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China Hohhot Wang Zhaojun and Huhanye 525x394 1

Huhanye Chanyu (58-31 BCE)

Xiongnu Chanyu. After the death of Wuyanjiudi Chanyu in 60 BCE, an internal disorder rose up in Xiongnu, and five Chanyus reigned at the same time. In history, this period was named “The troubles of five Chanyu”. Then it ended with a quarrel between brothers Huhanye and Zhizhi for the throne. In 54 BCE, Zhizhi captured the steppe under his control, and Huhanye was forced to shift the Han Dynasty.

     In a hostile way towards each other, Xiongnu was separated into two parts and the brothers did not agree with each other. So the Xiongnu Empire was getting weaker. There was a group who thought that one of the brothers would rule the Empire and dominate others again. On the contrary, most of the lords and officials thought that Xiongnu could not be re-established in this situation that the Han Dynasty had already gotten more powerful. So Xiongnu should join the Han Dynasty for a while for reinforcement. Drawing on these proposals, Huhanye Chanyu decided to receive the second proposal to submit to the Han Dynasty and reinforce his nation.

     In 53 BCE, Huhanye Chanyu sent his son to the Han Dynasty as a hostage. In the following year, Huhanye Chanyu left for Chang’an, the capital city of Han, and personally called upon Xuandi Emperor of Western Han. Xuandi Emperor met him friendly and formally. He told him to accept his proposal to become a vassal of the Han Dynasty and granted him a new golden seal with the writing “Xiongnu Chanyu Seal” tied with a yellow silk string. Due to the meaning of the writing on the seal, the Chanyu received the seal. Because Xiongnu rule and the power of Chanyu were still in the seal as content and the word “Seal” in the writing was not turned into “Sign” which was always used by the local governors of the Han Dynasty. even though Xiongnu was weakened caused of the State disintegration and joined Han Dynasty, its power state rule and aspiration were still as before in people’s minds. So the Han Dynasty was aware not to make or declare them a vassal of the Han directly. The Emperor of Han sent some officials to make a greeting to Xiongnu Chanyu respectfully at a distance from his palace when he came to the Han Dynasty at first. And when he visited the palace, he was offered a higher seat than ministers, dignitaries, lords, and military commanders, and the state seal, hat, belt, outer or underclothes, a sword with a precious set, knife, bow and arrow, cart, 15 horses, 20 jing (a jing is 596.8 gram) of gold, 200.000 copper coins, 8.000 pieces of silk goods, and 6.000 jing of cotton as gifts. Huhanye Chanyu went back from the palace of the Han Emperor after his visit lasted a month, he was guarded by 20.000 Chinese cavalries.

    China Hohhot Wang Zhaojun and Huhanye 525x394 1

     According to the Emperor’s decree and Huhanye Chanyu’s request, he was settled down in a place named Shouxioncheng in the north of Ordos, that is to say, near the fortification line built by Han, in the south of Xiongnu land. Han Emperor sent a large amount of millet and rice to the people who accompanied Huhanye Chanyu and decided to supply them every year.

     At that time most of the Xiongnu were under Zhizhi’s rule, but he moved from the Khangai Mountain and Orkhon Valley into the Semirechiye region, to avoid the sudden attack from Huhanye Chanyu who was supported by the Han. Some Chinese envoys who visited the Zhizhi Chanyu palace died for an unknown reason in 48 BCE, and the Chinese side thought that Zhizhi killed the messengers, bore a grudge, and dealt with Zhizhi Chanyu with an antagonistic view. After this event, Zhizhi Chanyu was not able to move back to their homeland. On the other hand, Huhanye Chanyu was no longer worried about any attack on Zhizhi Chanyu. As a result, some Xiongnu officials and ministers submitted the Chanyu to move back to the homeland. Then they came back to Eastern Mongolia again in 47 BCE. Huhanye Chanyu was settled down in the Bogd Khan Mountain or the Bayan-Ulaan Mountain or between them because they were all not close to the domain of ZHizhi Chanyu and the Eastern Tuqi Wang domain was Huhanye Chanyu’s birthplace. Although formally Xiongnu was protected by China, the homeland in Mongolia was ruled by Huhanye. But Zhizhi Chanyu controlled the western countries such as Semirechiye, Dingling, Wusun, Kangjiu, and so on. Some tribes like Wuhuan which was dominated before still gave duties and taxes to Huhanye Chanyu with fur and cloth.

