|330 AD-555 AD|
Rouran Khaganate in Central Asia
|Capital||Mumo city, Orkhon River, Mongolia|
o 330 AD
o 555 AD
|405||2,800,000 km2 (1,100,000 sq mi)|
|Today part of||China|
|Ruru or Ruanruan|
|Rouru or Rouruan|
The Rouran Khaganate (Chinese: ; pinyin: ) was a tribal confederation and later state founded by a people of Proto-Mongolic Donghu origin. The Rouran supreme rulers are noted for being the first to use the title of "khagan", having borrowed this popular title from the Xianbei. The Rouran Khaganate lasted from the late 4th century until the middle 6th century, when they were defeated by a Göktürk rebellion which subsequently led to the rise of the Turks in world history.
Their Khaganate overthrown, some Rouran remnants possibly became Tatars while others migrated west and became the Pannonian Avars (known by such names as Varchonites or Pseudo Avars), who settled in Pannonia (centred on modern Hungary) during the 6th century. However, this Rouran-Avars link remains a controversial theory. The Avars were pursued into the Byzantine Empire by the Göktürks, who referred to the Avars as a slave or vassal people, and requested that the Byzantines expel them. Other theories instead link the origins of the Pannonian Avars to peoples such as the Uar.
Róurán is a Classical Chinese transcription of the endonym of the confederacy;Ru?nru?n ~ Rúrú (Weishu), however, was used in Tuoba-Xianbei sources such as orders given by Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei. It meant something akin to "wriggling worm" and was used in a derogatory sense. Other transcriptions are Róurú ~ Róuru?n (Jinshu); Rúrú (Beiqishu, Zhoushu, Suishu); Ruìruì (Nanqishu, Liangshu, Songshu), Dàtán and Tántán (Songshu).
Mongolian Sinologist Sühe Baatar suggests Nirun as the modern Mongolian term for the Rouran, as superficially resembles reconstructed Chinese forms beginning with *?- or *?-. Rashid-al-Din Hamadani recorded Niru'un and Dürlükin as two divisions of the Mongols.
Klyastorny reconstructed the ethnonym behind the Chinese transcription Róurán (LHC: *?u-?an; EMC: *?uw-?ian > LMC: *riw-rian) as *nönör and compares it to Mongolic nökür "friend, comrade, companion" (Khalkha nöhör). According to Klyashtorny, *nönör denotes "stepnaja vol'nica" "a free, roving band in the steppe, the 'companions' of the early Rouran leaders." In early Mongol society, a nökür was someone who had left his clan or tribe to pledge loyalty to and serve a charismatic warlord; if this derivation were correct, Róurán was originally not an ethnonym, but a social term referring the dynastic founder's origins or the core circle of companions who helped him build his state.
However, Golden identifies philological problems: the ethnonym should have been *nö?ör to be cognate to nökür, & possible assimilation of -/k/- to -/n/- in Chinese transcription needs further linguistic proofs. Even if somehow transmitted nökür, it more likely denoted the Rouran's status as the subjects of the Tuoba. Before being used as an ethnonym, Rouran had originally been the byname of chief Cheluhui (), possibly denoting his status "as a Wei servitor".
Primary Chinese-language sources Songshu and Liangshu connected Rourans to the earlier Xiongnu (of unknown ethnolinguistic affiliation) while Weishu traced the Rouran's origins back to the Donghu, generally agreed to be Proto-Mongols. Xu proposed that "the main body of the Rouran were of Xiongnu origin" and Rourans' descendants, namely Da Shiwei (aka Tatars), contained Turkic elements, besides Mongolic Xianbei. Even so, the Xiongnu's language is still unknown and Chinese historians routinely ascribed Xiongnu origins to various nomadic groups, yet such ascriptions do not necessarity indicate the subjects' exact origins: for examples, Xiongnu ancestry was ascribed to Turkic-speaking Göktürks and Tiele as well as Para-Mongolic-speaking Kumo Xi and Khitans.
Kwok Kin Poon additionally proposes that the Rouran were descended specifically from Donghu's Xianbei lineage, i.e. from Xianbei who remained in the eastern Eurasian Steppe after most Xianbei had migrated south and settled in Northern China. Genetic testings on Rourans' remains suggested Donghu-Xianbei paternal genetic contribution to Rourans.
The founder of the Rouran Khaganate, Yujiulu Shelun, was descended from slaves of the Xianbei whose women were commonly taken as wives or concubines. The endonym Rouran itself was distorted by the Xianbei into exonyms Ruru or Ruanruan, meaning something akin to "wriggling worms". After the Xianbei migrated south and settled in Chinese lands during the late 3rd century AD, the Rouran made a name for themselves as fierce warriors. However they remained politically fragmented until 402 AD when Shelun gained support of all the Rouran chieftains and united the Rouran under one banner. Immediately after uniting, the Rouran entered a perpetual conflict with Northern Wei, beginning with a Wei offensive that drove the Rouran from the Ordos region. The Rouran expanded westward and defeated the neighboring Tiele people and expanded their territory over the Silk Roads, even vassalizing the Hephthalites which remained so until the beginning of the 5th century. The Hepthalites migrated southeast due to pressure from the Rouran and displaced the Yuezhi in Bactria, forcing the them to migrate further south. Despite the conflict between the Hephthalites and Rouran, the Hephthalites borrowed much from their eastern overlords, in particular the title of "Khan" which was first used by the Rouran as a title for their rulers.
In 424, the Rouran invaded Northern Wei but were repulsed.
In 429, Northern Wei launched a major offensive against the Rouran and killed a large number of people.
