Liang Zhigongtu


Uar, (for Chinese etymology see Huá (滑)), was the self designation used by the dominant ethnicity in a confederation known to the Chinese as the Yanda (嚈噠) and to the west as the Hephthalites. It was the largest of one of the three ethnic components constituting the Hephthalite federation. Peoples with similar ethnicons had been present along the Silk Road for centuries, and several of the Central European family names actually derive from the names of such tribes. The Chinese classic Liang Zhigongtu describes them as originating in the Hua (state) (cf. Mongolia). Simokattes's term Uar is also sometimes written War or Var. The variation Huá (滑), is the name the Hephthalite polity used of themselves according to the Chinese classic Liang chih-kung-t'u.

Theophylaktos Simokattes, mentions the Hunnoi as the other major component under the Hephthal ruling elite. They are identified as the "true" Avars of the east; the true political force behind what Simokattes calls the "Pseudo-Avars" who eventually settled down in Pannonia. This was in response to the Göktürks who encouraged the Byzantines to regard the "Avar"-Huns (associated with the Uyghurs?) who entered Europe as Pseudo-Avars.

() refers to Hua (state), which according to the "Book of Liang" and the "Liang Zhigongtu" was the origin of the Hephthalite country's Uar polity.

Origin and migration

According to Ferdowsi their legendary ancestor was Afrasiabus. The sketch exhibited in the Portraits of Periodical Offering of Liang depicts the UarHuá (滑) envoy as East Asian and this along with J. Marquart's discovery of many similarities between the terms for the Hephthalites in India and words in the Mongolian language such as the term Khagan (可汗), have led scholars to believe that at least a portion of their population had to have been of proto-Mongolic origin, while some of their practices remind us of Hūsìmì (呼似密). This implies the diverse range of peoples under the Hepthalite dynasty. Like Procopius, contemporary Chinese chroniclers had their own theories about the origins of the Hephthalite and their "Uar" polity.

  • either the Hepthalites were related in some way to the Visha (Indo-Europeans known to the Chinese as the The Clan of Yue), originally pronounced something like *wor, though based in Turpan and conquered by the Rouran, they came from Pingyang and originally Hua (state) and were important in the early Jade trade. Pingyang remains the centre of the Huá (滑) clan even today.
  • or they were a branch of the Kangju or Gaoche peoples, (in legend) descending from the general Bahua, based in Turpan they sided with the Southern Xiongnu of Pingyang against the Northern Xiongnu (hence the Huá (滑) clan's presence in Pingyang) but were later conquered by the Rouran,
  • or one scholar admitted that he could not make clear their origins at all.

Throughout the 5th century, it was the Uar who managed to succeed to the Central Eurasian Hun heritage in a campaign which spread from the Tian Shan to the Carpathians. Because of the Later Zhao the Oro (deer) people were divided, half going to the Heilongjiang-Amur and half went west. By 460 the Uar had taken over much of Central Eurasia from Xinjiang to the Volga River, though very little is known about the area from the late 5th to early 6th centuries.

The Yanda & The Uar/Huá

According to the Book of Liang, the Yanda were an offshoot of the Yuezhi, supposedly Indo-European statelet situated to what is now Turpan. It mentions an envoy sent by their Yandaiyilituo/Ephthalite king from 516 to the court, at present day Nanjing. The Uar/Huá are supposed to have become a subject under the yoke of the Rouran as indicated in the sources.

Chinese chronicles recognise that the Yanda term actually only came from the name of a clan leading the Uar/Huá. Yanda in the Book of Wei, are supposed to be a variety of the Great Yuezhi while the Uar/Huá, who are also described, are possibly an offshoot of the Gaoche. The Book of Wei indicates, however, that the Yanda do not share a similar language with the Rouran or Gaoche. It is said that the Yanda language can be easily translated through the Tuyuhun, a group of peoples from the Koko Nor. Kazuo Enoki believed the Yanda to be an Iranian group like the Hazara, in which case they may have been related to the Tocharians.

Throughout the 5th century, it was the Huá who managed on succeed to the steppe heritage in a campaign which spread from the Tian Shan to the Carpathians. By around 460, the Huá had taken over much of Central Eurasia from Xinjiang to the Volga River, and founded a capital at the city of Badiyan or Pendjikent, near what is now Khujand, though very little is known about the area from the late 5th to early 6th centuries.


The Kidarite dynasty which ruled the Xionites came from the Uar. As a result, the Xionites have sometimes been called Uar-Hunnoi. Simokattes calls the Uar the "real" Avars of the east and the true political force behind what he calls the "pseudo" Avars who eventually settled down in Transylvania.

Uar and Hunnoi are the names associated with the two biggest tribes of "Procopius's White Huns" commonly identified with the Sanskrit SvetaHuna but called Varkhon or Varkunites (OuarKhonitai) by Menander Protector. Procopius writes that these White Huns are white-skinned and have an organized kingship. According to him, their life is not wild/nomadic, and they live in cities. Around 630, Theophylaktos Simokattes wrote that the European "Avars" were initially composed of two nations, the Uar and the Hunnoi tribes. He wrote that: "...the Barsilt, the Unogurs and the Sabirs were struck with horror... and honoured the Newcomers with brilliant gifts..." when the Avars first arrived in their lands in 555AD.

The Uar and the Hunnoi are supposed to have united around 460 under the rule of one of the five Yuezhi families - the Hephthal. They were also joined near the end of the 6th century by the Zabender, Tarnach and Kotzagerek Huns and they became known as Onogurs, from whom the name Hungary derives. The Onogurs themselves were composed of three groups. See also Avars and Kabars. During the 7th century around 670 the Bulgars under Kouber and Asparukh, who were also part of their empire, revolted, the Kouber tribes moving south to the Pelasgian plain and Asparukh leading his people south of the Danube.

For more on the Uar-Hunnoi see Alchon.


Grignaschi 1980 = M. Grignaschi, 'La Chute De L'Empire Hephthalite Dans Les Sources Byzantines et Perses et Le Probleme Des Avar,' Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, Tomus XXVIII Akademiai Kiado, Budapest (1980)
Haussig, Hans Wilhelm, Die Geschichte Zentralasiens und der Seidenstraße in vorislamischer Zeit, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1983, ISBN 3-534-07869-1.
Schreiner, P. Theophylaktos Simokates, Geschichte.

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