Ashina (clan)

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Ashina (Chinese: 阿史那, Modern Chinese: (Pinyin): āshǐnà, (Wade-Giles): a-shih-na, Middle Chinese: (Guangyun) [ʔɑʃi̯ə˥nɑ˩], Asen, Asena, Açina etc.) was a tribe and the ruling dynasty of the ancient Turks who rose to prominence in the mid-6th century when their leader, Bumin Khan, revolted against the Rouran. The two main branches of the family, one descended from Bumin and the other from his brother Istemi, ruled over the eastern and western parts of the Göktürk empire, respectively. The Ashina clan were considered to be the chosen of the sky god Tengri and the ruler (Khagan) was the incarnation of the favor the sky god bestowed on the Turks. The Turks, like many of their subjects, were believers in Tengri. They venerated their ancestors, annually conducting special ceremonies at the ancestral cave from which they believed the Ashina had sprung.[1] The Ashinas were a foresighted dynasty and named the state they established as Kök-Türk.[2] The wolf symbolizes honour and is also considered the mother of most Turkic peoples. Asena (Ashina Tuwu) is the wolf mother of Bumin, the first Khan of the Göktürks.[3]

The origin of Ashina[edit]

The part of researchers such as - H.W. Haussig,[4] S.G. Kljyashtorny,[5][6] A.N. Bernstamm,[7] Yu.A. Zuev,[8] D.G. Savinov,[9] S.P. Guschin,[10] Rona-Tas,[11] R.N. Frye,[12] Findley[13] and others point out the origin of the Ashina from Saka-Wusun, they put forward in favor of this version of the following arguments:


The recent re-reading of the Bugut inscription, the oldest inscription of the Ashina dynasty, written in Sogdian, by a Japanese team of philologists has suggested that the name, known only with the Chinese transcription of Ashina, was in fact Ashinas. It is in fact known in later Arabic sources under this form.[citation needed] Likewise the use of an Iranian tongue, such as Sogdian and later Persian in Transoxiana, as the written language, does not mean that everyone was a Sogdian who used it.[14]


Findley assumes that the Ashina probably comes from one of the Saka languages of central Asia and means "blue", gök in Turkic, the color identified with the east, so that Göktürk, another name for the Turk empire, meant the "Turks of the East".[13] This is seconded by the Hungarian researcher András Róna-Tas, who finds it plausible "that we are dealing with a royal family and clan of Saka origin".[11]

Former Dr. Zhu Xueyuan derives the name from the related Manchu word Aisin and the early tribe Wusun (Asin or Osin) pronounced earlier in archaic Chinese, a group of people which he highly considered as a Tungusic people. Zhu asserted that the Xiongnu's tribe Juqu was evidently related to Juji (old pronouncing of Jurchen), and that the Yuezhi was belonged to another Tungusic tribe named Wuzhe, which could all ultimately traced back to the roots of Sushen.[15]

"Ashina" means either "noble wolf" in Turkic languages - wolf - to be Bure or Kaskyr. In Mongolian languages wolf to be - Shono or Chono. "A" - the prefix of respect in Chinese; other opinion - or roots of the ethnonym "Ashina" to be found in Saka-Wusun tribal anthroponymes.

H.W. Haussig[4] and S.G. Kljyashtorny[6] suggest an association between the name and the kind of Ashin ahşaẽna - Old Persian, can get quite satisfactory etymological development. Even on the East Turkestan - then the desired form is in the Sogdian 'xs' yn' k (-әhšēnē) "blue, dark"; Khotan-Saka (Brahmi) āşşeiņa (-āşşena) «blue", where a long -ā- emerged as development ahş-> āşş-; in Tocharian A āśna- «blue, dark" (from Khotan-Saka and Sogdian). It Saka etymology ashina (<āşşeiņa ~ āşşena) with the value "blue" (the color of the sky) is phonetically and semantically flawless. There is a textual support for this version of the ancient runic inscriptions Turks.

