Xiongnu was a non-Mongolian people with big eyes and noses
The early Han dynasty rulers attempted to control them by marrying their leaders to Chinese princesses. But Xiongnu raids against China continued periodically. The Han–Xiongnu War, also known as the Sino-Xiongnu War, was a series of military battles .. The Xiongnu practiced marriage alliances with Han dynasty officers and officials who defected to their side. The older sister of He regarded the Xiongnu as lowly vassals and relations rapidly deteriorated. During the winter 10 to. Qilian Mountains - Xiongnu had a religious relation to the Qilian Mountain range. He was the Han Dynasty general, who defeated Xiongnu using the new.
Being something of a usurper, he tried to put his own men in power, which only increased the number of his enemies. The 12th Chanyu's son fled east and, in 58 BC, revolted. Few would support Woyanqudi and he was driven to suicide, leaving the rebel son, Huhanye, as the 14th Chanyu.
In 57 BC three more men declared themselves Chanyu. Two dropped their claims in favor of the third who was defeated by Tuqi in that year and surrendered to Huhanye the following year. In 56 BC Tuqi was defeated by Huhanye and committed suicide, but two more claimants appeared: Runzhen and Huhanye's elder brother Zhizhi Chanyu.
Zhizhi grew in power, and, in 53 BC, Huhanye moved south and submitted to the Chinese.
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Huhanye used Chinese support to weaken Zhizhi, who gradually moved west. In 36 BC, Zhizhi was killed by a Chinese army while trying to establish a new kingdom in the far west near Lake Balkhash. During this period, however, the Xiongnu maintained political sovereignty and full territorial integrity. Huhanye sent his son, the "wise king of the right" Shuloujutang, to the Han court as hostage.
Huhanye made two further homage trips, in 49 BC and 33 BC; with each one the imperial gifts were increased. On the last trip, Huhanye took the opportunity to ask to be allowed to become an imperial son-in-law. As a sign of the decline in the political status of the Xiongnu, Emperor Yuan refused, giving him instead five ladies-in-waiting.
But having failed to pay homage personally, he was never admitted to the tributary system. In 36 BC, a junior officer named Chen Tangwith the help of Gan Yanshou, protector-general of the Western Regions, assembled an expeditionary force that defeated him at the Battle of Zhizhi and sent his head as a trophy to Chang'an.
Tributary relations were discontinued during the reign of Huduershi 18 AD—48corresponding to the political upheavals of the Xin Dynasty in China. The Xiongnu took the opportunity to regain control of the western regions, as well as neighbouring peoples such as the Wuhuan. In 24 AD, Hudershi even talked about reversing the tributary system. Southern Xiongnu and Northern Xiongnu[ edit ] An Eastern Han Chinese glazed ceramic statue of a horse with bridle and halter headgear, from Sichuanlate 2nd century to early 3rd century AD The Xiongnu's new power was met with a policy of appeasement by Emperor Guangwu.
At the height of his power, Huduershi even compared himself to his illustrious ancestor, Modu. Due to growing regionalism among the Xiongnu, however, Huduershi was never able to establish unquestioned authority. In contravention of a principle of fraternal succession established by Huhanye, Huduershi designated his son Punu as heir-apparent.
However, as the eldest son of the preceding chanyu, Bi Pi — the Rizhu King of the Right — had a more legitimate claim. Consequently, Bi refused to attend the annual meeting at the chanyu's court. Nevertheless, in 46 AD, Punu ascended the throne. In 48 AD, a confederation of eight Xiongnu tribes in Bi's power base in the south, with a military force totalling 40, to 50, men, seceded from Punu's kingdom and acclaimed Bi as chanyu.
This kingdom became known as the Southern Xiongnu. The Northern Xiongnu[ edit ] Main article: Northern Chanyu 1st century The rump kingdom under Punu, around the Orkhon modern north central Mongolia became known as the Northern Xiongnu. Punu, who became known as the Northern Chanyu, began to put military pressure on the Southern Xiongnu. The northern chanyu fled to the north-west with his subjects.
The Southern Xiongnu[ edit ] Coincidentally, the Southern Xiongnu were plagued by natural disasters and misfortunes — in addition to the threat posed by Punu. The system of tribute was considerably tightened by the Han, to keep the Southern Xiongnu under control.
The chanyu was ordered to establish his court in the Meiji district of Xihe commandery and the Southern Xiongnu were resettled in eight frontier commanderies. At the same time, large numbers of Chinese were also resettled in these commanderies, in mixed Han-Xiongnu settlements. Economically, the Southern Xiongnu became reliant on trade with the Han. Tensions were evident between Han settlers and practitioners of the nomadic way of life.
In the evening he worshipped the moon. Qilian Mountains - Xiongnu had a religious relation to the Qilian Mountain range.
