Here we detail about the top fourteen tribes of ancient central Asia.
They are: 1. The Scythian Tribes 2. The Ancient Huns 3. The Wusuns 4. The Awars 5. The Turks 6. The Western Turks 7. The Yuchis 8. The Hepthals 9. The Aguz 10. The Uigur and Others.
Tribe # 1. The Scythian Tribes:
We have seen that from the third millennium before Christ up to practically the middle of .the first millennium B.C., the following tribes successively occupied the Saptanada and the Altai regions—”Aphnas” (2500 to 1700 B.C.), “Andronians” ( 1700 to 1200 B.C. ) Karasuk (1300 to 800 B. C.) and contemporaneously with the last-named, the Minusun tribes.. All the evidence points to the fact it was they who were the ancestors of the Scythians.
In the seventh century B. C. we find the Scythian tribes distributed in the northern part of Central Asia as follows: From the east of the Don along the north of the Caspian Sea up to the area between the Ural Sea and the Jaxartes River we find the Messagetae. This tribe also extended up to the Oxus valley, that is up to Khwarezm. South of this, lived the nomadic Daha tribe from which the Parthians were descended. East of the Messagetae in the northern part of the upper Jaxartes River up to the Narim River and Isikul dwelt the Sakrauka tribe (pre-Saivang).
The Saivang tribe was to originate later from this tribe. In the Altai region at that time dwelt the ancient Wusan tribe from which the Wusun tribe was later to descend.’ East of this, up to Kansu near the Hwang-Ho river, lived the ancestors of the Yuchis. In the Terim Valley or Sinkiang, lived another branch of the Scythians, the “Khas“, who, even before the seventh century B. C., crossed the Karakoram Mountains and spread to Gilgit and Kashmir. Later they went up to Nepal and made the whole of the Himalayas the land of the “Khas”.
The entire Scythian “Khas” tribe was in the Bronze Age up to the 5th century B. C.. In the inscriptions of Darius we find mention of another three Scythian tribes, “Tigrakhauda“, “Homavark” and “Tyai“, but it is difficult to say which regions they occupied.
The region in which the “Sakrauka” tribe roamed east of the Messagetae was the western part of the Saptanada. These tribes were still in the pre-historic stage. All that we know of them is from Greek and Persian sources.
Tribe # 2. The Ancient Huns:
Like the Scythians the Huns were also pastoral nomads. They were neighbours of the Scythians in Central Asia. Before the Yuchi were driven out, the Scythian homelands east of the Tyanshan and Altai had merged into the pastures of the Huns. Even before the ultimate clash between them they had had contacts with each other for purposes of trade and in occasional skirmishes. We learn from Chinese history that their cultural development in the metal, ages owed much to contact with the races that went there from the West.
There is no doubt that these races were connected with the Scythians and it is not unlikely that the Huns who lived, to the north of China passed into the metal age because of their contact with them. Tartar and Turk are the terms that have been used to describe the Huns, but in Chinese history the word Tartar ‘does not occur till the 2nd century A. D. and the word Turk does not appear to have been known to them till the 5th century A: D. When the Greek and the Persian sources begin to dry up, the Chinese sources are there to help us. Chinese historians have written much about the Scythians but very little of this has been translated into European languages.
The work done by Russian scholars in publishing and sorting this material is most praiseworthy. At the present time new China and the Soviet Union are masters of the entire area once inhabited by the Scythians. The great interest being shown in historical research in these countries leads us to hope that the written materials and archaeological records will reveal much about them.
The excavations in Narin in Tyanshan (Khirgizia) have turned up the special kinds of arrow-heads used by the Scythians, as well as round clay pots and other things. On the banks of Lake Issikul in Tyup, objects of this period have been found which are now being preserved in the Russian historical museum. In the Kazak Democratic Republic graves have been uncovered in the Berkarin area which contain articles considered to be of the 4th and 5th centuries B. C.
In that very region excavations in Karachoko (Ili Valley) have led to the discovery of bronze arrow-heads used by the Scythians of the Minusin tribe and their descendants. Bronze weapons used by the Scythians have been found from Eastern Europe (Chertom Lik) to the borders of lake Baikal and Manchuria. At times their pasture lands must have spread far and wide. According to Dr. Bernstam—a great authority on the ancient history of Saptanada, Altai and Tyanshan—this entire region was inhabited by nomadic Scythian tribes in the sixth century B. G. It is also learnt that although they were essentially nomads, the art of cultivation was known to the Scythians.
The Chinese are eager to trace their history back to very ancient times, but the real history of China dates from the 6th century B. C. All earlier material has no more importance than mythology. The first historical Chinese dynasty was the Chin dynasty. The founder of this dynasty, Chin-Shi-Hwang- Ti (255-250 B. C.) united the scattered feudal principalities into one kingdom. Prior to this the nomadic Huns had been looting and plundering China.
These mounted, meat-eating and booted warriors constantly attacked the Chinese towns and villages to their South. Horses, sheep and other animals were their possessions and from time to time camels, donkeys and mules were also seen with them. Their pasture lands were present-day Mongolia, Manchuria, and parts of Siberia north of these regions. The Hunnish tribes were called Hung-Nu by the Chinese.
The Turks, Khirgiz and the Magyars of Hungary are descended from them. Besides the Hung-Nu, Chinese history mentions another Mongoloid nomadic tribe called Tung Hu. The Kittan (Khitai), Manchus and others were descended from them. The great Hun race had a number of tribes with their own chieftains.
In our country and also in some others, the word “Aurdu” (Urdu) is considered to mean army camp. A whole tribe of these nomads, which included men and women, old and young, was called “Aurdu“. The administration of the tribe was democratic and the chief had no right to arrogate a special status to himself. Hun children learnt to graze cattle early, but they learnt even earlier to use their small bows with which they first slew rats and later jackals and rabbits.
They learnt from their infancy to ride horses bare-backed and, when they became a little stronger, to shoot arrows from horse-back. As their food consisted of meat and milk and their clothing was made of either they were dependent on their animals. They also knew how to make felt. The warriors were the most respected members of the tribe and the choicest food was given to them.
The old and invalids were given only their leavings. The sons took over the wives of the dead father and the elder brothers’ wives were taken over by the younger brothers. As with the Scythians and other tribes who lived in similar conditions, it was not considered a disgrace to turn one’s back to the enemy in flight but was accepted as a tactical manoeuvre. Mercy had no place amongst them. Their weapons were bows and arrows, swords and daggers.
Thrice a year the whole tribe met for the performance of social and religious rites and the settlement of political and other disputes. A king was elected to rule over the tribal chieftains. He was called Shanyu.
It has been estimated that from 1400 to 200 B. C. these nomadic tribes of the North continued to ravage China. In 300 B. C. the Hunnish tribes were roaming in Shansi, Sensi and Chilhi. The tribes or Aurdus had even settled on the banks of the Hwang-ho, which is why this province is still known as Aurdus. Chin-Shi-Hwang-Ti, who united the greater part of China into a single kingdom, built the Great Wall of China as a protection against the inroads of the Huns and drove away the Hunnish tribes from Aurdus, Shensi and other provinces.
In the making of the Great Wall from the Sea to Lunchao in the west, hundreds of thousands of Chinese died under the lash. From the time of the making of the Wall and for a thousand years onwards bloody clashes continued to take place between the Chinese and the Huns. The hundreds of thousands of skulls that have been found near the Wall bear witness to these battles. While in the North the Chinese had to face the Huns, in the East the Scythian ancestors of the Yuchi were equally ferocious.