In large Orkhon inscriptions, in the story of the first Kagan, people living on the newly created empire, named kök türk - translated as "Celestial Turks". Without touching the numerous interpretations kök words in this combination, we note its perfect semantic match with the reconstructed value of the name Ashina here. Tracing an explicit name suggests neutrachennoe knowledge of its original meaning and foreign origin, it is compatible with multi-ethnic culture of the terms of the First Turkic khanate, loss, however, the popularity of "nationalized", in the words of L. Bazin, political and cultural environment Otyuken rate era Bilge Kagan.

Name Ashina - remained in Ancient Arab chronicles in the form - Sha - ne.[16]


Do Ashina was taken Sogdian letter. The latter was used in the construction of the memorial stele describing the heroic exploits of the members of the ruling kagan kind. So, the main inscription on the stele Bugutskoy established in honor of one of the rulers of the First Turkic khanate, written Sogdian letter. Sogdian inscription present on the Broadsword discovered in the burial of the ancient Turkic warrior on the monument Jolene in the Altai Mountains.

During the period of the Second Eastern Turk was spread ancient Turkic runic writing, on the basis of which also affected Sogdian letter. Runes is widespread among the nomadic Turkic peoples in the early Middle Ages.

Funeral rite[edit]

Tanshu describes the funeral rites Ashina as follows: "The body of the deceased believed in a tent. Sons, grandchildren and relatives of both sexes slaughter of horses and sheep, and by expanding the front of the tent, sacrifice; seven times around the tent to go around riding horses, and then, at the entrance to the tent with a knife incising their faces weeping, and produce; blood and tears pouring collectively. So come seven times and graduate. Later in the day-elect take the horse on which the deceased was driving, and the things that he used, along with the dead are burned: the ashes are collected and buried in a certain season into the grave. The dead bury the spring and summer, when the leaves on the trees and plants begin to turn yellow and fall off; who died in the fall or winter buried when the flowers begin to unfold. On the day of the funeral, as well as in the day of his death, family offer sacrifice, riding horses and incising the face. The building, which was built at the grave, put the painted face of the dead man and the description of battles in which he was in the continuation of life. Usually if he killed one man, then put one stone have different number of such stones extends up to a hundred or even a thousand. By bringing sheep and horses as a sacrifice to a single, hang their heads on the milestones.

According D.G. Savinov, no archaeological monument, is fully consistent with the description given of I. Bichurin or South Siberia or Central Asia is still not known, although many of its elements are found already in the early Turkic time. According D.G.Savinov this may be several reasons for this:

  1. Funeral tukyue in Central Asia and Southern Siberia are not open yet;
  2. The source is a compilation character, and in a unified description burial and funeral cycle appear from various information;
  3. 'Tukue' funeral rites in the form in which it is recorded in written sources, developed later on the basis of the various components present in some of the archaeological sites of Southern Siberia early Turkic time.

It is certain that the rite of cremation was adopted among Turkic Hagan and a very narrow ruling stratum kaganates. Ie it was inherent in it is the "prince of the tribe," Ashin, who had as possible will consider Indo-European origin. Rite of cremation, obviously did not spread among the common people of Turkic, i.e. did not have a mass character. This may well be at the origin of the other ethnic groups of the ruling family.

As a result of the use of the rite described Tanshu, of a very narrow class of people (aristocracy), most likely assumption is true Savinova, consisting in the fact that the burial tukyue in Central Asia and Southern Siberia are not yet open..[17]

The most curious thing is that almost all of the elements of the funeral rite Ashina have analogues in the Indo-European, in particular, the Slavic rites. About incision individual repeat Al Bakr: "Wives same dead cut their hands and faces with knives." Chinese source said that on the day of the funeral, as well as in the day of his death, family riding horses. There is likely to have in mind something like Slavic funeral feast. "The building was built on the grave" is an analogue of the Slavic Domowina. Burial of the ashes of the deceased in the vessel (the tomb of Kul Tigin and his wife) and is marked by the Slavs. "Tale of Bygone Years", for example, said: "burned, and after collecting the bones, put them in a small container."

Analysis of written sources, traditions[edit]

S.G.Kljyashtorny studied the legends of the clan Ashina in comparison with historical evidence dynastic chronicles Sui shu said information at their realistic basis, historiographical value of which now seems undeniable, "and offered to share the early history of the tribes Tÿrk two consecutive periods: Gansu- Gaochan when the ancestors of the Turks Ashina formed from posthunnskih and local Iranian tribes on the territory of Eastern Turkestan (III c. BC - 460 AD), and the Altai, where the established Turkic ethnic group moved into the territory of the Mongolian Altai (460- 552 AD.)

