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The Xianbei
Xianbei
(Chinese: 鮮卑; pinyin: Xiānbēi; Wade–Giles: Hsien-pi) were proto- Mongols
Mongols
residing in what became today's eastern Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Northeast China. Along with the Xiongnu, they were one of the major nomadic groups in northern China during the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
and subsequent dynastic periods. They eventually established their own northern dynasties, including the Northern Wei founded in the 4th century AD by the Tuoba
Tuoba
clan.

Contents

1 Language 2 History

2.1 Qin-Han era 2.2 Early state formation: Sixteen Kingdoms
Sixteen Kingdoms
and the Northern Wei

3 Art

3.1 Leaf headdresses 3.2 Animal iconography 3.3 Horses 3.4 Figurines 3.5 Buddhist Influences

4 Modern descendants 5 See also 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 External links

Language[edit] It is widely theorised that the Xianbei
Xianbei
spoke a language related to the Mongolic languages. Claus Schönig writes:

The Xianbei
Xianbei
derived from the context of the Donghu, who are likely to have contained the linguistic ancestors of the Mongols. Later branches and descendants of the Xianbei
Xianbei
include the Tabghach and Khitan, who seem to have been linguistically Para-Mongolic. [...] Opinions differ widely as to what the linguistic impact of the Xianbei
Xianbei
period was. Some scholars (like Clauson) have preferred to regard the Xianbei
Xianbei
and Tabghach (Tuoba) as Turks, or even as Bulghar Turks, with the implication that the entire layer of early Turkic borrowings in Mongolic would have been received from the Xianbei, rather than from the Xiongnu. However, since the Mongolic (or Para-Mongolic) identity of the Xianbei
Xianbei
is increasingly obvious in the light of recent progress in Khitan studies, it is more reasonable to assume (with Doerfer) that the flow of linguistic influence from Turkic (or Bulghar Turkic) into Mongolic was at least partly reversed during the Xianbei
Xianbei
period, yielding the first identifiable layer of Mongolic (or Para-Mongolic) loanwords in Turkic. [1]

History[edit] Chinese historical texts unequivocally state that the Xianbei
Xianbei
were descendants of the earlier Proto-Mongolic Donghu,[2] which used to be believed to represent the “Eastern Hu” based on the Chinese record. The Xianbei
Xianbei
were a northern or northeastern Asian northern Mongoloid population according to modern Chinese and Russian anthropologists.[3] Qin-Han era[edit] After the Donghu were defeated by Modu Chanyu
Modu Chanyu
around 208 BC, the Xianbei
Xianbei
and Wuhuan
Wuhuan
survived as the main remnants of the confederation. The Book of the Later Han
Book of the Later Han
says that “the language and culture of the Xianbei
Xianbei
are the same as the Wuhuan”.[citation needed]

An Eastern Han
Eastern Han
glazed ceramic statue of a horse with bridle and halter headgear, from Sichuan, late 2nd century to early 3rd century AD

The Records of the Three Kingdoms
Records of the Three Kingdoms
say:

Tanshihuai of the Xianbei
Xianbei
divided his territory into three sections: the eastern, the middle and the western. From the You Beiping to the Liao River, connecting the Fuyu and Mo to the east, it was the eastern section. There were more than twenty counties. The darens (chiefs) (of this section) were called Mijia, Queji, Suli and Huaitou. From the You Beiping to Shanggu to the west, it was the middle section. There were more than ten counties. The darens of this section were called Kezui, Queju, Murong, et al. From Shanggu to Dunhuang, connecting the Wusun to the west, it was the western section. There were more than twenty counties. The darens (of this section) were called Zhijian Luoluo, Rilü Tuiyan, Yanliyou, et al. These chiefs were all subordinate to Tanshihuai.[4]

The Book of the Later Han
Book of the Later Han
records a memorial submitted in 177:

Ever since the [northern] Xiongnu
Xiongnu
ran away, the Xianbei
Xianbei
have become powerful and populous, taking all the lands previously held by the Xiong-nu and claiming to have 100,000 warriors. … Refined metals and wrought iron have come into the possession of the [Xianbei] rebels. Han deserters also seek refuge [in the lands of the Xianbei] and serve as their advisers. Their weapons are sharper and their horses are faster than those of the Xiong-nu.

