Chunwei (Chinese: 淳維) is an ethnonym for the most ancient nomadic tribes that invaded China during legendary times. A Chinese Classical scholar and the first President of the Imperial Nanking University, Wei Zhao (204–273), commented, identificating the name Chunwei with the name of the Huns: “During the Han (206 BC-220 AD) they (the Huns) were called Xiongnu 匈奴, and the Hunyu 葷粥 is just another name for the same people, and similarly, the Xunyu 獯粥 is just another transcription of Chunwei’s 淳維, their ancestor’s name”.
Considering that in the Yin age (殷, 1401-1122 BC) there was a northern dialect of the word chunwei 淳維 corresponding to xunyu 獯粥, it is concluded that the two varieties cover the same name. Katalin Csornai stated a concept that chunwei 淳維, xunyu 獯粥 and xiongnu 匈奴 should once have been the same name in different languages or dialects. For this reason Ying Shao (應劭, Hou Han Shu commentator, 195 AD) wrote in Fengsutung (Ying Shao, The Meaning of Popular Customs, AD 140-206): “The name Xunyu 獯粥 of the Yin age has been transformed to Xiongnu 匈奴”. And according to the records of Sima Qian, the Xiongnu 匈奴 were mentioned as Shanrong 山戎, Xianyun 獫狁, and Hunyu 葷粥 between the age of Tang and the age of Yu (2205-1766 BC).
Sima Qian stated, based on preceding Chinese records (Bamboo Annals), that the Xiongnu's 匈奴 ruling clan were descendants of Chunwei (淳維 "Chun tribes"), possibly a son of Jie of Xia (the last ruler of the Xia Dynasty c. 1728–1675 BC).
However, a contradictory statement testified to the Chunwei presence in China up to the time when the writing was standardised, Zhang Yen wrote in Suoyin (Guide to the Hidden Meanings, an 8th-century commentary): “In the Qin era (221–206 BC) Chunwei fled to the northern boundaries.” After standartisation of writing in the Qin era, the name Chunwei went out of use, replaced by the standardised characters 匈奴 for Xiongnu.
- Zhonghan Wang, "Outlines of Ethnic Groups in China", Taiyuan, Shanxi Education Press, 2004, p. 133, ISBN 7-5440-2660-4
- Csornai Katalin, "Where Huns Blood Drew", Journal of Eurasian studies, Vol. 1, Issue 3, 2009, Hague, Holland, ISSN 1877-4199
- Wei Zhao et al., "Book of Wu", p. 2849
- Lin Gan 林幹, "Xiongnu shiliao huibian 匈奴史料彙編", Vol. 1, p. 1, Beijing, Zhonghua Shuju, 1988
- Csornai K., "Where Huns Blood Drew", Journal of Eurasian studies, Vol. 1, Issue 3, p. 31, 2009, Hague, Holland, ISSN 1877-4199
- Sima Qian et al., "Records of the Grand Historian", Ch. 110
- Csornai K., "Where Huns Blood Drew", p. 30
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