Almost all the peoples of that time worshipped the Sun and the Moon in one way or another. The Chinese emperor went to special Temples for the Heaven or the Moon, asking for a good year and a good harvest for his people. Yuezhi worshipped the Moon and the later Sogdians worshipped their sun god, Mithra. It was the kings and the emperor's most important duty to secure the good relations to the mighty powers of Heaven.
If the gods did not live in heaven, then they at least lived up some high mountains. The Greek Gods, for example, dwelt on the mountain of Olympus.
The Xiongnu people had a religious relationship to the Qilian Mountains, however, we have no knowledge of any details concerning this part of their faith. The historical museum in Xian exhibits some figures from Tang Dynasty graves. They represent Xiongnu, "the Huns", according to the museum's sign. During Tang Dynasty, there were apparently still Xiongnu on the plains.
We can see, how they looked like. Xiongnu figure from Xian History Museum 1. Xiongnu figure from Xian History Museum 2. Sculpture representing mounted nomade - from Anpu and his wife's tomb in Longmen Luoyang - found - Tang dynasty. They have large round heads, often barrel-shaped bodies, sometimes a potbelly, and most often a full beard from one ear to another. A bit of paint is left on the head on one of the figures; the hair colour is black.
They are usually wearing some sort of cap, similar to the caps of traditional Danish Christmas goblins. They are "Hu" types, which means Caucasian types with a sharp nose, deep eye sockets and strong beard.
They are standing in somewhat challenging postures as very self-conscious people. This kind of figures was previously labeled as Western traders in China or the like, I remember, but they are really Xiongnu, says the sign behind the glass. The museum could be wrong; the Xianbei people as well played an important role in North China during the Tang Dynasty. Unfortunately, the figures are not in natural size, so they give no direct indication of their absolute size.
However, in the vicinity of Xian is General Huo Qubing's tomb. He was the Han Dynasty general, who defeated Xiongnu using the new cavalry on the great horses, they got from the Yuezhi in the Fergana Valley, "The horses who sweat blood", also called "The Heavenly Horses".
13. Xiongnu and the Wusun People
One of the heavenly horses trambles on a Xiong Nu - from Huo Qubing's tomb. Many want to make Xiongnu to a kind of Mongols - but he does not look like that. In the general's tomb is a figure of one of the "horses, who sweat blood", who is about to trample a Xiongnu to disintegration. We see clearly the characteristic skipper beard from one ear to another. Note, how big the Xiongnu man is in relation to the horse.
Even if it is an artistic exaggeration, the Chinese of those days still may have thought, that Xiongnu men were very big. Many will make the Xiongnu into a kind of Mongols. But a bronze figure found in the Ordos area, which was Xiongnu territory, does not look Mongolian; he has big eyes, a powerful beard and big nose.
The Chinese wrote, that Xiongnu Hsiung-nu were never very numerous. Together they were not as many as the inhabitants of a single Chinese province. They were not numerous enough for a real conquest of China or even parts of the Empire.
Their favourite tactic was rapid raids into Chinese territory. They robbed cattle and abducted countless, women, children and young people as slaves. They withdrew to the steppe before a proper military force could be assembled against them. The original Chinese nations in "the warring states" period built walls and dikes at their northern borders to prevent the barbarians to access their territory, however apparently with little success.
After the Qin had conquered all of China in BC, they linked these local walls together and thus made, what we know as the Great Wall. Xiongnu banner decoration - also an eagle. From the Han BCE CE dynasty on, contentious relations with the Northern frontier or, more aptly, Northern Zone influenced decisively the political, economic and military life of China proper.
This pivotal role of the Northern frontier in Chinese history explains the continuous scholarly interest in Sino-nomadic relations from the Han dynasty onward.
In particular, many studies have been dedicated to the Han struggle against the Xiongnu, which was colourfully depicted by two major contemporary historians, Sima Qian c. One of the largely unresolved mysteries concerns the Xiongnu ascendancy: What were the processes that brought about their rapid entrance on the central stage of Han history?
Scholars wishing to answer these questions face a series of tough obstacles. First, the Xiongnu, like other early inhabitants of the steppes, were illiterate, and no autochthonous accounts of their history exist. Second, Chinese historiography is of little help for those who are interested in pre-Han history of the Xiongnu and their predecessors. The pre-imperial history of Chinese Central Plain was dominated by the strife between 'Chinese' states that shared common ritual and written culture, while the aliens, and particularly the nomads and the semi-nomads of the Northern Zone, remained marginal players, whose very existence was all but ignored by contemporary historians, statesmen and thinkers.
