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This article is a tour de horizon of the origin myths that were recorded in the Chinese dynastic and other historical works written during the Türk era (552–ca. 744) and in subsequent official histories (e.g., the Zhoushu, Suishu, Beishi, Jiu Tangshu and Xin Tangshu), historical handbooks (the Tongdian) and historical collections (e.g., the Youyang zazu [and the Taiping Guangji] and the recent translations of and scholarship on them). Also included is a discussion of a Uyğur-origin Tibetan ‘report’ on the ‘Northern Peoples’. The article focuses on the Ashina-Türk grouping that became the founding and ruling clan of the Türk Qağanate. The shaping of the Ashina-Türk took place in a range of areas extending from the Chinese border zones of Gansu and Xinjiang to Mongolia and Southern Siberia. The Ashina-Türks appear to have been a ‘composite’ of peoples with a variety of ethno-linguistic affiliations. A lupine ancestor figures in most of the origin accounts.
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks
Peter B. Golden*
This article is a tour de horizon of the origin myths that were recorded in
the Chinese dynastic and other historical works written during the Türk era
(552–ca. 744) and in subsequent ofcial histories (e.g., the Zhoushu, Suishu,
Beishi, Jiu Tangshu and Xin Tangshu), historical handbooks (the Tongdian)
and historical collections (e.g., the Youyang zazu [and the Taiping Guangji]
and the recent translations of and scholarship on them). Also included is
a discussion of a Uyğur-origin Tibetan ‘report’ on the ‘Northern Peoples’.
The article focuses on the Ashina-Türk grouping that became the founding
and ruling clan of the Türk Qağanate. The shaping of the Ashina-Türk took
place in a range of areas extending from the Chinese border zones of Gansu
and Xinjiang to Mongolia and Southern Siberia. The Ashina-Türks appear
to have been a ‘composite’ of peoples with a variety of ethno-linguistic
afliations. A lupine ancestor gures in most of the origin accounts.
In the early 540s, a people bearing the name Türk came to the Chinese
borders ‘for the rst time’ seeking to obtain silk goods. Taizu (534–56
ad), the Northern Zhou ‘emperor’, the real power holder during the reign
of the Western Wei1 Emperor, Wendi (535–51 ad), dispatched an embassy
1 The Northern Wei (386–534), Eastern Wei (534–50) and Western Wei (535–56) were of
Tabġač origin derived from the Xianbei (Serbi/Mongolic/Para-Mongolic) peoples as were
also the Northern Zhou (557–81). The Northern Qi (550–77) were of mixed Chinese and
Xianbei roots (Shimunek, Languages: 52–53, 555, n. 89).
*Professor Emeritus, History, Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers University,
Department of History, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA; Center for Middle
Eastern Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
SAGE Publications Los Angeles/London/New Delhi/Singapore/Washington DC/Melbourne
DOI: 10.1177/0971945818775373
292 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
to them, in 545 ad, led by a Sogdian, An Nuopantuo (Nakbanda).2 The
notice about the embassy and the Türk reciprocal embassy sent in 546 is
prefaced by an origin tale of the Türks. This and several other origin tales
are reported in the Chinese accounts and one Tibetan source. They locate
the (Ashina-) Türks in various parts north of the Chinese frontiers. Who
were the Ashina-Türks and whence did they come?
The Türk Empire and Spread of the Ethnonym Türk3
The Ashina,4 the ruling clan of the Türks, forged a core union of 30 tribes,5
the Türk boδun (‘Türk People’) noted in the Türk and Uyğur inscriptions.6
They founded a Qağanate (empire) in Mongolia in 552, having successfully
2 Türk refers only to the eponymous founders and rulers of the First and Second Türk
Qağanates. Turk denotes speakers of a Turkic language. The notice is from the Zhoushu,
50.908 (Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 6–7, vol. 2: 490, n. 21; de la Vaissière,
Histoire: 184–85).
3 Türk or Türük/Türük (User, Köktürk ve Ötüken Uygur: 168–71, 293, Pulleyblank, ‘The
Chinese Name’: 124–25; Divitçioğlu, Orta Asya Türk İmparatorluğu: 21–22; Kafesoğlu,
Umumî Türk Tarihi: 18–21; Aydın, Uygur Kağanlığı Yazıtları: 153; Ölmez, Orhon-Uygur:
78–79 et passim). Türkü, proffered by Clauson, ‘Turks and Wolves’: 4 et passim, has not
found wide acceptance.
4 Ashina 阿史那 EMC*
a şi’ na’, LMC
ŗ´na’ (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 23, 283, 221) <
KhotanSaka âşşeina-âššena ‘blue’ (Bailey, Dictionary of Khotan Saka: 26–27) = Turk.
‘blue’ as argued by Kljaštornyj, ‘The Royal Clan’: 445–48. Atwood, ‘Some Early’: 68–78,
connects Ashina with Tokh. Arši ‘holy man’ (cf. Sanskrit rşi, ONW:
a-şə-na, see Coblin,
Compendium: 124–25 [0016], 240–41 [0382], 121 [0005]). Beckwith, ‘The Pronunciation’:
39–46; Tokh.A: *ārśilāś ‘noble kings’> Old Türk. aršilaš, ‘an epithet or title’, which the
Chinese ‘misunderstood’ as a ‘surname’ or ‘clan-name’ (equated by Beckwith with Aρσίλας
the ‘eldest’ or ‘senior ruler of the Turks’ mentioned by Menander, History: 172/173, 276,
n. 222). Attempts to see *Ašïnas in the Old Türk Xöl Asgat Inscription, E1, W1, W4, Asgat
IIa W4, Asgat IIb E1 (Ōsawa, ‘Revisiting Khöl-Asgat Inscription’: 23, 24, 26, 28, dated
to 729 [or 724]) and in the Sogdian part of the Qarabalġasun inscription, 810/821 (Sogd.
6: ”’šn’s, Yoshida, ‘Some New Readings’: 80–81) require further substantiation. Gumilëv,
Drevnie tjurki: 23, mistakenly derived ashina from Mongolic šono/čino (Modern Mong.
čono, Classical Mong. činu-a ‘wolf’; Lessing, Mongolian–English Dictionary: 190).
5 Dobrovits, ‘The Thirty Tribes’: 257–62; Kljaštornyj, ‘Xunny i tjurki’: 420–25.
6 Boδun, collective plural of boδ ‘clan’ (Clauson, Etymological Dictionary: 296–97, 306,
‘“clans” […] an organized tribal community, a people, in the sense of a community ruled by
a particular ruler’); Berta, Szavaimat: 54 (Toń, S17, E18), 143 (KT, E 6). The Uyğur Šine
Usu inscription (N8, 9–10) dated 759, notes the türk boδwn and the üč tuğlwğ türk boδwn
‘the three-bannered Türk people’ living in the southern zone of the Uyğur Empire (Aydın,
Uygur Kağanlığı Yazıtları: 65, 66, 153–54; Berta, Szavaimat: 283–84).
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 293
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
overthrown their Rouran/Avar overlords7 and rapidly expanded across
Eurasia, conquering lands from the borders of Manchuria to the Pontic
steppes and Crimea. While retaining a nominal unity, the Qağanate divided
into eastern and western halves, ca. 580–611,8 over which the Ashina
exercised a collective sovereignty and in which the Eastern Ashina Qağans
were accorded a slightly higher status. The latter, beset by natural disasters
and military setbacks, succumbed to Tang China in 630. The Western Qağans
submitted in 657/659. The Eastern Qağanate revived in 682 and again
brought the Western Qağanate under its rule. Nonetheless, internal discord
continued and the Eastern Ashina-Türk realm fell to the subject Basmïl (also
led by Ashina rulers) who were, in turn, toppled by their allies the Uyğurs,
aided by the Qarluqs and Oğuz in a dizzying series of revolts in 742–43.