     In 37 BCE, Zhizhi Chanyu was beaten and killed by the Han Dynasty in his newly built city, in the Talas River, the Semirechiye. It gave Huhanye Chanyu a chance to be the only influential leader in the homeland. In 33 BCE, he invited one again to Chang’an city, called upon the Emperor of the Han Dynasty, and received a duty to protect the northern border of the Han from other nomads. During this time, he proposed to ask a princess of the Han Dynasty to improve the relationship. The Emperor received his proposal and gave him one of his concubines named Wang Zhaojun as a Yanji (queen in Xiongnu). She gave birth to a son named Yitujiyashi to Huhanye who would become later the West Zhijo wang of Xiongnu.

     In 31 BCE, Huhanye Chanyu died and his son was raised a Chanyu with the title Fujulei-Jodi. He married Wang Zhaojin according to the levirate tradition and had two daughters. Apparently, Wang Zhaojun died before Fujulei-Jodi and now there is a big earth tomb that is known as one for Wang Zhaojun, near Huhhot, Inner Mongolia was built. Actually, the Palace of Huhanye Chanyu was in the east of Mongolia especially in the zone of the Noyon Uul, near the Kharaa river. During the time of Huhanye Chanyu, Xiongnu Empire was recognized as a vassal of the Han Dynasty, but Xiongnu still kept its indecency indeed. To some researchers’ view, at that time, the Xiongnu Empire was re-established and dominated all the land as before.

Wei Qing (?-106 BCE)

A military commander of Western Han. Since his sister became a concubine of Han Wudi Emperor, he had a chance to enter the Palace. Moreover, he was paid the attention of Wu Di Emperor and opened the way to become a military commander. When Xiongnu mounted an attack on Shanggu district in 129 BCE, Wei Qing, Gongsun Ao, Gongsun He, and Li Guang battled with 10000 cavalries in intercepting way. Only Wei Qing won the battle, killed more than 700 soldiers who guarded the Longcheng, Xiongnu Sacrificial Place, and captured the city. It was the first victory over Xiongnu. So Wei Qing was awarded a high rank and title. The next year, he killed over 1000 soldiers of Xiongnu and deserved great merit. In 127 BCE, he defeated the princes of Soufan and Baiyan tribes, killed thousands of people of Xiongnu, and took over a million livestock animals. Consequently, Xiongnu lost the Ordos and experienced a great loss. He erected a fortified wall-Shoufang in his domain and made it a base to attack against Xiongnu. In 124 BCE, when West Tuqi wang of Xiongnu attacked the Shoufang, he was defeated by Wei Qing’s besiege. After the victory, Wei Qing became a general commander or generalissimos. In the following year, he invaded Xiongnu and killed or captured 20.000 soldiers, but his second commanders were defeated by Izhixie Chanyu of Xiongnu and Zhao Xin gave in. At the battle mounted in 119 BCE, Wei Qing commanded the main force of the army, defeated Izhixie Chanyu, and killed or captured thousands of soldiers. Nevertheless, n other famous Han commander. Li Guang committed suicide because he did not win the battle. The mass of people blamed Wei Qing for never commanding the army. Then he worked as an advisor of the Emperor and died in 106 BCE.

Wen Chang Di Jun

Wen-Cheng Di (440-465)

     His real name is Touba Jun and a successor of his grandfather Touba Tao. His father is Touba Huang and his mother is a relative of the Rouran Emperor. He ascended the throne at the age of 12. He is recorded in history as he refused the strict policies and campaigns carried out by his grandfather to renew the laws and calm the people. But he continued the military and diplomatic strict policies to Rouran and High Carts-Oguz. His son, Touba Hung prince succeeded to implement his policies.

