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History of Wusun State and Yuezhi tribe

History of Wusun State and Yuezhi tribe

Regrettably, the full history of the Kazakh people has not been written yet. Most of the attempts made in Soviet times to reproduce the historical path of Kazakhs many times falsified first by the historians of the pre-revolutionary period, and later by the Soviet party leadership. In any case, the history of the Kazakhs is closely intertwined with the history of the many peoples who lived in the Great Steppe. Attempts to write our history would be incomplete without mentioning the ancient states, which to some extent gave birth to the Kazakh statehood. Qazaqstan Tarihy website offers readers to look at the history of Wusun state.

 III century BC. The descendants of the Xiongnu people conquered the Yuezhi tribe who lived in the territory of Xinjiang, ruled the country of this tribe, which was included in the records of Chinese history as Wusun state. This was confirmed by Chinese written sources. They also reported that Wusun princedom was ruled by Hunmo, who took only representatives of the Hun people as wives. They believed that only men born of Hun women could be heirs to the throne.

Rulers of Wusun princedom from Honyr tribe called themselves "Honyrmyn" (in meaning "I am from Honyr tribe"). The Chinese, who had already introduced Honyr tribe as "Hun" (the absence of "r" sound in Chinese) into their written history, did the same to the rulers of Wusun: "Honyrmyn" became "Hunmo". It would be appropriate to say that in the Chinese sources the word "Wusun" may have been originally indicated as "Yu-sun". The Chinese chronicles show that the Yuezhi tribe was known to them from the 5th century B.C., and the name "Wusun" in the Chinese sources appeared only in the 2nd century B.C. The Chinese also called the Huns (Hun) by the word "Syun" (meaning "barbarian"). The French historian Marcel Granet pointed out that in the Chinese sources the word "Yu-syun" meant "ruler of the Huns" (i.e. "ruler of barbarians" or "ruler of the Huns"). Rulers of the Wusun princedom are representatives of the Hun (Hun) people, means "Ruler of the Hun" people. Therefore, the Chinese also nicknamed a princedom, which ruled "ruler of the Huns" "Yu-syun" (in the meaning - "Principality of the king Hun"). But the matter is that Yuezhi and Huns took this name as "Uysun", so Chinese sources later replaced "Yu-syun" with "Wusun".

Chinese sources claimed that Yuezhi and Wusuns inhabited the same place at the same time. Lev Gumilyov said that this fact led scientists to a dead end. Historians of the Russian Empire stated: "Yuezhi is a Persian-speaking people, Wusuns are Turkic-speaking, they are unrelated, two absolutely different people". As for the Chinese records, the events in which Wusun princedom is present, the chroniclers called the people then Yuezhi, then Wusun which suggests that these two names belong to the same people. However, the Russian imperial historiography did not recognize it. Moreover, it did not recognize that the eminent kingdoms Tokharstan and Kushan were created by a Turkic-speaking tribe Yuezhi. It did not want to reveal the glorious history of the Turkic-speaking peoples under their control. Therefore, the Russian Empire considered the assumption of Lev Gumilyov about "possible reign over this territory by two peoples in turn" as the only possible explanation, knowing that it was fundamentally wrong.

The establishment of trade relations between the Chinese Empire and Central Asia and the Middle East was strongly hindered by the Principality of Wusun and its direct location along the way. It was all the fault of the rulers of Wusun, who came from the Hun people, who were hostile to the Chinese Empire. Moreover, Wusun princedom was under the protectorate of the Hun Empire. Henceforth, the main goal of the Chinese Empire was to liberate Wusun princedom from the Hun's influence. Therefore, at the beginning of the 2nd century B.C., a special ambassador was sent to the state of Wusun. Chinese chronicles indicate that the ambassador was sent precisely "to establish allied relations with the Yuezhi tribe". But later documents stated that the ambassador managed to establish relations with Wusuns. It also indicates that Wusuns and Yuezhi are two different names of the same people. The same ambassador introduced the rulers of Wusun princedom in the Chinese chronicles as "Hunmo". After that the word "Hunmo" as a designation of Wusun rulers was fixed in the Chinese sources. Chinese sources also report that after these events, the Chinese Empire formed a clear alliance with the Wusuns through the marriage of daughters to the rulers of the Wusuns, and in the 1st century B.C., Wusun rulers who fell under the influence of Chinese wives broke off relations with the Hun Empire, the Suzerain.