The Chinese are foot soldiers and we are horsemen. What can a herd of colts and heifers do against tigers or a pack of wolves? As for the Rouran, they graze in the north during the summer; in autumn, they come south and in winter raid our frontiers. We have only to attack them in summer in their pasture lands. At that time their horses are useless: the stallions are busy with the fillies, and the mares with their foals. If we but come upon them there and cut them off from their grazing and their water, within a few days they will be either taken or destroyed.
In 443, Northern Wei attacked the Rouran.
In 449, the Rouran were defeated in battle by Northern Wei.
In 456, Northern Wei attacked the Rouran.
In 458, Northern Wei attacked the Rouran.
In 460, the Rouran subjugated the Ashina tribe residing around modern Turpan and resettled them in the Altai Mountains. The Rouran also ousted the previous dynasty of Gaochang and installed Kan Bozhou as its king.
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.
In 551, Bumin of the Ashina Göktürks quelled a Tiele revolt for the Rouran and asked for a Rouran princess for his service. The Rouran refused and in response Bumin declared independence. Bumin entered a marriage alliance with Western Wei, a successor state of Northern Wei, and attacked the Rouran in 552, killing Yujiulü Anagui. Bumin declared himself Illig Khagan of the Turkic Khaganate after conquering Otuken; Bumin died soon after and his son Issik Qaghan succeeded him. Issik continued attacking the Rouran but died a year later in 553.
In 555, Turks invaded and occupied the Rouran and Yujiulü Dengshuzi led 3000 soldiers in retreat to Western Wei. He was later delivered to Turks by Emperor Gong with his soldiers under pressure from Muqan Qaghan. Same year, Muqan annihilated the Rouran.
According to Xu (2005), some Rouran remnants fled to the northwest of the Greater Khingan mountain range, and renamed themselves Dàtán (MC: *daH-dan) or Tántán (MC: *dan-dan) after Tantan, personal name of a historical Rouran Khagan. Tantan were gradually incorporated into the Shiwei tribal complex and later emerged as Great-Da Shiwei () in Suishu. Klyashtorny, apud Golden (2013), reconstructed / as *tatar / dadar, "the people who, [Klyashtorny] concludes, assisted Datan in the 420s in his internal struggles and who later are noted as the Otuz Tatar ("Thirty Tatars") who were among the mourners at the funeral of Bum?n Qa?an (see the inscriptions of Kül Tegin, E4 and Bilge Qa?an, E5)".
Some scholars claim that the Rouran then fled west across the steppes and became the Avars, though many other scholars contest this claim. However, it's unlikely that Rouran would have migrated to Europe in any sufficient strength to establish themselves there, due to the desperate resistances, military disasters, and massacres. The remainder of the Rouran fled into China, were absorbed into the border guards, and disappeared forever as an entity. The last khagan fled to the court of the Western Wei, but at the demand of the Göktürks, Western Wei executed him and the nobles who accompanied him.
Li et al. 2018 examined the remains of a Rouran male buried at the Khermen Tal site in Mongolia. He was found to be a carrier of the paternal haplogroup C2b1a1b and the maternal haplogroup D4b1a2a1. Haplogroup C2b1a1b has also been detected among the Xianbei.
Several genetic studies have shown that early Pannonian Avar elites carried a large amount of East Asian ancestry, and some have suggested this as evidence for a connection between the Pannonian Avars and the Rouran. However, Savelyev & Jeong 2020 notes that there is still little genetic data on the Rouran themselves, and that their genetic relationship with the Pannonian Avars therefore still remains inconclusive.
The received view is that the relationships of the language remain a puzzle and that it may be an isolate.. Alexander Vovin (2004, 2010) considers the Ruan-ruan language to be an extinct non-Altaic language that is not related to any modern-day language (i.e., a language isolate) and is hence unrelated to Mongolic. Vovin (2004) notes that Old Turkic had borrowed some words from an unknown non-Altaic language that may have been Ruan-ruan. In 2018 Vovin changed his opinion after new evidence was found through the analysis of the Br?hm? Bugut and Khüis Tolgoi inscriptions and suggests that the Ruanruan language was in fact a Mongolic language, close but not identical to Middle Mongolian.
|Personal name||Regnal name||Reign||Era names|
|Yujiulü Shelun||Qiudoufa Khagan ()||402-410|
|Yujiulü Hulü||Aikugai Khagan ()||410-414|
|Yujiulü Datan||Mouhanheshenggai Khagan (?)||414-429|
|Yujiulü Wuti||Chilian Khagan (?)||429-444|
|Yujiulü Tuhezhen||Chu Khagan ()||444-464|
|Yujiulü Yucheng||Shouluobuzhen Khagan ()||464-485||Yongkang ()|
|Yujiulü Doulun||Fumingdun Khagan ()||485-492||Taiping ()|
|Yujiulü Nagai||Houqifudaikezhe Khagan ()||492-506||Taian ()|
|Yujiulü Futu||Tuohan Khagan (?)||506-508||Shiping ()|
|Yujiulü Chounu||Douluofubadoufa Khagan ()||508-520||Jianchang ()|
|Yujiulü Anagui||Chiliantoubingdoufa Khagan ()||520-521|
|Yujiulü Poluomen||Mioukesheju Khagan (?)||521-524|
|Yujiulü Anagui||Chiliantoubingdoufa Khagan ()||522-552|
|The family tree of the Khaghans of the Rouran|
It is not known which language the Xiongnu spoke.
We conclude that F3889 downstream of F3830 is an important paternal lineage of the ancient Donghu nomads. The Donghu-Xianbei branch is expected to have made an important paternal genetic contribution to Rouran. This component of gene flow ultimately entered the gene pool of modern Mongolic- and Manchu-speaking populations.