Chen Wendi Tang 1

Wengedi (end of 4th c. CE)

     Emperor of Rouran. Also called Ongudai. After the death of his father Desigun, the state disintegrated. The Eastern part was ruled by Desigun’s eldest son Pihuoba, while the Western part was ruled by the second son Wengedi. He managed to gain independence from Touba Wei in 376 and tried to capture the territory ruled by the previous Xiongnu together with Liu Weicheng of the South Xiongnu. In 386-395, the Tabgachi made an attack on Rouran with a big force and weakened their force. Rouran got more powerful in the period of Wengedi’s son Shelum.

Western Wei (535-556)

     Firstly established as a result of the disintegration of Touba Wei. After Yuwen Tai general, killed Yuan Xiu, the last emperor of Touba Wei in 535, he let Yuan Baoju play a puppet emperor of the Western Wei. As Western Wei had a more powerful economy but less land and population than the Eastern Wei, they could protect themselves well. Furthermore, they captured some places dominated by Liang State in the south. In 557, a son of Yuwen Tai demoted the previous emperor Yuwen Jue and founded a new state named Northern Zhou.

Fresco of a Young Girl Western Wei

Su Wu (140-60 BCE)

     Statesmen and diplomats of the Chinese Han Dynasty. Famous for being faithful in Chinese history, and renowned for the policy of Xiongnu. In 100 BCE, Wudi Emperor appointed him as a second general of a palace safety and an officer of Xiongnu affairs. Wudi sent messengers headed by Su Wu to Xiongnu in 101 BCE and asked for a peace treaty as the vassal state of the Han Dynasty. During his stay at the court, SU Wu tried to organize a coup-d[etat but it was revealed and sentenced to hard punishment or to surrender to Xiongnu. Su Wu did not accept the surrender and was sent for exile far away to Baikal Lake. However, the state barely has forgotten him for 19 years but took back him by a special contract.

Huang Shen Su Wu Tending Sheep scaled


     Although the Xiongnu preferred to avoid close-range fighting. They were equipped for it, as is shown by occasional archeological finds of the appropriate weapon types. There are two swords have been found in the territory of Mongolia.

Sword-1: It has been found in the tomb No.5 at Baruunkhairkhan Uul near Ulaanbaatar city. Length 67.7 cm, thickness 0.5 cm, length at handle 1.9 cm, thickness 1 cm, and weight 160 gr. It is double-edged and has a spiky and thin point. the sword was placed in a wooden sheath but due to lack of preservation, the sheath was damaged very much. Even though the surface of the sword is corroded considerably it has been kept very good. This sword is being kept at the Institute of Archeology, MAS.

     Sword-2: It has been found in a burial excavated in Khovd province. Length 69 cm, shoulder width 1.3 cm, grip length 16 cm; it has a 3.3 diameter ring on the point. The sword is considerably corroded and damaged even though it was initially placed in a wooden sheath covered with leather and fabric. According to these words, these have a straight blade with two edges and a hilt without a guard.

    Though some authors have referred to the term “sabers”, this is a misleading description therefore the right use of the term will make further research easier. As noted in the Mongolian dictionary a sword is a double-edged, straight weapon made of steel that places in a sheath/scabbard.

     One Chinese source described the Xiongnu as “using bows and arrows from a distance, but using spears with iron handles when closer in”. an iron sword decorated with the Chinese characters “Zhong Dao” or “A Soldier’s Knife” has been found in the Baikal region, suggesting that the Xiongnu may sometimes have used Chinese-made weapons. Other Eurasian steppe warriors of the time, for example, the Sarmatians, were skillful swordsmen who, on at least one occasion, defeated the Xiongnu. When fighting the Xiongnu the Sarmatians unleashed a hail storm of whistling arrows than closed to fight them with swords.

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