Another Orientalist Yu.A. Zuev also indicates the origin of the Saka-Wusun Ashina:

In particular, he drew attention to the similarity of the legends about the origin of the Saka-Wusun and Ashina.

So in particular Yu.A. Zuev notes:

Wusun Ashina
1 Annals determines the location of the ancient Wusun lived "between the Qilian and Dunhuang". 1 Ashina were to the west of Shihan - Shara-Nora, i.e. in the same area.
2 Wusun constituted "a small principality of the western boundary of the Xiongnu." 2 In all versions of the legend, Ashina is a separate branch from the west sea, west to the Xiongnu.
3 Wusun were broken Yuezhi neighboring tribe, and their land was only a newborn prince. 3 Ashina were broken too, their neighbors, and then still alive one boy.
4 To help the baby came ancestral totems Wusun - wolf and raven, which saved him from death. 4. Ashina boy makes a wolf. In the tradition of the crows, but such a gap is filled tamgas list, which shows Ashina tamgha - Raven.
5. Wusun boy was carried away to the east, in a bid shanyu of Xiongnu, and was educated there. In the tradition of the Wusun boy is spirit. 5 Ancestors Ashina - a boy and a wolf, which carries the spirit, and they are in the east of the Shara-Nora in Inner Mongolia.
6 After a few years between Wusun and Yuezhi again breaks the fight, which ended in defeat last. 6 When he learned that the boy was alive, hostile prince again sends an army to destroy the Ashina and with it the totem tribe. However, the idea of a hostile prince fails.
7 Wusun migrate north-west From the former place of residence, in the Seven Rivers. 7 The same way doing an Ashin. Bid Ashina Helu was on the Talas river.
8 Wusun acquired power and expanded its territory. The first Usun prince had ten sons. 8 The same number of children in Ashina. But this version of the ten sons of artificially pegged to the fact of the existence of the ten tribes (He's OK) Western Turkic Khanate.

Yu.A. Zuev notes that Wusun had a family relationship with the ruling clan Ashina in the First Turkic Empire..[18]

Also Orientalists A.N. Bernstamm, D.G. Savinov and others argue about the origin of the Saka-Wusun Ashina.

They point out that according to the Sui shu Ashina ancestors were some "mixed xy". A.N. Bernshtamm in the preface to "Collection of information" N. Bichurina 1950 noted that the Chinese term "hu" - barbarians, i.e. E. "Not Chinese", he identified with the name of the Turks. However, according to the Chinese of Bernshtamm, especially in areas of East Turkestan and Central Asia, as a rule (with a few exceptions), this term is understood as not just the Turkic tribes and settled mainly Sogdian population.[7]

Sogdians played a huge role in the political, cultural, economic and trade activities of the Turkish Empire. They are, for example, performed important diplomatic missions rulers, led by the embassy to the court of Iranian shahs, controlled trade silk. Sogdian preachers engaged in spreading Manichaeism, Christianity (Nestorianism), and Buddhism among the nomads.

These circumstances lead to the conclusion that the tribe Ashina formed in Hexi Pinlyane and delivery of various Indo-European ("mixed khu"). In this area, during the formation of the tribe (III c. BC - 460 AD), dominated by the Indo-European population and, consequently, the Iranian and Tocharian languages. In ethnogenesis Ashina, which also follows from the testimony of the Chinese sources, also participated Hunnish childbirth. After the defeat of the state Tszyuytsyuyev in Hexi, Ashin fled to Gaochang, where after 460 AD fell under the rule of Juan-Juan and were relocated to the southern spurs of the Altai. Ashina were artisans, they are mainly engaged in metallurgy.

As suggested D.G. Savinov for new places of settlement, including the territory of the newly created their possessions, Ashin faced with the local tribes, native proto-cultural substrate. Apparently, this time may include the first acculturation processes, initiating the creation of the ancient Turkic historical and cultural complex. Since the beginning of the active military and political activities Ashina joined around a variety of Turkic peoples. The name of the new state was made Tÿrk (helmet, based on the geographical features of the Altai), respectively, the population of the state has adopted the name of the Turks. The word became the name Ashina ruling dynasty.

