Tuoba (拓拔) was an early name for a clan of the Xianbei people in ancient China. In the Old Turkic language, they were referred to as Tabgach (𐱃𐰉𐰍𐰲). 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 clan name of Yuan (元) instead.
Christopher Beckwith argues that the name Tabgach was originally /taʁ vatʃ/, meaning "princes of the earth". The word /vatʃ/ equivalent to the Sanskrit title.
Tuoba (Chinese: 拓拔; pinyin: Tuòbá; Wade–Giles: T'o-pa) was a clan of the Xianbei people in the early centuries of the 1st millennium AD. They established the State of Dai from AD 310 to 376, and the Northern Wei Dynasty from AD 386 to 536. The distribution of the Xianbei people ranged from present day Manchuria to Mongolia, and the Tuoba clan was one of the largest clans among western Xianbei clans, ranging from present day Shanxi province and westward and northwestward. Tuoba clan was awarded by Chinese rulers as the leader of western Xianbei clans (西部大人) and its people adopted their clan name as their surname. The Chinese surname Yuan was later adopted by the Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei to replace Tuoba.
The Tuoba states of Dai and Northern Wei also claimed to possess the quality of earth in the Chinese five element analogy.
Chieftains of Tuoba Clan 219-377 (as Princes of Dai 315-377) 
Tangut Tuoba 
Tuoba also refers to the ruling clan of the Western Xia Kingdom, but the king adopted the Chinese-style name Li. Tuoba Sigong, or Li Sigong is an ancestor of Li Yuanhao, the first king of Western Xia Kingdom. The Tuoba Family was the ruling family of Northern Wei Dynasty, founded by Tuoba Gui, then Emperor Daowu. Hence the rulers of Northern Wei Dynasty will start with him, not as a continuation of this table.
Upon the reign of Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei, the Tuoba clan started the Sinicisation process by changing their clan name to the Han Chinese surname Yuan (元).
See also 
- ^ All chieftains were revered as emperors in Weishu and Beishi but they never were in reality. They were denoted here as Wang (Chinese: 王; pinyin: Wáng; literally "King or Prince"), which was inherited by all successors of Tuoba Yilu.
- ^ No known given name survives.
- 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