The Head of the last Eastern Ashina-Türk ruler, Ozmïš Qağan,9 was
dispatched to the Tang. The Qarluqs, eeing (745) their erstwhile allies,
the Uyğur Qağans, supplanted the fading Western Qağanate in 766.10
The Uyğur Qağanate (744–840), largely controlling the old Eastern Türk
realm, erected, like their predecessors, a series of steles with inscriptions
in Turkic runiform script composed in the late 740s–late 750s, announcing
themselves as the new—or restored—masters of the Turko-nomadic
imperium, claiming a Qağanal status that had preceded that of the Ashina-
Türks. Theirs, they implied, was the true restauratio imperii.11
7 Golden, ‘Some Notes’: 43–66. Sinor, ‘Some Components’: 147, correctly views the
events of 552 as an‘internal conict’, suggesting that the ‘bulk’ of the Rouran/Avars ‘were
incorporated’ into the Türk realm. He ignores the evidence of further Türk conict with
elements of the Rouran (555) and the European Avar question (on the latter, see Pohl, Die
8 Dating of the division is disputed. For the most recent discussion, Erkoç, ‘Batı Göktürk’:
9 Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 180, 230; Uyğur Šine Usu inscription (N9–10,
Berta, Szavaimat: 283–84) and the Tibeto-Uyğur report (Ms Pelliot Tibétain 1283: Venturi,
‘An Old Tibetan’: 28–29).
10 On the Türk Qağanate, see Divitçioğlu, Orta Asya Türk İmparatorluğu; Ercilasun,
Türk Kağanlığı: 36–337; Golden, An Introduction: 115–41; Gömeç, Kök Türk Tarihi;
Scharlipp, Die frühen Türken: 18–67; see also Chavannes, Documents; Liu, Die chinesischen
Nachrichten; Taşağıl, Gök-Türkler, vol. 1–3. Gumilëv, Drevnie tjurki has to be used with
11 Kamalov, Drevnie ujgury VIII–IX vv.: 58–95; Klyashtorny, ‘The Tes Inscription of the
Uighur Bögü Qaghan’: 149–52. Vasjutin, ‘Ujgurskoe “carstvo” VII v.’: 41–65, questions
whether this ‘First Uyğur Qağanate’ was actually a state. The Qarabalġasun inscription
(810/821) in which the Turkic is largely effaced contains Chinese and Sogdian texts.
294 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
The Chinese accounts employed 突厥Tujue12 ‘Türks’ not as a generic
gentilic encompassing all Turkic-speaking groups but only to denote the
Türks proper.13 In Chinese sources, only two ‘successor states’ retained
the ethnonym Türk/Tujue: the Khazars (ca. 630s/650–965/969) in the
Western Eurasian steppes, whose royal house probably derived from the
Ashina: ‘Türk Khazar’ (突厥可薩 Tujue Kesa, 突厥曷薩 Tujue Hesa in
the Tang dynastic annals),14 and the ‘Shatuo Türks’沙陀突厥 (Shatuo
Tujue, from the seventh to the tenth century),15 who periodically gured
in Chinese affairs.16 Mention is also made of the Muma Tujue (木馬突薩
‘wooden-horse Türks’—a reference, in a section dealing with the Qïrğïz,
to some kind of Türks using skis) and the Niuti Tujue (牛蹄突薩 ‘ox-
12 Tujue: EMC dwət kuat LMC t
ut kyat (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 311, 168) represents a
plural form, Türküt, which came to Chinese via Sogdian intermediaries (Kafesoğlu, Umumî
Türk Tarihi: 18–19; Kasai, ‘The Chinese Phonetic Transcriptions’: 102–10), cf.’wkt,
trwkt, turkt ‘Turks’ >trwkc trukč ‘Turk’ (Gharib, Sogdian Dictionary: 389 [9635], 391 [9682]).
The earliest known inscription from the First Türk Qağanate, Bugut (ca. 582), Moriyasu and
Ochir, Provisional Report: 123, has: (Bugut-1,1): rty (m)[wn’]k nwm (sn)k’ ”wst’δ’r-”nt
tr-‘wkt ‘(‘)šy-n’s kwtr’tt ”χšy-wn-k—‘Kings of the Turkish Ashinas tribe (kwtr’tt, kwt’r, kwttr
‘race, family, lineage’, Gharib, Sogdian Dictionary: 201 [5061, 5062]) have established [this]
stone of law’. A rather different reading was given earlier by Klyashtornyi and Livšic, ‘The
Sogdian Inscription’: 85: B1: 1:(‘mwh?) […] (pt)s’kh ‘ws’t δ’r’nt tr’wkt c(yn)st’n kwt(s)’tt
‘γšywn’k (‘This […] stele was erected by the Turks (under) Kwts’tt the ruler of China’). The
readings remain problematic. Tibetan records drugu (Venturi, ‘An Old Tibetan’: 9, 12) but
terms the Eastern Türks:‘Bug chor. Beckwith, ‘The Chinese Names’: 13–18 and Beckwith,
‘The Frankish Name’: 5–12, maintains that Tujue transcribed *türkwač/*türkβač ‘ruler(s)
of the Türks’. Gumilëv, Drevnie tjurki: 22–23, considered Türküt a Mongolic (plural) form.
In Old Turkic, türk meant ‘the culminating point of maturity (of a fruit, human being, etc.)’.
As an adjective it connoted ‘just fully ripe; (of a human being) in the prime of life, young
and vigorous’ (Clauson, Etymological Dictionary: 542–43). Kafesoğlu derived it from Turk.
Törü—‘to come into existence, to be created’ (cf. Clauson, Etymological Dictionary: 533)
and rendered Türk as ‘developed, fully developed’, that is, ‘strong, powerful’, positing:
Törük > Türük > Türk (Kafesoğlu, Umumî Türk Tarihi: 21–23). Róna-Tas (An Introduction
to Turkology: 10–13) conjectured a non-Turkic origin: Khotan Saka tturakä ‘covering’
(semantically stretched to ‘helmet’, see Wolf Tale I) that in a Turkic-speaking environment
could become Türk, a homonym of türk, ‘strong’ and so on. Khotan Saka documents, however,
call the Türks ttūrka or ttrūka (Bailey, Indo-Scythian Studies: 101–02).
13 Clauson, ‘Turks and Wolves’: 10. Senga, ‘“Northern” Neighbors’: 68–69, opines that
Tujue in Tang sources was not exclusively used for Turkic-speakers.
14 Shirota, ‘The Chinese Chroniclers of the Khazars’: 231–61.
15 Shatuo 沙陀 EMC:
eːda LMC:
aː t
a (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 273, 314).
16 See Alptekin, Sha-t’o Türkleri.
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 295
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
hoof Türks’).17 The Baifu (白服 ‘white clothed’) and Huang tou (黃頭
‘yellow head’) Tujue18 are also noted, but their ethno-tribal connections
are uncertain. In some situations, Türk became a politonym, embracing its
subject peoples,19 not all of whom accepted it willingly. When Türk political
power collapsed, the older names resurfaced. The Uyğurs, among others,
subsequently employed the name ‘Türk’ to denote a Turkic literary koine
(Türkčä). The continuity of specic forms of governance and titulature
by peoples stemming from the Türk Qağanate may also points to some
consciousness of ‘Türk’ political roots. In time, however, due to migrations
away from the Türk core ‘holy’ lands in Mongolia and the impact of new
religions (especially Islam), new genealogical dispensations appeared.20 Turk
became widely used by Muslim, Byzantine and other authors as a generic
term to denote the largely Turkic-speaking Central Eurasian nomads with
whom they were coming into ever-increasing contact.21
The Turkic world becomes more visible following the collapse of
the Xiongnu polity (by the mid-second century ce). Although Xiongnu
17 These references stem from a report of Du Huan, one of the Arabs taken captive in
the Battle of the Talas in 751. Fragments of it are preserved in Chapters 192, 193 of the
Tongdian, the Xin Tangshu (217b.6144) and later works. The Niuti Tujue are also noted in
the report of Hu Qiao (the mid-tenth century), who was a captive in the north, preserved in
the Qidan guozhi (E lun-li, Istorija: 328), which makes reference to people(s) called Tujue.
