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Title: Yueban  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Kara Del, Nushibi, Xiongnu, History of the Khitans, Northern Wei
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Capital Not specified
Government Not specified
Historical era 1st millennium
 -  Established 160
 -  Disestablished 490
Today part of  Kazakhstan

Chuban (Mongolian: Юэбань, Yueban Ch. 悅般, or Üeban, Urpen) "Weak Xiongnu" was the name used by Chinese historians for the Chuy tribes: Chuyue, Chumi, Chumuhun, and Chuban. They were also collectively named Chuyue (Pinyin: Chuyue, Ch. 處月 Chuyue = 'abode of the Moon [god]'). The present endoethnonym of the Chuy descendants is Chuy Kiji, Turkic for "Chuy People".[1] The Chuy tribes gained their own visibility after disintegration of the Eastern Hun state, because unlike the main body of the Northern Huns, who escaped from the Chinese sphere of knowledge, the Chuy tribes remained closer to China.

Descended from the Dingling, the Chuban emerged after the disintegration of the Xiongnu confederation. They underwent a strong influence of the Sogdian culture.[2]

The Chuy-descended Shato played an important role in Chinese dynastic history. In the 10th century the remaining Shato branch of the Chuy tribe joined Tatar confederation in the territory of the modern Mongolia, and became known as White Tatars [3] branch of the Tatars.

Another Chuy-descendent tribe, Kimek was one of the Turkic tribes known from Arab and Persian Middle Age writers as one of the seven tribes in the Kimek Kaganate in the period of 743-1050 AD. The other six constituent tribes of the Kimek Kaganate per Abu Said Gardizi (d. 1061) were the Kipchaks, Imi, Tatars, Bayandur, Lanikaz, and Ajlad.


Asia in 400 AD, showing the Yuehban (Chuban) Khanate and its neighbors.

Between 155 and 166 a former vassal tribe Syanbi (Ch. Xianbei) of the Huns (Ch. Xiongnu), known collectively as Huns, united under Tian-Shih-huai conducted a series of campaigns against Northern Huns, eventually defeating them and forcing them to flee west, which started a series of the Hun's westward migrations (93-c. 380) to the S. Siberia and Middle Asia [4][5]

The defeat ended the prominence of the Eastern Huns (Ch. Xiongnu) as a major power in inner Asia. Tian-Shih-huai expelled the Huns from Dzungaria to beyond the Tarbagatai Mountains, and pushed the Dingling beyond the Sayan mountains. The defeat had cost the Xiongnu their revenue from the Silk Road in the agricultural dependencies in the Tarim Basin ("Western Territories", Xiyu or Xinjian of the Chinese annals), forcing them to find new dependencies, and the Xiongnu split again.

The Chuban tribes, or "Weak Huns", took advantage of Uar (Hephthalites) weakness and conquered Zhetysu, where they established the principality of Chuban (in Chinese literature commonly called Yueban), which existed until the 480s AD. Later, some Uar returned to Zhetysu, and in cooperation with the Mukrins, a Xianbei tribe, occupied the Tianshan slopes in the 2nd century AD, retaining their independence for some time as the Western Xianbei Horde.[6]

The "Strong Huns" migrated westward, conquering the Iranian Alans and Germanic Goths, and later attacking the Roman Empire. This Hunnic invasion of Europe led to severe upheavals among European peoples, giving the Huns a reputation in Europe as bandits and robbers, while the Chinese authors characterized them as the most cultured of all "barbarians".[7]

In literature, the Chu tribes of the Late Antique period are also called by the generic appellation Central Asian Huns.

In the 5th century the Chuban were conquered by the Uigurs and split into four tribes: Chuyue, Chumi, Chumuhun, and Chuban.[8] The Chuyue branch, intermixing with Turkuts, formed the Shato tribe in Southern Dzungaria, west of Lake Barkol.[9]

The Zhetysu was also populated by remnants of the Yuezhi tribes, the Tukhsi and Azi, whose armies had conquered Bactria centuries before. The Azi lived between Suyab and Uzket. Mahmud Kashgari, who can be named a founder of comparative linguistics science, in the 11th century listed Tukhsi, a male dynastic tribe of the Az-Tochar composition, as a group of tribes with pure Turkic language.[10]

In 448 the Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei received an envoy from the Chuban to negotiate a war with the Rouran. If the Chubans would pressure them from the west, the Rourans would lose any freedom to maneuver. Though no direct records exist about the war in Dzungaria, by the course of the events, there was no peace, and the nomadic empire of Rouran began to decline.[11]

Based on his reconstructions of the events of Chuban history, Lev Gumilev argued against a widespread view that the Rouran were the "Abars" who attacked the Sabirs, starting a "Great Migration of people", because the Chuban state separated the Rouran Empire from the Sabirs.[12]

By the 6th century AD the Chuy Huns, Uar Hephthalites, and Mukrin tribes merged to form the Turgesh people.

