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Wusuns

29 July 2013
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Wusun tribes which inherited lands of tigrakhauda- sakas in Semirechye, came from  depth  of  Central  Asia. In the II century BC, about 160 years, the part of the Wusun’s  moved to  Semirechye. They hold in hand Sakas  tribes and established ownership, led by the leader, who bore the title of "gunmo" (kun bug – Lord of the lords).

The main territory of the Wusuns settled down in the Iliysk valley, and the western border passed according to Chu and Talas where wusuns bordered with Kangyuy. In the east they had the general border with huns,  and in the south of their possession adjoined to Fergana (Davani).

Wusun’s  capital Chiguchen (The city of the Red valley) was on the bank of  Issyk kul.  It was the strengthened city with suburbs.

Ambassador of the Chinese Emperor Wudi duke Chzhantsyan, was sent to west in 138 year  and said that the ownership of  wusuns  numbered 630,000 people  and could put 188,000 soldiers. Written sources also report about a 30-thousand cavalry of a perfect team of wusun’s governors and 10 thousand archers submitting to them.

The wusuns political history which in sources is traced till III century AD, narrates about their communications with China, the conclusion of  diplomatic relations, a marriage of wusun gunmo  on chinees princesses.

Ethnicity of  wusuns is not yet fully elucidated. Some researchers believe that Wusuns  belonged to the East-Iranian tribes, others  that  Wusuns were the ancestors  of  the  turks  and  turkic-speaking. But anyway, "wusun" is the name of one large Kazakh tribe. 

Archaeological monuments.

In the territory of  Semirechye  tens of  wusun barrows  are dug out, their settlements are investigated. Burial grounds of the wusuns settled down in the foothills, mountain valleys, on coast of the rivers. As a rule, they represent chains of the barrows, extending along the rivers.

The majority of barrows have diameter 6 — 20 and height of 0,5 — 1,5 m and consist of earth, stone or lithoidal embankments.  In wusun’s burial grounds we also meet enormous barrows with a diameter of 50 — 80 in comparison with lump and 8 — 12 m high. In graves of such barrows even robbed, archeologists find a large number of  jewelry made of gold. They include plaques from clothes, gold earrings, bronze mirrors, wooden caskets.

The early group of burial grounds treats the III—II centuries BC.These are burial grounds of  Kapchagay  III, Utegen III, Kzyl-espe, Kzyl-Auz III, Kzyl-Kaynar.

Strict planning by "chains" from the north to the south on 5 — 6  barrows in everyone is typical for them.

To the  next period (average) dated by researchers of the I century BC- I century AD belongs  burial grounds like as Utegen's  I, II, Taygak I, Karlaak I, Altyn-Emel, Karatuma, Talgar, Aktas. It is established that at this time wusun’s burial grounds consisted of the barrows located  irregularly and chains of three barrows.

And, at last, to the third, late period which is dated the II—III centuries belongs burial grounds of  Kapchagay II, Chulak-Dzhigida I, II, Gur-Cora II, Kalkan IV.

All barrows are located irregularly, "chains" aren't present. Graves are soil with a lining, without wooden overlappings.

The  first settlement of  wusuns  was revealed in the Chu valley, near the village Lugovoe in the foothills of the Kyrgyz Ala Tau. Before the excavations  there was a hill which is  hiding the remains of dwellings with cob walls and floors covered with clay.  On floors there were open centers on which the food was cooked.

A large number of pottery’s large fragments , stone grinders, hoes testify that the inhabitants of the settlement were engaged in farming, combining it with household cattle.

In the mountain regions of  Tien Shan the settlements of the wusuns  are met in many mountain gorges. One of them Aktas is on the bank of  Kurayla's small river, near the village Kegen.

Five inhabited and household construction recrements which wallswere  made  of stone were discovered here.  Ancient fields those were refluxed by irrigation river channels were discovered near the settlement.

Wusun household

The Chinese sources characterize wusuns as nomads. They write that Usuns "not engaged in any farming or gardening, and the cattle roamed from place to place, according to the spaciousness of food and water."

Indeed, breeding has played in wusuns life a crucial role. Natural conditions in the Semirechye let to keep nomadic style in the meridional direction from the wintering grounds, located in Moinkum and Balkhash, to alpine meadows, located high in the mountains, where the summer mountain grasses let a cattle grew fat and gaining strength for the winter. The distance between winterings and summer pasture was small — from 30 to 100 km. Therefore wusuns could remain long time on places of  winterings and summer pastures and also in the foothills on spring and autumn pastures. There they built stationary dwellings, got a number of a field and kitchen gardens. As the proof of settled life of occupation by agriculture of wusuns’  settlements with their stationary dwellings, a large number of heavy pottery, grinding stones, stone hoes, remnants of cereals.

On an archaeological material it is tracked that the role of agriculture increased from the early period of wusuns’ history to the late.  By this way, the household of wusuns was complex - cattle breeding and agricultural. Wusuns bred horses, sheep, goats, cows, two-humped camels, donkeys. In a herd sheep and horses are prevailed. From sources it is known that rich wusuns had up to 500  heads of horses. Horses were different breeds, including high-pedigree racers. On gold plaques from wusun’s barrow Tenlik is represented the horseback rider on a large high stallion.

Wusuns feed on meat and dairy food, from  grain they  baked bread, on kitchen gardens and in gardens grew up vegetables and fruit.

The clothes of grandees were made  from silk and fine woolen fabrics, ordinary people  put on in clothes from barracan, leather and lambskins.  Silk delivered from China, changing it for horses, or receiving as gifts and a tribute.

Ware made in a large number. It was molded from clay, probably, by women, and men cut out from a birch little tables dishes, cups, scoops for koumiss.

Wusuns was exploit the fields of copper, lead, tin and gold. They were able to melt iron from which made knifes, swords, daggers, tips of arrows. From  a color stone and precious metals did a beads, earrings, jewelry on clothes.

Wusun society was not homogeneous, there were riches -  tribal and nobility, vigilantes, the priests and the mass of ordinary herdsmen and farmers.

About the development of private property in wusuns evidenced by the findings of seals made ​​of clay, stone, found during excavations of  burial wusun mounds.

Written sources say the fact that some wusun generals and high officials had gold and copper print.  The private property extended not only on cattle, but also on the earth.Sources testify about a developed system of  posts at the top of society. Along with the free commune in society of wusuns were slaves, mostly prisoners of war.

Social distinctions in wusun society are well traced on archaeological materials. Usun barrows by the size share on three groups: big, with a diameter up to 80 and up to 15 m high; average, with a diameter up to 15 and up to 2 m high and the most numerous small barrows, with a diameter up to 10 and up to 1 m high. If  the grave isn't plundered, archeologists found at excavation a large number of jewelry made of gold, the weapon, a lot of pottery. So, in a barrow Tenlik in burial the gold plaques sewed on clothes, gold earrings, the iron mace fitted by gold, a bronze mirror were found. In small barrows in a grave there are one-two clay a vessel, near a skeleton iron knifes lie. People who were buried here at one time wore bronze earrings, necklaces. By this way, both written sources, and an archaeological material testify that society of the wusuns reached the statehood level.

Institute of History and Ethnology named after Ch. Valikhanov, Committe on Science, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2013


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