See also Senga, ‘“Northern” Neighbors’: 59–72; Sinor, ‘Some Components’: 154, who
cites (pp. 64–65) reports from Muslim authors about the use of ox thighbones ‘as a kind
of ski or skate’ in Volga Bulğaria and lands to its north. Ms PelliotTibétain 1283 (Venturi,
‘An Old Tibetan’: 31 [l. 93]) notes the Turkic tribe Ud ha dag leg = Turk. Uδ aδağlïğ ‘ox
[or bovine]-footed’ (Senga, ‘A T’ung-tien’: 40–43, Senga, ‘“Northern” Neighbors’: 66–69,
places them near the Urals or in the basins of the upper Ural and Tobol rivers).
18 Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 388, vol. 2: 732–33, nn. 1877–78 (Jiu
Tangshu, 194B, 196B); Mackerras, The Uighurs: 102–03, 164, n. 202; Sinor, ‘Some
Components’: 152–53; Sinor, ‘The Establishment’: 288–89.
19 User, Köktürk ve Ötüken Uygur: 293: (KT, E18): türgiš qağan türkümüz bodunumïz
ärti ‘the Turgiš Qağan was our Türk, our people’, that is, a ‘subordinate, subject people’.
20 Golden, Ethnicity and State Formation; Golden, ‘The Turkic World in Mahmūd al-
Kāshgharī’: 503–55.
21 See Kafesoğlu, Umumî Türk Tarihi: 24–25. Lee, ‘The Historical Meaning’: 101–32,
argues that the ethnonym Türk virtually disappears from non-Muslim sources after the fall
of the Türk Qağanate and did not have an afterlife except as a generic in the Muslim sources.
However, Του˜ρκοι in Byzantine and Turkāyē in Syriac sources (Dickens, Turkāyē: Turkic
Peoples) encompassed a wide array of steppe peoples. Twrq (Hebrew) and Tork (Eastern
Slavic), presumably deriving from Türk, denoted the Oğuz in the H
azar and post-H
era (Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents: 37, 104, 114–15, 120–21, 132–33).
296 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
ethno-linguistic afliations remain uncertain, it is clear that their subjects
included Turkic-speaking peoples.22 Usually stateless, the clans and tribes
of this nomadic world in the course of interaction with their ‘imperial’
neighbours were transformed into militarily more effective polities23
led by a ruling clan or tribe. Scholarship is divided as to whether their
political morphology was monocentric, stemming from a single large
confederation termed ‘Oğur(West Old Turkic)~‘Oğuz(East Old
Turkic),24 or polycentric, that is, having multiple origins.25
Türk Origin Tales
With these prefatory remarks, we may now turn to the ethnogonic reports
about the Türks. From the Türks we have little. They began to leave
22 Sima Qian, The Grand Scribe’s Records: 267, 271 [110.2893, 2896] (Sima Qian, 146–86?
bce, completed the Shiji in 91 bce) and the Hanshu: 9, 14 [94A.3752,3757] (by Ban Gu et
al.) presented in 96 CE (Wilkinson, Chinese History: 704–14, 26), report that the Xiongnu
chanyu 冒顿/ Modu/Modun (ca. 234–174 bce, OC mək tûns, LH *mək tuənc (Schuessler,
Minimal: 113 [5-37a], 336 [34-17j]; Beckwith, Empires: 387, n.8 = *bağtur > *bağatur)
ca. 206–202 bce (Di Cosmo,‘Aristocratic Elites’: 27; Pulleyblank, ‘The Chinese and Their
Neighbors’: 454–56), conquered in southern Siberia the Dingling (subsequently the Tiele,
see further), 堅昆 Jiankun LH ken kuən < kên-kûn (Schuessler, Minimal: 333 [34-1a]), 隔昆
Gekun OC: krêk kûn LH: kek kuən (Schuessler, Minimal: 130 [8-2f], 333 [34-1a]), Qïrqïz <
Qïrqïŕ, 薪犁 Xinli OC sin rî/ri LH sin lei/li (Schuessler, Minimal: 322 [32-33n], 281 [26-24g]:
Sir and the烏揭 Wujie OC
â gat, kat LH:
a g
at, k
at/呼揭 Hujie OC: , hâh gat, LH:
ha(c), g
at, k
at (Schuessler, Minimal: 49 [1-17h], 231 [21-1n], 51[1-28a], 231 [21-1n]),:
*Hagaŕ = *Oğur-Oğuz? The Ashina-Türk are conspicuously absent.
23 Denitions are problematic, see Bareld, The Perilous Frontier: 5–9: ‘imperial
confederacies’; Kljaštornyj, Runičeskie pamjatniki: 200–02: ‘archaic empires’; Kradin,
Kočevniki Evrazii: 36, 61–65, 111–73; Kradin, ‘Stateless Empire’: 77–96: ‘super complex
chieftaincies’, ‘primitive early states’, ‘exopolities’, ‘xenocracies’ and ‘steppe empires’.
24 Kljaštornyj, Runičeskie pamjatniki: 198–99. Oğur~Oğuz, initially appears to have denoted
some kind of organised kinship grouping and later acquired a politico-ethnonymic association
(Golden, ‘Oq and Oğur~Oğuz’: 180–81, 184–86). The Chinese accounts often rendered Oğuz
as xing ‘surname, family’ (cf. Toquz Oğuz = Jiu Xing 九姓, Tibetan drugu rus dgu ‘Turks of
the nine bones’, Venturi, ‘An Old Tibetan’: 24 [l. 25] and n. 59), thereby referencing the earlier
meaning of this term (‘kin, kinship grouping’). The -r~-z shift (and other phonological features
that distinguish West Old Turkic from East Old Turkic) probably took place sometime after the
third century bce and most denitely before the fth century ce (Róna-Tas, The Hungarians
and Europe: 101–04; Róna-Tas and Berta, West Old Turkic, vol. 2: 1112–14).
25 Saraev, ‘Diskussija o proisxoždenii’: 98–99. Lee and Kuang, ‘A Comparative Analysis’: 204,
n. 26–29, concludes that the various Turkic peoples did not have a ‘single origin’ or ‘common
(Turkic) identity’. Overall, they were of East Asian phenotype ‘with a number of exceptions’.
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 297
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
historical records in the form of steles inscribed in Sogdian during the
rst Türk Qağanate.26 These have survived only in fragments. Writings in
Turkic touching on historical matters appear in the early eighth century
with the second Türk Qağanate. In the runiform inscriptions for Köl Tegin
(E, 1)/Bilgä Qağan (N, 2) we nd only a formulaic statement of cosmic
and human origins:
[W]hen the blue heaven/sky above and brown earth below were created,
between them humankind was created and my ancestors, Bumïn Qağan and
İštämi/İstämi Qağan having sat upon the throne (as master) over humankind,
organized and set in order the Türk realm and law.27
The origin tales of the Türks, which may be divided into ‘Wolf Tale I’, ‘Wolf
Tale II’,28 ‘the Shemo/Žama Tale’ and a‘Historical Account’, were recorded
in Chinese dynastic histories and historical compilations based on or copied
from the same source(s) and repeated in later collections of historical tales.29
In addition, there is a ‘Dog Tale’ reported in a Tibetan-Uyğur account.30
Wolf Tale I
The earliest version of Wolf Tale I is recorded in the Zhoushu (50.907–
08),31 which was written in a period in which China was in frequent, direct
26 Bugut, which also has a section written in Brahmi script (still undeciphered) and
Xiao Hongnahai/Mongolküre, ca. 600 (Stark, Die Alttürkenzeit: 71–75; Stark, ‘Luxurious
Necessities’: 477–83).
27 Berta, Szavaimat: 139–40; Ölmez, Orhon-Uygur: 80, 123.
28 According to Kljaštornyj, Runičeskie pamjatniki: 199: both are variants of the same
legend reecting the migrations that brought the Ashina to the Altay. They also point, he
opines, to the beginnings of the four major groups of ancient Turkic-speaking peoples: Türk,
Qïrğïz, Qïpčaq and Oğuz, reecting their ‘genealogical kinship’.