Another memorial submitted in 185 is recorded by the Book of the Later Han:

The Xianbei
Xianbei
people … invade our frontiers so frequently that hardly a year goes by in peace, and it is only when the trading season arrives that they come forward in submission. But in so doing they are only bent on gaining precious Chinese goods; it is not because they respect Chinese power or are grateful for Chinese generosity. As soon as they obtain all they possibly can [from trade], they turn in their tracks to start wreaking damage.

Around A.D. 155, the northern Xiongnu
Xiongnu
were "crushed and subjugated" by the Xianbei. Their chief, known by the Chinese as Tan-shih-huai, then advanced upon and defeated the Wusun
Wusun
of the Ili by A.D. 166. He then formed an allegiance with the southern Xiongnu
Xiongnu
to attack Shensi
Shensi
and Kansu. China successfully repulsed their attacks in 158, 177 and 279[5]

"Between A.D. 155 and 166, T’an-shih-huai conducted a series of major military campaigns that led to the extension of Hsien-pi power over the Great Steppe as far as southern Siberia and from Ussuri
Ussuri
to the Caspian Sea. Until the third decade of the third century A.D. the Hsien-pi was the leading power in Central Asia."[6]

Early state formation: Sixteen Kingdoms
Sixteen Kingdoms
and the Northern Wei[edit] The 3rd century saw both the fragmentation of the Xianbei
Xianbei
in 235 and the branching out of the various Xianbei
Xianbei
tribes later to establish six significant empires of their own such as the Former Yan
Former Yan
(281-370), Western Yan
Western Yan
(384-394), Later Yan
Later Yan
(384-407), Southern Yan
Southern Yan
(398-410), Western Qin
Western Qin
(385-430) and Southern Liang (397-414). Most of them were unified by the Tuoba
Tuoba
Xianbei, who established the Northern Wei
Northern Wei
(386-535), which was the first of the Northern Dynasties (386-581) founded by the Xianbei.[7][8][9]

