The Xianbei state at its maximum extent
|Capital||Near the Orkhon River, Mongolia|
|200||4,500,000 km2 (1,700,000 sq mi)|
|History of Mongolia|
Part of a series on the
|History of Manchuria|
The Xianbei state or Xianbei confederation was a nomadic empire which existed in modern-day Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, northern Xinjiang, Northeast China, Gansu, Buryatia, Zabaykalsky Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, Tuva, Altai Republic and eastern Kazakhstan from 156 to 234. Like most ancient peoples known through Chinese historiography, the ethnic makeup of the Xianbei is unclear.
When the Donghu "Eastern Barbarians" were defeated by Modu Chanyu around 208 BC, the Donghu splintered into the Xianbei and Wuhuan. According to the Book of the Later Han, “the language and culture of the Xianbei are the same as the Wuhuan”.
In 49, the governor Ji Tong convinced the Xianbei chieftain Pianhe to turn on the Xiongnu with rewards for each Xiongnu head they collected. In 54, Yuchouben and Mantou of the Xianbei paid tribute to Emperor Guangwu of Han. In 58, Pianhe attacked and killed Xinzhiben, a Wuhuan leader causing trouble in Yuyang Commandery.
After the downfall of the Xiongnu, the Xianbei replaced them with a loose confederacy from AD 93.
Around 155, the northern Xiongnu were "crushed and subjugated" by the Xianbei. The Xianbei chief, known by the Chinese as Tanshihuai, then advanced upon and defeated the Wusun of the Ili region by 166. Under Tanshihuai, the Xianbei extended their territory from the Ussuri to the Caspian Sea. He divided the Xianbei empire into three sections, each ruled by twenty clans. Tanshihuai then formed an alliance with the southern Xiongnu to attack Shaanxii and Gansu. China successfully repulsed their attacks in 158. In 177 AD, Xia Yu, Tian Yan and the Tute Chanyu led a force of 30,000 against the Xianbei. They were defeated and returned with only a quarter of their original forces. A memorial made that year records that the Xianbei had taken all the lands previously held by the Xiongnu and their warriors numbered 100,000. Han deserters who sought refuge in their lands served as their advisers and refined metals as well as wrought iron came into their possession. Their weapons were sharper and their horses faster than those of the Xiongnu. Another memorial submitted in 185 states that the Xianbei were making raids on Han settlements nearly every year. The Xianbei might have also attacked Wa (Japan) with some success.
Tanshihuai of the Xianbei divided his territory into three sections: the eastern, the middle and the western. From the You Beiping to the Liao River, connecting the Fuyu and Mo to the east, it was the eastern section. There were more than twenty counties. The darens (chiefs) (of this section) were called Mijia 彌加, Queji 闕機, Suli 素利 and Huaitou 槐頭. From the You Beiping to Shanggu to the west, it was the middle section. There were more than ten counties. The darens of this section were called Kezui 柯最, Queju 闕居, Murong 慕容, et al. From Shanggu to Dunhuang, connecting the Wusun to the west, it was the western section. There were more than twenty counties. The darens (of this section) were called Zhijian Luoluo 置鞬落羅, Rilü Tuiyan 曰律推演, Yanliyou 宴荔游, et al. These chiefs were all subordinate to Tanshihuai.
The loose Xianbei confederacy lacked the organization of the Xiongnu but was highly aggressive until the death of their khan Tanshihuai in 182. Tanshihuai's son Helian lacked his father's abilities and was killed in a raid on Beidi in 186. Helian's brother Kuitou succeeded him, but when Helian's son Qianman came of age, he challenged his uncle to succession, destroying the last vestiges of unity among the Xianbei. Qianman was unsuccessful and disappeared soon after. By 190, the Xianbei had split into three groups with Kuitou ruling in Inner Mongolia, Kebineng in northern Shanxi, and Suli and Mijia in northern Liaodong. In 205, Kuitou's brothers Budugen and Fuluohan succeeded him. After Cao Cao defeated the Wuhuan at the Battle of White Wolf Mountain in 207, Budugen and Fuluohan paid tribute to him. In 218, Fuluohan met with the Wuhuan chieftain Nengchendi to form an alliance, but Nengchendi double crossed him and called in another Xianbei khan, Kebineng, who killed Fuluohan. Budugen went to the court of Cao Wei in 224 to ask for assistance against Kebineng, but he eventually betrayed them and allied with Kebineng in 233. Kebineng killed Budugen soon afterwards.