29 The dynastic histories: Weishu (551–54), Zhoushu (636), Suishu (636), Beishi (659),
Jiu Tangshu (945), Xin Tangshu (1060), Qidan guozhi (1247), the Tongdian (801), an
‘encyclopaedic history of institutions of government’, the Youyang zazu (a miscellany
from ca. 855), the Taiping Guangji (976–78), historical ction, the Cefuyuangui (1013), a
historico-literary collection and Zizhi Tongjian (1086), a critical compilation (Wilkinson,
Chinese History: 615–16, 626, 631, 646, 736–37, 741, 769–77, 957).
30 Ms Pelliot Tibétain 1283 (see further).
31 Chapters in the Chinese accounts generally follow those given in Erkoç, ‘Türk
Mitlerindeki’. As a non-Sinologist, the renderings and paraphrases of these tales given
298 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
contact with the Türks.32 It is largely identical with the account in the
Beishi (99.3285), which contains additional comments. It has been argued
that the Zhoushu’s section on the Türks was lost and was replaced by the
account in the Beishi, both, perhaps, drawing on no longer extant earlier
works. Neither is the original account.33 The Suishu (84.1863), compiled
at virtually the same time as the Zhoushu, has an almost identical version,
taken from the latter or derived from the same source(s).34 Later versions
are found in the Tongdian (197.5401–02) and considerably abbreviated
in the Cefuyuangui (958, 112251b–52a)35—again drawing on the same
source(s). The ‘origin tale’, with its slight variations in the aforementioned
sources, should be read as one account, to or from which the authors added
or subtracted elements:
The ancestors of the Türks lived on the right bank of the Western Sea.36 The
Türks are a separate tribe of the Xiongnu. Their family name is Ashina. They
formed a tribe that was independent of the Xiongnu, but later were attacked by a
neighbouring state37 and all were killed except for a ten-year old boy. When the
enemy soldiers saw that he was so young, they did not have the heart to kill him,
so they cut off his feet and threw him into a grass-covered swamp. Here, there
was a she-wolf who fed the young boy meat. He grew up and had relations with
the she-wolf, who became pregnant. When the king of the neighbouring state
learned that the youth was still alive, he again sent men to kill him. When they
saw a she-wolf beside the young man, they wanted to kill her too. The she-wolf
ed to a mountain in the north in the state of Gaochang (Turfan).38 There was
further are based on the translations of Liu, Sinor, Taşağıl, Erkoç, Kırilen and Kapuzoğlu
and examinations of the original texts (with the help of Sylvia Wu Golden).
32 Clauson, ‘Turks and Wolves’: 11; Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 223–24, suggests that it
‘represents the tradition probably most current among the majority of the Türks themselves’.
33 Clauson, ‘Turks and Wolves’: 11–13; Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 473.
34 Harmatta, ‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 386–87; Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten,
vol. 1: 474.
35 Taşağıl, Gök-Türkler, vol. 1: 110–11.
36 Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 495, n. 41, ‘Western Sea’ (xi hai 西海) has
many possible meanings designating different bodies of water from the Mediterranean,
Caspian and Aral Seas to Kuku-nor. In the Sui era (581–618) it was viewed as being near
Byzantium (Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 226). Taşağıl, Gök-Türkler, vol. 1: 95, n. 553 identies
it with Etsin-Gol, which is more likely.
37 Kırilen, ‘Türeyiş Destanı’nda’: 73–88, on the basis of circumstantial evidence, suggests
that this state was Kucha in Xinjiang (Yıldırım, Doğu Türkistan’ın: 169–73).
38 Beishi: ‘at that moment, it was as if a divine entity threw the she-wolf to the east of the
Western Sea. She landed in the northwest of the Gaochang state’, see Liu, Die chinesischen
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 299
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
a cave in this mountain in which there was a broad plain with abundant grass.
This plain, which stretched out for hundreds of li and was surrounded on all
sides by mountains. The she-wolf hid in the mountains. Here, she gave birth
to ten sons. When they grew up, they went out of the cave and married women
from the outside. They brought many children into the world. Each of these
descendants took a family name and one of them took the name Ashina.39 Their
children and grandchildren increased until they constituted some hundreds of
families. After some generations,40 they became subjects of the Ruru.41 In the
period of the Great Yabğu42 their lines/families became stronger. They settled/
lived in the southern slopes of the Jinshan (Altay Mountains)43 and worked as
blacksmiths for the Ruru. Since the Jinshan had the appearance of a helmet (
doumou); and they called a ‘helmet’ tujue, they called themselves Tujue.44
Nachrichten, vol. 2: 488, n. 5; Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 225. Gaochang = Qočo/Qara
oja/Turfan İdiqut Şähri in Xinjiang (Yıldırım, Doğu Türkistan’ın: 95–98, 122–24). Kucha
and Gaochang/Qočo were areas of Tokharian speech that were later Turkicised (Tremblay,
Pour une histoire: 36–46).
39 Beishi, Suishu: ‘He was the cleverest among them and became their ruler. In front of
the gate to the camp (the Türks) placed a standard with a wolf’s head on it, so as to show
that they had not forgotten their origins’, see Clauson, ‘Turks and Wolves’: 14; Sinor,
‘Legendary Origin’: 225. Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 9 ‘a golden wolf’s
head’ (Zhoushu), 40 (Suishu).
40 Beishi: the tribe or band was led out of the cave by Axian (阿賢): OC: â γien (Harmatta,
‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 395, suggests: Turk. aqïn ‘owing, jet (of water), ray, shaft of
light’), EMC:
a γen LMC:
a x
jian (Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 6, 40 II:
490 n. 18; Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 23, 335; Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 225). Axian bore the
high title šad, of probable Iranian origin (Clauson, Etymological Dictionary: 866).
41 Ruru 茹茹: EMC ŋ
ə ŋ
əﬞ LMC riə/ryə riə/ryəﬞ , variant: 蠕蠕 EMC: ŋiə ŋiəﬞ LMC: riə/
ryəﬞ (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 268, also pronounced Ruanruan‘wriggling [worms, insects]’, a
pejorative version of the name used by the Tabġač/Northern Wei rulers of Northern China).
These are the Asian Avars/Rouran 柔然, EMC ŋuw ŋian (ibid., 267, 264), OC nu nan, LH
ńu ńan MC ńźjəu ńźjän (Schuessler, Minimal: 180 [13-48a], 258 [24-36ab]); MC: nyuw
nyen (Kroll, Dictionary: 389, 383): see Golden, ‘Some Notes’: 52–53.
42 Da yehu 大葉護[]. Yabğu a high-ranking Inner Asia title (Clauson, Etymological
Dictionary: 873) going back to the Yuezhi and Kušans (Sims-Williams, de la Vaissière,
Bosworth, ‘Jabgˉuya’
43 Jinshan (金山), lit. ‘Golden Mountain’, cf. Turk.altun/altïn>, Mong.alta[n], Tungus-
Manchuric altan> Manchu aysin ‘gold’, see Dybo, Lingvističeskie kontakty: 67, 125;
Sevortjan, Étimologičeskij slovar’: 142–43.
44 Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 39–40, 46; Kırilen, Eski Çinin Ötekisi: 159–60; Liu, Die
chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 5, 40; Ögel, ‘Doğu Göktürkleri’: 84–86; Ögel, Türk
Mitilojisi, I: 20–21; Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 224; Taşağıl, Gök-Türkler, vol. 1: 95.
Clauson, ‘Turks and Wolves’: 13, pointed out that Old and Middle Turkic texts note a
very different word for ‘helmet’: yïšïq (subsequently yašïk, yošuq, Clauson, Etymological
300 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
The Zhoushu, following a discussion of Türk investiture customs titles
and ofces of government, adds that the Türks:
place on the tops of their standards a golden wolf’s head. Also, the imperial
guard corps45 of the ruler was called Fuli, a word that has the meaning of
‘wolf’ in Chinese translation. The Türks stem from a she-wolf and do not
want to forget their origins.46
Wolf Tale I is followed by another in the Zhoushu (50.908), Beishi
(99.3286), Tongdian (197.5402) and Cefuyuangui (956.11252a).47
Wolf Tale II
Other traditions report that the ancestors of the Tujue derived from the
Suo state,48 which was located north of the Xiongnu:
Dictionary: 977, with uncertainty regarding vocalisation; Nadeljaev et al., Drevnetjurkskij
slovar’: 269 yïšïğ, yïšïq), cf. Middle Qïpčaq ašïq, yïšïq (Toparlı, Vural, Karaatlı, Kıpçak
Türkçesi Sözlüğü: 14, 322; Golden, The King’s Dictionary: 285: yošuq/Güner, Resûlî:
134: yašuq). Ottoman: ašïq ‘an iron helmet’ (Redhouse, A Turkish and English Lexicon:
125). Obviously, none of these forms can be connected with Tujue, most probably a folk
etymology from an unidentied language.
