The House of Huyan emerged during the political organization that came under Modun's reign which saw the Xiongnu reach its apogee. It is an earlier maternal lineage name subsequently replaced by Xubu, much as the Ashina and Yujiulu (). The Mongolian Khiyad tribe's name is probably derived from Huyan.
By the 3rd century BCE, the upper stratum of the Xiongnu was made up of five aristocratic houses, Luandi (house of the Chanyu and the Tuqi King of the east and west), Huyan, Xubu, Qiulin and Lan. Both the Huyan and Xubu settled in the east, Qiulin and Lan in the west and Luandi at the center of Mongolia.
Around the first century BCE, a supreme administrative council dominated the upper Xiongnu hierarchy and this was composed of six top-ranking nobles, which included the "Rizhu kings" of the Left and Right. These titles were later transferred to the Huyan clan, which became influential due its close relationship with the royal family by way of marriage.
Historical record also cited a Huyan tribe called Barkol, which attacked and demolished the Yiwu garrison of the Han dynasty in 151.
^Bichurin N.Ya., "Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times", vol. 1, Sankt Petersburg, 1851, p. 15 ( note 1: Huyan and Xubu always were in marital relationship with the Chanyu. Xubu had a post of the State Judge. The custom of taking for the Khan maidens only from the same houses also survived in the Chingis-khan's house.)