Tribe # 3. The Wusuns:
According to Dr. A. N. Bernshtam, the culture of the Wusuns was the same as that of the Scythians, the only difference being that the Wusuns did not use Bronze. From this it is clear that the Wusuns were a branch of the Scythian race which extended from the Carpathians to the Kokonor and which appears in history in the beginning of the Bronze age. Regarding the physical characteristics of the Wusuns, the Chinese have said, “They had blue eyes, red beards and plain monkey-like faces.”
The inhabitants living behind the Sinkiang (Ku-Chi) were also blue-eyed and red-haired. Aurel Stein and Lekak have found paintings in the Terim valley of blue-eyed, red-haired people, which shows that up to the fourth and fifth century after Christ such people were living in the Terim valley.
It was in the third and second centuries before Christ that the Wusuns were most powerful, although this was the period when the Huns had also begun their campaign of conquests. The Central Asian Silk Road to the West passed through Wusun territory along the banks of the lssikul Lake. Here too was situated the main centre of the Wusuns Chi Gu.
The Chinese and the Huns were both interested in keeping the Wusuns on their side. Wusun territory, which they had inherited from their Scythian ancestors, included Ili and Chu-valleys and the Tyan-Shan mountain region. To the South, just below the mountains, was the Terim valley, where dwelt the Hu-Ma tribe, which carried on trade with the Wusuns. To the west, in the Tuls valley, the Wusun territory bordered on the region inhabited by the Kung Tribe.
In the South and West, the Wusun territory was bounded by the beautiful Fargana valley (Tawan), which was extremely prosperous on account of the Silk Road and famous for its fine breed of horses. On his return from his travels Chang-Kyan had praised the horses of Tawan highly and the Emperor Vu-Ti finding that the people would not part with them willingly, organised a military campaign against the Wusuns and thus extended the borders of Chinese Empire up to Fargana.
The Wusuns were nomadic herdsmen. Chinese writers have said of them that they are versed neither in agriculture nor horticulture. They roam in search of drinking water from one spot to another. Wealthy Wusuns possess as many as five thousand horses.
Tribe # 4. The Awars:
The Huns had spread far and wide and become a Eurasian Tribe and their descendants, the Magyars, are still living in modern Hungary. In prehistoric times the Indo-European race had also been Eurasian, and at one time the Turks, descendants of the Hun, were spread from Manchuria to the Caucasus and Crimea. Later, although Eastern territory was occupied by other Mongolian tribes, they continued to occupy Eastern Europe. Till this day, Turkish-speaking peoples continue to live in Eastern and Western Central Asia,’ Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Awars (Jvan Jvan, Ju Jun):
Before the Turks entered the arena of history the Awars occupied the regions which later came under the sway of the Turks. After the destructions of the Huns, Syan Pi took over Manchuria, Mongolia and some parts of China. One of the dynasties descended from them, the To-Ba dynasty, was founded in 315 A. D. and continued till the 5th Century. The Awars were related to this dynasty and that is why they are also known as Mukru-To-Ba. This Hunnish tribe lived in the areas near Lake Baikal where the Ting Ling dwelt and north of the Gobi desert.
It is told that the To-Ba prince of Tatung came into possession of a young slave who did not remember his name and his master gave him the nickname Mukru. As a reward for courage shown on the battlefield Mukru was freed, but on his refusal to perform certain military duties was awarded the death sentence. He managed to escape, fled to the north of Gobi desert, and, collecting a group of men round him, became a bandit chief.
His son Sharuk gathered more followers and founded a small tribe of his own which came to be called the Awars. At first the Chinese name for the Awar tribe was Ju-Jun but it was later (in 451 A. D.) changed to Jvan-Jvan by the To-Ba Emperor Tai-Hu-Ti (425-452 A.D.). In the seventh generation after Mukru came She Lun, a powerful chieftain, who conquered the Kao She tribe and, consolidating his military strength, took the title of Kagan (Khan).
The kingdom of the She Lun, which spread from Korea to the Altai, included a part of China as well as a section of the trade route of Central Asia. The Awars relations with the Chinese were not unlike those of their Hunnish ancestors. At times they plundered the border regions of China, at others they gave military aid to the Chinese Emperor. The Turks put an end to the military might of the Awars in 546 A. D. One of the Awar kings was known as Brahman.
The Awars were greatly influenced by Chinese culture and by Buddhism. The To-Ba Emperors accepted Buddhism. Turkish blacksmiths who worked in slavary on the Eastern peaks of the Altai, took advantage of the internal strife that later developed among the Awars and cast off the chains of their slavery.
Tribe # 5. The Turks:
We learn from Chinese sources that the Turks were one of the Hun tribes which had been known in earlier times as the Ussena. In 433 A- D. the To-Ba Emperor tried to dispossess them of their territory and to swallow up the tribe. At that time, 500 Ussena families fled to the Jvan-Jvan kingdom, where they worked as slaves smelting iron on the southern peaks of the Altai. As they wore pointed caps they began to be called Dur-Po (Tu Pu, Topi) which was later distorted into Tirku, Turk, Tyurok or Turusk.
The Turks had earlier lived in Lyan, one of the culturally developed areas of China, but they do not seem to have been benefited by it to any extent. However, as soon as the Jvan-Jvans were defeated, their cheif, Tu-Min, declared himself free and in about 546 A. D. he was proclaimed El-Khakan. When Anakwe, the Jvan-Jvan king, refused to give his daughter in marriage to Tumin, he was killed by him.
II Khan is derived from El Khan or El Khakan. Khakan, Khagan, Khoman and Khan are all forms of Shanyu, which was the Chinese version of a word which in Hunnish was probably Ching Gis or Jing-gis. There are those who have tried to distort this into Jungi. It was the Jvan-Jvans who first adopted the little Khakan and later the word came to be used by the Turks as well as by the Mongols. Till 1917, the tittle Khan was reserved, in Central Asia, for kings alone, but in India it had become almost valueless, in spite of having carried in the beginning considerable weight.
In earlier days the designation Khan-Khana had denoted very high rank at the Mogul court in India, Akbar’s protector and Prime Minister Bairam Khan, having been given this title. But when the Mogul Kings began to call themselves, Shah, Shahenshah, or Padshah, the tittle Khan began to lose its worth. Timur, the ancestor of Babar, had reserved this tittle for his satellites and preferred to call himself Amir.
Tu-Min was called Il-Khan Tu-Min. II or El stands for the tribe and thus El-Khan means King of the tribe. After assuming the tittle of El-Khan, Tu-Min began to distribute titles to others. During the time of the Huns the queen had been called Yeng-Chi: now she was given the tittle Kho-Ho-Tun, which later became Kho-Tun, or Kha-tun.
To this day in India, Muslim ladies of high rank are given the title of Khatun. During the lifetime of Tu-Min Turkish power had grown considerably and when he died in March 553 A. D. his tribe, known amongst the Chinese as Tu-Kyu or Tui-ky had won a name for itself.
Some of the important titles among the Turks were De Le, (Te-Le, Mongol, De Re )-Prince, Kui-Lui-Chui (Khilich or Khilij), A-Po (A-pa), Ghe-Re-Phe (Sya-Li-Pha), Tu-Tun, Ji-Gin (Su-Chin) etc. all indicating persons of high rank.
In giving names the Turks tried to describe the qualities of the person e. g. She-Vau-Li-Yo, which means brave or powerful; San-De-L.o, meaning fat; De-Lo-Biyan, one who drinks too much.