A detailed study of the origin of Ashina conducts and sinologist S.P.Guschin. He notes that the legend of the origin of Ashina, we know that "tukyue ancestors come from reigning at home, who lived from the Huns to the north." Title saki tribes in Chinese sounds like - "Shohei» 索 诃, which coincides with the characters about the "reigning house with» 索 國.

To check, you can refer to the Chinese dictionary, which is given dialectal reading character "Shohei" in the form of «saak» 索. Also in Chinese phonetic bases character 索 = sāk / sâk Set in the old reading it.

Tamga of Ashina - The Raven

Tamga Ashina[edit]

Yu.A. Zuev notes that the presence of crows as the ancient tribal totem of Wusun doubt. By Wusun legend, the ancestors were Wusun raven and the wolf. This fact is reflected in the tamga of Wusun, which depicts the raven. Tamga Ashina also meant a raven..[18]

Origins and legends[edit]

According to the New Book of Tang, the Ashina were related to the northern tribes of the Xiongnu, in particular they were of Tiele tribe by ancestral lineage.[19][20] As early as the 7th century, four theories about their mythical origins were recorded by the Book of Zhou, Book of Sui and Youyang Zazu:[21]

  • Ashina was one of ten sons born to a grey she-wolf (see Asena) in the north of Gaochang.[22]
  • The ancestor of the Ashina was a man from the Suo nation (north of Xiongnu) whose mother was a wolf, and a season goddess.[22]
  • The Ashina were mixture stocks from the Pingliang commandery of eastern Gansu.[23]
  • The Ashina descended from a skilled archer named Shemo, who had once fallen in love with a sea goddess west of Ashide cave.[24]

These stories were sometimes pieced together to form a chronologically narrative of early Ashina history. However, as the Book of Zhou, the Book of Sui, and the Youyang Zazu were all written around the same time, during early Tang Dynasty, whether they could truly be considered chronological or rather should be considered competing versions of the Ashina's origin is debatable.[21] These stories also have parallels to folktales and legends of other Turkic peoples, for instance, the Uyghurs and the Wusun.

The record of Turks in Zhoushu (written in the first half of 7th century) describes the usage of gold in Turks around mid-5th century: (The Turks) inlaid gold sculpture of wolf head on their flag; their military men were called Fuli, that is, wolf in Chinese; It is because they are descendant of the wolf, and naming so is for not forgetting their ancestors.[22]


The name Ashina first appeared in the Chinese records of the 6th century, and prior to that no other sources had related their history at all.[21] The Great Soviet Encyclopaedia infers that between the years 265 and 460 the Ashina had been part of various late Xiongnu confederations. About 460 they were subjugated by the Rouran, who ousted them from Xinjiang into the Altay Mountains, where the Ashina gradually emerged as the leaders of the early Turkic confederation, known as the Göktürks.[25] By the 550s, Bumin Khan felt strong enough to throw off the yoke of the Rouran domination and established the Göktürk Empire, which flourished until the 630s and from 680s until 740s. The Orkhon Valley was the centre of the Ashina power.

Multiple members of the Ashina clan served as generals in the Tang Dynasty military. The general Ashina She'er led a Tang military Tang campaign against Kucha and against Karasahr in 648.[26] His brother, Ashina Zhong, was also a Tang general.[27] Ashina Mishe and Ashina Buzhen joined Su Dingfang's military expedition against the Western Turkic Khaganate in 657.[28]

After the collapse of the Göktürk empire under pressure from the resurgent Uyghurs, branches of the Ashina clan moved westward to Europe, where they became the kaghans of the Khazars[29][30] and possibly other nomadic peoples with Turkic roots. According to Marquart, the Ashina clan constituted a noble caste throughout the steppes. Similarly, the Bashkir historian and Turkolog Zeki Validi Togan described them as a "desert aristocracy" that provided rulers for a number of Eurasian nomadic empires. Accounts of the Göktürk and Khazar khaganates suggest that the Ashina clan was accorded sacred, perhaps quasi-divine status in the shamanic religion practiced by the steppe nomads of the first millennium CE.

