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The Turkmen Hun Empire

The Name Hun

It is possible to track the exact date of the political Hun formation starting from the IV. Century B.C. which expanded from the rivers Orhun-Selenga and the with the Otügen suburbs as center which was respected as the blessed country by the Turks, down to the Huang-ho river in the south. The first historical document about the Hun's was an agreement, that was dated in 318 B.C. Lateron the Hun's increased the pressure on the Chinese lands. After long defensive fights the local dynasties had started to surround their settlements and military concentrations with city walls in order to protect from the Hun cavalryman.

In order to close his north walls totally against the Hun attacks, Si-huang-ti from the Chinese dynasty (259-210 B.C.) tore down the inner parts of the city walls and with the materials they gained he filled the blanks formed the outer walls to the famous Chinese Wall (214 B.C.). As they thought to have set the most protective step against the Chinese and Turk attacks two important incidents happened: the foundation of the Han dynasty (202 B.C. - 220 A.D.) which raised intelligent emperors for a long term in China, the take over of the Hun Emperorship by Mete Han (209 - 174 B.C.).

Mete Han (209 - 174 B.C.)

Teoman, the father of Mete Han is named as Tan-hu (or Şan-yü) in the Chinese yearbooks. In Hun language this expression means the emperor title and shows that he was not an ordinary leader of a clan but a president of a state that was formed long time ago. After his stepmother forced his father to abandon his right for the throne, Mete Han killed his father Teoman at a cattle drive he joined with his 10 thousand steel disciplined soldiers and was announced the Hun Tan-hu (209 B.C.).

After Mete Han had scattered the Tung-hu a Mongolian-Tunguz tribes unity in east, that insisted in demanding land he extended his regency up to north Pecli and turned to south-west where he repelled the Yu-chi in Middle-Asia, who were supposed to be India-European rooted, and moved them out of their land. While these groups drew back to west, Mete Han turned towards south and captured the Ordos region which lays in the elbow of the great Huan-ho region, from there he penetrated the Chinese grounds.

He captured the cities Mai-yi and T'ai-yuan. With a steppe-method fake pull back tactics he encircled the 320 thousand infantrymen of the Han dynasty founder Emperor Kao-ti (201 B.C.). The Emperor could save himself and his army only with the condition to leave the former land of the Turks to the Hun State, give them food and silk and the undertaking to pay annual taxes. While having peaceful commercial contacts with China, Mete Han captured the steppes down to Irtish river bed (Kie-kun = Land of the Kirghiz) and west from there the place of the Ting-ling, some old Ogur (O-k'ut) arms with the inhabited land and north Turkistan and took the Vu-sun's around the Lake Isik to his sovereignty.

Herewith the great Hum Emperor had collected all the tribes of Turkish race that lived on the continent Asia for this period at his administration under one flag. At this time the borders of the Empire reached out from Manchuria to Lake Aral, from west Sibera to the Gobi Desert - Tibet line and nations like the Mongolian, the Tunguz and the Chinese were subordinated to the Hun's. From the letter Mete Han had sent to the Chinese government in 177 B.C. it is seen that the number of tribes dependent to the Turkish State was 26 and all of them, according to Tan-hu's statement became "bow stretching folk" which means "Hun".

General Characteristics of the Mete Han Period

As it can be seen, this state was mostly founded on steppes with rich grassland and convenient for breeding contrary to the restricted agricultural areas that were under his direction. The commercial base was - horses on first line - stockbreeding. Depending to this the social standard differed in many ways to the "farmer" culture of the large-lands owning Chinese class and the slave class. Neither large estates nor land-slaves were something that could be observed at the Hun's, but they always lived as disciplined and self-defending armed tribes (groups) in social and political unions that were constituted by families that were tied together with blood-relations and the states were established due to the close cooperation of these tribe unions (bodun's) among themselves.

Due to this formation and especially after the organisation of the army by Mete Han, the government became more a "military organisation" that was centrally directed which had a military character and since the required conditions (to be educated on the steppe, horses and weapons) were ready they were open for conquests. In this point they separated from the "farmer" Chinese government. Although "feudalism" was the regime in China, centralism was very determined in the Hun state.