45 Chin. 侍衞 shi wei ‘imperial body guard(s)’ (Ošanin, Kitajsko-russkij slovar, vol. 3:
44 [5326]); Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 234.
46 Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 9; Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 234; Taşagıl,
Gök-Türkler: 10. Chin. 附離 fuli: EMC: buəhliəﬞ/li LMC: f
̀li (Pulleyblank, Lexicon:
101, 187) = Turk. börü/böri ‘wolf’.
47 Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 40–41; Kırilen, Eski Çinin Ötekisi: 160–61; Liu, Die
chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 5–6; Ögel, ‘Doğu Göktürkleri’: 86–88; Sinor, ‘Legendary
Origin’: 226–27; Taşağıl, Gök-Türkler, vol. 1: 96. The Hanshu (66b.3908) mentions 拊離
OC: po/boh, bôhrai/raih LH: puo/buoC, boC liai/liaiC MC: pju/bjuC, bəuCljeC (Schuessler,
Minimal: 155 [10-39d], 214 [18-11f]), a Wusun king with a name that might represent böri
(Jila, ‘Myths’: 167).
48 Suo OC: sâk LH: sak MC: sâk (Schuessler, Minimal: 72 [2-33a]); EMC, LMC: sak
(Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 298); sak, sak, sag (Coblin, Compendium: 383[0881]). Harmatta,
‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 391, identied Suo with the ethnonym Saka and noted the
connection with Han-era Sai OC: k(h) LH: sək,C (Schuessler, Minimal: 111 [5-28a])
but considered the terms representations of two different Saka groupings. Beckwith, Empires:
405, n. 53, also argues that Suo renders Saka and cites Menander, History: 116/117: ‘the
Turks, who had formerly been called the Sacae’ (τι των Τούρκων τν Σακν καλούμενων)
as evidence for the Saka connection. Vásáry, Eski İç Asya: 99–100, associates Suo with the
Xianbei. Clauson, ‘Turks and Wolves’: 14 and Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 227, were doubtful
about attempts to identify Suo.
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 301
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
The chief of the tribe was Abangbu,49 who had seventeen (Beishi: seventy)
brothers.50 One of them was called Yizhi Nishidu,51 who was born of a she-wolf.
Abangbu and his brothers were stupid and slow-witted (愚癡 yu chi) and thus
their state was, in the end, attacked and destroyed (by others). However, (Yizhi)
Nishidu was touched by a spirit {had supernatural powers} and because of that
he could summon forth wind and rain.52 He married two women. One was the
daughter of the Summer-God and the other the daughter of the Winter-God.53
49 阿謗步 OC:
âi pâŋh bâh LH:
a <
â pwâŋC buoC (Schuessler, Minimal:
211[18-1m], 88 [3-57k’], 60 [1-65a]); OC: â pwâng b’uo NWTang: âpw âŋ-buo (Harmatta, ‘A
türkök eredetmondája’: 393); EMC
a paŋh b h LMC
a paŋ ̀ p
̀ (Pulleyblank, Lexicon:
23, 29, 43), ONWC:
a paŋ bo (Coblin, Compendium: 124 [0016], 384 [0886], 147 [0079]),
MC ‘a pwangH buH (Kroll, Dictionary: 1, 10, 29). Harmatta, ‘A türkök eredetmondája’:
393, nds apaŋpu reminiscent of Kettic femba, haŋba, hèaŋba, the term for ‘Tungus’, which
can be traced back to *faŋba or *p’aŋba.
50 Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’; Kırilen, Eski Çinin Ötekisi: 160, n. 160; Liu, Die
chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 489. n. 9; Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 226: 54 points out
that ‘70’ was also the number of followers who rst joined İlteriš Qağan when he revolted
against the Tang and revived the Türk Qağanate, as reported in the Köl Tegin Inscription
(732). His followers fell like ‘wolves’ (böri täg) on their foes (KT, E12, see Berta, Szavaimat:
147). The KT inscription in describing the revival of the Türk Qağanate may be harkening
back to the earlier origin myth.
51 伊質泥師都 OC: i tśiĕ niei
i tuo, NW Tang: i tśi(δ) ni
i tuo (Harmatta, ‘A türkök
eredetmondája’: 393); OC:
i təts ni/ni
/nih sri/OCB: srjij/ tâ LH:
i tśis nei/neiB/neiC si
ta MC:
i 4 tśiCniei/ nieiB/ nieiC si tuo (Schuessler, Minimal: 278 [26-13a], 307 [30-10a],
281[26-25d], 283 [26-36a], 33 [1-38e’]); EMC *
ji tçit nejh
i t , LMC *
ji t
it niaj`
r tuə
(Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 365, 406, 224, 281, 81). The etymology and linguistic afliations are
problematic. Harmatta, ‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 393, proffers Yeniseic (Kottic) *Itśinişituo
A reference to the Yada tašï ‘rain-making stone’ that various Turkic rulers were credited
with possessing. Ibn al-Faqīh (writing ca. 903) comments that the ‘king of the Toquz Oğuz’
(in Arab accounts usually denoting the Uyğurs) possessed ‘little stones’ (hasan) with which
he could summon rain at will (Ibn al-Faqīh, Kitāb al-Buldān: 639); Gardīzī, Ta’rīh
: 547,
has a long tale about a holy name, which when uttered would bring rain. Noah transmitted
it to his son Japheth (Yāt), who wrote it on a stone. Japheth was considered the ancestor
of the Turks. The stone also had healing powers. Its possession was contested among the
Oğuz, Qarluqs and Khazars and others. Gardīzī reports that it was in the possession of
the Oğuz, see Golden, An Introduction: 119. On wind and rain-summoning shamans et al.
among Siberian peoples and the yada tašï, see also Harva, Die religiösen Vorstellungen:
220–23. Yada is of Iranian origin: Avest. yātu ‘magic, sorcery’, Old Pers. yātūka ‘magician,
sorcerer’, Class. Pers. jādū ‘magician’, etc. (Édel’man, Étimologičeskij slovar, vol. 4:
133–34). Harmatta, ‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 390, n. 23, 391, also notes connections with
Siberian shamanistic lore.
53 According to Ibn Fadlān, Two Arabic Travel Books: 214/215, the Bāšġird (Bashkirs)
had 12 ‘lords’ (rabb) including one for winter and one for summer as well as lords for rain,
302 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
One of them bore four sons. One son changed himself into a white swan.54
Another son founded a state between the Afu55 and Jian56 Rivers.The state was
called Qigu.57 The third son ruled on the Chuzhe River.58 The fourth brother
wind, trees, people, horses, water, night, day, death, the Earth and the sky. The latter was
‘the greatest but he acts consensually’; each lord ‘approves of the actions of his partners’.
The lord of the sky is Tängri.
54 Zhoushu: 白鴻 bai hong ‘white taiga bean goose, brenta’ (Ošanin, Kitajsko-russkij
slovar’, vol. 3: 509 [7707]); Ögel, Türk Mitolojisi, vol. 2: 140–41, translates hong as ‘stork’
(leylek), noting this as an example of shape-shifting.
55 阿輔: OC: â b’ju, NW Tang: â b’i (Harmatta, ‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 391, who
relates it to Iran. âpa ‘water’>aba; OC:
âi ba
a buaB<
ai MC:
â bjuB (Schuessler,
Minimal: 311 [18-1m], 60 [1-67v]; EMC:
a buə LMC:
a f
jyəﬞ/fhuə̀ (Pulleyblank, Lexicon:
23, 100). Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 41; Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 228: Abakan River. Liu,
Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 489, n. 10, identied it with the Ubsa Lake/(Ubsu/
Uvs Nu[u]r) in Mongolia-Tuva.
