In Russian
Contents Huns
Yu.Zuev Ethnic History of Usuns
Yu.Zuev Early Türks: Essays of history
Yu.Zuev The Strongest Tribe - Ezgil
Yu.Zuev Tamgas of vassal princedoms
Yu.Zuev Ancient Türkic social terms
Yu.Zuev Seyanto Kaganate and Kimeks
Ogur and Oguz
Usuns - Tamgas And Urans History
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline

Works of Kazakh SSR Academy of Sciences
Institute of History, Archeology And Ethnography Vol.8
Kazakh SSR Academy of Sciences Publishing House, Alma-Ata, 1960

Yu. A. Zuev

Source and Comments
This posting is a tribute to late Prof. Yu. L. Zuev, who passed away on December, 5, 2006. Yu. L. Zuev produced numerous translations of the Chinese annalistic chronicles, intense scientific research of the history, culture, and socio-political life of medieval Türks, and made outstanding contributions to Türkology. Prof. Yu. L. Zuev specialty was in the ancient Chinese, Middle Chinese, and modern Chinese language, learned under a guru of the Chinese philology S.Ya.Yahontov, making him a unique expert with a first-hand knowledge of the sources. His superb knowledge of the sources allowed Prof. Yu. L. Zuev to delve into related fields of history and ethnography with unequalled depth and competence.

In his article, Zuev brought to light that ancient Huns were a conglomerate of related tribes, collectively called by semantic equivalent of "kins", from which were derived their Asian, Western and Chinese appellations Huns, Guns, Xiong - Xionites, Hsiung-nu - Xiong Nu, Chuni, Sünnu and a slew of other variations accumulated in the last two and a half millennia.

Usuns were one of the Hun tribes, carrying a common endoethnonym Hun, rendered in Cinese as "giuən" and "kiən". That was an initial Usun endoethnonym in their domain in the basin of river Ushui (Chinese Ushui, Tr. "Karga", English "Raven") in the Andin and Pinlian (modern Pinlian and Guüan) area in Gansu. Later, the Chinese ethnic term Ushi - Ushin - Usun, semantically meaning "Raven Tribe", apparently was adopted as endoethnonym, along with the native general endoethnonym Kun~Hun, and a traditional tribal endoethnonym not stated in the article. Apparently, Usun tribes were Huns of a different flavor, because from the historically initial period they constituted a defined separate tribe with their own defined territory. Usun tribes carried this separation through millennia, remaining associated, but separate, and preserving their socio-political distinctiveness into the Late Middle Age times. In the Middle Ages, Usun divisions continued to occupy their distinct territories in the Jeti-su in the west, between Edzin-gol and Tsilian-shan in the territory of the modern Lianchjou in the center, and in the Ordos in the east, noted by many medieval and modern authors. The ancient Usun legacy propagated into the modern times, surviving as distinct clans between Kirgiz, Uzbek, and Kazakh Senior Juz dominions under dialectal names Sary-Uysuns (Tr. Yellow Uysuns), Ushuns and Uyshuns, and Uysuns, traceable to their ancient appellations Uysun, Uyshun, Ushun, Ushin, Uysyn, Usyn, etc.

Early in their known history, Usuns migrated in three migratory stages, lasting near two hundred years. The first exodus was forced by military intervention of dominating Ases-Tochars (Ch. Uedji), who moved into the area vacated by Hunno-Usun tribes, the second migration was a reconquest by Usuns of their Sichen homeland, and the third was a deliberate displacement of the defeated Ases-Tochars from their temporary stop-over in the Jeti-su.

1) Shaanxi - Tsilyan-shan (ca 410 BC);

2) Tsilyan-shan - Sichen (178 BC);

3) Sichen - Jeti-su (160 BC).

As a result of three massive migrations, Usun tribes were splitting into fractions of transmigrants and remainder fractions, increasing the Usun footprint on the map of the Middle and Central Asia and N.China, and leaving extensive historical traces. The specific path taken by the leading branch of the historical science illuminated the western-most arm of the Usun people, leaving the rest of them in the shade. Along the way, a part of Saks and Ases-Tochars remained in the Jeti-su and became a part of the Jeti-su Usun tribal union, called predominantly "Huno-Tohars" by the Greek and Latin sources. Usun immigration from the Ordos steppes resulted in first historically documented intermixture in the Jeti-su area of Türkic and Iranian ethnoses, starting a two-millennia plus history of documented symbiosis between the Türkic and Indo-Iranian peoples.

Yu. L. Zuev studies confirm conclusions of N.A.Aristov, an outstanding historian and ethnographer of Türkic peoples, who in the 1896 from a multitude of historical-ethnographical material asserted a Türkic-speaking of ancient Usuns, and also of the Japanese scientist K.Siratori, who deciphered some Usun titles and names recorded in the Chinese dynastic history, and of the sinologists F.Hirt, O.Franke, J.Marquart and P.Pelliot. All Usun words that could be deciphered by now have obviously Türkic character. Recorded in the Chinese sources from the end of the 3rd century BC Türkic-linguality of Usuns disproves their equivalence with the Iranian-lingual tribes, and the conjecture about Türkification of Usuns in the end of the 1st century BC by Sünnu-Huns.

English-language scientific literature generally use Pinyin and Wade-Giles systems that have initial "wu" in the name Usun, and the French E.F.E.O. system that has "wou". We wish we had an idea why the three systems all chose a "w" sound for the beginning of this word, maybe this is a pronunciation of the character in standard Mandarin, not necessarily in other Chinese languages and dialects. Certainly a good case be made for a more open vowel sound, especially in ancient times. For example, exactly the same character is used in Wuyishanli in both Hou Hanshu and Weilue, which almost all scholars agree was an attempt at transcribing Alexandria (J.Hill, private correspondence). The "Wusun" spelling reflects a fight for Pinyin dominance by the Chinese mainland, and Wade-Giles system in Taiwan. In his publication Yu. Zuev uses "Usun" without w, apparently taking for granted that a scientific publication should not bend its presentation to suit the realities of the moment. For other terms, the Pinyin system of Romanization, by far the most used one in the world, should complement in unclear instances the phonetic values used by the author. Also, Yu. Zuev in his 1960 article used some quasi-Cyrillic letters of the "Kazakh alphabet", introduced to suppress the cultural heritage and for political division of Middle Asian people, and Greek γ and η to represent the the phonetic values of the ancient Chinese characters. In this translation, these characters were replaced (apparently, with some degree of approximation) with a set from the standard English alphabet, complimented by a single letter ü of the German, Russian, and Türkic alphabets. The combination ng, represented frequently (and by the author) by Greek η, is rendered in this translation by English letters ng with a subscript g. The overall objective of this posting is to relay author's ideas and observations, without dwelling on finer, and highly disputable, diacritic phonetical representations known only to a most limited number of experts.

Most of the Yu. Zuev article refers to the records prior to our era and events of the early history of Usuns between 410 and 160 BC. History of the consequent events is fairly well known from the western and Muslim historians, at least as the Usun impact on the Persian and Arabic history is concerned. A detailed and comprehensive history of Usuns still awaits for its author.

A synopsis of the topics researched and resolved by Yu. Zuev article would list subjects where Yu. Zuev offers a resolution for previously surmised or disputed questions, along with subjects advanced but not specifically addressed.

Usuns were a Hunnish tribe, connected with Huns by at least a kinship and a common Türkic language

Both western (Greek) and eastern (Chinese) sources knew Usuns as Huns.

Chinese texts bearing information about Türkic-speaking tribes already contain a particular ending, usually graphically conveyed by the same hieroglyphs: Hun (anc. reading Giuən) and Kun (Kiən), i.e. Gün, Kün. Zuev provides a detail lexical analysis of documenting the term "Hun" in the Chinese and Greek records.

Hunnish - Künish tribes coached during old Chuntsu epoch in the Ordos territory. Usuns plausibly were in the confederation of proto-Hunnish tribes.

Proto-Hunnish tribes in the 6-4th centuries BC were west from district Lunsian on r. Weihe. North of them, in Beidi (modern District Tsinian) was a tribe Kuyan, which eventually became a dynastic clan of Sünnu-Hunnu, and Syanbi-Sambirs. Between Six Huns and Kuyans, in Andin and Pinlian (modern Pinlian and Guüan), were Ushin, i.e. Usun. The Usun - Ashina (Oshin) tamga represented a raven. Usun genesis legend included Raven as a totem

In the first historical records Usun territory was in the Andin and Pinlian (modern Pinlian and Guüan) area in the Gansu province of present China, in the basin of of river Ushui (Raven Tribes river).

Chinese "Kunmo" is a Chinese rendition of the Usun title Kün-Bag, where Kün is Hun, and Bag is a traditional Türkic title Bag, Bai, Beg etc.

At the end of the 4th century Tsin (Qin) rulers captured Lunsi, Beidi and Shantszun areas, and Usuns with other local tribes coached away to the west. To protect China against frontier nomads was erected the first part of the Great Chinese wall.

Kuyans and Usuns were a part of "Kün" tribes under suzerainty of a Hun prince of the "Western Side", with a title Kun-se. The name "Künnish" for the tribes of this area survived till the 8th century.

Usuns had a kinship relation with the ruling clan Ashina of the First Türkic Kaganate

Usuns origin in Jeti-su is a misconception, a fraction of Usuns migrated to Jeti-su from Ordos in ca. 161 BC, from where they fell into the sphere more familiar to the Greek sources.

