Rouran Khaganate

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Rouran Khaganate



Capital Mumo city, Orkhon River, Mongolia
Religion Shamanism
Political structure Khaganate
 -  330 Yùjiǔlǘ Mùgǔlǘ
 -  555 Yujiulü Dengshuzi
Legislature Kurultai
Historical era 1st millennium
 -  Established 330
 -  Disestablished 555
 -  405[1][2] 4,000,000 km² (1,544,409 sq mi)
Today part of  Mongolia
Wade–Giles spelling of 'Rouran'
Wade–Giles spellings of 'Ruru'

Rouran, Nirun Khaganate[3](Mongolian: Нирун, Nirun; ~human's back, the name origin similar to Alan Gua's myth; Chinese: 柔然; pinyin: Róurán; literally: "soft-like"), Ruru/Ruru (Chinese: 蠕蠕/茹茹; pinyin: Rúrú/Rúrú; Wade–Giles: Juan2-juan2/Ju2-ju2; literally: "wriggling insects/fodder"), or Tan Tan[4] (Chinese: 檀檀; pinyin: Tántán; Wade–Giles: T'an2-t'an2) was the name of a state of nomadic Proto-Mongols in Mongolia from the late 4th century until the middle 6th century.[5] It has sometimes been hypothesized that the Rouran are identical to the Pannonian Avars who later appeared in Europe.[6]

The term Rouran is a Mandarin Chinese transcription of the pronunciation of the name the confederacy used to refer to itself. Ruanruan and Ruru remained in modern usage despite once being derogatory. They derived from orders given by the Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei (Tuoba), who waged war against the Rouran and intended to intimidate the confederacy.

The power of the Rouran was broken by an alliance of Göktürks, Tuoba's Northern Qi and Northern Zhou dynasties and tribes in Central Asia in 552.

Origin and expansion[edit]

The Rouran were a confederation led by Xianbei people who remained in the Mongolian steppes after most Xianbei migrated south to Northern China and set up various kingdoms. They were first noted as having defeated the Tiele and establishing an empire extending all the way to the Hulun, in eastern Inner Mongolia.

Mùgǔlǘ or Mugulyui was ancestor of the Rouran kings and Emperor of Northern Wei gave him name "Joujan". Book of Wei links Rourans with Mongolic Donghu people: "Joujan is descendant of the Dongu, and his family is Yùjiǔlǘ".[7]

During the reign of Yujiulü Shelun king (402-410) Rouran became powerful empire.

To the west of the Rouran was a horde known in the west as the Hephthalite Empire (408–670) who originally, until the beginning of the 5th century, were a vassal horde of the Rouran.[8][9]

Between Hephthalites and Rourans were also close contacts, although they had different languages and cultures, and Hephthalites borrowed much of their political organization from Rourans.[9] In particular, the title “Khan“, which according to McGovern was original to the Rourans, was borrowed by the Hephthalite rulers. [9] The reason for the migration of the Hephthalites southeast was to avoid a pressure of the Rourans. Further, the Hephthalites defeated the Yuezhi in Bactria and their leader Kidara led the Yuezhi to the south.[9]

According to "Book of Song" (section Joujan), "Joujan's (Rouran) another name was "Tatar" or "Tartar", and they were Xiongnu's tribe".

The Rouran controlled the area of Mongolia from the Manchurian border to Turpan and, perhaps, the east coast of Lake Balkhash, and from the Orkhon River to China Proper. Their ancestor Mugulu is said to have been originally a slave of the Tuoba tribes, situated at the north banks of Yellow River Bend. Mugulu's descendant Yujiulü Shelun is said to be the first chieftain who was able to unify the Rouran tribes and to found the power of the Rouran by defeating the Tiele and Xianbei. Shelun was also the first of the steppe peoples to adopt the title of khagan (可汗) in 402, originally a title of Xianbei nobility.

The Rouran Khaganate arranged for one of their princesses, Khagan Yujiulü Anagui's daughter Princess Ruru to be married to the Han Chinese ruler Gao Huan of the Eastern Wei.[10][11]

The Rouran and the Hephthalites had a falling out and problems within their confederation were encouraged by Chinese agents. In 508, the Tiele defeated the Rouran in battle. In 516, the Rouran defeated the Tiele. Within the Rouran confederation was a Turkic tribe noted in Chinese annals as the Tujue. After a marriage proposal to the Rouran was rebuffed, the Tujue joined with the Western Wei, successor state to the Northern Wei, and revolted against the Rouran. In 555, they beheaded 3,000 Rouran. Some scholars claim that the Rouran then fled west across the steppes and became the Avars, though many other scholars contest this claim.[5] The remainder of the Rouran fled into China, were absorbed into the border guards, and disappeared forever as an entity. The last Rouran khagan fled to the court of Western Wei, but at the demand of Tujue, Western Wei executed him and the nobles that accompanied him.

Asia in 400 AD, showing the Nirun Khaganate (Rouran), Tuoba's Northern Wei, Xianbei's Tuyuhun Kingdom, Southern Liang, Later Yan and Xiongnu's Üeban and Northern Liang states
The Rouran Khaganate, c. 500

Little is known of the Rouran ruling elite, which the Book of Wei cited as an offshoot of the Xianbei. The Rouran subdued modern regions of Xinjiang, Mongolia, Central Asia, and parts of Siberia and Manchuria from the late 4th century. Their frequent interventions and invasions profoundly affected neighboring countries. Though they admitted the Ashina of Göktürks into their federation, the power of the Rouran was broken by an alliance of Göktürks, the Chinese Northern Qi and Northern Zhou dynasties and tribes in Central Asia in 552. The Northern Wei, for instance, established the Six Garrisons bordering the Rouran, which later became the foci of several major mutinies in the early 6th century.

