Asia in 565 CE, showing Tuyuhun and its neighbors.
|-||284-317 CE||Murong Tuyuhun|
|-||635-672 CE||Murong Nuohebo|
|Historical era||Early Medieval|
|-||Vassal of Tang dynasty||634 CE|
|-||Destroyed by Tufan||670 CE|
Tuyuhun (Mongolian: Tuguhun; Chinese: 吐谷渾; pinyin: Tǔyùhún; Wade–Giles: T'u-yü-hun), also known as Henanguo (河南國), or 'A-zha or Togon in Tibetan, was a powerful Mongolic kingdom established by nomadic tribes related to the Xianbei in the Qilian Mountains and upper Yellow River valley.
Murong Tuyuhun (慕容吐谷渾) was the older brother of the Former Yan's ancestor Murong Hui and elder son of the Chanyu Murong Shegui (慕容涉歸) of the Murong Xianbei who took his people from their original settlements on the Liaodong Peninsula to the region of the Yin Mountains, crossing the Yellow River between 307 and 313, and into the eastern region of modern Qinghai.
The Tuyuhun Empire was established in 284 by subjugating the native peoples referred to as the Qiang, including more than 100 different and loosely coordinated tribes that did not submit to each other or any authority.
After Tuyuhun died in Linxia, Gansu in 317, his sixty sons further expanded the empire by defeating the Western Qin (385-430) and Xia (407-431) kingdoms. The Qinghai Xianbei, Tufa Xianbei, Qifu Xianbei and Haolian Xianbei joined them. They moved their capital 6 km west of Koko Nur.
After the Jin elevated their status by conferring on their ruler the old Xiongnu title of chanyu, in 281, they were ruled, from 285, by Murong Hui for five decades. These Xianbei groups formed the core of the Tuyuhun Empire and numbered about 3.3 million at their peak. They carried out extensive military expeditions westward, reaching as far as Hetian in Xinjiang and the borders of Kashmir and Afghanistan, and established a vast empire that encompassed Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, northern Sichuan, eastern Shaanxi, southern Xinjiang, and most of Tibet, stretching 1,500 kilometers from east to west and 1,000 kilometers from north to south. They unified parts of Inner Asia for the first time in history, developed the southern route of the Silk Road, and promoted cultural exchange between the eastern and western territories, dominating the northwest for more than three and half centuries until the Empire was destroyed by the Tibetans. The Tuyuhun Empire existed as an independent Kingdom outside of China  and was not included as part of Chinese historiography.
Conflict between the Tang and Tibetan empires
In the beginning of the Tang Dynasty the Tuyuhun empire came to a gradual decline and was increasingly caught in the conflict between China and Tibet. Because the Tuyuhun controlled the crucial trade routes between east and the west, the empire became the immediate target of invasion by the Tang.
The Tibetan Empire developed rapidly under the leadership of Songtsän Gampo who united the Tibetans and expanded northward, directly threatening the Tuyuhun Empire. Soon after he took the throne of the Yarlung Kingdom in Central Tibet in 634, he defeated the Tuyuhun near Koko Nur and received an envoy from the Tang The Tibetan King requested marriage to a Chinese princess but was refused. In 635-6 the Tang Emperor defeated the Tibetan army, after this campaign, the Chinese emperor agreed to provide a Chinese princess to Songtsän Gampo.
The Tibetan ruler, who claimed that the Tuyuhun objected to his marriage with the Tang and sent 200,000 troops to attack. The Tuyuhun troops retreated to Qinghai, whereas the Tibetans went eastward to attack Dangxiang and reached into southern Gansu. The Tang Government sent troops to fight. Although the Tibetans withdrew in response, the Tuyuhun Empire lost much of its territory in southern Gansu to Tibetans.
The Tuyuhun Government was split between the pro-Tang and pro-Tibet fractions, with the latter increasingly becoming stronger and collaborated with Tibet to bring about an invasion. The Tang sent general Xue Rengui to lead 100,000 troops to fight Tibet in Dafeichuan (present Gonghe County in Qinghai). They were annihilated by the ambush of 200,000 troops led by Dayan and the Tibetans. Tibet overtook the entire territory of the Tuyuhun.
After the fall of the kingdom, the Tuyuhun people split. Led by Murong Nuohebo on the eastern side of the Qilian Mountains they migrated eastward into central China. The rest remained and were ruled by the Tibetan Empire.
Through this period, the Xianbei underwent massive diasporas over a vast territory that stretched from the northwest into central and eastern parts of China, with the greatest concentrations by Mt. Yin near Ordos. In 946, the Shatuo Turk, Liu Zhiyuan, conspired to murder the highest Xianbei leader, Bai Chengfu, who was reportedly so wealthy that “his horses had silver mangers”. With the looted wealth that included an abundance of property and thousands of fine horses, Liu established the Later Han Dynasty (Five Dynasties) (947-950), which lasted only four years and became the shortest dynasty in Chinese history. The incident took away the central leadership and stripped the opportunity for the Xianbei to restore the Tuyuhun Kingdom, although later they were able to establish the Western Xia (1038-1227), which was destroyed by the Mongols.