Kebineng was from a minor Xianbei tribe. He rose to power west of Dai Commandery by taking in a number of Chinese refugees, who helped him drill his soldiers and make weapons. After the defeat of the Wuhuan in 207, he also sent tribute to Cao Cao, and even provided assistance against the rebel Tian Yin. In 218 he allied himself to the Wuhuan rebel Nengchendi but they were heavily defeated and forced back across the frontier by Cao Zhang. In 220 he acknowledged Cao Pi as emperor of Cao Wei. Eventually he turned on the Wei for frustrating his advances on another Xianbei khan, Sui. Kebineng conducted raids on Cao Wei before he was killed in 235, after which his confederacy disintegrated.
After the fall of the last khans, Budugen and Kebineng, in 234, the Xianbei state began to split into a number of smaller independent domains. The third century saw both the fragmentation of the Xianbei state in 235 and the branching out of the various Xianbei tribes later to establish significant empires of their own. The most prominent branches were the Murong, Tuoba, Khitan people, Shiwei and Rouran Khaganate.
Xianbei peoples subsequently pushed their way inside the Great Wall of China and established an extensive presence in the Sixteen Kingdoms (304–439), Northern Dynasties (386–581), all through the Sui (581–618) and Tang Dynasties (618–907).
The Khitan people, who founded the Liao dynasty (916–1125) in China proper, were included among the Yuwen Xianbei of southern Mongolia, who had earlier founded the Western Wei (535–556) and Northern Zhou (557–581) of the Northern Dynasties in North China in opposition to the Southern Dynasties founded by the Chinese in South China. Khitan-ruled Liao China gave rise to the use of "Cathay" as a name for China in the Persianate world and medieval Europe. This same term is an archaism for the Western world in Standard Chinese.
The economic base of the Xianbei was animal husbandry combined with agricultural practice. They were the first to develop the khanate system, in which formation of social classes deepened, and developments also occurred in their literacy, arts and culture. They used a zodiac calendar and favored song and music. Tengrism was the main religion among the Xianbei people. After they lost control over Mongolia, their descendants in North China later became fully versed in Chinese cultural traditions.
- Bianhe/Pianhe 偏和 (49)
- Yuchouben 於仇賁 (54)
- Mantou 滿頭 (54)
- Wulun 烏倫 (120)
- Qizhiqian 其至鞬 (r.121–132)
- Tanshihuai 檀石槐 (130–181)
- Helian 和連 (181–185)
- Kuitou 魁頭 (185–187)
- Qianman 騫曼 (190s)
- Budugen 步度根 (187–234)
- Kebineng 軻比能 (190s-235)
- Bang, Peter Fibiger; Bayly, C. A.; Scheidel, Walter (2020-12-02). The Oxford World History of Empire: Volume One: The Imperial Experience. Oxford University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-19-977311-4.
- Wyatt 2004, p. 8.
- Chen, Sanping (1996). "A-Gan Revisited — The Tuoba's Cultural and Political Heritage". Journal of Asian History. 30 (1): 46–78. JSTOR 41931010.
- Xianbei 鮮卑
- Crespigny 2007, p. 1016. sfn error: no target: CITEREFCrespigny2007 (help)
- Crespigny 2007, p. 899. sfn error: no target: CITEREFCrespigny2007 (help)
- Crespigny 2007, p. 991. sfn error: no target: CITEREFCrespigny2007 (help)
- Crespigny 2017. sfn error: no target: CITEREFCrespigny2017 (help)
- Cosmo 2009, p. 106. sfn error: no target: CITEREFCosmo2009 (help)
- Cosmo 2009, p. 107. sfn error: no target: CITEREFCosmo2009 (help)
- Twitchett 2008, p. 445.
- Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. pp. 53–54. ISBN 978-0-8135-1304-1.
- "Nomads in Central Asia." N. Ishjamts. In: History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Harmatta, János, ed., 1994. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, pp. 155-156.
- SGZ 30. 837–838, note. 1.
- SGZ 30. 837-838, note. 1.
- de Crespigny 2017, p. 401.
- de Crespigny 2007, p. 320.
