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The Vokil, Ukil or Uokil were a dynastic clan of 1st millennium Danube Bulgaria.

They contributed four monarchs listed in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans. According to the Nominalia, they "ruled on that side of Danube for 515 years with shaven heads". The first Bulgarian supreme Khan of the Vokil lineage listed in Nominalia was Kormisosh (r. 737–754) and the last was Umor (r. 766).

Theories regarding origins[edit]

Kazakh Turkologist Yury Zuev had drawn attention to circumstantial evidence suggesting links between the Vokil and various Central Asian peoples, during antiquity and the early Middle Ages. The peoples concerned include:

  • the Hutsze (Hūjiē 呼揭) or Utsze (Wūjiē 烏揭), whom Zuv believed to have been an offshoot of the Yuezhi or Wusun;[1]
  • the Sitsze (Wade-Giles Ssu-chieh; pinyin Sījiē 思结) a Turkic people that were part of the Toquz Oghuz ("Nine Tribes").
  • the Augaloi of the Amu Darya/Transoxiana region;

However, such theories are controversial and cannot be all true. Conclusive evidence proving or disproving them has never been presented and there is no consensus amongst scholars on whether or not such links exist.

Yuezhi and Wusun[edit]

Yuezhi and Wusun are Chinese exonyms for two separate Indo-European peoples, who lived in western China and Central Asia, during ancient times. Before the end of the 4th Century BCE, the Yuezhi and Wusun were located in areas that were later part of the Chinese provinces of Gansu and Xinjiang.[2] There was substantial interaction between the Yuezhi, the Wusun and a neighbouring people, the Xiongnu, whom many scholars have suggested were precursors of the Huns and, indirectly, of the Bulgars.

In about 200 BCE, the Xiongnu leader Modu Chanyu – a vassal of the Yuezhi – rebelled, attacked the Yuezhi,[3][4] and subjugated several other peoples.[5] The Yuezhi subsequently attacked the Wusun, in about 173 BC,[3][6] and killing their king, Nandoumi (Chinese: 難兜靡).[6] According to a Wusun legend, Nandoumi's infant son Liejiaomi was left in the wild, but was miraculously saved by a she-wolf, which allowed him to suckle, and ravens, which fed him meat.[7][8][9][10] This pivotal myth shared similarities with the founding myths of many other peoples in Central Asia.[11] It has been, in particular, the basis of theories that the Ashina – the royal clan of the Göktürk Turks – originated amongst the Wusun.[12] In 162 BC, the Yuezhi suffered a further, more decisive defeat at the hands of the Xiongnu and retreated from Gansu.[3] According to Zhang Qian, the Yuezhi fragmented and most fled westward into the Ili river valley.[3][13] The Wusun and Xiongnu later drove the main body of the Yuezhi southward, through Sogdia, into Bactria. The Wusun settled afterwards in Gansu, in the Ushui-he (Chinese: "Raven Water River") valley, as vassals of the Xiongnu.[6]

According to the Chinese chronicle Hanshu, in 49 BCE the Xiongnu ruler, Zhizhi (Chjichji) defeated three small states. Zuev reads the names of these states as the Hutsze or Utsze, Tszyankun (or Jiankun; Kirghiz) and Dinglin (Dingling; a Turkic people). While other scholars have regarded the Hutsze or Utsze as most likely an offshoot of the Wusun, Zuev considers it possible that they were a remnant of the Yuezhi. The Hanshu recorded that the Hutsze retreated to the Lake Baikal area and the Great Khingan slopes (next to the Dingling).[1] According to Zuev, the Hutsze emigrated further westward, initially to the Aral Sea area, and may have joined the Yuezhi in their migration to Sogdia and Bactria.[1]


In the 2nd century CE, Ptolemy (VI, 12, 4) wrote of the Lower Syr-Darya that near a northern section of the Amu Darya were the Iatioi and Tokharoi (Tukharas, i.e. Bactrians), and south of them were a people known as the Augaloi.

Yury Zuev postulated that the Augaloi mentioned by Ptolemy with the Ukil.[14] However, a majority of scholars regard Augaloi as a misrendering of Sacaraucae.


During the Early Middle Ages, the Oghuz Turks, known at that time as Toquz Oghuz ("Nine Tribes"), included a people known in Chinese sources as the Sitsze or Ssu-chieh, who have been identified with. This name may be a sinicisation of igil, a Turkic root meaning "many" (ssu-chieh < γiei-kiet < igil ). In the middle of the 7th century, they were reported to be located on the northern bank of the Kherlen River.[15]

The text of a Uighur funeral monument for Eletmish-Kagan (d. 759), referred to the Qara Igil bodun: a combination of the determinative qara ("blackness") and igil ("people").[16] (This name may also have suggested the influence of Manichaeanism, which had a "black and white" dualistic cosmology.[17])

In a 9th-century Yugur text, the Sitsze were mentioned as having a strong leader named Igil kül-irkin (Hi-kil-rkor-hir-kin), and were located next to the Iduk-az ("Hi-dog-kas") Iduq-kas or Iduq-qash, who may have been offshoot or successor of the Yuezhi or Alans.[18]

Another circumstantial link between the Oghuz and the Bulgarian Vokil is the naming of Verkil, a hero of the epic Kitab-i dedem Korkut.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology", p. 56
  2. ^ G. Haloun, "Zur Üe-tsï-Frage. In: Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft", 91, NF 16, 1937, p. 301, in Yury Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology", p. 42
  3. ^ a b c d Benjamin, Craig (October 2003). "The Yuezhi Migration and Sogdia". Transoxiana Webfestschrift. Transoxiana. 1 (Ēran ud Anērān). Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  4. ^ Beckwith 2009, pp. 380–383
  5. ^ Enoki, Koshelenko & Haidary 1994, pp. 171–191
  6. ^ a b c Beckwith 2009, pp. 6–7
  7. ^ François & Hulsewé 1979, p. 215
  8. ^ Shiji 《史記·大宛列傳》 Original text: 匈奴攻殺其父,而昆莫生棄於野。烏嗛肉蜚其上,狼往乳之。
  9. ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 6
  10. ^ Watson 1993, pp. 237–238
  11. ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 2
  12. ^ Sinor & Klyashtorny 1996, pp. 328–329
  13. ^ Hanshu 《漢書·張騫李廣利傳》 Original text 時,月氏已為匈奴所破,西擊塞王。
  14. ^ Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology", p. 55
  15. ^ Wang Pu, "Summary review of Tang dynasty, 618-907 (Tang Huiyao)", Shanghai, 1958, ch. 72, p. 1307, in Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology", p. 45
  16. ^ Mogoin Shine Usu monument, line 14
  17. ^ Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology", p. 45
  18. ^ J. Bacot, "Reconnaissance en haute asie septentrionale par cinq envoyé ouigours au VIIIE siècle.", JA, 2, 1956, p. 147, in Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology", p. 45
  19. ^ Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology", p. 57

See also[edit]