Small officers and some counsellors may had been Chinese, but the armed forces under their direction and the high positioned functionaries who at the same time were commanders and the responsible first rank owners always were from Hun origin, also the government organisation (e.g. left-right or east-west partition) had nothing to do with the Chinese; breaking the tribal efforts in community, Mete Han realised the arrangement of the 10-formation in the army that almost formed the government to a military community. Some attitudes to protect the national character of the government were remarkably: e.g. Mete Han, who encircled the Chinese army under the direction of the emperor in Paiteng, probably was obstructed by his wife and the government council so that he could not penetrate the inner parts of China and recede from the steppes. During the foundation of the steppe Turkish Sky God believing Hun Empire, that had in respect of conviction no relations with neither the Mongolian totemism nor the Chinese land theism, it should not be taken into consideration that the "Chinese Empire" model was more than the mutual cultural influences in normal measurements apart the common point of view.

First, the Empire was not built on Chinese land, but on the area of the "Hiung-nu"; Second, it is questionable that Mete Han gave himself the title "Son of the Sky". Third; the concept "Son of the Sky" is originally not Chinese but of Turkish origin. This all leads to the conclusion that the Great Hun Empire, that took his definite form in the time of Mete Han, from ethnical aspects and sense of rulership, his social structure, his administrative and military foundations, his religious and world viewpoint is a main source of the Turkish nations history and cultural prosperity that has last for two thousand years. Therefore it carries an important meaning in the Turkish and world history.

Mete Han's Death and the Period of Tanhu Ki-Ok (174-160 B.C.)

When Mete Han died 174 B.C. the historical known Turkish political organisation, the "Great Hun Empire" was, with his civil and military organisations, with his religion, his army and war technique, with his arts being a high qualified society that also was a sample for over centuries for the Turkish States, on top of his strength. Mete Han's son Tanhu Ki-ok (174-160 B.C.) tried to protect this grandeur. At the same time when the Yue-chi who were abandoned from their lands, had finished the Greek sovereignty that was formerly founded by Alexander in the region of Baktria in Afghanistan (166 B.C.), Ki-ok had entered China with his crowded army and burnt down the emperors palest near the capital Ch'ang-an.

This time he made the wrong step to continue his peaceful commercial contacts to China: He married a Chinese princess and with this he opened a new way bearing negative consequences for almost all the Turkish governments that in future came to contacted China. Because the approach between the dynasties always was an opportunity for the Chinese fraud mechanism to get active.

Chinese diplomats and officers who took advantage of the existence of the Chinese princess in the Hun centre, freely walked over the lands of the Hun empire, started propaganda among the Turkish and natural tribes, and tried underhandedly to break the power of the empire. Besides, the among the Hun sophisticated class very much demanded Chinese silk that was also brought in as commercial good was about to increase lethargy by ways of luxury.

The Tanhu Ki-chin Period (160-126 B.C.)

This beneficial situation that was not so realised at the period of Ki-ok showed itself as a real uneasiness in the period of his son Than-hu Kun-chin (160-126 B.C.). Tan-hu, who was son-in-law to a Khan dynasty himself, too caused shakes in the Hun power, as he was not a soldier spirited leader as his father had been. It was recorded that the Chinese had repelled smaller attacks along the borderlines. Vu-ti (148-87 B.C.) was the first of the great emperors to form crowded army and executed the plans that targeted the collapse of the Hun Empire.

He increased the propagandas. Besides, one of his targets was to find new markets for the silk, which was a huge commercial income for China, and secure the famous "silk road" that reached the Mediterranean Sea over inner Asia-Iran. Therefore he had to break the forces of the foreigners in middle and west Asia. As it is known, until the first thousand A.D. the main reason for the fights between the Turkish and the Chinese was the sovereignty of this caravan road.

Chang-Kien's Report

Although the high graded soldier Chang-k'ien, that Vu-tin had sent out to west in order to learn more about the countries and tribes on the silk road and to make them cooperate against the Hun's, was captured and held for 10 years by the Hun's while he was executing his secret mission, was able to satisfy the emperor with his report that contained information, contacts and recommendations that he gained within the long period he had stayed here (139-127 B.C.). Later on he was the main guide in the Chinese politics.

Meanwhile the Chinese had gained another important success, that was the training of their army in Turkish method and equip them with Hun weapons. Yet for the time of Mete Han the military movements that were started in China by Mung-t'ien were brought to great victory by Ho K'u-ping (died 115 B.C.) who was a commander of the emperor Vu-ti and brought out a Hun like infantry power consisting of 140 thousand men. In the north, Hun attacks were hold, countries in inner Asia on the silk road were captured, especially with the efforts of the infantry commander Pan Ch'ao (75 A.D.) the Chinese who penetrated down to East Turkistan, were able to build up military garrisons.