Xianbei
Xianbei
belt buckles, 3-4th century AD

In 534, the Northern Wei
Northern Wei
split into an Eastern Wei
Eastern Wei
(534-550) and a Western Wei
Western Wei
(535-556) after an uprising in the steppes of North China inhabited by Xianbei
Xianbei
and other nomadic peoples.[10] The former evolved into the Northern Qi
Northern Qi
(550-577), and the latter into the Northern Zhou (557-581), while the Southern Dynasties
Southern Dynasties
were pushed to the south of the Yangtze River. In 581, the Prime Minister of Northern Zhou, Yang Jian, founded the Sui dynasty
Sui dynasty
(581-618). His son, the future Emperor Yang of Sui, annihilated the Southern Chen (557-589), the last kingdom of the Southern Dynasties, thereby unifying northern and southern China. After the Sui came to an end amidst peasant rebellions and renegade troops, his cousin, Li Yuan, founded the Tang dynasty (618-907); Li led China to develop into one of the most prosperous states in history. Sui and Tang dynasties were founded by Han Chinese generals who also served the Northern Wei
Northern Wei
dynasty.[11][12] Through these political establishments, the Xianbei
Xianbei
who entered China were largely merged with the Han, examples such as the wife of Emperor Gaozu of Tang, Duchess Dou and Emperor Taizong of Tang's (Li Shimin's) wife, Empress Zhangsun, both have Xianbei
Xianbei
ancestries,[13] while those who remained behind in the northern grassland emerged as later powers to rule over China. Art[edit] Art of the Xianbei
Xianbei
portrayed their nomadic lifestyle and consisted primarily of metalwork and figurines. The style and subjects of Xianbei
Xianbei
art were influenced by a variety of influences, and ultimately, the Xianbei
Xianbei
were known for emphasizing unique nomadic motifs in artistic advancements such as leaf headdresses, crouching and geometricized animals depictions, animal pendant necklaces, and metal openwork.[14] Leaf headdresses[edit] The leaf headdresses were very characteristic of Xianbei
Xianbei
culture, and they are found especially in Murong
Murong
Xianbei
Xianbei
tombs. Their corresponding ornamental style also links the Xianbei
Xianbei
to Bactria. These gold hat ornaments represented trees and antlers and, in Chinese, they are referred to as buyao (“step sway”) since the thin metal leaves move when the wearer moves. Sun Guoping first uncovered this type of artifact, and defined three main styles: “Blossoming Tree” (huashu), which is mounted on the front of a cap near the forehead and has one or more branches with hanging leaves that are circle or droplet shaped, “Blossoming Top” (dinghua), which is worn on top of the head and resembles a tree or animal with many leaf pendants, and the rare “Blossoming Vine” (huaman), which consists of “gold strips interwoven with wires with leaves.”[15] Leaf headdresses were made with hammered gold and decorated by punching out designs and hanging the leaf pendants with wire. The exact origin, use, and wear of these headdresses is still being investigated and determined. However, headdresses similar to those later also existed and were worn by women in the courts.[14][15][16] Animal iconography[edit] Another key form of Xianbei
Xianbei
art is animal iconography, which was implemented primarily in metalwork. The Xianbei
Xianbei
stylistically portrayed crouching animals in geometricized, abstracted, repeated forms, and distinguished their culture and art by depicting animal predation and same-animal combat. Typically, sheep, deer, and horses were illustrated. The artifacts, usually plaques or pendants, were made from metal, and the backgrounds were decorated with openwork or mountainous landscapes, which harks back to the Xianbei
Xianbei
nomadic lifestyle. With repeated animal imagery, an openwork background, and a rectangular frame, the included image of the three deer plaque is a paradigm of the Xianbei
Xianbei
art style. Concave plaque backings imply that plaques were made using lost-wax casting, or raised designs were impressed on the back of hammered metal sheets.[17][18] Horses[edit] The nomadic traditions of the Xianbei
Xianbei
inspired them to portray horses in their artwork. It is obvious that the horse played a large role in the existence of the Xianbei
Xianbei
as a nomadic people, and in one tomb, a horse skull lay atop Xianbei
Xianbei
bells, buckles, ornaments, a saddle, and one gilded bronze stirrup.[19] The Xianbei
Xianbei
not only created art for their horses, but they also made art to depict horses. Another recurring motif was the winged horse. It has been suggested by archaeologist Su Bai that this symbol was a “heavenly beast in the shape of a horse” because of its prominence in Xianbei mythology.[17] This symbol is thought to have guided an early Xianbei southern migration, and is a recurring image in many Xianbei
Xianbei
art forms. Figurines[edit]

Figure of a Xianbei
Xianbei
warrior from the Northern Dynasties
Northern Dynasties
(286-581 AD) era