Qaghans of the Rouran[edit]

The Rourans were the first people who used the titles Khagan and Khan for their emperors (which are, therefore, assumed to be Mongolic in origin), replacing the Chanyu of the Xiongnu, whom Grousset and others assume to be Turkic.[12]

Mongolian historian G.Sükhbaatar restored Mongol name of the Rouran kings.[13]

Temple names Regal names Family names and given name Durations of reigns Era names
and their according durations
Modern Mongolian pronunciation
Chinese convention: for those who have regal names, use regal names; otherwise, use family name and given name, or use given name + "Khan"
Yùjiǔlǘ Mùgǔlǘ (郁久閭木骨閭) 4th century Mugului
Yùjiǔlǘ Chēlùhuì (郁久閭車鹿會) 4th century Charugui
Yùjiǔlǘ Tǔnúgūi (郁久閭吐奴傀) 4th century Tonogoi
Yùjiǔlǘ Bátí (郁久閭跋提) 4th century Butai
Yùjiǔlǘ Dìsùyuán (郁久閭地粟袁) 4th century
Yùjiǔlǘ Pǐhóubá (郁久閭匹侯跋) 4th century Bitubat
Venheti 4th century Ongudai (similar to Ongud tribe name)
Yùjiǔlǘ Màngētí (郁久閭縵紇提) 4th century
Yùjiǔlǘ Héduōhàn (郁久閭曷多汗) 4th century
Qiudoufa Khan (丘豆伐可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Shèlún (郁久閭社崙) 402–410 Jarun
Aikugai Khan (藹苦蓋可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Húlǜ (郁久閭斛律) 410–414 Höhlüd
Mouhanheshenggai Khan (牟汗紇升蓋可汗)
(Bukha Yesunggei Khaan)
Yùjiǔlǘ Dàtán (郁久閭大檀) 414–429 Tatar
Chilian Khan (敕連可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Wútí (郁久閭吳提) 429–444 Engüdei
Chu Khan (處可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Tǔhèzhēn (郁久閭吐賀真) 444–450 Togochin
Shouluobuzhen Khan (受羅部真可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Yúchéng (郁久閭予成) 450–485 Yongkang Yǒngkāng (永康) 464–484 Ijin
Fumingdun Khan (伏名敦可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Dòulún (郁久閭豆崙) 485–492 Tàipíng (太平) 485–491 Tülün
Houqifudaikezhe Khan (侯其伏代庫者可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Nàgài (郁久閭那蓋) 492–506 Tàiān (太安) 492–505 Nagai
Tuohan Khan (佗汗可汗) (Toghon Khaan) Yùjiǔlǘ Fútú (郁久閭伏圖) 506–508 Shǐpíng (始平) 506–507 Bogd (similar to Bogd Khan)
Douluofubadoufa Khan (豆羅伏跋豆伐可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Chǒunú (郁久閭醜奴) 508–520 Jiànchāng (建昌) 508–520 Chunu
Chiliantoubingdoufa Khan (敕連頭兵豆伐可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Ānàgūi (郁久閭阿那瓌) 520–552 Amgai
Mi'oukeshegou Khan (彌偶可社句可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Póluómén (郁久閭婆羅門) 521–524 Brahman (Hindu word)
Yùjiǔlǘ Tiěfá (郁久閭鐵伐) 552–553 Tibed
Yùjiǔlǘ Dēngzhù (郁久閭登注) 553
Yùjiǔlǘ Kāngtí (郁久閭康提) 553
Yùjiǔlǘ Ānluóchén (郁久閭菴羅辰) 553–554 Amarjin
Yùjiǔlǘ Dèng Shūzǐ (郁久閭鄧叔子) 555


  1. ^ Rein Taagepera "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.", Social Science History Vol. 3, 115-138 (1979)
  2. ^ Jonathan M. Adams, Thomas D. Hall and Peter Turchin (2006). East-West Orientation of Historical Empires.Journal of World-Systems Research (University of Connecticut). 12 (no. 2): 219–229.
  3. ^ History of Gobi Region
  4. ^ Zhang, Min. Lun Beiwei Changcheng Junzheng Fangwei Tixi De Jianli ("On the Defensive System of Great Wall Military Town of Northern Wei Dynasty") China’s Borderland History and Geography Studies, Jun. 2003 Vol. 13 No. 2. Page 15.
  5. ^ a b West, Barbara A. (2008). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. p. 687. ISBN 978-0-8160-7109-8. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Findley (2005), p. 35.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Grousset (1970), p. 67.
  10. ^ eds. Lee, Stefanowska, Wiles 2007, p. 316.
  11. ^ Gao Huan, as demanded by Yujiulü Anagui as one of the peace terms between Eastern Wei and Rouran, married the Princess Ruru in 545, and had her take the place of Princess Lou as his wife, but never formally divorced Princess Lou. After Gao Huan's death, pursuant to Rouran customs, the Princess Ruru became married to Gao Huan's son Gao Cheng, who also, however, did not formally divorce his wife.
  12. ^ Grousset (1970), pp. 61, 585, n. 91.
  13. ^ G.Sukhbaatar, Mongolian history sourcebooks, 1991