The sketchy and largely idealized accounts of the Xiongnu ascendancy in Sima Qian's Shiji and Ban Gu's Han shu cannot compensate for the dearth of earlier materials, as a result of which those scholars who have tried to reconstruct the early history of China's northern neighbours have sometimes had either to overstretch their sources, or to rely heavily on anthropological theories, which could not always be supported by the extant evidence.
In recent years a major breakthrough in studies of the early history of the Northern Zone has become possible. Hundreds of archaeological discoveries from various sites within present-day China and beyond its boundaries have provided scholars with new data about the material life of the Northern Zone dwellers, their social structure, and their economic interaction with the inhabitants of the Central Plain.
Parallel to this development, scholars have developed far greater sensitivity to the ancient Chinese historical texts, their sources, agendas and composition. This abundance of the new data and the improved access to the written sources has made possible a new reconstruction of the history of Xiongnu and their predecessors. This reconstruction has been brilliantly performed by Nicola Di Cosmo in his Ancient China and its Enemies — a study that for years to come will certainly set the tone for the research of the early stages of Sino-nomadic relations.
Di Cosmo has benefited enormously from the rapid increase in archaeologically-obtained materials from the Northern Zone; and in incorporating these materials he has succeeded in accomplishing several formidable tasks.
First, he has integrated diverse excavation reports and archaeological surveys, which were performed by scholars from different countries at different periods of time, were written in different languages, employed different techniques and often proposed different, even mutually contradictory interpretations of their data. Second, Di Cosmo has successfully synthesized archaeological materials with textual sources, taking into account new breakthroughs in textual criticism during the recent decades.
Third, Di Cosmo not only managed to reconstruct the basic dynamics of early Sino-nomadic contacts, but has also proposed novel explanations of Sino-nomadic relations in the age of the Han dynasty and before. Ancient China and its Enemies combines the clarity and comprehensiveness of a textbook with the novelty and originality of the specialist-oriented study.
Some may dislike the mixture of two genres, but in my eyes this is an undeniable advantage of Di Cosmo's study. The book is neatly organized into four sections, which comprise two chapters each; each chapter and each section serve as a solid foundation for the subsequent discussion. The narrative is clear and readable, and the author's arguments are based on dependable and transparent research. Di Cosmo does not hesitate to defy generations-old theories, as he does for instance in his brilliant and provocative explanation for the construction of the Great Wall see belowbut he is careful not to overstretch his sources and to leave certain questions open for further research.
He masterfully synthesizes broad range of archaeological, textual and, to a lesser extent, epigraphic sources, employing whenever needed an impressive amount of secondary materials, which include, aside from works written in Chinese and Western European languages, also studies in Japanese, Russian and — at least in one case — in Mongolian.
The first two chapters of Ancient China and its Enemies deal with the first appearances of nomads in the Inner Asian steppe in general Chapter 1 and in China's Northern Zone in particular Chapter 2. These are the less innovative parts of Di Cosmo's research, and the discussion here is largely based on a synthesis of recent archaeological discoveries along China's boundaries and beyond.
Di Cosmo briefly surveys major theories that have tried to explain the rise of the nomadic way of life, concluding that there is no single key to this crucial question.
Xiongnu | People & History | danunah.info
The emergence of nomadism may be rather explained as a combination of environmental, technological and social factors. Thus, advances with respect to horse-riding and, probably, chariots were crucial in allowing a shift from part-time pastoral economy to full-scale nomadic life.
This development was apparently paralleled by the appearance of warring aristocrats who learned to utilize the advantages of their superior mobility and martial abilities. This class in turn played a crucial role in the centralization of nomadic peoples and their further military expansion.
Yet Di Cosmo is careful not to impose this model automatically on the early nomadic and semi-nomadic cultures of China's Northern Zone and he emphasizes that 'one cannot see, in the Northern Zone as whole, a linear evolutional continuum' pp.
Instead, it is possible that several parallel pastoral societies were emerging in northwestern, north-central and northeastern sub-zones, inter-acting among themselves and with their semi-pastoral and sedentary neighbours. What is possible is to outline, as Di Cosmo does, basic trends of developments in the steppe region to the north of China proper; but much more archaeological research is required before we can restore with sufficient clarity the sociopolitical dynamics in this area prior to the entrance of the steppe region into the orbit of Chinese history.
In analyzing the rise of the nomadic way of life, Di Cosmo laudably avoids simplistic linear schemes, and his caution invites the reader to consider further possible explanations for the advent of nomadism. Among them one could expect more emphasis to be given to climatic factors, which are mentioned only in passing p.
This is regrettable, because the field of paleo-climatic studies has developed dramatically in recent years and much relevant data is now available. The third chapter focuses on the intriguing issue of early Chinese attitudes toward the aliens. Heretofore this topic has never been systematically explored in Western research, resulting in sketchy and often highly misleading accounts of the origins of the 'Sino-Barbarian' dichotomy.