The Chuban state survived to the end of 480s, until its independence was destroyed by the Teleuts, who had split from the Rouran in 487. But the Teleuts' dominance was short-lived, first the Hephthalite conquered them in 495-496, then Rouran crushed them, and finally in 547, the Turkut Uyghur people conquered the Teleuts. But the Chuban lived on, forming four tribes - Chuyue, Chumi, Chumuhun and Chuban. These tribes became major players in the later Turkic Khaganate and thereafter[13]

Altai Chumuhuns

An 8th-century Tibetan geographer mentioned Chumuhuns in Altai and south of it as the Ibilkur, and associated them with Külüg-Külchur. They were the only Chuy tribe that in the middle of the 8th century preserved their independence, in spite of being sandwiched between Karluks and Turgesh. Their possessions were on the west side of the Tarbagatai range.[14]

Chuy Shato

Main article Shato Turks

Main article Ongut

The branch of the Chuy tribes that remained in the Western Turkic Kaganate as part of On-Ok (Ten Tribes) union occupied territory east of the lake Barkul, called in Chinese Shato ("sand masses", i.e. desert), formed of three sub-tribes. Shato participated in suppressing many uprisings on behalf of China, and for that the Chinese emperors granted their leaders various titles and rewards. After a defeat of Chuy by Tibetians in 808, Chuy Shato branch asked for protection from China, and moved into Inner China. It is known that after suppression of Huang-Chao uprising in 875-883, and establishing three out of five dynasties during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907-960), their number in China fell down to between 50-100,000, which ruled a Chinese population of about 50 million people. In the 13th century a part of Chuy Shato were included in the Mongol Empire as an Ongut tribe, another part as White Tatars.[15][16] During Mongolian time, a part of the Chuy Onguts were resettled in Khorazm, to eventually become a part of Kazakhs, and another fraction remained in Mongolia, in the 15th century they were called Tumed Mongols, and eventually they become a part of Mongolian people.

Theism, spirits, and magic

No records address the Chuy religion, though Chinese annals depict some manifestations of religious rites and magic. A narration about the Chubans tells about sorcerers, able to cause frost and rainstorm. During a war with the Rouran, Chuban sorcerers incited a snowstorm against them, making the Rouran so frostbitten they had to stop their campaign and retreat. A similar legend is later told about the Eurasian Avars sorcerers in their war with the Francs, and Naiman sorcerers against Chingis-Khan.[17]

The reigning clan of the western Turkic, initially Manichaean Chigil (Persian cihil "forty") tribe was Shato (Persian Sada "Hundred"), which later founded the Chinese state Hou-Tang (Later Tang, 923-936) in Northern China, and adopted a Chinese surname Li. The Shato had a predominant Dragon cult. Later Tang's founder Li Keiun also came from the Dragon tribe. The annals even noted that the Shato were praying "old services following the custom of the North" at the Thunder-mountain, at the Gates of Dragon.[18] Within China, Chuy Shato became active adherents and protectors of Buddhism and Taoism, and initiated construction of many Buddhist temples. Subsequent to Shato, most of these temples were demolished.[19]

See also


  1. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", Moscow, 'Science', 1967, Ch.20 (In Russian)
  2. ^ Gumilev L.N., "History of Hun People", Moscow, 'Science', Ch.15 (In Russian)
  3. ^ Ozkan Izgi, "The ancient cultures of Central Asia and the relations with the Chinese civilization"//The Turks, Ankara, 2002, p. 98, ISBN 975-6782-56-0
  4. ^ L.T. Yablonsky "Stock-Breeders of the Ancient Khоrezm", Russian Academy Of Sciences Institute Of Archaeology, Bulletin of Russian Humanities Foundation, 1999, Issues 1-2, Page 198
  5. ^ E.A.Tsvetsinskaya "Integrated assessment of landscape evolution in the Amudarya Prisarykamysh delta, 2001
  6. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Hunnu in China", Moscow, 'Science', 1974, Ch. 9, (In Russian)
  7. ^ Gumilev L.N., "History of Hun People", Moscow, 'Science', Ch.15, (In Russian)
  8. ^ Gumilev L.N., "History of Hun People", Moscow, 'Science', Ch.16, (In Russian)
  9. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", Moscow, 'Science', 1967, Ch.20 (In Russian)
  10. ^ Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology", Almaty, Daik-Press, 2002, p. 152-153,
  11. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Hunnu in China", Moscow, 'Science', 1974, Ch. 9, (In Russian)
  12. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Hunnu in China", Moscow, 'Science', 1974, Ch. 9 Note 26, (In Russian)
  13. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Hunnu in China", Moscow, 'Science', 1974, Ch. 9, (In Russian)
  14. ^ Bacot J. "Reconnaissance en Haute Asie Seplentrionale par cinq envoyes ouigours au VIII siecle" // JA, Vol. 254, No 2,. 1956, p.147, in Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", Moscow, 'Science', 1967, Ch.27 (In Russian)
  15. ^ Wang Kuo-wei, "Wang Kuo-wei researches", Taipei, 1968: 4985
  16. ^ Ozkan Izgi, "The ancient cultures of Central Asia and the relations with the Chinese civilization"//The Turks, Ankara, 2002, p. 99
  17. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", Moscow, 'Science', 1967, Ch.7 (In Russian)
  18. ^ Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology", Almaty, Daik-Press, 2002, p. 145,
  19. ^ Ozkan Izgi, "The ancient cultures of Central Asia and the relations with the Chinese civilization"//The Turks, Ankara, 2002, p. 100
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