Xianbei ( ) were a significant nomadic people
residing in Manchuria and eastern Mongolia, or Xianbei Shan.
Xianbei belt buckles, 3-4th century
The Xianbei were descendants of the Donghu
which used to be believed to represent the “Eastern Hu” based on
the Chinese record. Now most Chinese historians believe that Donghu
by itself was an ethnonym
, rather than
having derived from their location on the east of the Xiongnu
. Whereas Donghu was a Chinese
transcription, the Mongolian
reference was “Tünghu” .
migrated south and westward into areas of the modern Chinese
provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, and Liaoning.
some Xianbei groups also lived in ancient Eastern Heilongjiang or Hulun Manchu Imperial
province, currently Khabarovsk and Amur regions in the
Russian Far East.
The Xianbei people consisted of a federation of non-Han
groups of which the most important was the Tuoba
(拓跋). During the Han
Dynasty, they occupied the steppes in
Mongolia, Hebei and Liaodong.
After the downfall of the Xiongnu, the
Xianbei set up the nomadic Xianbei
. After the fall of the Han dynasty, the Xianbei
established extensive presence in China.
During the Sixteen Kingdoms
(304-439) period, the Xianbei founded six kingdoms in China proper
, including the Former Yan
(281-370), Western Yan
(384-394), Later Yan
(383-407), Southern Yan
(398-410), Western Qin
(385-430) and Southern Liang
(397-414). Most of them were
unified by the Tuoba Xianbei, who established the Northern Wei
(386-535), which was the first of
the Northern Dynasties
founded by the Xianbei.
In 534, the Northern Wei split into an Eastern Wei
(534-550) and a Western Wei
(535-556). The former evolved
into the Northern Qi (550-577), and the
latter into the Northern Zhou
(557-581), while the 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
(581-618). His son, Emperor Yang Guang
, 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 Shimin
, 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 Dynasty. Through these political establishments, the
Xianbei who entered China were largely merged with the Han, while
those who remained behind in the northern grassland emerged as
later powers to rule over China.
Today the "Monguor
" as known in the West and
as “Tu Zu” in China have descended from the Xianbei who were led by
Khan to migrate westward and
establish the Tuyuhun Kingdom
(284-670) in the third century and Western
(1038-1227) through the thirteenth century. Today they are
primarily distributed in Qinghai and Gansu Province, and speak an
Altaic Mongolic language. The multi-ethnic environment and relative
distant distribution in the northwest, detached from the political
centers of China, have enabled them to preserve their language and
culture until the present times.
or "Xi Bo" people also believed
themselves to be descendants of the Xianbei, with considerable
controversies that have attributed their origins to the Jurchens
, the Elunchun
the Xianbei. Since they were historically referred to as "Suolun
people" and spoke Tungus
rather than Mongolic language
, they may have derived
their origins from one or more fractions of the Xianbei or other
ethnic groups subjugated by the Xianbei. While most of the Xianbei
went south and westward to establish different empires, they
remained behind in Manchuria until subjugated by the Jurchens who
moved southward from the Tungus Plains in Eastern Russia.
- Hao, Weimin (郝维民) and Qimudedaoerji (齐木德道尔吉), 2007, Neimenggu
tong shi gang yao, Outline of Comprehensive History of Inner
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人民出版社. p. 17).
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Big5 code page) via Internet Archive
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