Xianbei
Xianbei
figurines help to portray the people of the society by representing pastimes, depicting specialized clothing, and implying various beliefs. Most figurines have been recovered from Xianbei tombs, so they are primarily military and musical figures meant to serve the deceased in afterlife processions and guard the tomb. Furthermore, the figurine clothing specifies the according social statuses: higher-ranking Xianbei
Xianbei
wore long-sleeved robes with a straight neck shirt underneath, while lower-ranking Xianbei
Xianbei
wore trousers and belted tunics.[20] Buddhist Influences[edit] Xianbei
Xianbei
Buddhist influences were derived from interactions with Han culture. The Han bureaucrats initially helped the Xianbei
Xianbei
run their state, but eventually the Xianbei
Xianbei
became Sinophiles and promoted Buddhism. The beginning of this conversion is evidenced by the Buddha imagery that emerges in Xianbei
Xianbei
art. For instance, the included Buddha imprinted leaf headdress perfectly represents the Xianbei
Xianbei
conversion and Buddhist synthesis since it combines both the traditional nomadic Xianbei
Xianbei
leaf headdress with the new imagery of Buddha. This Xianbei religious conversion continued to develop in the Northern Wei
Northern Wei
dynasty, and ultimately led to the creation of the Yungang Grottoes.[14] Modern descendants[edit] Main article: Change of Xianbei
Xianbei
names to Han names Most Xianbei
Xianbei
clans adopted Han family names during Northern Wei Dynasty. Below is a list of the Xianbei
Xianbei
clans that are known to have been changed into Han family names. The Northern Wei's Eight Noble Xianbei
Xianbei
surnames 八大贵族 were the Buliugu 步六孤, Helai 賀賴, Dugu 獨孤, Helou 賀樓, Huniu 忽忸, Qiumu 丘穆, Gexi 紇奚, and Yuchi 尉遲. The "Monguor" (Tu) people in modern China may have descended from the Xianbei
Xianbei
who were led by Tuyuhun
Tuyuhun
Khan to migrate westward and establish the Tuyuhun
Tuyuhun
Kingdom (284-670) in the third century and Western Xia (1038–1227) through the thirteenth century.[21] Today they are primarily distributed in Qinghai and Gansu Province, and speak a Mongolic language. The Xibe or "Xibo" people also believe they are descendants of the Xianbei, with considerable controversies that have attributed their origins to the Jurchens, the Elunchun, and the Xianbei.[22][23] Xianbei
Xianbei
descendants among the Korean population carry surnames such as Mo 모 Chinese: 慕; pinyin: mù; Wade–Giles: mu (shortened from Murong), Seok Sŏk Sek 석 Chinese: 石; pinyin: shí; Wade–Giles: shih (shortened from Wushilan 烏石蘭, Won Wŏn 원 Chinese: 元; pinyin: yuán; Wade–Giles: yüan (the adopted Chinese surname of the Tuoba), Dokgo 독고 Chinese: 獨孤; pinyin: Dúgū; Wade–Giles: Tuku (from Dugu).[24][25][26][27][28][29][30] See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Xianbei.

Change of Xianbei
Xianbei
names to Han names Kebineng List of Mongolian monarchs Northern Wei
Northern Wei
Dynasty Xianbei
Xianbei
state Sixteen Kingdoms Tribes in Chinese history Wu Hu Wuhuan Chinese sovereign Bu Dugen Hanshu Sanguozhi

References[edit]