The Separation of the Hun's and the Heroism of Chi-Chi

The Hun's were not the same as before. The incursions had stopped, the states income decreased by the invasion of enemies to the wealthy groups of the emperorship and the financial support in form of taxes and donations from China stopped. The inner uneasiness had become more effective due to the propaganda by the enemies in order to scatter the relations between the commanders and administrators. Finally China was successful in taking some of the dynasty members to their own lines, and this forced the disagreements between the princes. Ho-han-ye, who became Tan-hu with the support and help of China, was rejected by his brother Chi-Chi (58 B.C.).

The demand of Ho-han-ye to join China was rejected by the Hun consultation committee (state council) after heavy argumentations. But as Tan-hu insisted on the - for himself - reasonable ideas to overcome the financial scarcity, it separated the Hun's in two. While Ho-han-ye accepted the Chinese protection and sent one part of his population to Ordos, Chi-Chi who counted the nationality as dishonouring left the country together with his people and turned towards west (54 B.C.). On one hand he was struggling with China, on the other hand with defending the Tarbagtay, the Ogur (O-k'ut)'s from the Yedi-su surroundings, the Tin-ling's from the fountains of the Irtish and the Vu-sun's by lake Isik he came down to the plains or Chu-talas river where he founded his independent state. But this Middle Asian Hun Emperorship did not last for long. Besides the Chinese army that followed the Hun moves to the west, the named Turkish tribes were also against this new state.

They united and supported China against the Hun's who still were not settled and for any kind of war low powered. The capital of the Hun State, that was newly established by Chi-Chi and surrounded by walls, has been encircled and destroyed by a 70 thousand men army of the enemies. A defence took place that the world never had seen before, bloody street fights took place, in every room in the house of Tan-hu they battled and including Chi-Chi, each one of the 1518 women-men in the palast, fought on every corner of their capital for the sake of being Turk and have sacrificed their lives for the sake of their state.

The Period after Chi-Chi

After Chi-Chi moved to west, Ho-han-yeh's (died 31 B.C.) groups had recovered and had made an agreement with the Chinese government (43 B.C.), whereof they moved the capital to the Orhun region upon the state councils decision, but then again in 36 B.C. they turned back to the Chinese nationality, which was tolerated by their children for a while until they started to recover. With Yu (Hotodzsisi), who was discovered to be a powerful statesman, they gained in the period of Tan-hu (in 1846) their independence against China and succeeded in overtaking again the leadership in the wide region from Manchuria in the east to Kashgar in the west. But after Yu's death with the beginning of the inner fights and long lasting scarcity, which lead to severe animal slaughter and starvation in the country, the Hun's were in an arduous situation. After having started a fight against P'unu, the son of Yu and going back to the Hun tribes in the north, the nephew of P'unu entitled himself as tantu (in 48) which caused the Hun's to separate in two, but this time without the chance for any reunion: The North Hun's (North or outer Mongolia) and the South Hun's (South or inner Mongolia).

So the great difference between these two Hun states, whose same political qualifications became certainty in 48, was that the one in South continued his existence under the Chinese nationality and the North state always saved his independence. Apart from this all city states whose economic importance was know in South Siberia, over the Chungaria up to the West and Inner Asia, were under the administration of the North Hun state. Therefore it formed the main target of the political and military attacks of the Chinese.

China who was right now trading on the inner fights caused by the separating of the Hun Empire, provoked the in east under the leadership of the Hun's existing Mongolian Tuguz mixed Wuhuan's and Sienpi's (Hsienbi). Upon their permanent pressure the Hun state lost his control over Mongolia in the east and met the provocative Chinese politics in the west. Therefore, they had to fight against the revolts in the regions of Yarkent kingdom, which was the most effective of all, Shanshan (Loulan, Lobnor's south), Turfan etc. (years 46-60). After the Hun state was welcomed here like a liberator by the folk that was scattered especially by the exploiting attitude of China and the merciless behaviour of the king of Yarkent, they took over control and forced China to start over again with border trading (61-65).

This urged China to start preparations for a consequent and straight on military operation in order to breakthrough the Hun Empire. Under the administration of Pan Ch'ao, the famous commander of the Emperors Mingti (58-75), Ch'engti (75-89) and Hoti (89-105) the crowded Chinese armies had captured after 30 years of operations nearly 50, wealthy and because of their location on the caravan road in ways of economic very important cities down to Kangk'u (included Kachgar, Hami, Yarkent, Hoten). Especially in the years 73-74, 89-90 the Hun's had serious lost and with loosing the control in inner Asia, they had to fight against the attacks of the Sienpi in the east (the most impetuous was between 89-91).

