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Tuoba (Chinese: 拓拔; pinyin: Tuòbá; Wade–Giles: T'o-pa) is the modern Mandarin pronunciation of an early name for a clan of the Xianbei people in ancient China. In the Old Turkic language, they were referred to as Tabgach(Old Turkic: Old Turkic letter K.svgOld Turkic letter OQ.svgOld Turkic letter Y1.svgOld Turkic letter N1.svgOld Turkic letter O.svgOld Turkic letter T1.svg),[1] which was rendered phonetically into Middle Chinese as 拓拔. Christopher I. Beckwith argues that the name Tabgach was originally /taʁ vatʃ/, meaning "princes of the earth". The word /vatʃ/ equivalent to the Sanskrit title.[full citation needed]

The Tuoba founded the Northern Wei dynasty (386–535) around the Yellow River delta, but increasingly became sinicized according the demands of governing Chinese people. As a result, from 496, the name "Tuoba" disappeared by an edict of Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei, who adopted the Chinese language surname of Yuan () instead.

A surviving branch of the Tuoba established the state of Tuyuhun before submitting as a vassal of the Tang; they later established the later Western Xia, whose rulers adopted the Chinese surname (pinyin: ).


The distribution of the Xianbei people ranged from present day Manchuria to Mongolia, and the Tuoba were one of the largest clans among the western Xianbei, ranging from present day Shanxi province and westward and northwestward. They established the state of Dai from 310-376 CE and ruled as the Northern Wei from 386-536. The Tuoba states of Dai and Northern Wei also claimed to possess the quality of earth in the Chinese Wu Xing theory. All the chieftains of the Tuoba were revered as emperors in the Book of Wei and the History of the Northern Dynasties

Chieftains of Tuoba Clan 219-377 (as Princes of Dai 315-377)[edit]

Posthumous name Full name Period of reign Other
神元 Shényuán 拓拔力微 Tuòbá Lìwéi 219-277 Temple name: 始祖 Shízǔ
章 Zhāng 拓拔悉鹿 Tuòbá Xīlù 277-286
平 Píng 拓拔綽 Tuòbá Chuò 286-293
思 Sī 拓拔弗 Tuòbá Fú 293-294
昭 Zhāo 拓拔祿官 Tuòbá Lùguān 294-307
桓 Huán 拓拔猗㐌 Tuòbá Yītuō 295-305
穆 Mù 拓拔猗盧 Tuòbá Yīlú 295-316
None 拓拔普根 Tuòbá Pǔgēn 316
None 拓拔 Tuòbá[2] 316
平文 Píngwén 拓跋鬱律 Tuòbá Yùlǜ 316-321
惠 Huì 拓拔賀傉 Tuòbá Hèrǔ 321-325
煬 Yáng 拓拔紇那 Tuòbá Hénǎ 325-329 and 335-337
烈 Liè 拓拔翳槐 Tuòbá Yìhuaí 329-335 and 337-338
昭成 Zhaōchéng 拓拔什翼健 Tuòbá Shíyìjiàn 338-377 Regnal name: 建國 Jiànguó

Tangut Tuoba[edit]

The Western Xia Tuoba adopted the Chinese surname Lǐ. Tuoba Sigong or Li Sigong was the ancestor of Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia, the first king of Western Xia.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  • Zuev Yu.A. "Ethnic History Of Usuns", Works of Academy of Sciences Kazakh SSR, History, Archeology And Ethnography Institute, Alma-Ata, Vol. VIII, 1960, (In Russian)
  • Bazin L. "Research of T'o-pa language (5th century AD)", T'oung Pao, 39/4-5, 1950 ["Recherches sur les parlers T'o-pa (5e siècle après J.C.)"] (In French) Subject: Toba Tatar language
  • Boodberg P.A. "The Language of the T'o-pa Wei", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 1, 1936
  • Pelliot P.A. "L'Origine de T'ou-kiue; nom chinoise des Turks", T'oung Pao, 1915, p. 689
  • Pelliot P.A. "L'Origine de T'ou-kiue; nom chinoise des Turks", Journal Asiatic, 1925, No 1, p. 254-255
  • Pelliot P.A. "L'Origine de T'ou-kiue; nom chinoise des Turks", T'oung Pao, 1925–1926, pp. 79–93;
  • Clauson G. "Turk, Mongol, Tungus", Asia Major, New Series, Vol. 8, Pt 1, 1960, pp. 117–118
  • Grousset R. "The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia", Rutgers University Press, 1970, p. 57, 63-66, 557 Note 137, ISBN 0-8135-0627-1 [1]


  1. ^ https://tr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabga%C3%A7lar
  2. ^ No known given name survives.