, two children and the Hun guide. Sima Qian and history chornicles called Zhang Qian's travel to the west by the term of "piercing the vacuum" as an eulogy of his personal verification of the West.

Zhang Qian's reports

The reports of Zhang Qian's travels are quoted extensively in the 1st century BCE Chinese historic chronicles "Records of the Great Historian" (Shiji) by Sima Qian. Zhang Qian visited directly the kingdom of Dayuan in Ferghana, the territories of the Yuezhi in Transoxiana, the Bactrian country of Daxia with its remnants of Greco-Bactrian rule, and Kangju (康居). He also made reports on neighbouring countries that he did not visit, such as Anxi (Arsacid territories), Tiaozhi (Mesopotamia?), Shendu (Pakistan) and the Wusun.



Dayuan (Ferghana):


Countries described in Zhang Qian's report. Visited countries are highlighted in blue.

Zhang Qian starts with a report on the first country he visited (after his captivity among the Xiongnu), Dayuan, inFerghana, west of the Tarim Basin. They are considered by him as sophisticated urban dwellers, on the same footing as the Parthian and the Bactrians. The name Dayuan (meaning Great Yuan), may be a transliteration of the wordYona used to designate Greeks, who occupied the region from the 4th to the 2nd century BCE.

"Dayuan lies southwest of the territory of the Xiongnu, some 10,000 li (5,000 kilometers) directly west of China. The people are settled on the land, plowing the fields and growing rice and wheat. They also make wine out of grapes. The people live in houses in fortified cities, there being some seventy or more cities of various sizes in the region. The population numbers several hundred thousand" (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).

Yuezhi (Tocharians)

After obtaining the help of the king of Dayuan, Zhang Qian went southwest to the territory of the Yuezhi, with whom he was supposed to obtain a military alliance against the Xiongnu.

"The Great Yuezhi live some 2,000 or 3,000 li (1,000 or 1,500 kilometers) west of Dayuan, north of the Gui (Oxus) river. They are bordered to the south by Daxia (Bactria), on the west by Anxi, and on the north by Kangju (康居). They are a nation of nomads, moving place to place with their herds and their customs are like those of the Xiongnu. They have some 100,000 or 200,000 archer warriors." (adapted from Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).

Zhang Qian also describes the origins of the Yuezhi, explaining they came from the eastern part of the Tarim Basin, a momentous explanation which has encouraged historians to connect them to the Caucasoid mummies, as well as to the Indo-European-speaking Tocharians that have been identified from precisely the same area:

"The Yuezhi originally lived in the area between the Qilian or Heavenly Mountains (Tian Shan) and Dunhuang, but after they were defeated by the Xiongnu they moved far away to the west, beyond Dayuan (Ferghana), where they attacked the people of Daxia (Bactria) and set up the court of their king on the northern bank of the Gui (Oxus) river." (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).

Daxia (Bactria)

Zhang Qian probably witnessed the last period of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, as it was being subjugated by the nomadic Yuezhi. Only small powerless chiefs remained, who were apparently vassals to the Yuezhi horde. Their civilization was urban, almost identical to the civilizations of Anxi and Dayuan, and the population was numerous.

"Daxia is situated over 2,000 li (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Dayuan (Ferghana), south of the Gui (Oxus) river. Its people cultivate the land, and have cities and houses. Their customs are like those of Dayuan. It has no great ruler but only a number of petty chiefs ruling the various cities. The people are poor in the use of arms and afraid of battle, but they are clever at commerce. After the Great Yuezhi moved west and attacked and conquered Daxia, the entire country came under their sway. The population of the country is large, numbering some 1,000,000 or more persons. The capital is Lanshi (Bactra) where all sorts of goods are bought and sold." (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, translation Burton Watson).

Shendu (Northwest Part of India)

Zhang Qian also reports about the existence of Shendu southeast of Bactria. The name Shendu (身毒) comes from the Sanskrit word "Sindhu", meaning the Indus river of Pakistan. Sindh was one of the richest regions of India at the time, ruled by Indo-Greek Kingdoms, which explains the reported cultural similarity between Bactria and India:

"Southeast of Daxia is the kingdom of Shendu (Sindh, Pakistan)... Shendu, they told me, lies several thousand li southeast of Daxia (Bactria). The people cultivate the land and live much like the people of Daxia. The region is said to be hot and damp. The inhabitants ride elephants when they go in battle. The kingdom is situated on a great river (Indus)" (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).