The Hun's who had to fight on two borders permanently, lost their power in spite of the successful defence of their last tanhu and they fell disadvantaged. After the North Hun's had finally been left out of the fight (probably in the time of Tanhu Avitokhol) by Tan-shih-huai (ca. 147-156), the monarch of the Sienpi who had succeeded in extending their sovereignty to South Siberia and Chungaria, the grounds of the Hun's were captured by hostile tribes. As the political powers started to weaken, huge groups of Hun's moved to the west (the great immigrations were in 91 and about 155), except for the Yuepan-Yuban's who rather stayed at the region around Kucha and it is known that they afterwards joined their fellowman (the Chi-Chi Hun's) in today's steppes of South Kazakhstan.

Also the South Hun's, who lived at the borderlines of China since 48 and acted as a puffer government against the attacks of north, were not in peace. The Hun tribes frequently revolted against the Kukla tanhu's. With difficulty the insurrections in 94, 124 and 140 could be suppressed, which were followed by revolts in 153 and 158. In those days the Sienpi's who captured North Mongolia had raised their pressures towards south and became a risk for the Hun Empire (from 177 on). Upon his plans to surrender in 188 to China, the tanhu who had been assigned by the Chinese government, had been killed by the Hun's, which left the state without a leader. The tribes also disregarded the two other assigned tanhu's and stepped back to a disordered tribe life again. After the last tanhu had been imprisoned in the capitol of China and the country was divided in 5 provinces under the administration of Chinese military governors, the South Hun empire collapse (in 216). Herewith, the Hun's who, with turning towards south especially came to China in the 2nd half of 3rd century because of the increasing pressure of the Sienpi, where they raised their numbers and could save their existence living under the administration of China.

As the power of the Han dynasty weakened (from 180 on) in China, the attitudes of the generals who fought against each other caused great changes and the break up of the political union (the period of "16 states"). This period had last until the Sui dynasty had broke up the unit in 589. Within this period Turkish groups, mainly the Tabgac (Wei) dynasty, have had formed independent states and with the finalizing of the Hun power they showed up on stage again in 220 A.D. under the leadership of the South Hun tribe leaders. With the time passing by they increased their numbers of population and succeeded in taking over almost the whole of North China under Turkish sovereignty. The force who provided this had been the 19 Hun tribes who had had helped to one of the above mentioned rebellic generals, Ts'ao Ts'ao who had settled them in the region of Shansi. This Turkish tribe, that was very crowded and used to start revolt against Chinese administration upon each opportunity (in the years 271, 294, 296), saved his national personality and kept on respecting the former members of the tanhu family. One of the 19 tribes had been the T-opa (Tabgac) and one had been the Tuku or T'uko where the family of the great Tanhu Mete Han had decented.

Li Yuan (Liu, had been the name given by the Chinese in this period) the commander of Hun Tuku (T'uko), member of the former tanhu generation and Hun warrior had succeed - after he had given a hard fight for liberty - in establishing a Turkish government (304-329 1.Chao.) in the Chinese region (centre: P'ing ch'eng) with an attention calling sense for political understanding, putting forward the friendship and "brother"hood of his 500 years ago ancestors with the former khanate dynasty and even naming his own dynasty "Khane". He captured the Chinese capitol Loyang (311).

Although the administration had changed among the leader families, the comprehension of political power that his brother Liu Ts'ung had established, who also captured the other capitol of China after himself, remained unchanged. This same comprehension reached the great Gök-Turk emperorship that was represented by the Turkish Ashina clan, who succeeded to flee and surrender from the capital Gutsang of the Hun state "North Liang" that was founded by Tsuku (Chuch'u) Mengsun and got captured and ruined under the pressure of the Tabgach monarch T'aivvu in 439. With this their political life under the name "Hun" was now history in the region of China. In the 1st century B.C. after the scattering of the Chi-Chi power, being dispersed the Turkish tribes had gone to the east of Sogdiana, to the north of the Caucasis, even near the surroundings of river Dnyeper and especially at the east steppes of Lake Aral where they continued their existence. The rest of the Turkish groups increased with the remnants of the Hun's who came from east at the end of the 1st century to the 2nd half of the 2nd century and increased their power by living a peaceful life.

It is obvious that they have moved towards west and then founded the European Hun Empire probably due to the change of climate or - according to the new idea that developed in the last years - because of the Uar-hun pressure in 350 that came from the east. In spite of some pretensions that these tribes, after they receded from the Chinese region to west towards Siberia, had not been from the same tribe as the Hiung-nu because of lack of written records for 2 decades, different records have proved, that in Attila's time the ones who ruled over whole Europe had been the Turks from the generation of those Asian Huns.