Tribe # 6. The Western Turks:
Western Asia was in direct contact with the Turks for it was the latter that replaced the white Huns in Afghanistan and Central Asia. But in India the white Huns were replaced by the Arabs. However, the Turks continued the fight and later on, having embraced Islam, they emerged again as rulers. Mahmud Ghaznavi was a Turk—so were the early Muslim dynasties Ghulam Khilji and Tughlak. Thus the Western Turks played an important role, not only in the history of Central Asia, but in that of India.
It was Dalo Byan who laid the foundations of the Western Turkish Empire in the territory occupied by the Wusuns. During the lifetime of Dalo Byan the Western limit of this Empire was Lake Balkash. On the North it was bounded by the deserts that lie beyond the Altai mountains. The Southern tribes of the Western Turkish Empire lived near Kulja north-west of Harashar, while those of the North dwelt near Emil, which were eight stages away. Kashgar and perhaps modern Tashkend were also situated within this Empire.
The Ting Ling, Karlok, Turkis tribes were under their domination, as were the Turks living in the deserts north-west of Hami. Apart from them, the Tukhars of the Terim valley and the Sogdhians of the Chu and Tuls valley were also part of their kingdom. The language, customs and manners of almost all the tribes, except the Sogdhians and Kuchis, were similar to those of the Turks. The titles used by the Western Turks more or less resembled those used by the Eastern Turks.
Chulo Khan, brother of Sho Bolio Kagan, set out to fight Dalo Byan and succeeded in capturing him.
For a short time Issi Gin, the son of Tu Min, ruled as the Khan, but he was soon succeeded by Han So De Le, who called himself Nila Khan. There were hardly any changes in the empire during his reign. His son Damo succeeded him. Later he came to be known as Cho Lu Khan. He was living in the Ili Valley near Kulja.
When he came to the throne a number of Governors under him ruled over the provinces. The Chinese Emperor, Yang Ti, attacked and defeated Cho Lu, who was forced thereafter to accept Chinese suzerainty and to die fighting for the Chinese in Korea. Hossena and Dere Damo, two of Cho Lu’s Governors or Sub-Kagans, had accompanied “him to the Chinese court and had taken part in the establishment of the Thang dynasty in China. Dere Damo died in 638 A.D. and as Yang Ti refused to allow Hossena to return to his native land, She Gui, who had been acting Kagan in Cho Lu’s absence, was elected by the Western Turks as their Khan.
She Gui was the first Khan of the Western Turks who succeeded in expanding the empire. He pushed the frontiers of his Kingdom as far as the Altai mountains in the North and the Caspian Sea in the West, while in the East his kingdom extended up to the Great Wall of China. All the nomadic tribes of the West owed allegiance to him.
She Gui was succeeded in 619 A.D. by his younger brother who continued the task of extending the Western Turkish Empire begun by his brother. This younger brother surpassed the record of his elder brother, She Gui, in this regard. It was in 619 A.D. also that the Thang dynasty had succeeded that of the Sui on the Chinese throne.
Tun She Khu, who was a great military general pursued a policy of alternately placating and attacking the Chinese. It was he who brought the Ting Ling on his North under his sway; drove away the Iranians on his West and extended the boundaries of his kingdom right up to Kabul, inflicting a severe defeat in so doing on the white Huns.
At this time Khusro II was ruling over Iran and trying desperately to defend his kingdom against the attacks of the Greco-Roman Emperor Heraclius. The Abors and the Khajars, descendants of the Huns, had established powerful kingdoms on the western shores of the Caspian and the Volga and they joined in the attacks on the Iranians. By 599 A.D. the Kirshal and White Hun rulers of Hirat and Balakh had accepted Turkish domination and they aided the Turks in their campaign against the Iranians.
At first Tun She Khu established the capital of his kingdom at Kulja but later shifted it to Tashkend and all the kings of Turkestan accepted him as their sovereign. The Western Turkish Empire had now reached the zenith of its glory. To secure friendship Tun She Khu sent for a stork’s egg from Mesopatamia and sent it as a gift to the Chinese Emperor who thereupon sought his help against Khe Li Khan. Tun She Khu began preparations for the attack, but Khe Li’s entreaties succeeded in securing his neutrality.
On the occasion of the Chinese Emperor’s coronation in 627 A.D., Tun She Khu sent him many valuable presents. These included five thousand horses and a waist-band studded with thousands of gold nails but Khe Li, who did not desire a resumption of relations between the Western Turks and the Chinese, threatened to waylay the caravan.
At the time when the great Chinese traveller Swen Chang, was writing his travel notes, Tun She Khu was ruling over the Western Turkish Empire. Swen Chang actually travelled through Tun She Khu’s kingdom and reached Karashar at about 630 A. D. It was already independent then.
The famous town of Kucha, 200 li south-west of Karashar, was described by Swen Chang as having an abundance of rice, grapes, pomegranates, pears and peaches, besides gold, copper and iron. The Indian Script (Gupt-Brahmi) in a slightly changed form was used for writing and the people were skilled musicians. They wore woollen robes and turbans. Gold, silver and copper coins were used as currency.
There were no less than a hundred Buddhist shrines in the town and these accommodated five thousand Buddhist monks of the Realist School who had no scruples about eating animal flesh. “Just outside the Western gate of the town on either side of the road“, says Swen Chang in his notes on Kucha, “stood two huge ninety-foot statues of Buddha. This was the site of the regular quinquennial congregation of the Buddhists. Every year the monks and priests held annual meeting there at the close of the autumn season to celebrate their great ten-day long religious festival, while the whole population ceased work, fasted and listened to religious discourses. During the festival all the images of the Lord Buddha were decorated with pearls and brocade and paraded through the streets. The processions kept swelling in number as they proceeded. On the other side of the river stood the miraculous shrine which had huge chambers and most artistic statues of Buddha. This shrine was visited by scholars from far-off lands whom the people entertained with great hospitality.”
Swen Chang went from Kucha to the Pamir plateau. Describing his journey to that place he writes. “Three hundred li north-west of Po Lu Ka lies Ling Shan, the cold mountain. The northern part of Chung Ling begins at this place. The rivers flow eastwards, the roads are dangerous, and a cold biting wind blows all the time… After travelling another 400 li one comes to the Tapt Sagar Lake which is a thousand li in circumference. It stretches from east to west and is girt about by mountains on all sides. Its water is brackish and abounds in fish.”
From here Swen Chang is most likely to have proceeded along the Chu valley and journeying five hundred miles to the north-west reached the town of Shu Se, which was inhabited mainly by traders from different places. It produced wheat, grapes and other kinds of fruit, but most of the places were barren and cold. The people wore woollen clothes. To the west of it were a number of towns with their own rulers who nevertheless accepted Turkish suzerainty.
“The areas from Shu Se to Kasanna is populated by the Sogdhians, who use a script with 20 alphabets written in vertical columns. They wear woollen robes lined with leather or cotton and many of them shave their heads and bind their foreheads with silken kerchiefs. Though tall of stature they are generally cowardly and treacherous. Wealth is the only basis for rank but even the wealthy live and dress simply.”
“Another 400 li to the West of this area lay the Ping Yu Lake. To the South of this are the Alexander mountains; on all other sides there are plains. In the spring, there is a blossoming of flowers of varigated hues and the land is fertile and well-forested. There are a thousand springs and pools hereabouts, hence it is known as Long Yu (the thousand streams ). The Turkish Khan uses this place as his summer resort. The area abounds in deer which are tamed and cared for and the killing of which is punishable with death.”