Zhang Qian identifies "Anxi" as an advanced urban civilization, like Dayuan (Ferghana) and Daxia (Bactria). The name "Anxi" is a transcription of "Arshak" (Arsaces),[16] the name of the founder of Arsacid Empire that ruled the regions along the silk road between the Tedzhen river in the east and the Tigris in the west, and running through Aria, Parthiaproper, and Media proper.

"Anxi is situated several thousand li west of the region of the Great Yuezhi. The people are settled on the land, cultivating the fields and growing rice and wheat. They also make wine out of grapes. They have walled cities like the people of Dayuan (Ferghana), the region contains several hundred cities of various sizes. The coins of the country are made of silver and bear the face of the king. When the king dies, the currency is immediately changed and new coins issued with the face of his successor. The people keep records by writing on horizontal strips of leather. To the west lies Tiaozhi (Mesopotamia) and to the north Yancai and Lixuan (Hyrcania)." (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).


Zhang Qian's reports on Mesopotamia are in tenuous terms. He did not himself visit the region, and was only able to report what others told him.

Tiaozhi (Mesopotamia) is situated several thousand li west of Anxi (Arsacid territory) and borders the Western Sea (Persian Gulf/ Mediterranean?). It is hot and damp, and the people live by cultivating the fields and planting rice... The people are very numerous and are ruled by many petty chiefs. The ruler of Anxi (the Arsacids) give orders to these chiefs and regards them as vassals. (adapted from Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).

Kangju (康居) northwest of Sogdiana (粟特)

Zhang Qian also visited directly the area of Sogdiana (Kangju), home to the Sogdian nomads:

"Kangju is situated some 2,000 li (1,000 kilometers) northwest of Dayuan (Bactria). Its people are nomads and resemble the Yuezhi in their customs. They have 80,000 or 90,000 skilled archer fighters. The country is small, and borders Dayuan. It acknowledges sovereignty to the Yuezhi people in the South and the Xiongnu in the East." (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).

Yancai 奄蔡 (Vast Steppe)

"Yancai lies some 2,000 li (832 km) northwest of Kangju (centered on Turkestan at Beitian). The people are nomads and their customs are generally similar to those of the people of Kangju. The country has over 100,000 archer warriors, and borders a great shoreless lake, perhaps what is now known as the Northern Sea (Aral Sea, distance between Tashkent to Aralsk is about 866 km)" (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).


Socond Trip of Zhang Qian:

About 124-123 B.C.E., Zhang Qian was sent on another trip to the west, this time to visiting the Wusun people. Meanwhile, Wudi sent search teams across Southwestern China to look for the path of India to Bactria. In 123, Zhang Qian assited Wei Qing in campaigning against the Huns, and the next year, assisted Li Guang on another campaign. After China defeated the Huns and took over the Western Corridor territory, Emperor Wudi dispatched dozens of missions to the west, with up to ten missions in a year sometimes, and staffed by as many as several hundreds of people. Wudi's another objective was to check out the source of the Yellow River, where the legendary Mt. Kunlun, i.e., the land where the immortals lived. In another word, Han Emperor Wudi, like Qin Emperor Shihuangdi, was looking for the elixir. Other than The Legends of the Mountains and Seas, ancient classics Er Ya stated that the Yellow River originated from the Kunlun-xu, i.e., the Ruins of Kunlun, and hinted Kunlun to be the land of jade, while classics Yu Ben Ji stated that the same, hinting that Kunlun could be as tall as 2,500 li. Historian Sima Qian ridiculed Han Emperor Wudi and emissary Zhang Qian for their seeking the mythical Kunlun that did not exist in his opinion. Emperor Wudi, in frustration, personally pinned the mountain south of today's Khotan to be Mt. Kunlun. (Possibly following the more reliable "mountains" component of The Legends of the Mountains and Seas, some later Chinese writing, as contained in the "western [within the over-]seas" section and the "western [overseas] wilderness" section, stated respectively that Kunlun-xu was located to the northwest of China and that Kunlun-qiu [hill] was between the Chi-shui [Red Water River] and Hei-shui [Black Water River].
Hitorical Chinese records point to Kunlun as the source of jade and diamond trade; however, nothing particular beyond Chinese Turkistan was mentioned. The trade on the Silk Road did not flourish till hundreds of years later. In history, there were at least two paths that could have more important roles than Silk Road 2000 years ago. Certainly, the sea routes also existed between Rome and China, by which the silk had actually been shipped rather than via the more precarious land of conflicting statelets and tribes. The precarious nature of the Road across deserts could be see in General Li Guangli's losing 80% of his soldiers when he first campaigned against Dayuan [Dawan] (Kokand?, Fergana Valley) in 104 BC. (People who claimed nomadic propagation of horse and cavalry to China might propose a northern belt route. Should we read the Chinese records, then we often encountered passages like the nomads losing 6-7 out of 10 people and cattle during some storms. A good example of the same kind of precarious nature on the steppe could be illustrated in Zhizhi Chanyu's losing the bulk of fighters during the relocation to Kang-ju territory. While Zhizhi Chanyu stationed in the Jiankun territory, Sogdia king intended to attack the Wusun Statelet with the Hunnic assistance. Zhizhi Chanyu arrived in the destination with only 3000 remnants.)  
Upon Zhang's return from the west, after a span of 13 years, Emperor Wudi first ordered 4 expeditions to the southwest of China to search for a route to India. This is because Zhang Qian reported that he saw Ju-jiang (some kind of spicy sauce), Zangke (a place in today's Sichuan Province) bamboo products (Qiong-zang) and Sichuan clothing (Shu-bu) which the Bactria merchants said were shipped over from India. Wudi got in touch with the Yelang Statelet and Dian-Yue Statelet etc. A gold seal was conferred upon the Dian-yue king.



Political Structure Of yuezhi Kingdom in Bectria:


The location of the royal court of the Da Yuezhi north of the Amu Darya at the time of the visit of the Chinese envoy Zhang Qian is not known. There are different theories, two of which are shortly described:

1. Lazlo Torday points out: “The great German Iranist Marquart recognised in the Yuezhi the tribe known to Ptolemy as the ‘Iatioi’…The most likely Han-period pronunciation of Yüeh-shih

was *Ywati, sounds which a Hellenistic source could only have transcribed as Iati (oi)…Ptolemy marks the Yüeh-shi (Iatioi) along the lowermost section of the Jaxartes.The king’s camp was, therefore, in the ‘Scythian delta’, formerly the site of K’ang-chü winter camps, in the vicinity of Babish Mulla, Balandy and Chirik, sites which give clear indication of having been suddenly abandoned in the middle of the second century BC.”22

2. Craig G.R. Benjamin points out: “By 128/7 BC then, the Yuezhi were well established at ‘the seat of the (king’s) government’ at Jianshi (Khalchayan?), and in their most comfortable position for decades…they had established themselves in a strongly-fortified position in the

Surkhan Darya valley, and had subdued the extensive, wealthy and organised state of Bactria to the south, where the land was ‘rich and fertile and seldom troubled by invaders. They were also protected by an important buffer state in Kangju/Sogdia, which already acknowledged nominal sovereignty’ to the Yuezhi


Thus, Jianshi, the seat of the royal court of the Yuezhi at the time of early conquest, might be located at the middle section of the Oxus River which was bordering Anxi. There is low probability that the royal seat was at the Bokhara oasis. Therefore it might be possible that

Jianshi, the royal court of the Yuezhi north of the Amu Darya, was located in the Kashka Darya

region. Near modern Karshi, the capital of the Kashka Darya region, the impressive (1.5x1.5km2) nomadic city of Kala-i Zakhoki Maron has been found which due to the archaeological context was built in the second to first century BC.28 This site might have been Jianshi, the early Yuezhi capital north of the Oxus river.