The Tuyuhun people were experts in horse breeding and also practiced agriculture. As a realm just between the Chinese empires in the east (Northern Wei, and the Southern Dynasties) and other steppe tribes such as the Rouran and Tiele, the Tuyuhun acted as envoys and traders, while many Buddhist missionaries and travelers crossed their country.
When the Chinese pilgrim monk, Songyun, visited the region in 518 CE he noted that the people had a written language, which was more than a hundred years before Thonmi Sambhota is said to have returned from India after developing a script for writing the Tibetan language.
The modern Monguor people are said to be descendants of the Tuyuhun.
|Regal names||Family names and given name||Durations of reigns|
|Henan Wang (河南王)||慕容吐谷渾 Mùróng Tǔyùhún||284-317|
|Henan Wang (河南王)||慕容吐延 Mùróng Tǔyán||317-329|
|Tuyuhun Wang (吐谷渾王)||慕容葉延 Mùróng Yèyán||329-351|
|Tuyuhun Wang (吐谷渾王)||慕容碎奚 Mùróng Suìxī||351-371|
|Bailan Wang (白蘭王)||慕容視連 Mùróng Shìlián||371-390|
|Tuyuhun Wang (吐谷渾王)||慕容視羆 Mùróng Shìpí||390-400|
|Da Chanyu (大單于)||慕容烏紇褆 Mùróng Wūgētí||400-405|
|Wuyin Khan (戊寅可汗)/
Da Chanyu (大單于)/
Wu Wang (武王)
|慕容樹洛干 Mùróng Shùluògān||405-417|
|Bailan Wang (白蘭王)||慕容阿柴 Mùróng Āchái||417-424|
|Hui Wang (惠王)/
Longxi Wang (隴西王)
|慕容慕璝 Mùróng Mùguī||424-436|
|Henan Wang (河南王)||慕容慕利延 Mùróng Mùlìyán||436-452|
|Henan Wang (河南王)/
Xiping Wang (西平王)
|慕容拾寅 Mùróng Shíyín||452-481|
|Henan Wang (河南王)||慕容度易侯 Mùróng Dùyìhóu||481-490|
|慕容伏連籌 Mùróng Fúliánchóu||490-540|
|Khan||慕容夸呂 Mùróng Kuālǔ||540-591|
|Khan||慕容世伏 Mùróng Shìfú||591-597|
|Busabo Khan (步薩鉢可汗)||慕容伏允 Mùróng Fúyǔn||597-635|
|Zhugulüwugandou Khan (趉故呂烏甘豆可汗)/
Daning Wang (大寧王)/
Xiping Jun Wang (西平郡王)
|慕容順 Mùróng Shùn||635|
|Wudiyebaledou Khan (烏地也拔勒豆可汗)/
Heyuan Jun Wang (河源郡王)
|慕容諾曷鉢 Mùróng Nuòhébō||635-672|
- Christopher I. Beckwith, The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia: A History of the Struggle for Great Power Among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese During the Early Middle Ages (Princeton University Press, new ed. 1993), p. 17. ISBN 0-691-02469-3.
- Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 90.
- The T'u-yü-hun from the Northern Wei to the time of the Five Dynasties, p. XII. 1970. Gabriella Molè. Rome. Is.M.E.O.
- 281 is the foundation for the first or 'Former' (of the four) Murong Xianbei Kingdoms. See Charles Holcombe, The Genesis of East Asia, 221 B.C.-A.D. 907: 221 B.C.-A.D.907,University of Hawaii Press, 2001 pp.130-131.
- "Note sur les T’ou-yu-houen et les Sou-p’i." Paul Pelliot. T’oung pao, 20 (1921), p. 323.
- Mark Edward Lewis, China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties, Harvard University Press, 2009 pp.132-3
- Zhou, Weizhou [周伟洲] (1985). Tuyühu shi [The Tuyühu History] 吐谷浑史. Yinchuan [银川], Ningxia ren min chu ban she [Ningxia People's Press] 宁夏人民出版社.
- Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Christopher Beckwith (Christopher I. Beckwith). 2009. Princeton University Press, pp. 128-129. ISBN 978-0-691-13589-2.
- Tibetan Civilization, p. 57. R. A. Stein. 1972. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. ISBN 0-8047-0806-1 (cloth); ISBN 0-8047-0901-1 (paper).
- OTA l. 607
- Tibet: A Political History, p. 26. Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa. 1967. Yale University Press. New Haven and London.
- Molè, Gabriella, 1970, The T'u-yü-hun from the Northern Wei to the time of the five dynasties. Roma, Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente. p. xxiv.
- Lü, Jianfu [呂建福], 2002. Tu zu shi [The Tu History] 土族史. Beijing [北京], Zhongguo she hui ke xue chu ban she [Chinese Social Sciences Press] 中囯社会科学出版社.
- Ancient Tibet: Research Materials from the Yeshe De Project (1986), p. 136. Dharma Publishing, California. ISBN 0-89800-146-3.
- Emperor Taizong's campaign against Tuyuhun - with the 634 defeat of Tuyuhun troops