Soon after he become the Khan, Tun She Khu shifted his capital to this town. Swen Chang has described his meeting with Tun She Khu in the following words: “She Khu Kagan was just preparing to go out on a hunting expedition. He was dressed in a green satin robe but his hair was unkempt and a white silk kerchief was bound round his head. He was accompanied by two hundred officials who wore embroidered robes and had long hair. Other attendants dressed in tweeds, waited on horseback with spears, bows and other weapons.”
The Khan expressed his delight at Swen Chang’s visit and invited him to stay in his camp during the few days when he would be out on a hunting trip. He directed his personal minister to attend to Chang. On his return Swen Chang was taken to the Khan’s tent, which he describes as follow. “The tent was decorated with gold and that dazzled the eyes. Courtiers sat on carpets in rows on either side of the Khan. All of them wore brocade garments and a large number of attendants were busy administering to their needs.”
The Khan stepped out of his tent to receive Chang, who entered it after offering due salutations. “As the Turks were fire-worshippers they did not use wooden furniture. Carpets were used for sitting purposes, but for travellers and pilgrims an iron bench covered with a carpet had been set up. The Khan gave orders for wine to be served and music to be played, whereupon sounds of merriment and music filled the tent. Roasted meat was served in huge quantities. For the Chinese traveller, bread, milk, candy, honey and grapes were brought.” Swen Chang further reports that the Khan was not well disposed towards India and he advised the traveller not to visit the country of the dark-skinned races.
Power seems to have turned the head of Tun She Khu. Many of these tribes in the Turkish Empire revolted against him and his reign came to an end when he was murdered by his uncle, Mo Khe Du.
The people, however, would not accept the uncle as their Khan, nor did the person selected by him agree to wear the crown of thorns. So the son of Tun She Khu, who had fled to Samarkand, was sent for and placed on the throne. He was called Kyu Li Si Bi Khan. His ascent to the throne did not bring the civil war to an end and the Ting Ling and Turkestan principalities rose in revolt.
Kyu Li suffered serious defeats at their hands and Kipchuk, Afghanistan and parts of Iran seceded from the Western Turkish Empire. Nishu Mokha Khan and Shili De Le, the son of Tun She Khu intrigued with the Kungs and Kyu Li was forced to return to Samarkand.
Si She Khu, another son of Tun She Khu, succeeded to the throne, but the exact period of his reign is not known. He was obliged to face a number of internal rivals, chief among whom was Seni She Khu, and he had also to fight against the Sayends of the Tuls valley. He ultimately succeeded in defeating them all.
Not much is known about Nishu De Lu Khan who succeeded him. He was followed by his younger brother Tun Bo Sho (634-38), who assumed the title “Shobolo Khilish” Khan. During his reign a number of administrative reforms were introduced and the kingdom was divided into ten parts. According to Chinese writers he was not a popular ruler and it was he who was responsible for the maladministration and internal strife that was a feature of his reign.
Ibi Du Lu Khan (641 A.D. ) who came to the throne next was obliged to engage in a number of fierce battles with the Kungs, but he succeeded in defeating them. Thousands of Kungs were forced to work as slaves for his own use and this excited the anger of his commander Nishu Cho, who tried to take forcible possession of his share. Ibi Khan ordered that the commander be executed and his head hung up in a public place as an example. Internal strife thus continued to grow.
Ibi Sho Bolo She Khu succeeded Ibi Khan to the throne in 651 A.D., with the aid of the Chinese. It was natural, therefore, that he should accept every one of the terms imposed by them. Kucha, Kashgar, Khotun, Chu Jui Bo and Chung Ling had been handed over to the Chinese as early as 646 A. D.
But this had hot assuaged their thirst for more territory and they planned to reduce the Khan to the position of a petty chieftain under them. But the Turkish Khan, as the ruler of an indomitable nomadic tribe, was not prepared to endure this and a fierce clash with the Chinese ensued. The Chinese were victorious and for a time the Turkish Empire became a part of China.
The last Kagan of the Tu Min dynasty was Asina Sin. The Asina was the parent tribe of both the Western and Eastern Turks. The last few rulers of this dynasty had all proved themselves thoroughly incompetent and so with the death of Asina Sin in 708 A.D., the dynasty ended and the rival Turgis branch came into power led by Soge.
It was at this time that the Arabs began to grow in strength.
They had entered Afghanistan and Iran, and in 689 A. D., the Arab Commander-in-Chief, Musa Vin Abdulla Bin Hazim, had crossed the Amu River and established his capital in Termiz where he ruled till 704 A. D. In 705 A. D. the Arabs entered the Surkhan valley and by 712 A. D. they occupied the province of Shaganyan and unfurled the flag of Islam over the ancient land of Khworezm. Within another year the Arab general Kutaib marched towards Samarkand and the same year saw the construction of the first mosque in Bokhara.
Soge was the son of Bu Chin, the Turgis Chieftain. The Turgis were a branch of the Eastern Turks who inhabited the region between the Chu and Ili valleys. As he proved to be too oppressive a ruler, Bu Chin was removed from his position by the tribe. So taking his son, Soge, with him he fled to the Chinese court.
While there he tried to establish his control over the province of Kashgar, and his son Soge succeeded in arranging for the assassination of the representative of the Ochir tribe who was trying to bribe the Chinese Defence Minister against them. Soge later defeated Asina Sin also and became the Khan of the Western Turks, but his rule proved short-lived, for in 709 A. D., he was murdered by Mo Cho, the Khan of the Eastern Turks.
Sulu (716-38 A.D.), was the last of the Turkish Khans. The Arabs gave him the nickname of Abu Muzahim (Prince of Quarrelers). Su lu was fortunate that the Arabs who ruled over Iran and Central Asia had split into two and were engaged in bitter strife amongst themselves. In 724 A.D., a bloody battle was fought between them in Forkan and this was a golden opportunity for Su Lu.
Su Lu was aware of the fact that to his East lay the powerful Chinese Empire, while from the West the Arabs were advancing as in a flood-tide and the Eastern Turks, his kinsmen were bitterly hostile. He realised therefore that he must proceed with the utmost caution and he made overtures to China for an alliance.
The Emperor Swen Chang was much delighted and having conferred the title “Chung Sung” (Prince) upon him, sent him the great-granddaughter of Bu Chin as a bride. Sometime later, in revenge for the insulting behaviour of a Chinese Minister towards his wife, Su Lu sacked Kashgar, Khotan, Kucha and Su Jya, all of which had been handed over to the Chinese by the former Khan. But China was not strong enough to take any action against him.
Su Lu was popular with his men. As he was not avaricious he made a fair distribution of the spoils of war, thereby becoming sure of the support of his people. Realising the danger that threatened from the Arabs, he entered into an alliance with the Tibetans and the Eastern Turks and attacked Samarkand. Meanwhile to cement his friendship with the Tibetans, Chinese and Eastern Turks, he married their princesses.
Gradually however, his strength began to decline, and because the Turks love only the strong his popularity also began to wane. But his prestige was high enough even in 730 A. D. for his ambassador to demand first place in the Chinese court and to challenge the ambassador of the Eastern Turks.
The Chinese Emperor resolved the conflict by giving them an equal status. Su Lu died in 738 A.D. in the course of a battle between the Khirgiz and the Turks and with the death of his sons the Turgis dynasty came to an end in 766 A.D.