- de Crespigny 2007, p. 237.
- de Crespigny 2007, p. 25.
- de Crespigny 2007, p. 289.
- 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.
- Ma, Changshou [馬長壽] (1962). Wuhuan yu Xianbei [Wuhuan and Xianbei] 烏桓與鮮卑. Shanghai [上海], Shanghai ren min chu ban she [Shanghai People's Press] 上海人民出版社.
- Liu, Xueyao [劉學銚] (1994). Xianbei shi lun [the Xianbei History] 鮮卑史論. Taipei [台北], Nan tian shu ju [Nantian Press] 南天書局.
- Wang, Zhongluo [王仲荦] (2007). Wei jin nan bei chao shi [History of Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties] 魏晋南北朝史. Beijing [北京], Zhonghua shu ju [China Press] 中华书局.
- Chen, Yinke [陳寅恪], 1943, Tang dai zheng zhi shi shu lun gao [Manuscript of Discussions on the Political History of the Tang Dynasty] 唐代政治史述論稿. Chongqing [重慶], Shang wu [商務].
- Chen, Yinke [陳寅恪] and Tang, Zhenchang [唐振常], 1997, Tang dai zheng zhi shi shu lun gao [Manuscript of Discussions on the Political History of the Tang Dynasty] 唐代政治史述論稿. Shanghai [上海], Shanghai gu ji chu ban she [Shanghai Ancient Literature Press] 上海古籍出版社.
- Wang, Qinghuai [王清淮] (2008). Tang tai zong [Emperor Taizong of the Tang] 唐太宗. Beijing [北京], Zhongguo she hui ke xue chu ban she [Chinese Social Sciences Press] 中国社会科学出版社.
- Yang, Jun [杨军] and Lü Jingzhi [吕净植] (2008). Xianbei di guo chuan qi [Legends of the Xianbei Empires] 鲜卑帝国传奇. Beijing [北京], Zhongguo guo ji guang bo chu ban she [Chinese International Broadcasting Press] 中国国际广播出版社.
- Wittfogel, Karl August and Chia-sheng Feng (1949). History of Chinese society: Liao, 907–1125. Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society distributed by the Macmillan Co. New York. p. 1.
- Cheng, Tian [承天] (2008). Qidan di guo chuan qi [Legends of the Khitan Empires] 契丹帝国传奇. Beijing [北京], Zhongguo guo ji guang bo chu ban she [Chinese International Broadcasting Press] 中国国际广播出版社.
- Liu, Zhanwu [刘占武] and Ren Xuefang [任雪芳] (2007). Sui Tang wu dai da shi ben mo [Major Events of the Sui, Tang, and Wudai Dynasties] 隋唐五代大事本末. Beijing [北京], Zhongguo guo ji guang bo chu ban she [China International Broadcasting Press] 中国国际广播出版社.
- Fei, Xiaotong [费孝通] (1999). Zhonghua min zu duo yuan yi ti ge ju [The Framework of Diversity in Unity of the Chinese Nationality] 中华民族多元一体格局. Beijing [北京], Zhongyang min zu da xue chu ban she [Central Nationalities University Press] 中央民族大学出版社. p. 176.
- Zhang, Jiuhe [张久和] (1998). Yuan Menggu ren de li shi: Shiwei--Dada yan jiu [History of the Original Mongols: research on Shiwei-Dadan] 原蒙古人的历史: 室韦--达怛研究. Beijing [北京], Gao deng jiao yu chu ban she [High Education Press] 高等教育出版社. pp. 27–28.
- Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Kwang-ching Liu – The Cambridge illustrated history of China
- di Cosmo, Nicola (2009), Military Culture in Imperial China, Harvard University Press
- de Crespigny, Rafe (2007), A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms, Brill
- de Crespigny, Rafe (2017), Fire Over Luoyang: A History of the Later Han Dynasty, 23-220 AD, Brill
- Huang, Ray (1999). Broadening the horizons of Chinese history: discourses, syntheses, and comparisons. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-7656-0347-0.
- Lewis, Mark Edward (2009). The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-04014-4.
- Twitchett, Denis (2008), The Cambridge History of China: Volume 1, Cambridge University Press
- Wyatt, James C. Y. (2004). China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD. Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 978-1-58839-126-1.