The End of the Hun's

At the beginning of the II. Decade A.D. the Asian Hun's appeared in three different forms: 1- The remnants of the Chi-Chi Hun's at the surroundings of Lak Balkash, 2- The North Hun's (those had moved in 90-91 A.D. from the Baykal-Orhun region) in the surroundings of Chungaria and Barkol, 3- The South Hun's in the south-west of China; The South Hun's who had been pushed towards west by the Mongolian Siyen-pi (H'yen-bi, Hsien-pi) and driven out of their country in 216, after their inner fights again split in two and China who increased pressure captured all their land around 220. Together with this the Asian Hun's, who now were more Chinese-like, had continued their existence until the end of the 5th decade and some people of the race of the Tah-hu had founded some short-term states in different parts of China. Three of them were: Liu Ts'ung, Hia, Pei-liang. The last "state" had also been scattered Tai-Wu the monarch of the Tabgach.

The Founders of the European Hun Empire

Together with the decease of the political Hun life in China, some of the Hun's have, after the fall of the Chi-Chi- power, scattered around and continued their existence particularly in the steppes in the east of Lake Aral. It is estimated that, the other Turkish groups who expanded with the Hun's that came from China in from the 1st until the middle of the 2nd decade increased their power by living a quite live and moved towards west, especially because of climate change. These must be the ones who founded the European Hun Empire.

Agony for the Loss of Lands

The Hun Turks that had established the greatest and the most powerful empire in the period and dominated for centuries had certainly a high civilisation, culture and arts peculiar to them and verbal and written literatures. Numerous documents that are the indicators of the traditions of the Hun arty are exhibited in various museums of the world and particularly in the Ermitage (Ermitaj) Museum in Leningrad. Actually, the most important works pertaining to Huns were found in Pazirik Valley that was located within the environs of Balikgöl in the Eastern Altay region within the borders of today's Russia.

Pazirik: The holy valley where the tombs of Hun celebrities that had lived in the centuries IV and III BC were found. This valley has also provided some examples of Hun arts that survived until nowadays.

The sepulchres that were found in the Pazirik valley (tombs pertaining to the Hun celebrities) pertain to the centuries IV and III BC and they are full of examples and models that reflect the Hun art and the documents that indicate the traditions of Hun people. The number of the sepulchres that were found in the other regions apart from this valley is above 40. Unfortunately, most of these sepulchres were plundered. Actually, the ancient Turks believed that the life would go on in the next world. Therefore, the dead person would be buried together with his/her clothes, the necessary materials, weapons, saddle horse, horse harnesses, and women concubines in order to get use of them. The corpses would be mummified.

Since the sepulchres were under ice, there were some corpses that were found without any decomposition or decay. The wooden and leather materials are abundant. Nearly all of the metallic materials are made of bronze. Additionally, some golden materials were also found.

The sepulchres that were found in the course of the excavations that were carried out intermittently were in the form of mounds or tumulus that were heaped with stones. The main tomb was located within a big room under this tumulus.
It has been understood that the Huns had a literary language peculiar to them that can be considered as the beginning point of the Gok-Turk alphabet. However, the long texts that were written with this alphabet have not been found yet. The verbal literature (epics) were narrated with the Turkish alphabets and language in the following periods.

It has been stated within the Chinese records that the Hun Emperor Mete had written some letters to the Chinese ruler in the century II BC. Similarly, there is a lament (threnody) or song quatrain that was translated from Turkish into Chinese language in the year of 119 BC within the Chinese resources. This quatrain can be considered as the most ancient example of the Turkish literature following the couplet that was found in the tomb of the Golden Dressed Man. The Hun Turks would cry and sing this lament in case that they lost a piece of land in a war that they fought against Chinese people.

We enclose the quatrain of that lament that was translated to Chinese language since it indicated the tragic sorrow that the Hun Turks felt pursuant to any defeat by Chinese people. It is beyond doubt that this quatrain was only the four lines of a long lament that the Hun minstrels would sing in accompaniment with their one-stringed guitars. The Turks would sign this lament pursuant to wars and in the yog (mourning) ceremonies and cry with it. The quatrain of this lament that was translated into Chinese and then Turkish language that declared the agony for the loss of lands is as follows:

Yen-çi-san dagini yetirdik, (We lost Yen-çi-san Mountain)
Kadinlarimizin güzelligini aldilar, (They took way the beauty of our women)
Silan-san yaylalarini yitirdik (We lost Silan-san plateaux)
Hayvanlarimizin otlarini aldilar. (They took away the pastures of our animals)


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