By 742 A.D. the Turgis and Khirgiz tribes had fallen under the domination of the satrap of Urumchi, but their quarrels did not cease. The Chinese now ruled over a vast empire which spread from Indo-China in the south to the Pamirs on the west, but a number of Tibetan and Shan tribes continued to disturb its peace.
In 780 A.D. the Karloks established their domination over the Khirgiz and the Turks and the Uigurs swallowed up the remnants of Su Lu’s dynasty. After the break-up of the Uigur kingdom the Bukin tribes occupied Harashar and till it reached its last days the Thang dynasty knew no peace because of them.
Till the rule of Muyu, the third Khan of the Turks, the Turkish Empire had not been split into western and eastern parts. When Muyu’s brother Toba Khan succeeded to the throne, Dalo Byan, the son of Muyu, tried to dethrone him. After his uncle’s death, Dalo Byan split the empire and founded the Western Turkish Empire.
From the time of Toba Buddhist influence had been dominating and was growing but the white Hun ruler Torman was probably still under Scythian influence, as is shown by his erection of the sun temple in Gwalior. His son Mithdat has been called an enemy of Buddhism. After the coming of the Turks, however, Buddhism began to spread again.
Chule Kagan (605 A.D.) Damo (Dharm), which was the name of Nili’s son is enough to reveal the influence of Buddhism over the Turks. He lived mostly in the Ili valley and the provinces were in the hands of governors (Yuvgus), one of whom ruled over the southern area as far as the banks of the Vakhshu (the borders of the Sasani Empire). Nausherwan’s son and heir was the grandson of Muyu Khan, but he had on one side of him the might of Rome and on the other the Turks.
Chule Khan’s governor attacked the Sasani Empire with a huge army and succeeded in reaching Hirat. The Romans too launched an attack on Syria. The Khajars, who were descendants of the Huns, were unceasingly active in the Iranian frontiers west of the Caspian. From the south, the Arabs had marched against Iraq and the Turkish general grew so bold as to send a letter to the Iranian King, Hormuzd, saying: “Keep the roads and bridges in good condition. I wish to go across Iran to meet the Romans.”
Hormuzd’s general, Behram, faced the Turks with a few thousand picked soldiers and defeated them in battle, killing the Turkish general, Shav. He seized huge booty from the Turks and sent it to the Shah of Iran carried by a quarter of a million camels. Behram fought against the Romans also, but was unsuccessful and as a consequence, he was dismissed. Thereafter he revolted against his king and succeeded in dethroning him.
The struggle between the Iranians and the Turks continued throughout the reign of Khusro II (590-628 A.D.) At the same time the Iranians scored some success against the Romans.
During the rule of the two brothers She Gui (618-619) and Tun She Khu (619), the Turkish empire grew considerably, although their contemporary, Khusro, was no weakling either. She Gui extended the the Turkish empire as far as the shores of the Caspian on the west and to the great wall of China on the east. His brother Tun She Khu drove the Sasanis out of Afghanistan and annexed it to his empire.
At this time Iran had to face three powerful enemies, Tun She Khu on the east, the Khajar Khan on the north and the victorious Emperor Heraclius on the west. While these four powers were contending for supremacy a new one was growing in the deserts of Arabia. About the time Swen Chang was engaged in his famous travels inside Central Asia and India, and the Arabs were conquering Jajdgurd and had soon become masters of the Sasani empire. Tun She Khu was thus faced with a new menace on his frontiers.
Tun Vo She (634-638), succeeded his father Tun She Khu as Khan of the Turks. The Arabs were not yet powerful enough to face a clash with the Turks but the latter gradually began to come under Chinese domination, so that by the time of Asinasin (708), the Turkish Empire had fallen and the Sir, Jarphasan and Amu valleys, had been wrested from thir grasp.
Like other nomads, the Turks divided up their kingdom into provinces ruled by Governors who were their own brothers, sons or nephews. Whenever the authority of the centre grew weak these governors set themselves up as independent Khans. It was with these governors that the Arabs clashed, and their writers generally mention them as their rivals rather than the Khan himself.
By the beginning of the 9th century A.D. the Turkish Empire had completely crumpled, though its formal dissolution had taken place as early as 757 A.D. when the Turks acknowledged Chinese suzerainty.
A number of other tribes, such as the Bukku, Puki, Terankal, Tunglo, Baikal, Guser, Adir, Kibir (Chipiyu), Kuk, Ugui, Sib, Ghei and Khitai’ continued to exist for a long time.
The Bukku, which was the northernmost tribe, could mobilise ten thousand soldiers but was socially backward. At first under the domination of the Gheiris, they were later to be dominated by the Sayend. By 725 A.D. they had merged completely with the Chinese.
The Tarankal lived West of the Bukku tribe and they too could also muster a force of ten thousand. They were first heard of in the Chinese Court in 648 A.D.
The Tung-lo lived North West of Sayend and had a force of 15,000 at their command. They merged ultimately with the Uigurs. The Baikal tribe was named after the famous Siberian Lake. A strange peculiarity of the region was that wood petrified there within two years. The language of the Baikals was similar to that of the Ting Ling tribe.
The Gusers of the Udirs lived north of the Tarangkal tribe, while the Kibirs lived to their south. The Kuk tribe lived 170 miles north-east of the Baikals and reared reindeer. The Ugui lived fifteen stages east of the Kuks, while the Sib, Ghie and Khitai, lived further to the east.
In the Travel Notes of Swen Chang, it has been said, about 140 to 150 li west and about fifty li south of Taras there is a village inhabited by Chinese prisoners. Their dress is similar to that of the Turks but they speak the Chinese language.
“Mankand, 15 miles north-east of modern Chimkent, is more fertile than the Taras area. Forty to 50 miles to the south is Nujkand. The land here is exceedingly fertile and fruits of all kinds grow in plenty, especially grapes. This area which includes about a hundred villages and towns is an autonomous one and governed by their own ruler. Tashkend is ruled by a separate Turkish ruler.” Fargana, a thousand li south-east of Tashkend was not visited by Swen Chang himself. He has recorded in his notes the accounts that he was able to gather from various sources.
“The area is surrounded by mountains on all sides. The land is rich, fruits grow in plenty. Tending of sheep and horses is the main occupation of the people. The winters are severe and bleak, winds blow across the region. Their language differs from that of other peoples. For ten years they have had no ruler and numerous chiefs are contending for power. The defences and frontiers of the region are provided by rivers and other natural barriers.”
The Chinese had known of this region since the time of Chang-Kyan, but at that time the Chinese name for it was Sha Wang and for its capital—Ui Shan.,
Tribe # 7. The Yuchis:
By 176 B. C. the Huns being pressed back by the Chinese attacked their western neighbours, the Yuchis, who had to leave their homelands and flee further westwards. Entering the lands of the Saiwang Scythians, the lesser Yuchis settled in the Terim valley while the greater Yuchis reached the Sir Darya, driving the Wusuns before them.
From the Tyanshan mountains they advanced to Fargana, where they came into conflict with the Bactrian Kings Aecrotid and Heliokal. They seem to have taken possession of Fargana early in the reign of Heliokal, because after 142 B.C. the history of the Greek Bactrians becomes wholly obscure.
Apart from their struggle against the Wusuns we do not hear much of them after they left their original homeland in Kansu until 124 B.C, when the traveller Chang Kyan found them settled in the Yarkast and Vakhshu Valleys. Chang Kyan was sent by the Chinese Emperor to persuade Yuchis to attack the Huns from the west, thus relieving the pressure on China.