Thus, in the beginning of the II century BC the Chinese Empire established close relations with Wusun princedom (the territory of modern Xinjiang). In the second half of the same century, the Yuezhi tribe from Xinjiang, with the help of the Chinese Empire, conquered the territory of Central Asia and established its own state (known in history as the Kushan Empire). Thus, the local Wusun princedom became Wusun Empire, which ruled the vast territory of the Central Asian region.

The war between the Arynsak dynasty (aranshahs), rulers of the Parthian kingdom, and those who came from Xinjiang Yuezhi in the II century is described in Greek chronicles. The Parthian kingdom was able to retain dominance over Iran and Transcaucasia, but lost Central Asia.

Thus, the two tribes of the Jundi people became two neighboring empires of Central Asia. There is no doubt that the Wusun-Yuezhi used the help of the Chinese army, but in any case the appearance of the Great Silk Road was closely connected with those events. Thus, the possibility of Chinese silk trade opened up - in the same century the era of the Great Silk Road began. Only in the XIX century historians began to say that in Central Asia, in addition to the Parthian kingdom, there was another, separate, independent empire. Obviously, it was founded by Yuezhi, who came from Xinjiang. Perhaps because one of the rulers was called Kushan Gerey, Russia called them the Kushan Empire. In fact, its founders were the rulers of the Wusun princedom in Xinjiang, so the true name of the empire should have sounded like "Wusun Kingdom". In late Chinese sources, Central Asia is often referred to as "the ancient land of Wusun", which once again proves our claims).

Chinese sources say that the state of Wusun consisted of western, eastern and central regions, which indicates the transformation of the once small principality of Wusun into an empire consisting of three regions. Based on Chinese sources, the coat of arms of Wusun depicted a raven, not a griffin ("tazkara"). Some researchers believe that the change of the symbol was a political decision of either the Chinese, who, taking advantage of similarities, changed the word "tazkara" to "karga", or Russians, who, with the purpose of falsification and forgery, changed the word "tazkara" to "karga". Otherwise it is difficult to explain why the raven who was swarming in manure was considered to be a symbol of people. Besides, the Greek sources also assert, that Yuezhi, which have formed a princedom Toharstan, had a tradition of worship of griffins (tazkara). And if we take into account that "Yuezhi" and "Wusun" are two different names of the same tribe, it becomes clear that the coat of arms of Wusun Empire is a tazkara (griffin or samrukh).

So, the people of Wusun princedom of Xinjiang belong to the people of Jundi. In the II century B.C. Wusuns, like Jundi, were the owners of blue eyes and red hair. However, during the next centuries (II century BC - VIII century AD) living in forestless areas of Central Asia, they lost their genetic advantage, finally "turned" into Central Asians. Chinese sources say that the Wusuns were composed of sedentary and nomadic peoples. The sedentary part of the population knew how to build cities made of stone and brick, and the nomads kept cattle. They also wrote that because of the large number of towns, Wusuns "the voices of the roosters of one town were heard by the residents of another. This also suggests that Wusun-Yuezhi belonged to the Jundi people who built stone fortifications in the mountains (the famous Chinese wall in the mountains of Central China was originally built by the Jundi people to repel the Chinese attack, so the archery holes in the oldest parts of the Chinese fortifications were directed exactly towards China).

Chinese sources indicate that the rulers of Wusun Empire, divided into two parts, fought among themselves: the former, who retained trust in Hun Empire and enemy relations with China; the latter, thanks to China, retained power and formed an alliance with the latter. That group, which lost power, took with them subordinates of Yuezhi and left for Teniz coast (modern Caspian Sea). Because the whole territory of Central Asia was under the control of Wusun Empire, it was impossible to stay there. All this collection of Chinese sources, Russians referred to as "the strife between Wusuns and Yuezhi". 

Oshakty tribe are descendants of the Yuezhi

The word yuezhi is a Chinese variant of pronunciation "oshak". The word "o" in the title sounds like "yue" by the rules of Chinese phonetics, so the word "oshak" in Chinese should sound like "yuezhaky". The Chinese are known as "abbreviators" of foreign names, so instead of pronouncing "OSHAK" as "YUEZHAKY", they shortened it to "Yuezhi".