56 : OC kiom (Harmatta, ‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 391); OC: kams, ONW: kam LH:
maC MC: kj
mC (Schuessler, Minimal: 348 [36-6i]); EMC k
amhLMC: kiam ̀ (Pulleyblank,
Lexicon: 148) = the Kem River = the Yenisei/Upper Yenisei (Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 41;
Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 489, n. 11; Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 228; User,
Köktürk ve Ötüken: 146; Yıldırım, Türk Tarihi İçin: 58: Ulukem, Tuvin. Ulu xem ‘big River’
= Upper Yenisei). The word Kem/Käm is perhaps of Samoyed origin (Vásáry, ‘Käm, an Early
Samoyed Name’: 469; but Janhunen, ‘Etymological and Historical Aspects’: 70–73, questions
its Samoyedic or Yeniseic origins). Kem is today the name of a tributary of the Yenisei.
57 契骨 EMC: khejh kwət/ khit kwət LMC: khjiaj ̀ kut; khit kut, (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 248
111); MC khejH kwot (Kroll, Dictionary: 140) = Qïrqïr (Qïrqïz> Mod. Turk.Qïrğïz). Sinor,
‘Legendary Origin’: 228–29, cites the Youyang zazu that the Qïrğïz ‘do not belong to the race
of the wolf’. Rather, Qïrğïz origin tales relate that they stemmed from the mating of a spirit and
a cow and lived in a cave north of the Kögmän Mountains (see further); see also Ögel, Türk
Mitolojisi, vol. 1: 21–22. In the Orxon inscriptions, the Qïrqïz are noted as having a Qağan
(BQ, E, 20 N, 26-28, KT, E, 25, N, 13; Berta, Szavaimat: 155, 161, 164–65, 185). Eberhard,
Kultur und Siedlung: 46, also reports that they lived mixed with the 丁靈 Dingling: LH teŋ leŋ<
*têŋ-rêŋ (Schuessler, Minimal: 137 [9-11a]) >狄歷 Dili (EMC: dejk-lejk)/特勒 Tele (EMC: dək
lək)/勑勒 Chile (EMC: trhik lək)/直勒 Zhile (EMC: drik-lək) >鐵勒 Tiele (EMC: thet-lək) =
*tägräg. The Tiele union included the Toquz Oğuz, among whom the Uyğurs were paramount
(Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 63, n. 34; Pulleyblank, ‘High Carts’: 22). Tiele et al. may be a
Tabġač (Mongolic/Para-Mongolic) term for ‘wagon’ (Kljaštornyj, Runičeskie pamjatniki:
162–63, that is, ‘the people of the wagons’ denoting the Oğuz). The Tiele were also termed
Gaoche ‘high carts’ (Pulleyblank, ‘The High Carts’: 22), pointing to a semantic connection
with *tägräg. Some later tales replace the cow of the Qïrğïz origin myth with a red dog.
58 處折 OC: tś’iwo tśiät = *tśutśe = *čoč ; Harmatta, ‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 392,
EMC: t
ə’ t
iat LMC: t
h/ t
h′ t
iat (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 60, 400). Harmatta, Liu,
Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2, n. 13; Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 228, identied it
with the Yenisei, or middle Yenisei.
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 303
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
lived on Jiansi Chuzheshi mountain.59 He was the eldest of the four sons. On this
mountain there also lived other branches of Abangbu’s tribe. It was often very
cold {and damp} there and the oldest son provided re for them so they could
warm themselves and remain alive. Thus, they were saved and they chose the
oldest son as their chief and gave him the name Tujue. He was NeduliuŠad.60 He
had ten wives, each of whose sons took the clan [ zu] (name) of [his] mother
as his family name ( xing).61 Ashina was the son of his concubine (小妻 xiao
qi, lit. smallest/least of his wives). After the death of Neduliu, they wished to
elect one of the sons of the ten mothers to succeed him. They gathered under a
great tree and agreed that the one who could jump the highest up the tree would
be selected as their leader.62 The son born of Ashina was the youngest son, but
he jumped the highest. Thus, the other sons made him their chief ( zhu‘lord,
master’). He was called Axian Šad.63
This account differs from the other one (in the Zhoushu), but both agree
that the Tujue stem from a she-wolf. The descendant (grandson) of Axian
59 踐斯處折施 Jian si chu zhe shi: EMC: dzian’ siəﬞ/sit
i LMC: ts
i (Kırilen, Eski Çin’in Ötekisi: 161, n. 164: citing Baxter and Sagart,
Old Chinese Reconstruction, version of 20 February 2011; Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 148,
291, 60, 400, 282). OC: dzjenX sej tsyhoH tsyet sye. According to Harmatta, ‘A türkök
eredetmondája’: 392. OC: dź’iän si
tśiwo tśiät śi
, NW Tang: dźän si tśi tśiδ śi = Kettic:
śon śiś ïi~ïiχ dži/śîg,śîχ ‘Blue stone Mountain’/‘Blue Mountain’ suggesting it could be the
Kögmän Mountain (< Turk.
ˉk ‘blue’) usually identied with the western Sayan or the
Tannu Ola Range (Aydın, Eski Türk Yer Adları: 107–10; Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 41;
Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 489–90, n. 14; User, Köktürk ve Ötüken: 150–51).
60 Zhoushu: 訥都六 Neduliu: EMC nwət t luwk LMC nut tuə liwk (Pulleyblank, Lexicon,
222, 81,198, 279, has alternate pronunciations: na and nuo); see also the Tongdian and
Cefuyuangui (Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 227–28; Taşağıl, Gök-Türkler, vol. 1: 96, 111).
The Xin Tangshu, 215, 2b (Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 490, n. 18): 訥都陸
Nedulu: EMC nwət t luwk LMC nut tuə liwk (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 222, 81, 201), MC
nwot tu ljuwk (Kroll, Dictionary: 320, 92, 285).
61 Ögel, ‘Doğu Göktürkleri’: 109, indicating a matriarchal society?
62 The ‘great tree’ is clearly a reference to the ‘sacred tree’/’tree of life’, a ‘frequently invoked
and ritually signicant’ element in Inner Asian belief systems (DeWeese, Islamization: 45).
63 Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 6, 40 II: 490, n. 18). Sinor, ‘Legendary
Origin’: 227, Axian Šad, is again noted, as in Tale I, but not as the one who led them out
of the ancestral cave. While Sinor viewed him as ‘a legendary gure’, Harmatta (‘A türkök
eredetmondája’: 388) considers him the ‘rst truly historical’ gure in the ethnogonic legends,
while not completely excluding the mythical or quasi-mythical Neduliu. He suggests that
訥都六 Neduliu could be a corruption of * (‘vulgar’ form of ) 郘六 *Yülüliu = Old
Northwest Tang China. *iu-l(i)-li, that is, Yolluğ noted among the earliest Türk qağans in
the Terx inscription, E1 (yol[l]wγ, Berta, Szavaimat: 248; Rybatzki, ‘Titles’: 211–13: yol[l]
‘lucky’). however, is not pronounced yu/, but shen:EMC
im’ LMC
in′ (Pulleyblank,
Lexicon: 280). My thanks to Ching-i Tu, Victor Mair and Fangyi Cheng for assistance with .
304 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
Šad was Tumen64 (i.e., Bumïn, rst Qağan of the Türks). (Xin Tangshu
215, 2b: the ancestor of the Western Türks was Tuwu,65 a grandson of
Nedulu. He was called a Great Yabğu. Tumen (Bumïn) was the oldest
son of Tuwu and grandson of Nedulu.)66 When Tumen’s tribe became
somewhat stronger, they came to the border to trade for silk fabrics.
Historical Account
The ‘historical account’ precedes ‘Wolf Tale I’ in the Suishu (84.1863). It is
repeated in the Beishi (99.3285), Tongdian, 197.5401) (159), Cefuyuangui
(956.11251b)67 and Zizhi Tongjian (159.4926).68
64 土門 EMC: th h mən LMC: th min (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 312, 211); MC: thuoB
mwən (Schuessler, Minimal: 53, 332 [1-36a], [33-35a]); MC thuH mwon (Kroll, Dictionary:
460–61), 300 meaning ‘earth, soil, land, ground, god of the soil–gate/door’, ‘gateway, portal,
family, group, faction, sect, community’± has the alternate literary pronunciations du and cha.