Chang Kyan found that they had been living a nomadic life in the rich valleys south of the Yarkast and Sir Darya, while the Huns lived to the north of these valleys. The Yuchis preferred a pastoral life to that of a settled one of cultivation and trade, and roamed with their tents and flocks in Fargana, Tahiya (Bactria), and Un Si (Parthia). One of their most powerful tribes, the Thogorians settled in Thogor, on the silk route. Chinese writers mention the existence of Togoro in the second century B.C. in the territories occupied by the Yuchis.
The Kushans were either a branch of this tribe, or were connected with the lesser Yuchis. The town of Cucha in the Terim valley bears a Kushan name while Tukhari names have been found in existence in the deserts of Central Asia. Bactria itself came to be called Tukhar. Swen Chang has also named the lands on either side of the Vakhshu, from Darband to the Hindu Kush mountains as Tukhar.
The Arabs called it Tukharistan. Later, because of the domination of the Turks over this region, it came to be referred to by the Afghans and the Iranians as Turkestan. The Tukhari language as spoken by the Kushans was a branch of the Scythian tongue and was connected with the Kentum family of Indo-European languages.
The blue eyes of women as also their European costumes as displayed in the pictures found in Kucha, and considerable influence of the Kentum language there led some European scholars to conclude that this was a race that had migrated from Europe and settled in a pocket in the vast Scythian domain. But to arrive at the truth it is necessary to determine the extent of the influence of the Kentum language. Blue eyes and fair hair were to be found among the Scythians as well, hence they cannot be a determining factor.
Buddha had blue eyes and those of the mother of the great poet Ashvaghosh were golden. Coats similar to those of the women of Kucha are worn by the women of Jaunpur in the Himalayas even today. (Here the word Jaun is not derived from the Greek Yavan but from Jamuna). It should be noted too that language does not always give an indication of racial origin.
In 128 B.C. Chang Kyan found the Yuchis settled between Samarkand and the Vakhshu river. Fargana was peopled by the Scythians, but they had accepted the overlordship of the Yuchis. The mountains to their north and east were inhabited by the Wusuns. The Yuchis took advantage of Heliokal’s preoccupation with his Indian conquest to destroy the Greek-Bactrian Empire.
The Yuchis spoke Scythian while the Wusuns, Seiwangs, Kungs and Parthians all spoke dialects akin to the Scythian that is why Chang Kyan has stated that from Fargana to Parthia a common language was in use. When the Roman historian Stravo spoke of the conquest of Bactria by the Scythians, he was referring to the Yuchis. Roman historians mention the names of four tribes as conqerors of Bactria – The Assei, the Pasioni, the Tukhari and the Sakroli. Of these the Assei are definitely Yuchis and there are scholars who consider the Tukharis also to have been Yuchis. Later, in the struggle between the five Scythian tribes, the Kushans came out victorious.
It is possible that these included the four Scythian tribes referred to by the Romans. Two variants of the Tukhari language have been found in Central Asia, of which one was the language of Karashar and the other of Kucha. The second was definitely connected with the Kushans. But these writings refer to a much later period of history.
In keeping with the Scythian traditions, women had a place of honour in Yuchi social life, so much so that the husband consulted his wife even on matters unrelated to the household. In the battle in which Cyrus was killed the commander was a Scythian woman.
The Scythians had an army of a hundred thousand mounted archers which no Greek army could withstand. But the lure of conquest had seized them so strongly that even when their own land was in danger Heliokal could not refrain from marching across the Hindu Kush mountains to conquer India.
It was during this period that the Yuchis advanced from the north like a flood and that in the east the Parthians, with the help of the Kungs, seized Parthia north of the Caspian sea, and established a vast empire. They settled a number of Scythians in Eastern Iran (Sistan).
The sixth Parthian king, Phrat II, led a large army composed of these very Scythians against Antioch, the Selukan king. A dispute arose between the Parthians and Scythians during the war and the Scythians revolted. Phrat died in the battle and after that the conflict between the Yuchis and Parthians continued to grow.
Phrat’s successor, Mithrdat II, died in the same way. Mithrdat had realised only too well that the Scythians could not be dispossessed of their hold over Central Asia and thus his dream of extending the Parthian Empire from the Mesopotamia to Bactria remained unrealised.
The Parthians avenged the murder of their two kings. They could not do much against the Yuchis of Bactria but Mithrdat’s commander, Soren, forced the Scythians out of Sistan. The Yuchis of Sistan fled to Baluchistan and Sindh where they established a kingdom of their own. In course of time they spread to Saurashtra, Avanti and Mathura and by 77 B.C. under the leadership of Mog (Kshahrat dynasty), their flag was flying over the entire region from Gandhar to Kapisha.
Tribe # 8. The Hepthals:
The Hephtals are referred to in India and Iran, as Huns, but this is incorrect. Under pressure from the Huns the Yuchis and other Scythian tribes had left their homelands in Central Asia and migrated to the south, but in the west remnants of the Scythians continued to exist and were considerably influenced by Hun culture. The Hephtals cannot therefore be considered Huns, but may be called Hunnish Scythians.
The northern part of Central Asia was still inhabited by nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes, but the reasons that led the Huns to migrate from the north to the Danube valley also forced the Hephtals to move southwards. The Hephtals were thus descendants of the western Scythians and related to the Alans. Their tribe very likely inhabited the area north of modern Tashkend where the boundaries of the Wusun and Kung territories met.
In the 5th century it was the Afrigs who dominated Khwarezm and they retained their independence till the sixth century. The Hephtals continued their drive southwards to Sogdh and Bactria. After conquering the Kushans who lived there they proceeded to occupy the Kapisha and Gandhar regions of the Kushan Empire. The main centre of the Hephtals was not the Vakhshu valley but the Sogdh valley. Ruins of their capital have been discovered near Bokhara, where the influence of Indian culture is evident.
Greek and Armenian writers have referred to the Hephtals as Aptolits or Ephtals. They have also been called white Huns. The historian, Prof. Prokop, mentions them as white Persians. The name white Hun was given to them because they were of fairer complexion and had a more developed culture than the Huns. In the sixth century they formed the dividing line between the Sasani and the Chinese Empires.
The rule of Torman and Mihirkul, kings of the Hephtal dynasty, extended to India also and their coins have made it clear that they were not Huns. The Hun was usually beardless, while the pictures of Torman and Mihirkal show them as having heavy beards. The coins of Torman are exact copies of the Gupta coins. On one side they bear the king’s head and his name in Gupta script and on the other the picture of a peacock. He probably considered himself successor to the Gupta Empire in India.
Torman and Mihirkul are the only two Hephtal rulers whose names are known. While Torman was ruling in India the Sasani Kawad was ruling over Iran. The Hephtals had to contend with the Guptas in India, but they also had to fight against the Sasanis who were their bitterest enemies. Piroj, the father of Kawad, died in battle against the Hephtals.
Excavations in Bokhara have been made in recent times by Soviet historians and the pictures and buildings found there reveal the impact of Indian culture on the Hephtals. The Sun temple built by Torman in Gwalior is also an indication of this influence.
Tribe # 9. The Aguz:
This was the name of an old Turkish tribe, which, according to Mo-Gil- Yan inscriptions, had been driven towards China. The Aguz were the ancestors of the Kipchiaks. Kipchiak means the hollow of a tree and this name is probably connected with an incident in their history when some chief saved himself by seeking shelter in a tree-trunk.
