Hunas or Huna was the name given by the ancient Indians to a group of
Central Asian tribes who, via the Khyber Pass, entered
India at the
end of the 5th or early 6th century. They occupied areas as far as
Eran and Kausambi, greatly weakening the Gupta Empire. The Hunas were
ultimately defeated by the Indian
Gupta Empire and the Indian king
The Hunas are thought to have included the Xionite and/or Hephthalite,
the Kidarites, the
Alchon Huns (also known as the Alxon, Alakhana,
Walxon etc) and the Nezak Huns. Such names, along with that of the
Harahunas (also known as the Halahunas or Harahuras) mentioned in
Hindu texts, have sometimes been used for the Hunas in general; while
these groups appear to have been a component of the Hunas, such names
were not necessarily synonymous.
The relationship, if any, of the Hunas to the Huns, a Central Asian
people who invaded Europe during the same period, is also unclear.
In its farthest geographical extent in India, the territories
controlled by the Hunas covered the region up to
Malwa in central
Their repeated invasions and war losses were the main reason for the
decline of the Gupta Empire.
4 See also
The Mongolian-Tibetan historian de:Sumpa Yeshe Peljor (writing in the
18th century) lists the Hunas alongside other peoples found in Central
Asia since antiquity, including the
Yavanas (Greeks), Kambojas,
Khasas and Daradas.
Chinese sources link the Central Asian tribes comprising the Hunas to
Xiongnu of north east Asia and the
Huns who later invaded and
settled in Europe. Similarly, Gerald Larson suggests that the Hunas
were a Turkic-Mongolian grouping from Central Asia. The works of
Ptolemy (2nd century) are among the first European texts to mention
the Huns, followed by the texts by Marcellinus and Priscus. They too
suggest that the
Huns were an inner Asian people.
Hephthalite horseman on
British Museum bowl, 460–479 CE.
Procopius of Caesarea, they were of the same stock as
Huns "in fact as well as in name", but sedentary and
The 6th-century Roman historian
Procopius of Caesarea (Book I. ch. 3),
Huns of Europe with the
Hephthalites or "White Huns" who
subjugated the Sassanids and invaded northwestern India, stating that
they were of the same stock, "in fact as well as in name", although he
Huns with the Hephthalites, in that the Hephthalites
were sedentary, white-skinned, and possessed "not ugly"
The Ephthalitae Huns, who are called White
Huns [...] The Ephthalitae
are of the stock of the
Huns in fact as well as in name, however they
do not mingle with any of the
Huns known to us, for they occupy a land
neither adjoining nor even very near to them; but their territory lies
immediately to the north of Persia [...] They are not nomads like the
other Hunnic peoples, but for a long period have been established in a
goodly land... They are the only ones among the
Huns who have white
bodies and countenances which are not ugly. It is also true that their
manner of living is unlike that of their kinsmen, nor do they live a
savage life as they do; but they are ruled by one king, and since they
possess a lawful constitution, they observe right and justice in their
dealings both with one another and with their neighbours, in no degree
less than the Romans and the Persians
The Kidarites, who invaded Bactria in the second half of the 4th
century, are generally regarded as the first wave of Hunas to
enter South Asia.
The religious beliefs of the Hunas is unknown, and believed to be a
combination of ancestor worship, totemism and animism.
Song Yun and Hui Zheng, who visited the chief of the Hephthalite
nomads at his summer residence in
Badakshan and later in Gandhara,
observed that they had no belief in the
Buddhist law and served a
large number of divinities."
Victory pillar of
Yashodharman at Sondani,
Mandsaur claiming victory
over the Huns.
Asia in 500 AD, showing the Huna domain at its greatest extent.
Alchon Huns king Khingila.
Nezak Huns king Napki Malka.
Hephthalite bowl", NFP Pakistan, 5th or 6th century CE. British
36 royal races
India and Central Asia
Hans Bakker 24th Gonda lecture
^ India: A History by John Keay p.158
^ Kurbanov, Aydogdy (2010). "The Hephthalites: Archaeological and
Historical Analysis" (PDF). p. 24. Retrieved 17 January 2013. The
Hūnas controlled an area that extended from
Malwa in central
^ a b Gerald James Larson (1995). India's Agony Over Religion. State
University of New York Press. pp. 78–79.
^ Sumpa Yeshe Peljor's 18th century work Dpag-bsam-ljon-bzah (Tibetan
title) may be translated as "The Excellent Kalpavriksha"): "Tho-gar
yul dań yabana dań Kambodza dań Khasa [sic] dań Huna dań Darta
^ Pag-Sam-Jon-Zang (1908), I.9, Sarat Chandra Das; Ancient Kamboja,
1971, p 66, H. W. Bailey.
^ Hyun Jin Kim, The Huns, Abingdon, Routledge, passim.
^ Joseph Kitagawa (2013). The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion,
History, and Culture. Routledge. p. 229.
British Museum notice
Procopius of Caesarea: Tyranny, History, and Philosophy at the End
of Antiquity, Anthony Kaldellis, University of Pennsylvania Press,
^ Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in Africa and the
Mediterranean, 439–700, Jonathan Conant Cambridge University Press,
^ Procopius, History of the Wars. Book I, Ch. III, "The Persian War"
^ History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Ahmad Hasan Dani, B. A.
Unesco p.119 sq
^ Mircea Eliade; Charles J. Adams (1987). The Encyclopedia of
religion. Macmillan. pp. 530–532.
^ "The White
Huns - The Hephthalites". Silkroad Foundation. Retrieved
11 January 2013.
^ CNG Coins 
^ Iaroslav Lebedynsky, "Les Nomades", p172.
Iaroslav Lebedynsky, "Les Nomades", Paris 2007,