Kljaštornyj and Livšic, ‘The Sogdian Inscription’: 85–86; Dobrovits, ‘Silziboulos’: 67, n. 1,
read Bugut (B2: 8–9): *[y] bwmyn γ’γ’n, but Moriyasu and Ochir, Provisional Report: 123–24
and Ölmez, Orhon-Uygur: 67–68 lack *Bumyn. If *bγy bwmyn γ’γ’n is correct, it could denote
‘Lord of the Earth Qağan’: Bumın < Iran. būmī ‘land, country’, Middle Pers. būm, Soġd. βwmh,
βwm [vūm] (Rastorgueva and Édel’man, Étimologičeskij slovar’, vol. 2: 134–35; Rybatzki,
‘Titles’: 206–08, 217–19). Lurje, Personal Names: 238 [663] notes Bwmyn [Būmēn] recorded
on a post-Sâsânid seal. 伊利可汗 Yili Kehan EMC:
ji lih kha’ γan (Pulleyblank, Lexicon:
364, 188, 173, 118), a title, which Bumïn bears in the Zhoushu (50). Suishu (84, Liu, Die
chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 7, 41) may render Turk. ellig Qağan ‘the Qağan possessing
land/a polity’, that is, the ‘lord of the Earth Qağan’, but other readings (e.g., İri Qağan) are
possible (Atwood, ‘Some Early’: 50–53). See also Erkoç, ‘Batı Göktürk’: 44, n. 1, 45, n. 2.
65 Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 490, n. 18; Chavannes, Documents: 47:
‘the ancestor of the western Türks is Tuwu, grandson of Nadulu’. 吐務/吐务 Tuwu: OC:
t’uo-miu, NW Tang: tuom'u from *tuβu, which could stem from Kamasin Samoyed t’iβi,
t’iβi ‘man’ (Harmatta, ‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 396), EMC: th muəh LMC: th
(Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 312, 327).
66 Kljaštornyj, Runičeskie pamjatniki: 199–200, views this ‘genealogical legend’ as
containing elements of the stages of the ethnogenesis of the Qïrğïz, Qïpčaq (‘white swan’)
and Tiele (Oğuz), conrmed, in his view, by archaeological nds in the Sayan-Altay zone
from the third to the fth century. The claim to the lofty titles Šad and Yabğu implying ties
with the Rouran Qağanal house is probably a ction invented by the Ashina-Türks after they
took the Qağanate. Bumïn’s revolt in 552 was sparked by the Rouran Qağan’s disdainful
rejection of his request for a Rouran princess-bride (Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol.
1: 7), calling him 我鍛奴 ‘my iron-working slave’.
67 Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 40, n. 7; Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 40;
Ögel, ‘Doğu Göktürkleri’: 85; Ögel, Türk Mitolojisi, vol. 1: 84; Taşağıl, Gök-Türkler, vol.
1: 12, 95, 110–11.
68 Cited in Kljaštornyj, Drevnetjurkskie runičeskie pamjatniki: 106, n. 142.
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 305
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The ancestors of the Tujue were mixed Hu69 from Pingliang.70 They had the
family name Ashina. When the Emperor Taiwu (r. 424–52) of the Northern/
Later Wei destroyed Mujian71 ruler of the Xiongnu state of Northern Liang
(397–439) in the Gansu Corridor led by the Juqu clan,72 the Ashina ed with
500 families to the Ruru.73 They lived for generations on the Jinshan (Altay)
Mountains, where they worked as makers of iron implements.74 Since75 the
Jinshan looked like a helmet and people call a ‘helmet’ tujue, for this reason they
called themselves by this name. According to another legend, their ancestors
reigned above the Western Sea…
69 Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 519, n. 207: 雑胡 za hu ‘Barbaren, die
rassenmässig mit anderen Barbaren vermischt waren’; za hu ‘mixed, not homogeneous,
not of one kind, heterogeneous’. ‘Northern foreign tribesmen (Xiongnu, Mongols, Turks),
foreigner, northern barbarian’ (Ošanin, Kitajsko-russkij slovar’, vol. 2: 351 [1462], vol. 3:
159). Kljaštornyj, Drevnetjurkskie runičeskie pamjatniki: 106–07, denes: za hu as Xiongnu
‘mixed with the local population of this part of Gansu’. Hu ‘Steppe nomads’, a term of
unknown etymology (Schuessler, ABC Etymological Dictionary: 281), in Han times (206
bc–221 ce), was usually associated with the Xiongnu (Di Cosmo, Ancient China: 127–30;
Pulleyblank, ‘The Chinese and their Neighbors’: 449–50). In the Sui era (581–618) hu
denoted Central Asian Iranians, especially the Sogdians (Abramson, Ethnic Identity: viii,
19–20, 87; de la Vaissière, Histoire des marchands sogdiens: 56, 58, 61, 65, 120–21 et passim;
Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 490–91, n. 22, 584, n. 786).
70 In Gansu, see Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 46; Harmatta, ‘A türkök eredetmondája’: 386;
Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 519, n. 207; Taşağıl, Gök-Türkler, vol. 1: 12.
71 牧犍 LH: muk k
an (Schuessler, Minimal: 113 [5-39a], 253 [24-8c]).
72 Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 519, n. 209. 沮渠 Juqu: EMC dz
ə g
LMC: ts
ﬞ (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 164, 260). In the Tongdian (197, 1067/1c,
Taşağıl, Gök-Türkler, vol. 1: 95 (Chinese text in appendix), the clan name is written as: Qiequ
且渠 EMC: tshia’g
əﬞ LMC: tshia ́g
əﬞ (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 253, 260). also pronounced
ju EMC: tsiə LMC: tsiəﬞ/tsyəﬞ (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 162) = EMC: tsiəg
əﬞ LMC: tsiəﬞ/tsyə g
73 In 439, a period of drought and political uncertainty prevailed (Xudjakov, Zolotaja
volč’ja golova: 22–23). Survivors of the Northern Liang/Hexi state (Borovkova, Gaočan:
45–48, 50–59) continued on in Gaochang until the Rouran took it in 460 (Kim, Huns: 30–31).
74 Borovkova, Gaočan: 92–94, suggests that they acquired their metallurgical skills in
Pingliang, where they were weapons makers for the Rouran, and expresses doubts that
the Jinshan (‘Golden Mountain’) noted here is necessarily the Altay, which is at some
distance from Pingliang. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Ashina brought with
them from Gaochang and Gansu a variety of bows and swords superior to those of other
groupings in the Altay assuring their domination of local tribes (Xudjakov, Zolotaja volč’ja
golova: 19–30). Whether they were masters of weapon making or had become masters of
local weapon makers is unclear. Access to iron was one of their sources of power (Stark,
‘Luxurious Necessities’: 465–77).
75 Clauson, ‘Turks and Wolves’: 13, labels this part of an otherwise ‘plausible story’, a
lapse ‘into phantasy’.
306 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
This passage sums up a concluding phase in the pre-history of the
Ashina. Following the fall of the Han dynasty in 220, there was an inux
of Xiongnu, Xianbei and other tribes into Northern China, where they
created ephemeral polities (the ‘Sixteen States’, 304–429). The forebears
of the Ashina, a ‘Xiongnu’ grouping,76 came to Gansu after 265. Here,
they absorbed local elements becoming the ‘mixed Hu’ of Pingliang, the
later Ashina-Türks. The Ashina, together with the Northern Liang princes,
Wuhui (d. 444) and Anzhou (d. 460),77 ed to Gaochang, which came
under Rouran rule in 460. The Ashina were subsequently resettled on the
Altay probably ca. 439 and most certainly before 487 or 492, other dates
that have been suggested.78
Wolf Motif
In the Orkhon inscriptions, the Ashina-Türk Qağans repeatedly proclaimed
their heavenly mandate to rule, addressing often recalcitrant, newly
subdued core and subject peoples. The tale of a numinous wolf ancestress
had an ideological–spiritual resonance among many of their northern
subjects.79 Implicit in this were hints at shaman-like connections to the
spirit world exemplied by the ceremonial ritual strangulation of the Qağan
at his investiture, which brought him into contact with the supernatural
and allowed him to predict the length of his reign.80 Wolf Tales I and II
share a highly signicant theme beyond lupine ancestry: Ashina is one
of 10 siblings. In reality, the Ashina were the leading clan of a grouping
of 10 clans (or tribes), the inner core of the Türk union.81 The decimal
76 Pulleyblank, ‘The Chinese and Their Neighbors’: 454–55, suggests that the Ashina
derived from ‘the debris of the Southern Hsiungnu who settled along the northern Chinese
77 無諱 Wuhui LH: muaB/mua huiC (Schuessler, Minimal: 62 [1-69agh], 292 [28-5s]),
Anzhou (LH:
an tśu (Schuessler, Minimal: 253 [24-11a], 174 [13-26ahi]).