Yuezhi existed in the 5th century BC. Consequently, the Oshak tribe lived more than 2.5 millennia ago. "Golden Man" found in the fortress of Yesik is a prince of Saks, and the cup found with him contains ancient Turkic inscriptions. Scientists deciphered the inscriptions on this cup - "Aga Sagan Oshak" ("Elder brother to you Oshak"). The Golden Man lived in the V century B.C., which means that during the existence of the Oshak (Yuezhi) tribe, which suggests that the cup was presented to the Golden Man by the ruler of the Oshak tribe, and by inscription "Aga Sagan Oshak" this ruler indicated his preferential position.

The modern Kazakh Oshakty tribe consists of four tribes: Taszhurek, Atalyk, Konyr and Bayly. All these four tribes of oshakty are found in information about Yuezhi-Wusun:

1) Relying on the ancient Greek data, then Yuezhi had Ata dynasty, and if we add to it a Kazakh ending that shows belonging to any place "-lyk", we get "atalyk". Just as the residents of Almaty are called "almatylyk", the representatives of Ata dynasty were called "atalyk", which became the name of dynasty itself. Most likely, it was Ata dynasty that was ruled by Oshak-Yuezhi before Hun's rule (before Hunmo).

2) Konyr dynasty was formed by the rulers of the Oshak (Yuezhi) tribe, i.e. from the ruling dynasty of the Wusun empire "Hunmo", who originally came from the Honyr (Hun) people.

3) Most of the Oshakty tribe is Taszhurek dynasty, who also have a line - taz. Yuezhi who conquered the territory of modern Tajikistan worshipped gryphons and therefore shaved their bald head. For this reason, the princedom they founded got the name Toharstan, as Greek chronicles reported. In spite of the fact that this state was ruled and founded by Oshak-Yuezhi, the people were Persian-speaking and are ancestors of modern Tajiks. Kyrgyz historians summarize that Toharstan founded the Yuezhi dynasty Taz, and that the Kyrgyz dynasty Tazly are their direct descendants. Oshak-Yuezhi Taz dynasty was preserved as part of Taszhurek dynasty. If it is remembered, according to the Greek written monuments Oshak-Yuezhi worshipped a gryphon (tazkara), it is fair to assume that the main part of Oshak-Yuezhi called themselves tazzhurek in the meaning of "tazkara kusynday zhurektimiz" ("brave"). The descendants of Tazzhurek, who made the lion's share of the Oshak-Yuezhi tribe, are Oshakty clan Tazzhurek, which occupy the majority in a numerical share of the Oshakty tribe.

 4) The Chinese records say that the union of seven Jundi tribes is called "baydy". From them, who came and joined the Oshak-Yuezhi, Bayly dynasty of the Oshakty tribe was formed. Because these Jundi were the union of 7 tribes, their level was if not more, then exactly not less than that of the Oshak-Yuezhi tribes. Probably that's why Bayly dynasty is considered "oshaktynyn zholy ulkeni" (holds the position of "senior").

History of Oshakty, Kerey, Tabyn tribes

Defeated by the Chinese, the Hun people in the I century migrated to the territory of the state of Kanly (Kangyu), modern lands of the Kazakhs (Saks steppe). The Hun and Sak peoples assimilated and began to form a single people of the Hazah. Due to the fact that the power belonged to the Huns, the territory received the name “Hunzah” ("hun zak" in the meaning of "territory of the Huns"), then the people themselves took the name of the Hunzah. Presumably, in the VI century "Hunzah" was reduced, becoming first "Hzah", and then finally took the form of "Hazah" (part of "un" was out of use). Such deformations, to which the names were subjected, are the proof that the unity and subsequent assimilation of the Sak and Hun peoples formed a nation of Kazakhs.

The Huns, who owned the territory of the Saks in the first century, had no prospect of conquering the territories of Wusun Empire in Central Asia. The reason for that was the close allied relations between the Chinese and Wusun empires. Chinese sources admit that Wusun and Chinese empires were close allies: Wusun Empire was ruled by the sons of the Chinese people's daughters. Probably for this reason the Buddha religion started to spread on the territory of Wusun Empire in the II century - during the reign of Kushan Gerey. The presence of the word "Kerey" in the name of the ruler suggests that either he himself was from the Kerey tribe, or his trusted military force was the Kerey tribe. Some historians, based on the data of antiquity, claim that the Kerey tribe also belonged to the Wusuns.