Usuns defeated Yuedi (Uedji) in 50es of the 2nd century BC, not the Sünnu-Huns of Mongolia

Usun branch in Jeti-su conglomerated with remnants of Ases and Tohars, establishing initially polyglot Usun confederation. Among their neighbors were Yuedi = Ots, Ats (Uedji) coaching west and southwest from Usuns, and Dasya = Tagor, Tokar in Dasia-he and Chjao-he interfluvial. In the western sources they were known under as Attakors, Ottokars, a compound of two ethnonyms: At/As / + Takor, Ot/Os/+ Tokar. In Jeti-su, Usuns bordered with Kantszü (Kanju, Kangar) and Huns in the east.

The capital of Jeti-su Usuns was a city known by western and eastern sources, named Red Valley city (Chigu), Kün (Hun) city, Kün-kat, and "City of Bag" in the Chinese records, and Hun city in Ptolemy and other western records.

The remnants of old Usun branches in Ordos, Tian-shan and Sichen retained their native Türkic language. Separate Usun princedoms existed for a long time on Khangai and in the Beitin - Bishbalyk area, the remains of the ancient Huno-Usuns of the northern and northwestern China

Türkic-speaking Agach-eri Huns (Greek ακατζιροι, Latin Akatziri) must be viewed as a western branch of "Huns and Tochars" of the Jeti-su, and an eastern Huno-Usun substratum should be recognized as a component in the autochthonous origin of the western Huns.

Convergent character of information about Usuns comes from historical, geographical, ethnological, and socio-mythological sources of Greek, Persian, Chinese, and Tibetan sources, and is clearly traceable in the Middle Age records.

Yu. L. Zuev


1 Huns and Usuns 7
2 Ancient Usun lands 13
3 Usuns in antique sources 19
Conclusion 22
Glossary of Chinese terms 24


Questions of origin and initial stages in the history of ancient peoples in Kazakhstan and Central Asia territories occupy an extremely important place in the field of ethnogenetical studies.

Discussion about ancient Türkic, Eastern Iranian and Fino-Ugrian ethnogenesis, which unfolded from the end of the last century on the pages of the Russian (then Soviet) and foreign editions, yielded significant results in the studies of cardinal problems of early history of the Soviet East peoples, but at the same time exposed a number of complicated and remaining unsolved problems. One of them is the polemics about about ethnicity and origin of the ancient Usuns, who since the 2nd century BC populated a huge territory from the basin of Talas in Kirgizia to the Altai in the east. No less controversial is a question about the name the Usuns were known to antique authors of that period.

* * *

Abel-Remuza 1 and Klaproth 2 offered a hypothesis about Usuns belonging to Indo-Goths; G.E.Grumm-Grjimailo 3 was its active follower, he believed that Usuns were of mixed Türco - Indo-Gothic origin. The only argument these researchers possessed, was an unclear statement of the Chinese commentator Yan Shi-gu of the 8th century about Europoid (i.e. Caucasoid - Translator's Note) physical type of Usuns. On the same premise, F.Grenar 4 suggested a theory about Fino-Ugrian origin of the Jeti-su Usuns. However, both first and second views did not find support of scientists, and have vanished.

Another hypothesis, which subsequently received a wide distribution, is connected with the name of one of the first Greco-Bactrian historians De Guignes5. He compared messages of antique authors about conquest of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom in the middle of the 2nd century BC by the Scythian tribes of Asians, Tochars and others, with the records of the Chinese sources about defeat of the Greco-Bactrians by an Yuedi (aka Yueji, Yuezhi etc) tribe, who shortly before that suffered a defeat from advancing from the east Usuns. From that was drawn a conclusion about the identity of the Usuns in the Chinese chronicles with the eastern Iranian tribe of Asians-Ases.

1 See "Asian bulletin". Bk. 4, SPb, 1825, p. 287.

2 Klaproth. Tableaux historiques de l'Asie. Paris, 1825.

3 G.E.Grumm-Grjimailo, Blond race in the Middle Asia.-Notes of IRGO, dept. of Ethnography, SPb, 1909, p. 186; G.E.Grumm-Grjimailo, Western Mongolia and Uryanhay territory, vol. II. L., 1926, p. 5-7.

4 F. Grenard. Le Turkestan et le Tibet. Paris, 1898, p. 26.

5 De Guignes. Recherches sur les Rois Grecs de la Bactriane. Memoires dei'Acad. des Inscriptions. Paris, vol. 25, p. 28.


Equating Usuns, natives of the Central Asia steppes, with Asians 11, suggested by V.V.Grigoriev 6, T.Kingsmill 7, G.Vernadsky 8, and then A.N.Bernshtam 9 and S.P.Tolstov 10, for a long time was not challenged by anybody, though I.I.Umnyakov noted that in favor of that conjecture can't be offered "any proofs, except for similarity of sounds" 12. Swedish scientist Jarl Charpentier supported the same point of view. Advocating the Eastern Turkestan origin of the Ases and Alans, ancestors of the modern Ossets, he particularly came to a very important conclusion about identity of their ancient name "As" (or "Os") with "Asii" of Strabo and "Asians" of Pompeus Trogus 13. However, establishing the ancient endoethnonym of the Ossets as "As" ("Os"), Charpentier takes it as a proof to stipulate that the "Usun" is a distorted transcription of the term "As", even though it is known that the ethnonym "Usun" survived till present as the self-name of the Kazakh clans in the Senior Juz 14. A transcription of an ethnonym, distorted by a foreign language, could hardly become an endoethnonym of such large ethnic association like that which in antiquity was the Usun tribal union.

Based on the evidence of Chinese and antique authors, G.Haloun objected to equaling Usuns with Ases-Ossets 15, and criticized conclusion of Charpentier. H.W.Bailey 16, O.Maenchen-Helfen 17, J.Harmatta 18, F.Altheim 19 and other authors who addressed these subjects, accepted Charpentier's concept about Ases - Asii-Ossets, but joined objections of Haloun in their identification with Usuns. Works of these researchers detached the problem of ancient Usuns from Alano-Toharian problems of the Eastern Iranism.

N.A.Aristov, an outstanding historian and ethnographer of Türkic peoples, approached the problem of the origin and ethnic attribution of the Usuns from other positions. Based on a mass of historical-ethnographical material, in the 1896 he postulated a Türkic-speaking of ancient Usuns, who he thought were a western branch of the Enisei Kirgizes 20.

6 V.V.Grigoriev. Scythian people Sakas. SPb, 1871, p. 139.

7 Th. Kingsmill. The Intercourse of China with Eastern Turkestan. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Ser., vol. 14, p. 79.

6 G. Vernadsky. Ancient Russia. New Haven, 1946, p. 82.

9 A. H. Bernshchtam. Usun- Kushan and Tochars Question. Soviet etnografia, 1947, No 3.

10 S.P.Tolstov, Ancient Khoresm. ., 1948, p. 150.

11 V.V.Tarn held the term "asian" to be adjective form from of "As" in ancient Iranian language (W. W. Tarn. The Greeks in Bactria and India. Second ed., Cambridge, 1951, p. 284).

12 I.I.Umnjakov. Toharian problem-, 1940, No 3-4, p. 186.

13 J. Charpentier. Die eihnographische Stellung der Tocharer. ZDMG, B. 71 (1917), p. 357.

14 H. A.Aristov. Notes about ethnic structure of Türkic tribes. A print from "Olden Time Alive" for 1896, p. 121, etc.

15 G Haloun Zur Ue-tsi-Frage. ZDMG, CENTURY 91 (1937), pp. 252-254.

16 Η. W. Bailey. Taugara. BSOS, vol. VIII, 1936, pp. 912, 917.

17 O.Maenchen-Helfen. The Yue-chih problem reexamined. JAOS, vol. 65 (1945), No 2, p. 74.

18 J. Harmatta. Studies in the language of the Iranian tribes in South Russia. Acta Orientalia Hungaricae, vol. 1 (1951), fasc. 2-3, pp. 261-274.

19 F. Altheim. Literatur und Gesellschaft im ausgehenden Altertum. Haale (Saale), 1950, B. II. p. 210.

20 Η. Α. Aristov. Ibid, p. 17.


Six years later his hypothesis was confirmed by a Japanese scientist K.Siratori, who deciphered some Usun titles and names, recorded in the Chinese dynastic history of Nyan Hanshu 21. This opinion also held other sinologists, F.Hirt 22, O.Franke 23, J.Marquart 24 and in part P.Pelliot 25; to the same conclusion also came the author of these lines 26. It is important to note in this connection that all Usun words that could be deciphered by now have obviously Türkic character. The fact of Usuns' Türkic-speaking, recorded by the Chinese sources from the end of the 3rd century BC, i.e. since the time of their appearance on the historical arena, draws a serious doubt both in their equivalence with the Iranian-lingual Asii-Ossets, and in the popular thesis about Türkification Sünnu-Huns of Usuns in the end of the 1st century BC.

Discussing the origin of ancient Usuns of the Jeti-su, researchers give a crucial importance to questions of their ethnic affiliation. However, invalidation of identifying Usuns - Asii still did not answer what was the name of Usuns in the antique sources, and equally, the conclusion about Türkic-speaking of the dominating tribe of the Usun union does not resolve the problem of their own origin. Therefore, we ventured to discuss some aspects of these questions.

21 . Shiratori. Uber die Wu-sun Stamm in Zentral Asien.-Keleti Szemle 2-3. Budapest, 1902, pp. 103-140.

22 F. Hirth. Nachworte zur Inschrift des Tonjukuk. St. Pb, 1898, p. 49.

23 O. Franke. Chinesische Quellen zur Kenntnis der Turkvolker und Skythen Zentralasiens. Berlin, 1904, p. 21.

24 J. Marquart. Ueber das Volkstum der Komanen. Berlin, 1914, p. 69.

25 P. Pelliot. A propos des Comans. Journal Asiatique, April - June, 1920, Page 138.

26 Yu..Zuev. Language of ancient Usuns. Bulletin Academy of Sciences KazSSR, 1957, No 5.

1. Huns and Usuns

A main compilation about Huns and other tribes of the 2nd century BC is the Shitszi text by Sima Qian, composed from the descriptions of Chjan Qian 27 and officials of the Han court. The reliability of these records was convincingly confirmed by Ban Gu, who had sufficient documentary material, and chose to incorporate its text, with some additions, into the Qian Hanshu annals. Only some details in the narration of Sima Qian cause doubts and remain unexplained. One of them, directly related to the theme of our research, we shall address.

