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The Kidarites
Kidarites
(Chinese: 寄多羅 Jiduolo[1]) were a dynasty of the "Ki" clan named after their ruler Kidara. They were part of the complex of tribes known collectively as Xionites
Xionites
or "Hunas". Referred to as the "Red Huns", they established the first of four major "Hunic" states in Southern Asia, the next ones being in chronological order: the Hephthalites, the Alchon, and the Nezak. In 360-370 CE, they established the Kidarite kingdom in the eastern regions of the Sasanian
Sasanian
Empire, when they replaced the Kushano-Sasanians
Kushano-Sasanians
in Bactria.[2][3] Thereafter the Sasanian
Sasanian
Empire roughly stopped at Merv.[3]

Contents

1 Origins 2 Kidarite kingdom

2.1 Sources 2.2 Migration into Bactria 2.3 Expansion to northwest India

2.3.1 Conflicts with the Gupta Empire 2.3.2 Conflict with Sasanian
Sasanian
emperor Peroz I
Peroz I
and the Hephthalites

2.4 Kidarite successors

3 Main Kidarite rulers 4 See also 5 References and notes 6 Sources

Origins[edit]

Portrait of Kidarites
Kidarites
king Kidara, circa 350-386.[4] The coinage of the Huns imitated Sasanian
Sasanian
imperial coinage, with the exception that they displayed clean-shaven faces, instead of the beards of the Sasanians.[3]

The Kidarites, a nomadic clan, are supposed to have originated in the Altai region and arrived in Bactria
Bactria
with the great migrations of the second half of the 4th century.[5] When Shi Le established the Later Zhao state, it is thought that many of the Uar
Uar
(Chinese 滑 Huá) fled (c. 320 CE) from the area around Pingyang (平陽; modern Linfen, Shanxi) and fled west along the Silk
Silk
Road. This put pressure on the Xionites, who increasingly encroached upon Khorasan and the frontiers of the Kushan
Kushan
state. Another theory is that climate gravely deteriorated in the Altai region in 4th century, leading Hunnic tribes to migrate to the West and the South.[6] The name "Kidarites" may be derived from a Turkic runic term "Kidirti" meaning "West", thus explaining that the Kidarites
Kidarites
were the first of the Huns to migrate (as they were the westernmost tribe) and to appear in Central Asia and put pressure on the Sasanian Empire
Sasanian Empire
and the Kushan Empire.[6] According to the Chinese sources Kidarites
Kidarites
appeared in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
and Bactria
Bactria
in 4th century and were branch of the Little Yuezhi. (?[7]) Some of them inherited the Kushan
Kushan
Empire and were called little Kushans.[8][9] Kidarites
Kidarites
were also called Red Huns,[10][11] they practiced artificial cranial deformation[12] and were displayed on Sogdian coins as archers riding on the reverse.[13] Kidarite kingdom[edit] Sources[edit] The first 4th century evidence are gold coins discovered in Balkh dating from c. 380, where 'Kidara' is usually interpreted in a legend in the Bactrian language. Most other data we currently have on the Kidarite kingdom are from Chinese and Byzantine sources from the middle of the 5th century. The Kidarites
Kidarites
were the first "Hunas" to bother India. Indian records note that the Hūna had established themselves in modern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and the North-West Frontier Province by the first half of the 5th century, and the Gupta emperor Skandagupta
Skandagupta
had repelled a Hūna invasion in 455. The Kidarites
Kidarites
are the last dynasty to regard themselves (on the legend of their coins) as the inheritors of the Kushan
Kushan
empire, which had disappeared as an independent entity two centuries earlier. Migration into Bactria[edit]

Kidara, circa 425-457. AR Drachm (29mm, 3.76 g, 3h). Mint C in Gandhara. Crowned bust facing slightly right / Fire altar flanked by attendants.

Kidarites, uncertain king, imitating Sasanian
Sasanian
king Shapur III, late 4th-early 5th century CE.