It is known that at the end of the III century the Chinese Empire weakened, split into two parts, and its northern part was ruled not by the Chinese, the tribe of Toba.  It is fair to assume that the Toba tribe who ruled the northern part of China were representatives of the ruling dynasty of the Wusun Empire. The reason is that the centuries-long close allied relations between the Chinese and Wusun empires, as well as the kinship between the ruling groups of China and Wusun opened wide opportunities for the representatives of the Wusun dynasty to rule the territory of the Chinese Empire. It can even be said that the struggle of the Wusun dynasty for power in China was the reason for the collapse of the latter. The Allied Chinese Empire was severely weakened. Thus the Central Asian territories of the Wusun Empire were captured by the Rouran in the IV century. Wusun Empire was able to retain power only on the territory of modern Xinjiang, as well as to take power in northern China. The Chinese records call them the Toba tribe and indicate that one of their hands is called "tufa". It is possible that "toba" is a Chinese variant of the pronunciation of the Tabyn tribe (instead of "Tabyn", the Chinese abbreviated their name "toba"). The tribe of Tabyn, included in the Bashkir people, others also call "Wusun". This fact tells us that the Tabyn lived in the Wusun Empire.

The Russians distort the history of the Toba tribe, calling them Mongol-speaking, but if we remember that from “tufa” dynasty of the Toba tribe was formed a Türkic-lingual tribe Tuva, then it becomes obvious that the Toba tribe was a Turkic-lingual tribe. It means that the Toba belonged to the group of Wusun-Jundian tribes. We will not be mistaken if we call Konyr dynasty of the Tabyn tribe representatives of the Hunmo dynasty, who ruled the Wusun Empire. This indicates that the Toba tribe that ruled the north of China is from the Kazakh Tabyn tribe. In other words, Argyn, Oshakty, Kerey, Uak, and Tabyn tribes have roots that extend to the Jundi people.

History of Tajik and Uzbek people’s origin

 We have already said that the state of Toharstan was founded on the territory of Tajikistan by Taz  dynasty (jik - dynasty). This "taz jik", who ruled over Toharstan and merged with the Persian-speaking ethnos, formed the Tajik people. This is evidenced by the composition of the Tajik language, consisting of Persian and Turkic words. In those days, the word "jik" was used instead of the modern word "ru".  Toharstan formed its own people, which by the name of the Tazjik dynasty took the name "tazjik". Those representatives of Tazjik who were not assimilated and remained in the mountains, Alatau later settled in Taraz and Shymkent cities and assimilated with local Uzbeks. And those who stayed in the mountains became part of the Kirghiz called Tazly dynasty in the 16th century.  

Wusun Empire existed until the 4th century A.D., so for five centuries it was an empire that ruled a vast territory. Chinese sources indicate this territory as "the territory of ancient Wusuns". The Wusun Empire (Kushan Kingdom) included the territories of modern Uzbekistan, Xinjiang, some parts of Afghanistan and southern Kazakhstan. Chinese sources wrote that the Wusuns consisted of sedentary and nomadic population, and that the leaders of the Ru-Tribes were called "bek". At the end of the IV century "territory of ancient Wusuns" was conquered by the tribe Ephtalite, descendants of modern Turkmenistan. In fact, they were called “wusuns”, but they were called "epti alyp it eli" ("country of agile big dog", apparently because of the Alabai dog), and that is why they went down in history with the name "ephtalite"). The rulers of the tribe ties were called "akuz" ("white ties"). Having distorted the name of the tribe in the Arab sources, the historians of the Russian Empire first used the name "okuz", finally introducing in the history an absolutely wrong name "oguz". The tribe of the ties managed to subdue only a settled part of the Wusuns, without being able to conquer the nomadic Wusuns. Thus, the modern Wusun cities of Uzbekistan, Xinjiang, Afghanistan, and southern Kazakhstan in their entirety came under the authority of the tribe of Uz.