In the 177 BC a Hunnish prince Maodun (Mode)-Shanyu sent his Western tuki (prince) on a campaign against a powerful tribe Yue-di 28, as a punishment for his willful violation of a peace treaty with China. Somewhere in Chjanie-Ganjou area, the Hunnish cavalry badly defeated Yuedi, and in addition subdued some minor principalities on the western fringes of the developing Hunnish coalition.

27 It is thought that in addition to the Chjan Qian reports to emperor, Sima Qian used composition of Chu - guan-chji ("Description of travel beyond the Great Wall"), lost nowadays. See this article p. 24-25

28 Instead of a unstable transcription of the name Yue-chji, Yue-shi, etc. we accept Yue-di, as the most probable. See "Yantszin suebao", issue 13, 1933, p. 218


Next summer, in a letter to the Chinese emperor, Shanyu wrote: "By favor of the Sky, soldiers were healthy, and horses were strong, they destroyed and pacified Yuedi; with an edge of a sword or bringing [them] to humility, installed [calmness]. Loulan 29, Usun 30, Hutsze 31 and bordering with them 26 lands became Sünnu. All of them joined [Sünnu] army and are one family" 32.

From this fragment is clear that Yuedi suffered a great loss, and the sources recorded that they were compelled to draw back to the west, to Tarim and Jetu-su 33. Further chronicles do not indicate any military collisions of Sünnu-Huns with Yuedi 34. Therefore, when in the middle of the 2nd century BC the Yuedi, under a strong pressure of the Huns, turned up further away, in Greco-Bactria, the chroniclers could not provide explanation for the causes of that migration. And nevertheless, this migration has taken place, and almost all modern researchers tend to ascribe it to the actions of the enterprising Shanyu Laoshan (173-161), who decapitated an Yuedi prince.

The paragraph in the Shitszi text on Great Yuedi about the murder of Yuedi prince reads: "When Maodun-Shanyu rose to the throne, he attacked and defeated Yuedi, and the Sünnu Laoshan-Shanyu killed Yuedi prince and made a drinking bowl out of his head" 35. Reproducing these lines in Qian Hanshu, Ban Gu conveys them without affecting their meaning, but with slight modifications: "Maodun-Shanyu, having attacked, defeated Yuedi prince, and Laoshan-Shanyu killed Yuedi (prince) and of his head made a drinking bowl" 36. After a hundred-plus years, the chronicle mentions the head of Yuedi prince in connection with the description of the oath ritual of the Huns: "From the head of Yuedi prince defeated by Laoshan-Shanyu, which was made into a drinking bowl, [they] together drank for a blood union" 37. These phrases were copied by Sui Sun, who commented on the text of Qian Hanshu, without any alteration.

Later sources altered the description of the fact, and in these lines Laoshan stopped appearing. Already in the Shui-tsing chju the murder of the Yuedi prince is attributed to Maodun, instead of Lao-Shanyu: "Maodun-Shanyu defeated Yuedi and killed their prince, and of his head made a drinking bowl" 38. The Taipin uylan reproduced text with literal accuracy 39 "Maodun-Shanyu defeated Yuedi and killed their prince, and of his head made a drinking bowl".

More examples can be shown in the later compositions with similar compilations of Shitszi text, but it is not needed. It is important that in all cases is plied the same phrase: "from the head of Yuedi prince was made a drinking bowl", sometimes attributed to Laoshan, sometimes to Maodun, and without support by sourced records. Thus, as a rule, the fact that Sima Qian mentions only a murder of the prince, and not repeated defeats of the Yuedi as a whole, is neglected. The ambiguity of the text, in the absence of facts, served for arbitrary interpretations, and mistakes made in late copies obscured its real meaning. The existing form the of the phrase cannot be a ground for any conclusions, and it is more reasonable to search for an answer in other sources.

29, 30, 31 Hieroglyphic spelling of all footnotes see at the end of the article. See this article p. 24-25.

32 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 94 a, p. 1223 (in series Sybu beyyao). Collection of Narrations about foreign tribes on dynastic histories, vol. I, J958, p. 165. See this article p. 24-25

33 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 96, p. 1281; Collection of Narrations..., vol. I, p. 408.34 See the Collection of Narrations..., vol. I, p. 57-61, 166-168.

35 Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 2 (1951). The collection of Narrations..., vol. 1, p. 109; N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, vol. II. M. - L., 1950, p. 151.

36 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 96 a, p. 1276; N.Ya.Bichurin. Ibid.,, vol. I, p. 183.

37 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 94, p. 1249; the Collection of Narrations..., vol. I, p. 221; N.Ya.Bichurin. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 92.

38 Shujtszinchju. Peking, 1958, p. 16; compare Sja Tszen-ju. An ancient history of China. Peking, 1955, p. 34. See this article p. 24-25

39 Tajpin jujlan, tsz. 793, p. 2. See this article p. 24-25


Ban Gu Qian Hanshu annals are closest to the examined period, at the time of compiling section about Central Asian countries he used not only a text of the "Historical notes", but also materials from the Chinese envoy Chjan Qian two travels to the Western territory 40. Chjan Qian left China in 139 BC, one year after conquest of Greko-Bactria by Yuedi tribes. Following ten years in Sünnu-Huns' captivity, he reached Bactria after a long roundabout route across Central Asia (129 BC). Therefore Chjan Qian (and, from his words, Ban Gu) is a reliable author about events that substantially happened in front of his eyes: mutual relations of the tribes in the Western territory, migration of Usuns and Yuedi to the west, conquest of Bactria, etc. For almost twenty years foreign policy of the Han court north and west from China was guided by the Chjan Qian information.

According to Chjan Qian, Yuedi migration from Jeti-su happened immediately before the conquest of Greco-Bactria (140 BC). He writes: "After the prince of Great Yuedi has been killed by barbarians, his spouse was installed as a princess, who soon completely subdued Dasia-Bactria and began dominating it" 41. In view of this message the words of Sima Qian, written down from the words of the palace chroniclers, gain a new meaning. Re-telling about events of 140 BC, previous to the Chjan Qian embassy to Central Asia, he says that exactly "at that time the Son of the Sky [emperor] interrogated subordinated Sünnu, and all of them said that Sünnu defeated Yuedi prince, and of his head made a drinking bowl" 42. This last news is a prototype for the annalistic versions about the murder of the Yuedi prince, and together with the Chjan Qian message it allows to pinpoint this event by 50es of the 2nd century BC, after the death of Laoshan. Again, during that period Yuedi were in Jeti-su, and Sünnu-Hun power did not spread west of Lobnor. There are also no reasons to envisage any Sünnu-Huns military expeditions to the west during that period. Hence, considering undeniable defeat of Yuedi in the 50es of the 2nd century BC, it should be concluded that the second defeat of Yuedi was inflicted by other people, also known as "Huns". It is especially plausible because Chjan Qian in the quoted message calls this people by the term Hu43, i.e. barbarians, equally applicable to all northwestern nomads, and less of all to Sünnu-Huns.

And then we observe that Chjan Qian, contrary to the popular historiographical tradition, describes the reasons for Yuedi defeat in completely different aspect, connecting it with the movement of Usun tribes from Ordos to the west, and not with a Sünnu-Hunnish expansion. "When the Usun Kunmo (prince) has quite matured, he asked Shanyu for a permission to revenge the insult of his father [killed by Yuedi]. Advancing to the west, he attacked and crushed Yuedi. The Great Yuedi again fled to the west and settled in the lands of Dasia-[Bactria]" 44.

40 Biography Chjan Qian is placed in 61 tsz. Qian Hanshu.

41 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 61, p. 885.

42 Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 1 and (1949); the Collection of Narrations..., vol. I, p. 107; N. I. Bichurin. Ibid.,, vol. II, p. 147.

43 See this article p. 24-25

44 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 61, p. 885.


hat this is not an accidental error or a typo in the later editions conforms a second statement by Chjan Qian, where he gives a compressed account of the consecutive change of peoples in the Jeti-su: "Originally [it] was a land of Se (Sakas). In the west, the Great Yuedi defeated and expelled Se prince; Se prince crossed Siandu (Hindu Kush) in the south, and Great Yuedi began to live on his lands. Subsequently, the Usun Kunmo struck and defeated Great Yuedi. Great Yuedi moved to the west and subdued Dasia, and Usun Kunmo began to live there" 45. The words of Chjan Qian are supported by all other sources, from which follows that the Jeti-su was never an object of Sünnu-Hunnu conquest. Because the second defeat of Yuedi occurred there, and was accomplished by Usuns, the Chinese commentators make a natural conclusion: "Yuedi prince was killed by [Usun] Kunmo" 46.

Thus, comparing the annalistic fragments allows to highlight incorrect generalizations and interpretations of the chroniclers from the real events, which, in turn, throw light on the real reasons for Yuedi migration to the Bactria:

1) Yuedi defeat was not by Sünnu-Huns of Mongolia, but by Usuns in 50es of the 2nd century BC;

2) the skull of Yuedi prince in the Sünnu court should be explained that coaching to the west, Usun Kunmo had a formal purpose to revenge Yuedi for the death of his father. To celebrate that his actions were successful, Kunmo, as a vassal prince, sent a head of the defeated prince to the court of his suzerain Shanyu, the custom equally typical for all nomads in Asia.