First Yuezhi-Perthian War

Around 124 BC, the Yuezhi became involved in a war with the Parthians to the West. King of Perthians was Artabanus II (ruled the Parthian Empire from c. 128 to 124 BC. The son of Phriapatius, he succeeded his nephew Phraates II). In Battle, Perthian king Dead.

"During the war against the Tokharians, he was wounded in the arm and died immediately" Justin, Epitomes, XLII,2,2.

His successor Mithridates II pushed the Yuezhi back into present-day Afghanistan, where the final blow against the Graeco-Bactrian Kingdom took place. Strabo (the late 1st c. BC–early 1st c. AD Greek historian) recorded the fall of the Graeco-Bactrians at the hands of the Yuezhi, which he referred to as Scythians, Tochari and Tokharians:

       "Most of the Scythians ... are are called Dahae Scythae ... but
        each tribe has its peculiar name. All, or the greatest part of
        them, are nomads. The best known tribes are those who deprived
        the Greeks of Bactriana, the Asii, Pasiani, Tochari, and Sacarauli,
        who came from the country on the other side of the Jaxartes,
        opposite the Sacae and Sogdiani meaning the Tarim Basim
        in Central Asia and extreme western China."
                                           — Strabo, Geography

Rather than be annihilated by the Yuezhi advance, the last Graeco-Bactrian king Heliocles I - the final successor to Eucratides the Great - retreated and move his capital south to the Kabul Valley.
As the Yuezhi settled in Bactria, circa 125 BC, this
gave them control of the main, and increasingly busy, overland trade routes between China, India and the West. Now they leaved nomadic ways and adopted Hellenized way of life, living in populated settlements, preserving the Greeks' agricultural and trading systems, adopting the Greek alphabet and minting Graeco-Bactrian-style coins. This not only quickly made them rich and powerful, but their exposure to Persian, Hellenic and Indian cultures helped turn them into a more sophisticated and effective force. It is thought that before they entered Bactria they were not literate. The area of Bactria they settled came to be known as Tokharistan, since the Yuezhi were called Tókharoi by the Greeks.

Yuezhi became very powerful in this region. The biography of the Chinese General Ban Chao in the Hou Hanshu says in 94 CE that the Yuezhi were arranging a marriage of their king with a Kangju princess. The Chinese then sent "considerable presents of silks" to the Yuezhi successfully gaining their help in pressuring the Kangju to stop supporting the king of Kashgar against them.

The Yuezhi continued expansion south into the Hindu-Kush mountains is presumed, given that the last Indo-Greek king in Hindu Kush — Hermaeus (ruled c. 90–70 BC) — had no successor. As before, the Yuezhi emulated the coins of Hermeaus.

 Time from BC 70 to AD 1 was very crucial for Yuezhi. At this time, they gained power and Money from Indo-Greek Kingdom .In AD 1, Heraios / Heraus / Miaos become chief of Kushan Clan of Yuezhi. Actually, Heraios is the first recognisable Kushan ruler, gaining mastery within the Yuezhi confederation and minting his own coins. However, it is his successor who really unifies the confederation and leads it to conquest.

In BC 80, Head of Guisang State, Heraios dead and Prince Kujula Kadphesis become King. In BC 65-45, Kujula Kadphesis attacked on other four states and all regions come under Kushana Kingdom.

"...the prince [xihou] of Guishuang, named Qiujiuque [Kujula Kadphises], attacked and exterminated the four other xihou. He established himself as king, and his dynasty was called that of the Guishuang [Kushan] King. He invaded Anxi [Indo-Parthia], and took the Gaofu [Kabul] region. He also defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puda [Paktiya] and Jibin [Kapisha and Gandhara]. Qiujiuque [Kujula Kadphises] was more than eighty years old when he died."

—Hou Hanshu

Kujula issued an extensive series of coins and fathered at least two sons, Sadaṣkaṇa (who is known from only two inscriptions, especially the Rabatak inscription, and apparently never have ruled), and seemingly Vima Takto.

Kujula Kadphises was the great grandfather of Kanishka.



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