Around 350, the Sasanian
Sasanian
Emperor Shapur II
Shapur II
(ruled 309 to 379) had to interrupt his conflict with the Romans, and abandon the siege of Nisibis,[6] in order to face nomadic threats in the east: he was attacked in the east by Scythian Massagetae
Massagetae
and other Central Asian tribes.[14] Around this time Hunnic tribes, most likely the Kidarites, whose king was Grumbates, make an appearance as an encroaching threat upon Sasanian
Sasanian
territory as well as a menace to the Gupta Empire (320-500CE).[1] After a prolonged struggle (353–358) they were forced to conclude an alliance, and their king Grumbates accompanied Shapur II
Shapur II
in the war against the Romans, agreeing to enlist his light cavalrymen into the Persian army and accompanying Shapur II. The presence of "Grumbates, king of the Chionitae" and his Xionites
Xionites
with Shapur II
Shapur II
during campaigns in the Western Caspian lands, in the area of Corduene, is described by the contemporary eyewitness Ammianus Marcellinus:[15]

Grumbates Chionitarum rex novus aetate quidem media rugosisque membris sed mente quadam grandifica multisque victoriarum insignibus nobilis. "Grumbates, the new king of the Xionites, while he was middle aged, and his limbs were wrinkled, he was endowed with a mind that acted grandly, and was famous for his many, significant victories." — Ammianus Marcellinus, 18.6.22.[16]

The presence of Grumbates alongside Shapur II
Shapur II
is also recorded at the successful Siege of Amida
Siege of Amida
in 359, in which Grumbates lost his son:[6]

"Grumbates, king of the Chionitae, went boldly up to the walls to effect that mission, with a brave body of guards; and when a skilful reconnoitrer had noticed him coming within shot, he let fly his balista, and struck down his son in the flower of his youth, who was at his father's side, piercing through his breastplate, breast and all; and he was a prince who in stature and beauty was superior to all his comrades. " — Ammianus Marcellinus, 19.1.7.[17]

Later the alliance fell apart, and by the time of Bahram IV
Bahram IV
(388-399) the Sasanians had lost numerous battles against the Kidarites.[6] The migrating Kidarites
Kidarites
then settled in Bactria, where they replaced the Kushano-Sasanids, a branch of the Sasanids
Sasanids
that had displaced the weakening Kushans
Kushans
in the area two centuries before.[2] It is thought that they were in firm possession of the region of Bactria
Bactria
by 360 CE.[6] Since this area corresponds roughly to Kushanshahr, the former western territories of the Kushans, Kidarite ruler Kidara
Kidara
called himself " Kidara
Kidara
King of the Kushans" on his coins.[18] According to Priscus, the Sasanian Empire
Sasanian Empire
was forced to pay tribute to the Kidarites, until the rule of Yazdgird II
Yazdgird II
(ruled 438-457), who refused payment.[19] The Kidarites
Kidarites
based their capital in Samarkand
Samarkand
, where they were at the center of Central Asian
Central Asian
trade networks, in close relation with the Sogdians.[3] The Kidarites
Kidarites
had a powerful administration and raised taxes, rather efficiently managing their territories, in contrast to the image of barbarians bent on destruction given by Persian accounts.[3] Expansion to northwest India[edit]

Kidara
Kidara
gold coin, circa 350-385 CE, derived from the Kushans. “Kushana Kidara
Kidara
Karan” in Brahmi
Brahmi
across fields/ Ardoxsho on the back.

Kidarites
Kidarites
ruler Kidara
Kidara
circa 425-457 CE. Reverse with Shiva
Shiva
and his bull Nanda.

The Kidarites
Kidarites
consolidated their power in Northern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
during the 420s before conquering Peshawar
Peshawar
and part of northwest India, then turning north to conquer Sogdiana
Sogdiana
in the 440s. The Kidarites
Kidarites
were cut from their Bactrian nomadic roots by the rise of the Hephthalites
Hephthalites
in the 450s. The Kidarites
Kidarites
also seem to have been defeated by the Sasanian
Sasanian
emperor Peroz in 467 CE, with Peroz reconquering Balkh
Balkh
and issuing coinage there as "Peroz King of Kings".[3] It is probably the rise of the Hephthalites
Hephthalites
and the defeats against the Sasanians which pushed the Kidarites
Kidarites
into northern India. Conflicts with the Gupta Empire[edit] The Kidarites
Kidarites
may have confronted the Gupta Empire
Gupta Empire
during the rule of Kumaragupta I
Kumaragupta I
(414–c. 455 CE) as the latter recounts some conflicts,although very vaguely, in his Mandsaur
Mandsaur
inscription.[20] The  Bhitari pillar inscription of Skandagupta, inscribed by his son Skandagupta
Skandagupta
(c. 455 – c. 467 CE), recalls much more dramatically the near-annihilation of the Gupta Empire, and recovery though military victories against the attacks of the Pushyamitras
Pushyamitras
and the Hunas.[6] The Kidarites
Kidarites
are the only Hunas
Hunas
who could have attacked India
India
at the time, as the Hephthalites
Hephthalites
were still trying to set foot in Bactria
Bactria
in the middle of the 5th century.[5] In the Bhitari inscription, Skandagupta
Skandagupta
clearly mentions a conflagrations with the Hunas, even though some portions of the inscription have disappeared:

"(Skandagupta), by whose two arms the earth was shaken, when he, the creator (of a disturbance like that) of a terrible whirlpool, joined in close conflict with the Hûnas; . . . . . . among enemies . . . . . . arrows . . . . . . . . . . . . proclaimed . . . . . . . . . . . . just as if it were the roaring of (the river) Ganga, making itself noticed in (their) ears." — Bhitari pillar inscription of Skandagupta
Skandagupta
L.15

After these encounters, the Kidarites
Kidarites
seem to have retained the western part of the Gupta Empire.[6] The Huna invasion are said to have seriously damaged Indo-Roman trade relations, which the Gupta Empire had greatly benefited from. The Guptas had been exporting numerous luxury products such as silk, leather goods, fur, iron products, ivory, pearl or pepper from centers such as Nasik, Paithan, Pataliputra
Pataliputra
or Benares
Benares
etc. The Huna invasion probably disrupted these trade relations and the tax revenues that came with it.[21] Conflict with Sasanian
Sasanian
emperor Peroz I
Peroz I
and the Hephthalites[edit] Around 457, the Kidarites
Kidarites
were again in conflict against the Sasanians under Yazdegerd II. A "Kidarite dynasty", south of the Oxus, was at war with the Sassanids
Sassanids
in the fifth century. The Sasanian
Sasanian
Emperor Peroz I
Peroz I
(ruled 459–484) fought Kidara
Kidara
and then his son Kungas, forcing Kungas to leave Bactria. The Kidarites, who had established themselves in parts of Transoxiana
Transoxiana
during the reign of the Sasanian king Shapur II, and had a long history of conflicts with the Sasanians. The latter stopped paying tributes to Kidarites
Kidarites
in the early 460s, thus starting a new war between these two states.

Kidarites
Kidarites
ruler "King B", late 4th-early 5th century CE.[22]

During the start of the war, however, Peroz did not have enough manpower to fight them, and therefore asked for financial aid by the Byzantine Empire, who declined his request.[23] Peroz then offered peace to the leader of the Kidarites, Kunkhas, and offered him his sister in marriage. However, Peroz tried to trick Kunkhas, and sent a woman of low status instead. After some time Kunkhas found about Peroz's false promise, and then in turn tried to trick him, by requesting him to send military experts to strengthen his army. However, when a group of 300 military experts arrived to the court of Kunkhas at Balaam (either the same city as Balkh
Balkh
or a city in Sogdia), they were either killed or disfigured and sent back to Iran, with the information that Kunkhas did this due to Peroz's false promise. What happened after remains obscure, it is only known that by 467, Peroz, with Hephthalite
Hephthalite
aid, reportedly managed to capture Balaam (possibly Balkh) and put an end to Kidarite rule in Transoxiana
Transoxiana
once and for all.[6][23] Although the Kidarites
Kidarites
still controlled some places such as Gandhara
Gandhara
and Punjab, they would never be an issue for the Sasanians again.[2] Kidarite successors[edit]

Coin of king Yinayaditya (also Vinayaditya), one of the "Kidarite successors", late 5th century CE, Jammu
Jammu
and Kashmir.