But the Chinese authors after Sima Qian, and Yuedi themselves unanimously state that defeat was inflicted by the Huns47. Here we encounter a doubtless identity, that between Huns of Mongolia, Yuedi , Kidarits and some Chinese informants, Usuns were known under a name of Huns.

These messages of Chjan Qian are far from being the only argument in favor of identification of the Usuns with Sünnu-Huns. The critical edition of sections about foreigners from dynastic histories in the already quoted "Collection of Narrations" for example defines that "the Usun country is northeast from Davan (Fergana)". At the same time another paragraph of this composition definitely locates Davan "southwest from Sünnu" (vol. 1, p. 108). This fragment is not explainable with the existing opinion about location of the Sünnu-Huns in the territory of Mongolia. Hence, assuming the conjecture about the name of Davan - Fergana is correct, it should be stated that northeast from Fergana was both the Usun country, and the Sünnu country, which then has to be distinguished from the eastern Hunnish confederations. In other words, the geographical position of both countries coincides.

And another example. In the second half of the 1st century BC the Kantsjü tribes were under a strong pressure from their western neighbors, Usuns. Not being able to resist the Usun forces, Kantsjü prince appealed for help to the Sünnu-Hunnish Shanyu Chjichji, who was then in the Western Mongolia. The source relays the words of Kantsjü prince like this: "It is possible to invite him (Chjichji- Ü. Z.) to the east border (of Kantsjü), to conquer Usun by joined forces, and install him there as a prince. Then there is no need to be afraid of Sünnu" (Ibid, p. 220). In our opinion, the text does not leave any doubts that in this case, under the Sünnu-Hunnu, also should be understood Usuns.

45 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 96, p. 1281; the Collection of Narrations..., vol. I, p. 408. Compare. N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, vol. II, p. 190-191. M. - L., 1950.

46 Sui Sun. Additional comments to "to the Narration about the Western territory on Hanshu", tsz. 2, p. 2 a. See this article p. 24-25

47 Collection of Narrations..., vol. I, p. 647; Bejshi, tsz. 97, p. 16 and; N.Ya.Bichurin. Ibid.,, vol. II, p. 227, 266. See this article p. 24-25


This raises a question: what designated the term "Hun" during the examined period, and why, alongside with Sünnu-Huns of Mongolia and other tribes, the Usuns carried the name "Huns"?

We already published 48 analysis of the term "Hun", in this article we shall only briefly recap that account.

Most ancient Chinese texts bearing information about Türkic-speaking tribes already contained a number of ethnonyms with distinctive ending, usually conveyed graphically with the same hieroglyphs: Hun 49 (anc. reading giuən) and Kun 50 (kiən), i.e. gün, kün. L.Bazen have shown that the form gün/kün is identical to the ancient Türkic plural-collective affix -gün-/ -kgün- 51, which ascends to the primary Türkic word kün - people - human collective - tribe - woman - custodian of home hearth - femininity 52.

Affirming mutuality of gün/ kün = "woman" = "people" concepts, bound in the beginning by kinship bonds, and then by common ethnic origin, allows to add Chinese rendition of that term to the codex of ancient Türkic social terminology. Significantly, sporadically appearing in the ancient Türkic monuments kün as clan, family 53 completely coincides with the translation of the Chinese transcription hun = gün/ kün in the group Lu-Hun (Six Hüns) 54, equivalent to the group Lu-Si 56 "Six Clans", where si 55 is generation, clan. And the compositions of the 5th-10th centuries have descriptions of tribes Hün 57 (Gün) and Kün 58 (Kgün) 59, whose names are compatible only with the Hün of the early Chinese chronicles and Kün of the Orhono-Enisei inscriptions. The folk legends of ethnic alliances, which included these tribes, ascend their origin to Sünnu-Hunnu 60, known in the western antique sources under a name Hüns 61.

48 Yu..Zuev. The term kyrkun. Works of History Inst. Academy of Sciences KirgSSR, issue 4, 1958.

49, 50 See this article p. 24-25

51 L. Bazin. Recherches sur les parlers T'o-ba. "T'oung Pao", vol. 39 (1950), Bk. 4-5, pp. 181, 292.

52 See Α. Η. Kononov. Analysis of the term Turk. Soviet ethnography, 1949, No 1, p. 44; A. H. Kononov. Family tree of Turkmen. M. - L., 1958, p. 81; S.E.Malov. Monuments of Ancient Türkic writing. M. - L., 1951, p. 397; S.E.Malov. Yenisei script of Türks. M. - L., 1952, p. 31-32.

53 W. W. Radloff. Die alturkischen Inschriften der Mongolei. St. Pb., 1898, p. 423; S.E.Malov. Monuments..., p. 397.

54 Shitszi, tsv. 110, p. 2 a; Tun dian, tsz. 189, p. 3 a; Vensian tunkao, ts. 333, p. 3 b-4 a; compare. A.N.Bernshtam. Sketch of Huns history. L., 1951, p. 219. See this article p. 24-25

55, 56, 57, 58 See this article p. 24-25

59 Tanshu, tsz. 217, p. 96-10 a; Tanhuyiao, vol. 3, tsz, 78, page 1429; publ. 1955. See this article p. 24-25

60 Tanshu, tsz. 215 a, p. 1; compare. N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, vol. I. p. 220. M. - L., 1950

61 This conclusion follows from the letter of Sogdian merchant Nanai-vandak, in which the Sünnu-Huns that crushed Loyang in 313 are called Güns: W. . Ηnning. The date of the Sogdian ancient letters. BSOAS, vol. 12 (1948), No 3-4, pp. 601-615. Other confirmation of our decoding of the term "Hun" is its transmission in the transcription of the Greek and Syrian authors: hion (gün) and kionaye (kion-kün). See N.V.Pigulevskaya. Syrian sources on history of peoples of the USSR. M. - L., 1941, p. 37, 39


Significantly, in the written sources all or nearly all ancient Türkic tribes (Türks, Kirkuns, Agach-eri, On-ok, Tabgach, Comans, Yomuts, Tuhses, Kuyan, Sybuk, Lan, Kut, Goklan, Orpan, Ushin and others) carried the name "Huns". In other words, the term "Hun" in each separate case was equivalent to the self-name of a tribe, but at the same time it was a wider concept, reflecting a certain commonality of the ethnic origin. This premise makes possible to search for analogies in the ancient Usunian social terminology.

The head of the Usun tribal union was a prince whose title the ancient Chinese transmitted with hieroglyphs kunmo 62, kunmi 63 and kunbyan 64. Judging by the text Taipin uylan 65, kunmo (kunmi, kunbyan) is a transcription of the two-part term (kun + mo), in which kun is a definition of mo. Descriptions of Usuns in the "Historical notes" and "History of Senior dynasty Han" attest to the existence in the Usun union of a permanent institute of Kunmo.

K.Siratori was the first who parsed the term kunmo (anc. kuən-mak [Bag], kuən-miya [Biy], kuən-bian) using Türkic lexicon, he believed it was a Chinese transmission of a title Khan-beg (var. Khan-biy) 66. I.Marquart gave a more precise analysis of the term, offering a new reading of the group in the form Kun-beg, Kun-biy with the meaning Beg (Prince) of Kuns, Kunnish Beg 67, and was partially confirmed by P.Pelliot's explanation of different spellings caused by dialectal variations in the language of ancient Usuns 68. Generally, the last two interpretations do not raise doubts. In view of B.Karlgren's works in the field of historical phonetics of the Chinese language 69, and recent research of L.Bazen on Tabgach language in Chinese ancient transcription 70, this reading can only be amended: Kun-mo = Kün-bag (Kür-bag), Kün-mi = Kün-Byan = Kün-Bag or Kün-Bai, and decoded in two ways:

1) Prince of Kün (people, tribe) and

2) Künnish (Hunnish) Prince.

Supposedly, the title Ushan-mu 71 (ou-sin-[m] Bag = Ushin-Bag, "Usun Prince"), assumed in the 53 BC by a separatist Usun prince Utszutu 72, was equivalent with the term Kunmo (Kün-Bag). For the reasons mentioned above, we view both expressions to be identical. To confirm our decoding, we will turn to materials of a different character.

The title Usun Bag survived in the name of his city-court, which Theophylaktos Simokatta (6th century) called Bag-kat ("City of Bag") 73. Most likely Bei-tin 74 is the same city in the Usun area between Issyk Kul and Ili, Chinese called it "City of Bag" (Chinese Mo-he 75 = [m] Bag-ga = Bag, possibly Bag-balyk, Bai-balyk 76/77. Another name of the "city of Bag" was Gun-ue (k'iung-ngiwat=Kun-kat) 78 -"Kun city", later known under a name Ku-na-sa-er - Kuna-shar - "Kun city" with later semantics "Old city" 79.

62, 62, 64 See this article p. 24-25

65 Tajpin jujlan, tsz. 795, p. 1 a.

66 . Siratori. Uber die Wu-sun Stamm in Zentral Asien.-Keleti Szemle 2-3. Budapest, 1902, p. 118.

67 J. Marquart. Ueber das Volkstum der Komanen. Berlin, 1914, p. 44, 45, 69.

68 P. Pelliovol. 1bid.,, p. 138.

69 . Karlgren. Analitic dictionary of Chinese and Sino-Japanese. P., 1923, No 466.

70 L. Bazin. Recherches sur les parlers T'o-ba. "T'oung Pao", vol. 39 (1950), Bk. 4-5, p. 232.

71 See this article p. 24-25

72 See fragments: Qian Hanshu, tsz. 94 a. p. 1245, tsz. 96, p. 1282-1283; Collection of Narrations..., vol. I, p. 208, 412; N.Ya.Bichurin. N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, M. - L., 1950, vol. I, p. 208; vol. II, p. 195-196.