Due to Wusun habits of calling rich and chieftains by word "bek", the people of Uz got the name "uz bek", which later became the name of all settled population "Uzbek". Thus, the sedentary Wusuns and the nomadic tribe of Uz people assimilated and formed the people "uzbek", and the mixture of languages resulted in a new "Uzbek" language. For this reason, the Uzbek language is something between Turkmen-Azerbaijani and Kazakh languages. Thus, the settled Wusuns and the nomadic tribe of Uz formed a new nationality (later they were joined by many people from different nomadic tribes, which have become settled; as part of the Uzbeks assimilated the people of 92 clans). A dynasty under the name of Uz is in the list of Uzbek dynasties, about the relation of its name with which Uzbek scientists spoke from the beginning (there is historical evidence that only a small part of the nomadic tribe of Uz inhabited the territory of the Syr Darya until the XV century). As for the nomadic Wusuns, they joined the traditionally closer Kazakh people.

Chinese sources mark the territory of Central Asia as "the ancient land of Wusun". Uzbek scholars recognize the Wusun tribe as the primary nation, and Kazakh tribes living in this territory have a common name "Wusuns". All this alongside tells us that the so-called Kushan kingdom was in fact the Wusun Empire.

 A brief history of the tribes of Senior Zhuz

 Ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese sources indicate that Albanian, Suan (Syban), Kanly, Sirgeli tribes belong to the Sak-Scythians, and Ysty, Shapyrashty, Dulat tribes belong to the Hun people. Originally, the Wusun state was a small mountain princedom in Xinjiang, and its people comprised a tribe of Oshak (Yuezhi). Later, when Central Asia joined this princedom, it became an empire, and the name "Wusun" became the name of the empire. However, the Wusun Empire, along with the Jundian tribes, also included Sak-Scythian tribes. Later in the times of Rouran tribes, Shapyrashty and Zhalaiyr (Abar) joined them, and in the times of Turkic Ashin tribes, Ysty and Dulat joined them. Because the places where they originally lived were called "territory of ancient Wusuns", they were all called by a common name "Wusuns".

 As for Honyr tribe, it exists not only as part of Oshakty tribe, but also as part of Ysty tribe in Almaty, Taldykorgan, as part of Tilik Ysty and Sikym Dulat dynasty in Shymkent, Jambul, and as part of the Kyzylorda’s Tabyn. This may indicate that the ruler of the Wusun Empire "Hunmo" is actually "Honyr" (Because they were a ruling dynasty, there were their representatives in the entire empire, later they assimilated with tribes of their territories). The territory of Shapyrashty Ushkonyr, the area of Konyr near Usharal city, places in Kyzylorda region under the names of Baikonyr and Torkonyr say only that these territories belonged to Wusun Empire. It can even be said with certainty that there is a strong connection between the holy cave of Konyr aulie in East Kazakhstan region and the dynasty of Konyr, which later, during the adoption of Islam, sowed religion into this territory. Many settlements scattered throughout Jambul, Turkestan and Tashkent regions and a part of the Oshakty tribe settled in the town of Aralsk, near Baikonur, are linked to the times of the Wusun Empire.

It seems that the Honyr (Hunmo) group that ruled Wusun Empire relied on the "union of the seven Baidy tribes". For that reason, "honor" of Bayly dynasty in the Oshakty tribe and the pedigree of the tribes known as "Wusuns" originates from Baidy-bek. That is "Baidybek", considered to be a distant ancestor of the Wusuns, is not a single person, but a tribal union of Baidy close to the ruling circles of the Wusun empire. Due to the fact that the Wusun Empire had been ruling this territory for 500 years, many tribes of these territories, despite the fact that they consisted of three different peoples, began to be called "Wusuns". In turn, because they were called "Wusuns", these tribes, later in the introduction of the Shezhire family lineage, began to seek common ancestry with other tribes. As is known, the name "Shezhire" comes from the Arabic word "shajarat", the meaning of which means in Kazakh "tarmak" (tree), and therefore the symbol of shezhire is "tree with numerous branches". This indicates that the tradition of composing the genealogy of "shezhire" appeared approximately after the 13th century, i.e. millennium after the time of Wusun Empire. That's why, because of rare legends left in their memory, they took the name of the union of seven Baidy tribes as their common ancestor.

In other words, the Jundi (Wusun), Sak (Scythian) and Hun tribes are three separate people who lived at the same time. Historians all over the world admit that they lived separately from each other, but in neighborhood with each other, in three different areas.

Bekzhan Adenuly, researcher

Author of the book "Secret History of Kazakhs"


Author: Ayan ADEN