Many small Kidarite kingdoms seems to have survived in northwest India up to the conquest by the Hephthalites
Hephthalites
during the last quarter of the 5th century. They are known through their coinage. They were particularly present in Jammu
Jammu
and Kashmir, such as king Vinayaditya, but their coinage was much debased. The Kidarites
Kidarites
were soon overwhelmed by the Hephthalites.[24][15] By 520, Gandhara
Gandhara
was definitely under Hephthalite
Hephthalite
control, according to Chinese pilgrims.[6] The Alchon
Alchon
Huns followed the Kidarites
Kidarites
into India
India
circa 500, invading Indian territory as far as Eran
Eran
and Kausambi. Main Kidarite rulers[edit]

Kidara
Kidara
I fl. c. 320 CE

Kungas 330's ?

Varhran I fl. c. 340

Grumbates c. 358-c. 380

Kidara
Kidara
(II ?) fl. c. 360

Brahmi
Brahmi
Buddhatala fl. c. 370

(Unknown) fl. 388/400

Varhran (II) fl. c. 425

Goboziko fl. c. 450

Salanavira mid 400's

Vinayaditya late 400's

Kandik early 500's

See also[edit]

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References and notes[edit]

^ a b Touraj Daryaee (2009), Sasanian
Sasanian
Persia, London and New York: I.B.Tauris, p. 17  ^ a b c Sasanian
Sasanian
Seals and Sealings, Rika Gyselen, Peeters Publishers, 2007, p.1 ^ a b c d e f The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, Michael Maas, Cambridge University Press, 2014 p.284sq ^ CNG Coins ^ a b History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Ahmad Hasan Dani, B. A. Litvinsky, Unesco
Unesco
p.119 sq ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Huns, Hyun Jin Kim, Routledge, 2015 p.50 sq ^ The usual view is that after the Yeuzhi were driven out of Mongolia the Lesser Yuezhi
Yuezhi
disappeared in Tibet while the Greater Yuezhi
Yuezhi
became the Kushans. I can find Kidarite=Lesser Yuezhi
Yuezhi
only on Zeimal, History of Civilizations in Central Asia, vol iii, pages 119 and 122, but on page 120 he has Greater Yuezhi
Yuezhi
with the same meaning. ^ COINS OF THE TOCHARI, KUSHÂNS, OR YUE-TI, A. Cunningham, The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Numismatic Society, https://www.jstor.org/stable/42680025?seq=12#page_scan_tab_contents ^ A NOTE ON KIDARA AND THE KIDARITES, WILLIAM SAMOLIN, Central Asiatic Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4 (1956), pp. 295-297, „The Yueh-chih origin of Kidara
Kidara
is clearly established...“, https://www.jstor.org/stable/41926398?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents ^ Kuṣāṇa Coins and Kuṣāṇa Sculptures from Mathurā, Gritli von Mitterwallner, Frederic Salmon Growse, page 49, https://books.google.com/books?id=uufVAAAAMAAJ ^ Ancient Coin Collecting VI: Non-Classical Cultures, Wayne G. Sayles, p. 79, https://books.google.com/books?id=YTGRcVLMg6MC&pg=PA78 ^ The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, Michael Maas, page 185, https://books.google.com/books?id=67dUBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA185 ^ History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Ahmad Hasan Dani, B. A. Litvinsky, page 120, https://books.google.com/books?id=883OZBe2sMYC&pg=PA120 ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/shapur-ii ^ a b History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Ahmad Hasan Dani, B. A. Litvinsky, Unesco
Unesco
p.38 sq ^ Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
18.6.22 ^ Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
18.6.22 ^ The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, Michael Maas p.286 ^ The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, Michael Maas p.287 ^ Malwa Through the Ages, from the Earliest Times to 1305 A.D by Kailash Chand Jain p.242 ^ Longman History & Civics ICSE 9 by Singh p.81 ^ CNG Coins ^ a b Zeimal 1996, p. 130. ^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. pp. 68–69. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9. 

Sources[edit]

Zeimal, E. V. (1996). "The Kidarite kingdom in Central Asia". History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Volume III: The Crossroads of Civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750. Paris: UNESCO. pp. 119–135. ISBN 92-3-103211-9.  ENOKI, K., « On the Date of the Kidarites
Kidarites
(I) », Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko, 27, 1969, p. 1–26. GRENET, F. « Regional Interaction in Central Asia and North-West India
India
in the Kidarite and Hephtalite Period », in SIMS-WILLIAMS, N. (ed.), Indo-Iranian Languages and Peoples, (Proceedings of the British Academy), London, 2002,

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