73 See below.

74 Tanhuyyao, tsz. 78, p. 1429: "Beitin viceroyalty is the borders of the Usun prince".

75 See this article p. 24-25

76 Compare A. v. Gabain. Steppe und Stadt Der Islam, B. 29, 1949, H. I, p. 44. See this article p. 24-25

77 Dushi fanui tsziyao, tsz. 65, p. 2781; Huanui siui tuchji, tsz. 10, p. 5 a. See this article p. 24-25

78 Siui tunven chji, tsz. 1, p. 30 b. See this article p. 24-25

79 Siui tunven chji, tsz. 1, p. 30 b. Compare Tanshu, tsz. 215 b, p. 18 a. See this article p. 24-25


Li Fan asserted (from Du Ü words) that the term Kunmo-Kun-mi was not only a princely title, but also ethnic name of Usuns. He said: "In the Han epoch [this] country was [also] called Great Kunmi [Kun-Bag]" 80. In this respect the sources list a name of a separate Hunnish tribe Kunmi 81 (Kun-Bag), which during Han time migrated from Ordos to the territory of the modern province Yunnan. Speaking about its customs, chroniclers characterize them as Türkic (Tutsue) and denote that in genealogical relation they are "actually, brotherly tribes with Sünnu [Huns]" 82. These news find parallels in the western sources, where Usuns appear under the names of Huns, χουναβοι (Huna-Bag), old Rus Hunabi, Hynavi (Huna-Bag) 83.

Thus, ethno-toponymic materials of the eastern and western sources also testify to the existence of the Usunian two-part term Kün-Bag reflected in the title of the Usun prince, in the name of his city-court and a dynastic (Bag) clan of Usuns. As we see, the group Kün-Bag doubtlessly includes examined above ethnonym Kün, which together with other data allows to establish a second name of Usuns, as Küns, Huns. That in turn also throws light on the origin of Usuns, on their connection with the Künian, i.e. general Hunnish ethnos. Chronologically, the origin of the Kün tribes certainly goes back to extreme antiquity, and all historical and geographical links lead them to the Ordos territory, where during old Chuntsu epoch coached Hunnish - Künish tribes. It is quite conceivable that in the 6-4th centuries BC the Usuns-Huns belonged to the confederation of proto-Hunnish tribes.

80 Tajpin uylan, tsz. 795, p. 1.

81 See this article p. 24-25

82 Tanhuyyao, tsz. 78, p. 1750; Tunchji, tsz. 197, p. 3162 a. See this article p. 24-25

83 About these terms see G. Μrνsik. Byzantinoturcica. Budapest, 1943, Bk II, p. 290.

2. Ancient Usun lands

The first authentic reference in the Chinese annals about proto-Hunnish tribes belongs to the 7-4th centuries BC. These records define the central territory of the proto-Hunnish tribes in the northern part of the modern province Shaanxi on the border with Ordos. The mentioned analysis of the source about "six generations" places them west of district Lunsian on r. Weihe 84. North of them, in Beidi (modern District Tsinian) was a tribe Sui-ian (Xiu-ian, Kuyan) 85, which eventually became a dynastic clan of Sünnu-Hunnu 86, and Syanbi-Sambirs 87.

84 Shitszi, tsz. 110, p. 2 a; compare. Tszochjuan, tsz. 23, p. 1676, 1683; tsz. 26, p. 1875, publ. 1955. See this article p. 24-25

85 Variations Xuo-ian, Kuo-ian, Kü-ian = ancient Türkic kuyan - "hare". Attempt by A.N.Bernshtam to see in the transcription hu-ian the Türkic "Oguz" ("bull") we deem unpersuasive, as an artificial comparison. (Sketch of Huns' history, p. 229). See this article p. 24-25

86 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 94 a, p. 1232.

87 W. Eberhard. Kultur und Siedlung der Randvolker Chinas. Leiden. 1942, pp. 35-36.


Between Lu-Hun and Kuyans, in Andin and Pinlian (modern Pinlian and Guüan), was a "generation Ushi" (uo-si88), the name easily seen as the form Ushin, the Usun. Ancient Chinese transmitted foreign names in transcriptions with imbedded semantics. The transcription U-shi means "raven generation", semantically similar to U-sun - "raven descendants" 89. Until recent, the term Usun (Uysun, Uyshun, Ushun, Ushin, Uysyn, Usyn, etc.) has not been deciphered 90, therefore its real sense remained a puzzle. But the presence of a raven as a clan totem among the ancient Usuns is undisputable. The Usun legends name a raven and a wolf as ancestors of Usuns 91. This fact found reflection in the Ashina (Oshin) Usun tamga, which also depicted a raven 92.

Without dwelling in greater detail on the question of Usuns' identity with Ashina 93 tribe of the Hunnic origin, we shall only state that the reliability of the records about initial location of the Ushins-Usuns in the Andin-Pinlian ("Raven river" 94) is supported by one of Ashina ancient legends, in which the "ancestors of the Tutsyue" (Türkic) house Ashina originated from commingled Hu (Hunnish) clans, who previously had been coaching in Pinlian" 95.

Separation of the cattle breeding from agriculture, traced in archeological materials in Northern China and Inner Mongolia from the 7-5th centuries BC 96, resulted in forming there nomadic cattle breeding tribes. The first effect of that process was consolidation into tribal unions of some parts of northern and western tribes. Written sources of that period abound with entries on constant nomadic attacks on the fragmented districts of settled agricultural China. Attacks decreased only with a rise of Tsin (aka Qin - Translator's Note) princedom's hegemony in the 4th century, and unification under its aegis of the majority of districts from the weakened Chjou (aka Chou - Translator's Note) dynasty. At the end of the 4th century the Tsin rulers captured Lunsi, Beidi and Shantszun areas 97, and local tribes, including Usuns, coached away to the west. To protect China against frontier nomads was erected the first part of the Great Chinese wall.

Soon after that event the Hunnish tribes appear at Tsi-lian-shan and Edzin-gol, which received a name of "lake Kuyan", the 8th century commentator Yan Shi-gu wrote about it: "Probably, this is a name of the Sünnu's neutral lands, and the district founded in the Chian area. It was named after Kuyans, who lived there for a long time" 98. There were established districts Tszuyian-sian " (Kuyan) and Andin-sian 100 (then renamed to Ushi-sian 101 - Usun), transferred from the territory of Shaanxi province. All chroniclers and commentators place Ushi between the Edzin-gol and Tsilian-shan, in the territory of the modern Lianchjou where, per annalistic versions, lived Usuns102. Significantly, in later sources (Weishu, 550es, ch. 102) a part of Usuns was located in the district east from Dunhuan, in the same area 103.

88 Shitszi, tsz. 110, p. 2 a (1755). See this article p. 24-25

89 In Ordos, Ushins lived in the basin of r. Ushui, a "Raven river". See this article p. 24-25

90 Historian of the Tsin period Sun Yun interprets the term Usun from Mongolian lexicon: Usun in Mongolian means water. Sichui tszuntun shilio, tsz. 12, p. 1. See this article p. 24-25

91 N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, vol. II. M. - L., 1950, p. 155.

92 Tanhuyyao, tsz. 72, p. 1308.

93 See our translation of the section about tamgas in this publication.

94 See this article p. 24-25

95 Tszychji tuntszian, tsz. 159, p. 4926. See this article p. 24-25

96 A.N.Bernshtam. Sketch of Hun history, p. 21, etc.

97 Shitszi, tsz. 110, p. 2 b; Qian Hanshu, tsz. 94, p. 1232.

98 Dushi fanui tszijao, tsz. 63, p. 2717.

99, 100, 101 See this article p. 24-25

102 Hanshu Dilichji buchju, in series Ershiu shi bubian, vol. I, p. 906; Sin tsziaochju Dilichji tszishi; in series Ershiu shi bubian, p. 1143; Han dishuidao suchjen; in series Ershiu shi bubian, Page 1391 (map); Sui Sun. Additional comments, tsz. 2, p. 1 a; Qian Hanshu, tsz. 96, p. 1281; compare Tszi Yun. Defensive wars against Sünnu in Han Epoch. Shanghai, 1955, p. 26. See this article p. 24-25

103 Yao Wei-uan. Research of foreign clans in the period of Northern dynasty. Peking, 1957, p. 4. See this article p. 24-25


Kuyanians and Usuns were a part of "Kün" tribes, and were under suzerainty of a Hun prince of the "Western Side", with a title Kun-se 104 (kuən-sia = Künsig, "Künnish") 105. The name "Künnish" 106 for the tribes of this area survived till the 8th century AD 107.

A clan of shaman-protector Sü-du 108 (hsu-d'uo = kut-o) 109, relocated from the district Gantsuan-shan of the Shaanxi province, was on the northern slopes of the east Tsilyan-shan 110, neighboring Usuns. At last, in the center of Tsilyan-shan, on the southern border of Usuns, was a tribe Tsi-lyan 111 (kuəg-lian = Koklan, Goklan) 112, whose name survived until present between Turkmen clans 113.

Completely independent information about ancient location of Usuns among the Hunnish tribes comes from Sima Qian and Ban Gu, echoing the words of Chjan Qian. In the second half of the 2nd century BC, when Usuns were already in the Jeti-su, Chjan Qian, advocating a necessity for a joint struggle of Chinese and Usuns against Sünnu-Huns, wrote a report to the Chinese emperor: "Usuns used to be near Great Yuedi between Tsilyan and Dunhuan. Nowadays they have grown, but with generous gifts they can be swayed to move to the east, to reside in their former lands" 114.