^ Janhunen 2006, pp. 405-6. ^ Chen, Sanping (1996). "A-Gan Revisited — The Tuoba's Cultural and Political Heritage". Journal of Asian History. 30 (1): 46–78. JSTOR 41931010.  ^ Anthropology of Archaeological Populations from Northeast Asia* ^ SGZ 30. 837–838, note. 1. ^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. pp. 53–54. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9.  ^ "Nomads in Central Asia." N. Ishjamts. In: History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Harmatta, János, ed., 1994. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, pp. 155-156. ^ Ma, Changshou [馬長壽] (1962). Wuhuan
Wuhuan
yu Xianbei
Xianbei
[ Wuhuan
Wuhuan
and Xianbei] 烏桓與鮮卑. Shanghai [上海], Shanghai ren min chu ban she [Shanghai People's Press] 上海人民出版社. ^ Liu, Xueyao [劉學銚] (1994). Xianbei
Xianbei
shi lun [the Xianbei History] 鮮卑史論. Taibei [台北], Nan tian shu ju [Nantian Press] 南天書局. ^ Wang, Zhongluo [王仲荦] (2007). Wei jin nan bei chao shi [History of Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties] 魏晋南北朝史. Beijing [北京], Zhonghua shu ju [China Press] 中华书局. ^ Charles Holcombe, A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-First Century, p 68 Cambridge University Press, 2011 ^ Chen, Yinke [陳寅恪], 1943, Tang dai zheng zhi shi shu lun gao [Manuscript of Discussions on the Political History of the Tang dynasty] 唐代政治史述論稿. Chongqing [重慶], Shang wu [商務]. ^ Chen, Yinke [陳寅恪] and Tang, Zhenchang [唐振常], 1997, Tang dai zheng zhi shi shu lun gao [Manuscript of Discussions on the Political History of the Tang dynasty] 唐代政治史述論稿. Shanghai [上海], Shanghai gu ji chu ban she [Shanghai Ancient Literature Press] 上海古籍出版社. ^ Barbara Bennett Peterson (2000). Barbara Bennett Peterson, ed. Notable women of China: Shang dynasty to the early twentieth century (illustrated ed.). M.E. Sharpe. p. 181. ISBN 0-7656-0504-X. Retrieved 2010-06-28.  ^ a b c Watt, James C.Y. China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD. Comp. An Jiayao, Angela F. Howard, Boris I. Marshak, Su Bai, and Zhao Feng. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004. Print. ^ a b Laursen, Sarah. Leaves That Sway: Gold Xianbei
Xianbei
Cap Ornaments from Northeast China. UPenn Repository. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. <http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1480&context=edissertations>. ^ http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1480&context=edissertations ^ a b Bunker, Emma C., and Zhixin Sun. "Nomadic Art of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes: The Eugene V. Thaw and Other New York Collections." Google Books. Ed. James Watt. Yale University Press, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. ^ Psarras, Sophia-Karin. "Han and Xiongnu: A Reexamination of Cultural and Political Relations (I)." Monumenta Serica. Vol. 51. N.p.: Monumenta Serica Institute, n.d. 55-236. Ser. 2003. J Stor. Web. <https://www.jstor.org/stable/40727370>. ^ Dien, Albert E. "The Stirrup and Its Effect on Chinese Military History." Ars Orientalis. Vol. 16. N.p.: Freer Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian Institution and Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan, n.d. 33-56. Ser. 1986. J Stor. Web. <https://www.jstor.org/stable/4629341>. ^ Dien, Albert E. Six Dynasties Civilization. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2007. Print. ^ Lü, Jianfu [呂建福], 2002. Tu zu shi [The Tu History] 土族史. Beijing [北京], Zhongguo she hui ke xue chu ban she [Chinese Social Sciences Press] 中囯社会科学出版社. ^ Liaoning Provincial Nationalities Research Institute 辽宁省民族硏究所 (1986). Xibo zu shi lun kao [Examination on the History of the Xibo Nationality] 锡伯族史论考. Shenyang, Liaoning Nationalities Press ^ Ji Nan [嵇南] and Wu Keyao [吳克尧] (1990). Xibo zu [Xibo Nationality] 锡伯族. Beijing, Nationalities Press. ^ http://www.surname.info/dokgo/nam_won.html ^ http://www.surname.info/dokgo/ingu/dokgo.html ^ http://www.rootsinfo.co.kr/info/roots/view_bon.php?H=%D4%BC%CD%B5&S=%B5%B6%B0%ED ^ hyo.djjunggu.go.kr/html/hyo/museum ^ https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/1207177?availability=Family%20History%20Library ^ http://www.surname.info/dokgo/nam_won-roots.html ^ http://www.surname.info/dokgo/nam_won-population.html

Bibliography[edit] Juha Janhunen (27 January 2006). The Mongolic Languages. Routledge. p. 393. ISBN 978-1-135-79690-7.  External links[edit]

鮮卑語言The Xianbei
Xianbei
language(Chinese Traditional Big5 code page) via Internet Archive

v t e

Sixteen Kingdoms

History

Uprising of the Five Barbarians Disaster of Yongjia Shi Le's unification of North China Wei–Jie war Wei- Xianbei
Xianbei
war Fu Jian's unification of North China Huan Wen's expeditions Battle of Fei River Liu Yu's expeditions

The 16 Kingdoms

Cheng Han Former Zhao Later Zhao Former Liang Later Liang Western Liang Northern Liang Southern Liang Former Qin Later Qin Western Qin Former Yan Later Yan Northern Yan Southern Yan Xia

Other states

Ran Wei Northern Wei Western Shu Western Yan Duan Yuwen Chouchi Zhai Wei Dai Huan Chu Duan Qi

Involved

Jin Dynasty Jie Xiongnu Qiang Xianbei Di

Key personalities

Liu Yuan Shi Le Sima Yue Ran Min Huan Wen Fu Jian Xie Xuan Liu Yu

Histories of the Era

Spring and Autumn Annals of the Sixteen Kingdoms Book of Jin

Authority control

.