A relevant example of the special status of this wolf clan is demonstrated by Mongolian history. The Chonos, whose name translates as "wolves", were held in such esteem by Mongolian warlords that when Jamukha in the late 12th century took prisoners of war from the wolf-tribe, he executed them by boiling during the subsequent victory decapitation ritual to avoid the taboo of letting wolf-blood mingle with the Earth.[citation needed] By the way, according to Rashid-ad-Din, Chonos came to Mongolia from Ergenekun and were blacksmiths

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter B. Golden, Central Asia in World History, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp.43-45
  2. ^ Eurasian studies, Vol. 21-23, Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency, 2002, p.149
  3. ^ Mythologies: A Polytheistic View of the World, By Wikipedians, PediaPress, p.406
  4. ^ a b Haussig Н.W. Byzantinische Qullen über Mittelasien in ihrer historischen Aussage // Prolegomena to the sources on the history of pre-Islamic Central Asia. Budapest, 1979. S. 55-56.
  5. ^ Кляшторный С.Г. Проблемы ранней истории племени тÿрк (ашина). // Новое в советской археологии. / МИА № 130. М.: 1965. С. 278-281.
  6. ^ a b Kjyashtorny S.G. The Royal Clan of the Turks and the Problem of its Designation//Post-Soviet Central Asia. Edited by Touraj Atabaki and John O'Kane. Tauris Academic Studies. London*New York in association with IIAS. The international Institute for Asian Studies. Leiden-Amsterdam, P.366-369.
  7. ^ a b Бернштам А.Н. Никита Яковлевич Бичурин (Иакинф) и его труд "Собрание сведений..." М.-Л., Наука, 1950.
  8. ^ Зуев Ю.А. Тамги лошадей из вассальных княжеств (Перевод из Китайского сочинения 8-10 вв. Танхуйао, том 3, глава (цзюанъ) 72, стр. 1305-1308)
  9. ^ Савинов Д.Г. Владение Цигу древнетюркских генеалогических преданий и таштыкская культура. // Историко-культурные связи народов Южной Сибири. Абакан: 1988. С. 64-74.
  10. ^ Муратов Б.А. ДНК-генеалогия тюркоязычных народов Урала, Волги и Кавказа. Том 4, серия «Этногеномика и ДНК-генеалогия», ЭИ Проект «Суюн». Vila do Conde, Lidergraf, 2014, илл. ISBN 978-5-9904583-2-1.
  11. ^ a b Róna-Tas 280.
  12. ^ Frye Richard N. Turks in Transoxiana
  13. ^ a b Findley 39.
  14. ^ Turks in Transoxiana, Richard N. Frye
  15. ^ Zhu 68-91.
  16. ^ Гумилёв Л.Н. Древние тюрки. М.-Л., Наука, 1967.
  17. ^ Савинов Д.Г. Народы Южной Сибири в древнетюркскую эпоху Глава II. Раннетюркское время 1. Древнетюркские генеалогические предания и археологические памятники раннетюркского времени (с. 31-40)
  18. ^ a b Зуев Ю.А. К этнической истории усуней. Академия Наук Казахской ССР Труды Института Истории, Археологии и Этнографии Том VIII, Издательство Академии Наук Казахской ССР, Алма-Ата, 1960.
  19. ^ Rachel Lung, Interpreters in Early Imperial China, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2011, p.48
  20. ^ Duan: "Dingling, Gaoju and Tiele", 1988, pp.39-41
  21. ^ a b c Xue 39-85
  22. ^ a b c Zhoushu, vol. 50 [1]
  23. ^ Suishu, vol. 84 [2]
  24. ^ Youyang Zazu, vol. 4 [3]
  25. ^ Klyashtorny passim.
  26. ^ Grousset 1970, p. 99.
  27. ^ Skaff 2009, p. 188.
  28. ^ Skaff 2009, p. 183.
  29. ^ Anatoly Michailovich Khazanov, André Wink, Nomads in the Sedentary World, Routledge, 2001, p.89
  30. ^ Frederik Coene, The Caucasus: An Introduction, Taylor & Francis, 2009, p.109


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