Chjan Qian subsequent reports to the court repeatedly developed this idea: "Nowadays [the Hunnish] Shanyu is facing new difficulties from Han (China), and the lands of Kunmo [in the east] are empty (Shitszi text: "... And the former lands Hun-se become vacant and become desolated"). The foreigners are very attached to their ancient lands, and besides they love riches of Han. And if, taking advantage of this case, with generous gifts we sway Usuns to relocate to the east, to resettle in their former lands (Shitszi: "... To resettle on former Hun-se" lands), it would be possible to succeed, and having achieved success, we shall cut off the right hand (i.e. the western part) of Sünnu 115. Therefore, arriving at the court of the Usun prince, Chjan Qian told him: "If Usuns would move to the east, to reside on the former lands, then Han will send a princess to Kunmo as a wife ..." 116.

104 See this article p. 24-25

105 Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 3 (1954).

106 See this article p. 24-25

107 G. Pulleyblank. A geographical text of the ninth century. Silver Jubilee Volume of Kyoto Un-ty. Kyoto, 1954, p. 305.

108 See this article p. 24-25

109 Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 7 a (1961); Sian Da. Chanan and civilization of western Territories during Tan epoch. Peking, 1957, p. 381-382; discourse on the term see A. v. Gabain. Alttürkische Grammatik. Leipzier, 1951, p. 331. See this article p. 24-25

110 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 55, p. 821.

111 See this article p. 24-25

112 Variations: tsi-lian, tszi-lian, he-lian (anc. kiək-lian, khək-lian, etc.). See. Tundian, tsz. 200, p. 11; Yao Wei-uan. Ibid.,, p. 244-245; Tanhuyyao, tsz. 72, p. 1307; Tushu tszichen, section XIV, p. 1; Tanshu, tsz. 215, p. 1 a (Motszilian). See this article p. 24-25

113 S.P.Tolstov. Cities of Guzesv.- Soviet ethnography, 1947, No 3, p. 79.

114 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 96-b, p. 1281; Shofan beichen, tsz. 30, p. 2; N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, vol. II. M. - L., 1950, p. 191. See this article p. 24-25

115 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 61, p. 886.

116 Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 3 (1954); Qian Hanshu, tsz. 96, p. 1281.


However, Chjan Tsian embassy to Usuns failed. Explaining his failure, Chjan Tsian observed that Usun Princes still were dependent from Sünnu and, "besides, were close to them" 117. The closeness of the Sünnu-Hun and Usun Princes should apparently be understood as their genealogical affinity in the Hunnish union. Last phrase echoes with the message in Shitszi "that the father of Kun-mo was [a prince] of a small princedom on the western border of Sünnu" 118.

From the tribes of non-Hunnish ethnos we shall note Yuedi 119 (ut-tiei (tai), ngyi at-tiei (tai) = Ots, Ats) 120 coaching in the west and southwest from Usuns, in Chjanie, and Dasya 121 (tad-ga = Tagor, Tokar) 122 area in interfluvial of Dasia-he and Chjao-he. In western sources they were known under a name Attakors, Ottokars 123, a compound of two ethnonyms: At/As / + Takor, Ot/Os/+ Tokar.

During examined period the Aso-Tohar union was one of strong tribal associations west from Huang He. Its possessions extended from Tsilyan-shan and Dun-huan far to the south, to the headwaters of Huang He; in the east Hunnish tribes were paying tribute to the Ases - Tochars.

In the 178 BC Yuedi-Ases expelled Usuns, who split from the Hunnish coalition, from the Ushui-he valley, and exterminated their princely clan. The surviving members of the dynastic clan fled to the court of the Huns in Mongolia 124. A newborn Usun prince was adopted by the Hunnish Shanyu, and was brought up in his household 125. The annals tell that because of Yuedi attacks, Usun "people [also] fled to Sünnu". When the young prince Letsziaomi matured, Shanyu restored to him the people of his father, and gave them allotment in Sichen ("Western wall") area, located about the turn of northern branch of Huang He to the east.

The process of the Usun consolidation went on, accompanied by conquest of minor neighboring princedoms and expansion of the territory of the Usun union. That was initial period of feudal life among Usuns: creation of a princely cortege, rise of strong power of Kün-Bag, formation of the tribal aristocracy enriched from military pillages, and at last, unification of fragmented clans into a large political nucleus. In twenty years (about 178-160) in Sichen, Usuns grew so much that they began present a danger for Sünnu also. Soon Letsziaomi refused to appear at the ceremonial Hunnish holiday of "Procession around the forest", obligatory for all Hunnish Princes. Taking advantage of the death of Laoshan Shanyu (161 BC), a significant part of Usuns, headed by Letsziaomi, migrated to the west.

After their defeat in the 178, Yuedi-Ases had to to leave their former lands in the Chjan area, and migrate to Jeti-su, populated by Saka tribes, which under pressure of Yuedi coached away to Kapisa . Under a pretext of revenge for the death of his father, Letszjaomi attacked Yuedi, and a part of them drifted further away, to Greco-Bactria.

117 Ibid.( Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 3 (1954); Qian Hanshu, tsz. 96, p. 1281.)

118 Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 3; Collection of Narrations..., vol. I, p. 211

119 See this article p. 24-25

120 Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 2 a (1951); N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, vol. II. M. - L., 1950, vol. II, p. 151, compare interpretation of the term: S.P.Tolstov . Ancient Khoresm, p. 24, etc.; A.N.Bernshtam. Question of the Usun - Kushan and Tochars, p. 43.

121 See this article p. 24-25

122 Huan Wen-bi . Once again about the location and migration of ancient D asy a of China .-Shisjue tszikan, issue 6 (1950), p. 53-56. See this article p. 24-25

123 G. Feher. Beitrage zur Erklarung der auf Skythien bezuglichen geographischen Angaben der Ungarishen Chroniken: a photoprint from Korosi Czoma Archivum, p. 52-57.

124 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 61, p. 886; page Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 3 (1954).

125 About the birth of Kunmo prior to 178 BC see Collection of Narrations..., vol. I, page 418.


Another part of Saks and Ases-Tochars remained in the Jeti-su and became a part of the Usun tribal union 126, for which in the Greek and Latin sources the name "Huno-Tohar" become predominant.

So, we have three migratory stages for Usuns, lasting nearly two hundred years:

1) Shaanxi - Tsilyan-shan (ca 410 BC);

2) Tsilyan-shan - Sichen (178 BC);

3) Sichen - Jeti-su (160 BC).

Because of the general dearth of written sources of the 4th-2nd centuries BC, when systematic news about the barbarous tribes have only started to filter into the Chinese historiography literature, to compile an exhaustive analysis of the reasons of the migrations, and description of their processes, is impossible . They can be described only in most general terms.

In the first phase Usuns were a part of nomadic periphery of sedentary-agricultural China, and their migration was caused by Chinese desire to secure their northern borders, and to make impossible further attacks against centralized China. In the second phase their migration was also caused by "external" factor of Aso-Tohar union expansion to the territories occupied by weaker tribes, in this case Usuns.

Usun migration from Sichen certainly cannot be explained by Kün-Bag's desire to revenge the death of his father. It was only a pretext for carting off from Sichen, which incidentally also was not taken seriously at the Hunnic court: a troop was sent to pursue Usuns, but it failed 127.

The driving force was of another character, emblematic for the nomadic economy. Sima Qian tells that during their stay east from Tsilyan-shan, "Kunmo brought in his people and cared of them. He attacked minor neighboring princedoms with battle-hardened several tens of thousands soldiers" (N.Ya.Bichurin's translation: "Gunmo gave care to improve conditions of his people, and subjugated neighboring small cities") 128. In other words, in Sichen, surrounded by Hunnish tribes, began a consolidation process for Usuns, and started initial creation of clan-tribal confederation. Usun growth went on along with a general development and increase in nomadic cattle breeding as a prevailing economic form in the steppes of Central Asia of that period. Favorable climate during 180-160 BC period, absence of military confrontations along the northern Chinese border, and initial military support by the Sünnu-Hunnu court were objective reasons for the increase of their main wealth (cattle) due to fast natural growth of herds and military plundering.

But the growing cattle-breeding-nomadic economy, with its extremely extensive mode of development, and its necessity for large pastures, displays a perpetual tendency to expansion and independence, which were constrained by territorial limits and strong Sünnu-Hunnu surrounding them. This distinct effect of the "migration law" of the cattle breeding tribes, formulated by C.Marx, was intertwined with ambitions of feudalized tribal aristocracy to break free from Sünnu-Hunnu domination. These factors explain why in the year of Laoshan death "Kunmo with his people migrated far away, became independent, and refused to come to Sünnu assemblies (i.e. to the ritual "Procession around the forest" - Ü.Z.)" 129.

126 Collection of Narrations.... vol. 1, p. 408; N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, vol. II, p. 191.

127 Shitszi, tsz. 123, p. 3 b (1954); N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, vol. II, p. 155.

128 Ibid.

129 Ibid.


Within 15-18 years a significant part of Usuns carted away to Jeti-su, located in the immediate proximity with sedentary-agricultural oases of Khoresm and Greco-Bactria, along main caravan roads between West and East. Jeti-su, with its mountain, valley, and steppe pastures, became a place for main Usun pastoral coachings. The resettlement ended at a point when the reasons creating it have faded.

Mmigrations of cattle breeding tribes, including Usuns, never had an absolute character. A part of a tribe, as a rule, remained in old habitats and later on participated in composing new ethnic unions. A few centuries after departure of the main mass of Usun population the to the west, the name Usuns appeared again in the text of the monument to the Türkic prince Tonyukuk, in the description of the new coaching routes of the eastern Türks: "I brought troops to the cities of Shantung 130 ("Mountainous East") and to the Sea River (r. Huang He). They destroyed twenty three cities and remained to live in the Usyn bundatu land" 131. The text clearly indicates a southern, Chinese direction of the Türkic campaigns, and allows to locate the "Usun union yurt" on the northern branch of Huang He, probably, in the Sichen area 132. This also explain the existence of Usuns in Ordos, which many medieval and modern authors noted also 133. P.Pelliot and L.Ηambis asserted a justified premise of common origin of these Usuns with the Sary-Uysuns among Kirgiz, Uzbek Ushuns and Uyshuns, and also with the Uysuns of the Kazakh Senior Juz 134. Separate Usun princedoms, remains of the ancient Huno-Usuns of the northern and northwestern China 137, existed for a long time in Khangai 135 and Beitin - Bishbalyk 136.