The Guz or Aguz Turks were divided into three branches – Kipchiaks, Kankalis and Karluks. The Selzuks, modern Turks and Osmanalis are descended from the Kipchiaks. Some historians consider the Kipchiaks also to have been the ancestors of the Kankalis. The Kankalis (Kunglis or Tinglis i. e. cart-men) acquired this name because they roamed about in carts. By the end of the 9th century the Kipchiaks had spread as far west as the Volga, where they were in constant conflict with the Slavs, forefathers of the modern Russians.
The Selzuk dynasty, which ruled over Central Asia and Iran for a long time, was descended from the Kipchiaks, and the Turks of modern Turkey are descended from the Osmanali branch of this tribe. In the 7th and 8th centuries the Pechenga nomads roamed about the areas north of the Black Sea, while to the north-east of them were the Kipchiaks, to the south-west the Khajars, on the west the Guz and on the east the Slavs.
The Guz, or the Aguz, led a nomadic life and wandered over the regions which spread from the Caspian to the borders of China. From 832 to 933 A. D. they were the northern neighbours of the Sasanis and inhabited the area from Khokand and Eastern Turkestan to the banks of the Vakhshu.
After the fall of the Sasani Empire they entered Bokhara and a branch of them came to be called the Selzuks, after one of their chiefs who went by that name. Selzuk was the first amongst them to embrace Islam. Before him the Aguz had been either Buddhists or Christians. Selzuk and Suvas had served as generals under an Aguz chieftain named Pegu. The name Pegu indicates that he was a Buddhist, because Pegu means God and the Persians called Buddha, Pegu.
It was in Mongolia that the Aguz were known by that name. When they migrated to the west they came to be called the Turkmens. In the 8th century the Turkish Khan mentioned the Nine Aguz or the Takuj Aguz in his writings. They were called the Nine Aguz because there were nine tribes amongst them but sometimes the words Aguz and Turk were used synonymously.
The Aguz were probably the nomads who wandered over the region from the Chinese borders to Iran and Byzantium. According to the Russian scholar Bartold, Turk was their political and Aguz their anthropological name. Arab geographers have stated that the Aguz lived between the Caspian and the Isphajab, while the Takuj Aguz was in Kucha and Turphan in the Terim valley.
Ibn Asir, a geographer of the 13th century, writes that the Aguz were never under the Takuj Aguz and Chinese historians have stated that the Uigurs lived in the very areas that the Arabs have described as the homeland of the Takuj Aguz. It is also known that the Uigurs conquered Turphan in 866 A. D. It appears, therefore, that those whom Arabs had called the Takuj Aguz, were called Uigurs by the Chinese.
According to Arab sources, the Takuj Aguz conquered Urusana in 820 A. D. and became masters of the area from Khojend to Jijak. According to Byzantine writers the areas west of the Volga were also under the Turks. Kerch too was seized by the Turks in 573 A. D., after it had been sacked by the Byzantines.
In 590 A. D., there was a revolt against the Byzantines. In the period of ‘the short-lived success of the Turks, a Khazar Khan ruled over the area in 625 A. D. During the period between the 8th and 9th centuries the Khazars and the Bulgars inhabited the valley of the lower Volga and it was to defend themselves from these Turks that the Iranians built the fortified walls of Darband and Gurji.
In the 6th century, the Zarathustri peasants inhabited the provinces east of the Caspian. The Aguz raided into the territories between Georgina and Chimkand (Sir valley), their northern neighbours being the Kimaks. The Arab geographer, Ibn Fazlal, found during his travels (922), that the Aguz were only living in Usturd, while the region east of the Emba river was inhabited by the Bashkirs. At that time the areas west of the Caspian were inhabited by the Khazars, those to the east by the Aguz and those further east still by the Karluk nomads.
The chief of the Aguz and the Kurluks was known as Yuvgu and not Khan Mo-Gil-Yan refers to him in his inscriptions as the Jabgu. In winter the Yuvgii shifted to the lower Sir valley. His pastures extended from the borders of Iran to the north of the Sir River.
The trade ‘route that passed through Aguz territory was dotted with a number of Muslim towns. One of these, Yungikant, was about six kilometres from the Sir valley. This was the seat of one of the Guz kings, who also ruled over the towns of Javel and Tamarutkul.
According to Ibn Khaldun, the Aguz were extremely prosperous, some of them owning as many as a hundred thousand sheep. They traded as far as Khwarezm and when conditions were peaceful in Sogdhia and Tukharistan, they extended their operations to the city of Paratgin, a day’s distance from the Aral Sea. The city of Gurguch was situated on the trade route and trade and transport in this town were also in the hands of the Aguz.
Ibn Fazlal states that at the time of his travels the Aguz were Kafirs and he mentions one Kuchuk, an Aguz king, who had become a Muslim but later gave up Islam, according to the writings of Zakaria Kazwini, (13th century). Apart from Islam, Christianity had also been accepted by some Aguz.
Tribe # 10. The Uigur:
The Huns had conquered the Ting Ling tribe to their north. According to Chinese writers the Uigurs and the Khirgiz spoke the same language. At one stage the Ting Ling began to be referred to as Chirke or Terak. The tribe which accepted Chinese suzerainty in the reign of the Thang emperor Tai Suing (627-50), and that inhabited the territories lying between the Turkish and Khitun provinces, was known as the Terak tribe.
According to certain scholars, the Uigurs were a branch of the Terak tribe and inhabited the regions up to the Caspian which at the time of the Mongol conquest were occupied by the Kankalis. The Turkish word Kankali (cart) came to be pronounced by the Chinese in the reign of Chengiz as Kungli. Similarly, the Huns and Turks living north of the Gobi desert and the Issikul and Sir rivers, came to be known as the Ting Ling and later began to be called the Uigurs.
When the ruling Hun tribe migrated to the west the remaining Hun tribes, except the Assena Turks and the Khirgiz, began to be called the Uigurs. Like their ancestors, they were a tribe of ferocious nomads who were given to loot and plunder. They were skilful in shooting arrows from horseback. Chulo Kagan incurred the hostility of the Uigurs by enslaving the Teraks and killing several of their chieftains.
The Uigurs and a number of other tribes revolted against him. The common name for all of them was Uigur, but the chief of them was known as the Yokar tribe. The Uigurs at this time lived north of the Sayend river. They numbered more than a lakh, of whom half could take the field as active soldiers.
The Uigurs had first inhabited the Orkhan valley of modern Mongolia. Vuku khan, who looted and plundered the territories of his neighbours and returned with immense booty, was considered to have been their first king. He built the town of Urdubalik and afterwards entering Turkestan, on the west with army founded the city of Balashgun (Sujiya).
Chinese history describes the Uigurs as inhabiting the areas north-west of Mongolia but in the 8th century their territory lay exactly over that region which later became the site of Karakoram, the Mongol capital (near Olanbatur).
In the 9th century, as a result of Khirgiz attacks, they split into two parts, the eastern of which came to be known as the Eastern Turks. Muslim historians make reference to the Uigurs for the first time in the 13th century. Before that they had been lumped together with the Aguz Turks.
Both culturally and politically the Uigurs were the most advanced section of the Mongols and they occupied the most important positions during the reigns of Chengiz and his successors. To this day the Uigurs are
one of the four branches of the Uzbeks.
Tribe # 11. The Karluks:
Karluk means snowman. The Karluks acquired this name because they lived in the snow covered mountains of Altai and Tyanshan. By 766 they had taken possession of the Suyab.