The sequence of the Usun movement stated in this section consistently reflects the moves of the center of the Kün confederation from Ordos to Tsilyan-shan, and their permanent abode within a ring of Hun tribes clearly shows their organic ethno-political unity with Huns. Even Usun separation and carting away the to the west, and the Shanyus scramble not for their defeat or exile, but for their return to dependence from the Hun court, and at last, Kün-Bag's refusal to attend the obligatory Hun's ritual celebrations, the genealogical affinity of Sünnu-Huns with Usuns and listing of Usuns - Ushi in the indigenous Hun nucleus, all this allows to arrive only at one conclusion: alongside with Kuts, Kuyans, Goklans, etc., Usuns belonged to the tribes of Kün origin, and carried a name of "Huns". Analysis of Greek and Latin records about Usun tribal union brings to the same conclusion.

130 See this article p. 24-25

131 S.E.Malov. Monuments..., p. 66.

132 Compare A.N.Bernshtam, Social and economic organization of Orhon-Yenisei Türks. L., 1946, p. 81.

133 Uanshi, tsz. 119, p. 9 a; Chjogen lu, tsz. 1, p. 15 a; Shofan beichen, tsz. 30, Page 7; Rashid ad-Din. Collection of annals, vol. Ι, M-L., 1952, p. 78; A. A. Mostaert. Ordosica. Bulletin No 9 of Catholic University of Peking. November, 1934, p. 3; J. Kler. Eigenamen aus der Ordos-Mongolei. Anthropos, vol. 51 (1956), No 304, p. 482. See this article p. 24-25

134 P.Pelliot et L.Ηambis. Histoire des compagnes de Gengizkhan, vol. I. Leide, 1951, p. 72.

135 Tushutszichen, section Bian-i-dian, tsz. 44, p. 2 a; Mengu umu tszi - Notes about Mongolian coachings. Transl. P.S.Popov. SPb., 1895, p. 382; G.E.Grumm-Grjimailo, Western Mongolia and Uryanhay territory, vol. II. L., 1926, p. 168.

136 Tanhuyyao, tsz. 78, str 1429.

137 Ch.Ch.Valihanov . Selected works. Alma-Ata, 1958, p. 95.


3. Usuns in antique sources

None of the tribal names, found in Greco-Roman authors with the exception of Ammianus Martsellinus, can even approximately be compared with the term "Usun" 138. Usuns, the inhabitants of r. Ushui basin, and then of Jeti-su, invariably appear in the western sources under a name of Huns.

Antique authors preserved many spelling variations of the name "Hun". Just one Strabo in different manuscripts has a total of five different readings of the term "Hun": φρουροί, φρυνοι, φρυροι, Γρυνοι, φαυνοι. Kalman Nemeti, comparing Florentine, eskurial, Moscow and five Parisian manuscripts of Strabo "Geography", comes to a conclusion that the earliest and most stable form of spelling is φαυνοι 139. Dionisius Periegetus have different spellings of the term Hun: ουννοι, ωνοι, ωοννοι, θουννι, θουνοι 140; Priscus (of Panium) has: unnus, thynus, thinus, thymus; Orosius has: chuni, phuni, thuni, funi; Pliny the Elder has: huni, phuni, thuni 141, etc. The abundance of forms in rendering this term probably shows little literary acquaintance of the majority of the western authors with the ancient tribes of East Turkestan and Central Asia, and traditional compiling of their sources, when mistakes were passed from early works into later works. Variations χγη/φυη are exceptions, with regular conversion χ/φ 142. Both forms are found in Eustathius in his comments on Periegetus "Orbis terrae descriptio". Giving a description of a Scythian tribe of Uns (ουννοι) or θουννοι, Eustathius states that "it should be followed those who write "ουννοι" without θ 143.

Chronologically first reference to the tribe of Huns belongs to Strabo, who from the words of Apollodorus Artemis (approximately middle of the 2nd century BC) stated that Bactrian "kings spread their possessions to Sers and Fauns" 144. Given a proven identity of "Fauns" with "Huns", some researchers tried to connect the Fauns of Apollodor with Sünnu-Huns of Mongolia, and to connect Sers with Chinese 145. However, during any historical period the possession of Greco-Bactria did not extend beyond western limits of Tarim depression 146, and hence, from the historical-geographical point of view that equivalence is unsatisfactory. At that time Yuedi were coaching in Jeti-su, and Usuns, separated from the Hunnish coalition, were in Tarim and Beitin areas, bordering in the north with Sinli 147-Sirs 148, who lived in Altai or south from it. Therefore we do not see any ther possibility except for identification of Apollodor's Huns and nomadic Sers with Huns-Usuns and Sinli-Sirs respectively.

138 Excluding, maybe, only Ammianus Martsellinus, who know Usuns under a name Eusen; Ammianus Martsellinus. History. Per. J.Kulakov and A.Sonni, issue I, Kyiv, 1906, p. 129; compare. N.V.Pigulevskaya. Syrian sources on history of peoples of the USSR. M.- L., 1941, p. 35.

139 Nmati. Die historisch-geographische Beweise der Hiungnu-Him Identitat Budapest, 1910, p. 13.

140 J. Charpentier. Die eihnographische Stellung der Tocharer. ZDMG, B. 71 (1917), p. 355.

141 W. Tomaschek. Kritik der altesten Nachrichten iiber den Skythischen Norden. Sitz. Berichte der phil.-hist. Klasse. Wien. 1888, p. 759.

142 K.Inostrantsev. Hunnu and Guns. Works of Türkologiche Seminar LIJVYa, vol. I, L., 1926, p. 74.

143 V.V.Latyshev. Records of ancient writers about Scythia and Caucasus, VDI, 1948, No 1, p. 254.

144 Strabo, II, 516; Strabon. Geography. Transl. F.G.Mishchenko. M. 1879 Page 527.

145 W. Tomaschek. Ibid., p. 759; Huan Wen-bi. Ibid., p. 54; Egami Namio. Ancient northern culture of Eurasia. Tokyo, 1950, p. 325-327. See this article p. 24-25

146 W.W.Τrn. Ibid.,, p. 84; . O.Maenchen-Helfen Legend about origin of the Huns. Byzantion, vol. XVII, 1945, p. 245.

147 See this article p. 24-25

148 About Sinli see Weichji, tsz. 30, p. 2 a. See this article p. 24-25


The later Usun history is connected with their struggle against Aso-Toharian confederation and carting away to Southern Kazakhstan. In the second half of the 2nd century BC they were in a valley of r. Ili and lake Issyk Kul. Within the borders of the Usun tribal union fell a part of Sakas and Ases-Tochars who did not participate in the Yuedi campaign in Greco-Bactrian kingdom. From then on the Greco-Roman authors mentioned Usuns-Huns only in association with Tochars.

Already Dionisius Periegetes (Periegesis), updating Strabo in respect to the 1st century BC, wrote that beyond Yaxart's (Syr-Darya) Sakas "who fight with arrows" are located "Tochars, Fruns, and barbarous of Ser people" 149. Dionisius' perfectly clear geographical description places Huns in the east, beyond Syr-Darya, and west from Sers' Altai, within the borders of the Usun union 150.

Other sources support Dionisius' information about Usuns-Huns in the ascending to the 1st century BC records of Pliny the Elder, who follows previous authors and names Attakor people on the "As river" (Atian-Asian = As, Yaksart), and a gulf of the same name (As-Takorian; compare Aral sea = Tokarian sea). Beyond Syr-Darya's Ases-Tochars in the east, where Chinese sources located Usuns and Tochars, lived "Huns and Tochars", beyond "Huns and Tochars" somewhere in the basin of Tarim lived Kasyrs. Apart from these peoples, Pliny mentions red-haired Ser nomads, "known for their forests" 151, most likely also in Altai.

The name "City of Sers" is on a 7 BC map, known through compilation of St. Hieronim (aka St. Jerome, ca. 347 420) published by K.Nemati 152. The map shows people of "Huns-Scythians" between Sers (Altai?) and Oktogorra (Ottokora, Yaksart). As the publisher of the map states, St. Jerome's pupil Paul Orosius also used it, he located "Füns-Scythians" behind a tribe Ottokorra (Os-Tokors) in the same area.

An important message about Usuns-Huns is conveyed by Claudius Ptolemy, contemporary of Marcus Aurelius (161-180). In his sixth book of "Geography" at the beginning of the Kasii mountains, identified with Western Tian-Shan 154, he names a tribe Θροανοι-Huns, together with Ιθαγ ροι Tagurs 153. Ptolemy's θροαυοι, previously correlated with the Huns of Mongolia (F.Grenar), were not a subject a special discussion, but named in another place 155 homonymous city (Θροανα = Güna, "Hun's") on the Silk road, its ethnonymic identification, and its geographical position were analyzed in numerous lines. Trailing Bailey, scientists wrongly connected Θροανα with the Sogdian appellation for Dunhuan 156 drv'n, known from Dunhuan manuscripts in the A.Stein collection 157.

149 Periegesis, v. 572; V.V.Grigoriev. About Scythian people Saks, p. 125.

150 F.Altheim and O.Gansen, who investigated this text, hold identical opinion (Aus Spatantike und Christentum. Tubingen, 1951, p. 84).