In the latter half of the 8th century the Karluks were dominating the Saptanada. The Karluks called their king Yuvgu and it is to the Karluk ruler that Orkhan refers in his writings when he speaks of the Yuvgu. After the fall of the Turkish Empire the Chinese and the Arabs were beginning to cast covetous eyes on it, but the eastern part of it was under the control of the Uigurs and to the west it was in the hands of the Karluks.
In 751 A. D. a fierce battle was fought between the Chinese and the Arabs on the banks of the Tuls river for control of Turkish territory. The Chinese were beaten and so could not bring Central Asia under their control and the Arabs suffered too heavily to enable them to go beyond the Tuls.
The Karloks reaped’ the benefit of the quarrel between the two. Although the Arabs succeeded in driving the Karloks out of the Fargana valley, the Sogdhians continued to dominate the trade of that region. From the very beginning they had established control over the entire silk route west of China and established their colonies along it. The Turks, Uigurs and Karluks, were not such religious fanatics as the Arabs; so they tolerated people of all faiths in their territories.
The names of most of the Karluk rulers (Yuvgus) are not known, nor they did have much contact with the Chinese. There was-rivalry between them and the Arabs, but Arabs generally recognised the local ruler as the King of the Karluks.
Like the Karluk Turks and the Sogdhians lived in Karluk territory. The remnants of the Scythians and the Wusuns had merged completely with the Sogdhians. Among the Turks, Buddhists were the most numerous, but Nestorians and followers of Mani were also to be found in fairly large numbers.
Near Issikul lived the Jikiliya nomads among whom were many Christians. Before the advent of Islam, religion and nationality had not become identical among the nomadic tribes of central Asia. There are Muslim writers who claim that the first Karluk Yuvgu to embrace Islam lived during the time of the Caliph Mehdi, 775-85, but this appears doubtful. Certain it is however, that in the 10th century a Jama Musjid existed east of the Tuls river, i. e. in Karluk territory.
In the eleventh century the Karluks were the most powerful of the Takuj Aguz tribes. In the tenth century, Baraksan, the capital of the Karluks was seized by the Karakhanias, another branch of the Takuj Aguz.
It has to be kept in mind that in earlier times the Khirgiz had lived in the upper Anesei valley. Khirgiz caravans passed through Kucha every third year carrying silk. The Khirgiz allied themselves with the Karluks against the Karakhania. By the 10th or 11th century, Islam had spread amongst them and their descendents, the modern Kazaks and Khirgiz, continue to be Mussalmans, but Muslim writers mention the existence of “Kafirs” amongst these people right up to the 16th century.
A large number of towns on the trade route from China to west Asia and Europe fell within their territory and were a source of revenue for the Karluks.
Tribe # 12. The Arabs:
Even in the 6th century the Arabs were a cultured people. Their cities, Mecca and Medina, were important centres of trade and pilgrimage. Their shrine at Kaba, where the object of worship was not an idol but the “black stone” which was part of a meteorite that had fallen from the sky in the remote past, was famous throughout the East. Its fame had spread even as far as India, where the idol was believed to represent the God Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims gathered at Kaba every year.
The Arabs were mostly idol worshippers at that time, but a large number of Christians and Jews, whose religion forbade idol worship also lived in towns like Mecca and Medina, as well as in other places which Mohammed visited. Coming into contact with Jewish and Christian scholars he lost faith in idol worship.
Tribe # 13. The Karakhani:
During the period when the powerful Iranian dynasty, the Dailmi was gathering strength west of the Samani Empire, Ghaznavi Subuk Tagin was consolidating himself in the south and the Shah of Khwarezm was laying the foundations of his kingdom in Khwarezm, a powerful Turkish kingdom spreading from Kashgar to the Aral Sea had begun to establish itself in the north.
When the Karakhani nomads found that the Samani kingdom had been growing weak they turned their attention to the areas beyond the Sir Darya. The Karakhani branch had separated itself from the main trunk of the Turks and settled on the ridges of the Tyanshan mountains, but there are writers who consider them distinct from the Uigurs. Their first Muslim Khan was named Satuk Karakhan.
Nomadic tribes often came to be known by the name of their Khan and as one of theirs had been called Ili Khan, they are sometimes also referred to as Ilikhans. Till the tenth century this tribe occupied the regions between the Ili and Su rivers, and Kulan (modern Lugovia) and Merak were their two biggest towns. Under the leadership of Bogra Khan (1074-1102), they succeeded in conquering Antarved.
Their Khans had first made Balasagun, north-west of Auliya-Ata, their centre but after Antarved came under their control they shifted their capital to Kashgar. The Samanian kingdom was divided up between them and Subuk Tagin, and the area north of the Amu going to the Karakhanis.
There is some controversy among historians regarding the origin of the Karakhani dynasty, but it seems clear that they were a branch of the Takuj Aguz. It was in 960, that some two hundred thousand Turkish nomads embraced Islam. It was natural that Islam which had already established itself firmly in Antarved, a centre of culture and learning, should exert its influence on the Northern nomads. Even during the reign of the Umeyya Caliphs, Muslims had begun to come into contact with these nomadic tribes through commerce and other intercourse.
But early Islam had tittle appeal for these nomads, who found the simplicity and rigours of Buddhism more suited to their way of life. It was only after Sufi, the Muslim saint, had begun to preach a doctrine of austerity and sacrifice that these tribes began to be attracted toward Islam. Sufism, indeed, is Islamic only in name, for actually its teachings closely follow those of Buddha, Nestor and Mani.
Balasagun was taken by the Turkish “infidels” in 942 and the Samanis retaliated by killing the Khan’s son. Meanwhile, some of the Aguz had settled in Antarved with the consent of the Samanis in order to guard the frontiers of the Samani Empire. They inhabited the area west and south-west of Isfajab. Another tribe led by Selzuk had settled down in the lower reaches of the Sir valley.
Selzuk was the only Muslim who exempted the Muslims of Zand from paying taxes and after his death he was buried in Zand, while his descendents migrated to the South. In the 11th century they were living in Noor, near Bokhara, where they had been settled by the Samani rulers and it was they who helped the Samanis in their battle against the Khan of Balasagun for the control of Isfajab.
Tribe # 14. The Sezluks:
The Selzuks were a nomadic people inhabiting the regions north of the Sir Darya. They were also known as Turkmans and the region once inhabited by them now forms part of the Soviet Socialist Republic. A branch of the Aguz, they spread in the course of their wanderings to the northern banks of the Sir Darya. Apart from the Arab, Samani, Saffari and Taheri rulers all the other Muslim rulers in Central Asia were of Turkish origin. The similarity in language points to the Uzbeks, Turkmans, Khirgiz and Kazaks having sprung alike from Turkish stock.
They can be divided into three parts:
(i) The Northern Turks—the Yakuts of Siberia,
(ii) The Eastern Turks —the Sinkiang Turks, Uzbeks, Kazaks are Kufa Tatars
(iii) The Western Turks—Osman Ali, Azerbaijanians and Turkmans.
A branch of the Turks left its original homeland in the Altai mountains and advanced into Turkestan,’ driving out or absorbing the Scythian and Sogdhian tribes inhabiting these regions. Among these Turks were the Selzuks and the Chingiz Mongols.
The Sulzuks acquired that name from Selzuk Turk their first Muslim Chief, although they were equally well-known as Turkmans. The Western Turks, of whom Turkmans were the majority, brought Asia Minor and Armenia under their control, while another branch of the Western Turks, the Osmani Turks, brought about the downfall of the Byzantine Empire, made Constantinople their capital in the 15th century and later extended their rule over Eastern Europe.