151 Naturalis Historia, VI, 20; Pline. Histoire Naturelle, vol. 1, Bk. VI, 20; S. Liebermann. Who were Pliny's blue-eyed Chinese? Classical Philology, vol. 52 (1957, Chicago), No 3, p. 176.

152 K.Nemati. Ibid., p. 10.

153 Ptolemy, 6, 16-4, 5.

154 W.Samlin. Historical ethnography of the Tarim basin before the Turks. (Ko: dai gaku), vol. 4 (1955), No 1, p. 37.

155 Ptolemy, 6, 15-5, 6.

156 See this article p. 24-25

157 . W. Bailey. Ttaugara, p. 888; A. Herrmann. Das Land der Seide und Tibet im Lichte der Antike, II. Leipzig, 1939, 110; P.Ρellit. A propos des "Tokharien." "T'oung Pao", XXXII (1936), 263; G. Haloun. Ibid., p. 280.


But the equation θροαυα = drv'n cannot be accepted because of obvious geographical discrepancy: that section of the Silk road near the western Tien Shan should be identified only with the territory of Jeti-su, instead of Dunhuan in the Gansu province. We join objection of W.W.Τrn pointed out that crucial defect in that hypothesis is unjustified separation of Θροανα from the "Scythian tribe" Θροανοι-Huns (who were living together with θαγυροι - Tagors), on whose lands, in the Ptolemy words, was located this city 158. We join objection of W.W.Τrn.

Ptolemy's message about Hun's city and Scythian tribe of Huns is supported by similar descriptions in Julius Honorius (5th century) in his "Cosmographia" containing comments for an earlier map of the world. Listing the cities of Eastern Ocean (Issyk Kul), Honorius names "City of Scythians-Huns" (Skythae-thuni) and "Scythian-Hun" tribe in the same place 159. Doubtlessly, he corrects the Ptolemy's transcription, and confirms the localization of the "Hun's city" and "Hun's tribe" on the Silk road, placing them in the vicinity of Issyk Kul.

Location of the "Hun's city" and "Hun's tribe" on the Silk road was relatively well known to the ancient Chinese, who located the capital of Usun tribal union, Red Valley city (Ch. Chigu), on the Silk road near Tien Shan mountains 160. Chinese chroniclers pointed to the Red Valley city as the court of the Usunian Kün-Bag 161. Its other names were "Kün (Hun) city": Kün-kat and "City of Bag" 162.

At the turn of the era and in the first centuries AD, the Red Valley city was not only a significant political center with mixed Usun and Chinese population, but must have also been an important transshipment and exchange office on the Silk road 163. The Northern branch run through the valley of the r. Ili to Issyk Kul, and farther west the road went through the Red Valley. In addition to general observations, in favor of that conclusion testifies an interesting message of Qian Hanshu that escaped attention of researchers. The description of 36 BC Chen Tan and Gan Yan-show campaign against Talas, marching toward the Hunish Shanyu Chjichji city, state that they, "going by the Northern road [from Ili], entered Red Valley (Chigu), and crossed Usun country; and crossing then a border of the (princedom) Kantszui, they landed west from the Filled Lake (Issyk Kul)" 164.

158 W. W. Tarn. Ibid., p. 519.

159 V.V.Latyshev. Ibid., VDI, 1949, No 4, p. 275, text, summaries.

160 See this article p. 24-25

161 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 96, p. 1281; Sui Sun, Additional comments, tsz. 2, p. 1 a; N.Ya.Bichurin. Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times, vol. II, p. 190.

162 Interpretation of "Bar-kat" see. .W.Ηaussig, Theophilacts Exkurs uber die skythischen Volker. Byzantion, XXII (1953), p. 289, 388; compare Feofilakt Samokatta. History. ., 1957, p. 101.

163 S.Hedin. Silk road, vol. 1, 1939, p. 227; Yu.Zuev. Question about Mutual Relations of Usuns and Kantsjü with Huns and China. News of Academy of Sciences KazSSR, Sersies of Hist., Econ. and Law, 1957, issue 2 (5), p. 65.

164 Qian Hanshu, tsz. 70, p. 986. See this article p. 24-25


At the end of the 4th century the name "Huns and Tochars" (Faunos-Ficarios) surfaces for the last time in the Gothic legend, rooted in annalistic traditions, about an origin of the western Huns: "(In the 376) Filimer, Gothic king and son of Gandaric the Great... learned that among his people are witches, whom he called "Haliarunna" - "diabolic sorcery" in the Gothic language. They were expelled on his orders, and sentenced to range in the steppes, far from the Gothic camp. The forest (?) people Fauns - Fikars ("Huns and Tochars"), upon seeing the witches wandering in the desert, mated with them, and produced these barbarous people - Huns" 165.

Analyzing the legend, A.N.Bernshtam finds it "necessary to emphasize the important statement that a part of the western Huns arose directly on the European soil" 166. And in silvestres homines, the "wood people" of the "General history" we see Greek ακατζιροι, Latin Akatziri, Huns - Türkic Agach-eri and Yiysh-teem ("wood people") of the Iranian and Türkic authors 167. If that so, then according to this version, the Türkic-speaking Huns - Agach-eri must be viewed as a western branch of "Huns and Tochars" of the Jeti-su, and in the autochthonous origin of the western Huns to recognize an eastern, Huno-Usun substratum.

In a final analysis, testimony of antique sources from Strabo-Apollodor to the "General history" leads to a conclusion formulated in the previous paragraphs: in the Jeti-su, where Chinese chroniclers and travelers place Usun tribe and their Red Valley city capital, the Greek and Latin authors record Hun people and Hun city on the Silk road. Concomitant with Chinese records, according to which "among Usuns are branches Se and Yuedi", the antique authors invariably place together with Usuns-Huns a tribe of Tochars, detached from the Ases - Tochars of Bactria and Syr-Darya.


The problem of ancient Usuns have already existed for a long time, and scientists attempts to reduce analysis of available sources to a search of the term Usun more or less sonorous equivalents, brought this problem to a dead end without having produced any positive results. Only in the most recent time the Chinese historical literature about Eastern Turkestan started to envision (although so far without sufficient argumentation) a new way of resolving Usun problem as a problem of a "separate branch of Huns" 168. In the present scientific state about ancient peoples of Central and Middle Asia, this direction appears to be most promising from the historical, linguistical and geographical points of view. The analyzed material in this respect is sufficiently indicative.

New explanation of the term "Hun", derived from multi-lingual sources, and the analysis of its territorial distribution on the map of the ancient Asia, show that this ethnonym also designated tribes generally known from the Chinese sources under a name Usuns.

165 Text and translation of this legend from the "General history" see Nmati, Die historisch-geographische Beweise der Hiungnu-Him Identitat Budapest, 1910, p. 15-16; translation of another edition from Jordan: M.Stasülevich, History of Middle Ages in its contemporary writers and studies of modern scientists,. SPb, 1885, part 1.

166 A.N.Bernshtam, Social and economic organization of Orhon-Yenisei Türks. L., 1946, p. 138.

167 See sections: Legends of Priscus (of Panium) Transl. G.S.Destunis. Uch. zap, 11 dept. Academy of Sciences, bk. 7, issue I. SPb, 1861, p. 87; Materials for history of Turkmen and Turkmenia. M.- L., 1939, 1, p. 497; W.W.Radlff. Das Kudatku Bilik, I, St Pb. 1891, Page 23; D. Sinor, Autor d'une migration de peuples au 5 siecle. Journal Asiatique, 1946-1947, p. 2-4.

168 Van Tszy-yun. Sintszian art of stone carving.-Veniu tsankao tszyliao, 1956, No 8, p. 13. See this article p. 24-25


Early Chinese records about Usuns among proto-Hunnish tribes and their comparison with the statements of antique authors lead to a conclusion that the question of Usun origin is connected closely not with ethnogenesis of eastern Iranian, but first of all of Türkic-speaking Kün peoples. Historical science was taking almost for granted a postulate about Usun's origin in the territory of Jeti-su 169. Inadequacy of that conjecture leads to the consequence that accepting it, we have to rely on a shaky hypothesis about a rise of unknown eastern Iranian tribe with a similar name, and its subsequent Türkification by Sünnu-Huns, a hypothesis that has not been supported by any historical facts and is logically unreasonable. Usun migration from the Ordos steppes, and not a growth of "autochtonous" Usuns can explain the middle of the 2nd century BC radical ethnic shake up in the Middle Asia, the fall of the Greek colonies in Bactria after As-Toharian invasion, the change in ethnic composition in the interfluvial of Syr-Darya - Amu-Darya, and at last, the intermixture of Türkic and Iranian ethnoses in the Jeti-su.

Should the connection of Usuns with Huns seem convincing, it would allow to formulate one of the ways of the spread of the Türkic mass to the west, and to consider this Usun branch the earliest event. Absence of information about historical migration of Sünnu-Huns to the west before the end of the 4th century AD, and existence of the "Hun" population on the eastern fringes of Europe in the 3rd century and earlier, lead to the conclusion that in the composition of the western Huns also participated other tribes, and first of all Usuns.

169 A.N.Bernshtam. Main stages in history of culture in Jeti-su and Tian-Shan. Soviet archeology, 1949, vol. XI, p. 356.

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Glossary of Chinese terms
24 25
In Russian
Contents Huns
Yu.Zuev Ethnic History of Usuns
Yu.Zuev Early Türks: Essays of history
Yu.Zuev The Strongest Tribe - Ezgil
Yu.Zuev Tamgas of vassal princedoms
Yu.Zuev Ancient Türkic social terms
Yu.Zuev Seyanto Kaganate and Kimeks
Ogur and Oguz
Usuns - Tamgas And Urans History
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline
Yu.Zuev 1960
TürkicWorld 11/08/2007