78 Borovkova, Gaočan: 52–60 (on the Northern Liang); Kim, Huns: 30–31; Kljaštornyj,
‘Xunny i tjurki’: 121–25; Kljaštornyj, Drevnetjurkskie runičeskie pamjatniki: 106–11; Mair
and Cheng, ‘The Relationship’: 236.
79 Drompp, ‘Lone Wolf’: 525–26.
80 Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 8.
81 Czeglédy, ‘On the Numerical Composition’: 275–81. Dobrovits, ‘The Thirty Tribes’:
257–62, argues that the 30 tribes of the Türks consisted of the 10 tribes of the Eastern Türks
(Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 453–54, with their tamğas, citing the Tang
huiyao, Wilkinson, Chinese History: 645, compiled by Wang Pu, 922–82) plus the Ashina
= 11, the 10 tribes of the Western Türks (On Oq) and the nine tribes of the Toquz Oğuz.
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 307
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system of socio-military organisation, well known in Eurasia, probably
existed in the Ashina-Türk pre-polity.82 The wolf motif found physical
expression in the relief on the Bugut stele in which a child appears to be
under a wolf’s belly.83
The Wusun and Uyğurs shared the wolf motif in different forms. The
Wusun84 (from the second century bce to the early sixth century ce) are
rst noted as neighbours of the Yuezhi85 in the Qilian-Dunhuang region
and west of the Xiongnu. Both were driven westward by the Xiongnu in
the second century bce. Their ethno-linguistic afliations—Indo-European
(perhaps Indo-Iranian or Tokharian)—remain disputed.86 The Wusun have
a tale in which the Kunmo/Kunmi,87 orphaned heir of their vanquished
tribal leader, Nan doumi 難兜靡88 (defeated by the Xiongnu), is nourished
Clauson, ‘Turks and Wolves’: 15, mistakenly identied the 10 tribes of the Türks with the
Western Türks and maintained that the origin tale legends referred only to the latter. He also
suggested (with caveats) that the tales were not from the Türks but from others, quite possibly
foes, who wished to spread derogatory tales about their ancestry. The usually perceptive
Clauson completely missed the wolf motif so common in ethnogonic tales across Eurasia.
82 Stark, ‘On Oq Bodun’: 163.
83 Kljaštornyj and Livšic, ‘The Sogdian Inscription’: 71, 96. Drompp, ‘Lone Wolf’: 519–24,
considers the Bugut image ‘our most important piece of evidence’ for the wolf ancestral
theme ‘beyond the Chinese sources’. This interpretation of the images has been challenged
by Stark, ‘Luxurious Necessities’: 478–81, who sees a dragon, and Hayashi, ‘Illig Qaγan’:
49, ‘a pair of dragons’ heads’ and no baby’s body.
84 烏孫 Wusun: OC
â sūn, LH
a suən (Schuessler, Minimal: 333 [34-1a51 [1-28a], 339
[34-28E]), perhaps *Aświn = Aśvin ‘the Cavaliers’, see Beckwith, Empires: 376–77, who
suggests that they ‘could well have been Old Indic speakers’. Cf. discussion in Hill, Through
the Jade Gate, vol. 2: 91–105. Jila, ‘Myths’: 162–63, on arguments for their Turkic speech.
85 月氏 (old form: 月支) OC: *ŋwjat/ŋwat ge
/ke LH: ŋyat, S ŋ
(Schuessler, Minimal: 241[22-8ag], [alt. pronunciation shi] 121 120 [7-3a]). Beckwith,
Empires: 5–7, 83, 380–83: Early OC *nokwet in a ‘highly archaic border dialect’ of OC:
*Tok war = Tokharians. The literature on the Yuezhi question is too extensive to cite here.
86 Mair and Cheng, ‘The Relationship’: 239, n. 15. Wusun represented ‘a country or a
mixed group, rather than a single ethnic group’, including Iranian (Saka) and Yuezhi.
87 昆莫 OC kûn mâkh, LH kuən mac MC kwən muoC 昆彌, kunmi OC kûn me
, LH kuən
mieB MC kwən mjie kwən mjieB 4 (Schuessler, Minimal: 333[34-174], 74 [2-40ad = 125
[7-20o]). Beckwith, Empires: 376–77, prefers the Hanshu form: 昆彌, kunmi MC *kwənmji
and suggests that this represents *kin/*kēnmē/, perhaps Old Indic.
88 Hanshu, 61.4216 (Hill, Through the Jade Gate: 93; Pulleyblank, ‘The Wu-sun’: 156–57)
OC: nân tô mai
LH: n
nto m
aiB MC: nân təu mjeB 3 (Schuessler, Minimal: 258 [24-35dg],
148 [10-12a], 218[18-18h]).
308 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
by a she-wolf (or wolves) and ravens in the steppe.89 The similarities
between the Wusun and Türk wolf tales as well as a posited connection
between Ashina and *Aśvin have suggested a relationship between the
two90—although this is far from certain. Interestingly, in the Ashina tale,
lupine descent is maternal. In contrast, the Gaoche (Dingling/Dili/Tiele)91
~Toquz Oğuz (subsequently Uyğurs-led) union, claimed a lupine male
ancestor. In the Weishu (103.2307) and Beishi (98.3270), they are presented
as the fruit of the union of a daughter of the Xiongnu chanyu and a wolf.92
Like the Türks, the Uyğurs also had wolf-head banners.93 However, the
Uyğurs (and Tiele union) are presented as distinct from the Ashina-Türks,
although both shared ‘Xiongnu’ connections. The Ashina-Türk-Uyğur
enmity antedated the rise of the Türk state.94
The wolf theme is ancient and widespread across Eurasia, from Rome to
Inner Asia.95 Whether it came to the Ashina from neighbouring ‘Scythian’
peoples96 or was part of a possible ancient Iranian patrimony remains an
open question. ‘Wolf-men’ gure prominently in the warrior cults and
foundation tales of a number of states of Indo-European origin.97 Among
89 Cf. Hanshu, 61.4A-B: Beckwith, Empires: 6–7; Hulsewé, China in Central Asia: 214–15;
Jila, ‘Myths’: 163–65; Yu, A Study of Saka History: 131–45.
90 Dromp, ‘Lone Wolf’: 517; Mair and Cheng, ‘The Relationship’: 235–44; Zuev, K
étničeskoj istorii usunej: 14.
91 Kljaštornyj, Runičeskie pamjatniki ujgurskogo kaganata: 164–65. Lee and Kuang, ‘A
Comparative Analysis’: 200–01. The Tiele (see earlier) were largely, but not universally,
Turkic speaking and appear well before the Ashina-Türk are rst recorded in the sources.
92 Bičurin, Sobranie, vol. 1: 213–15; Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 63–64; Ögel, ‘Doğu
Göktürkleri’: 96–97, Ögel, Türk Mitilojisi, vol. 1: 17–18; Roux, La religion: 188–89.
93 Xin Tangshu (217A.3b) in Mackerras, The Uighur Empire: 57.
94 Lee and Kuang, ‘A Comparative Analysis’: 203. The Türks defeated a Tiele (Toquz
Oğuz~Uyğur) attack on their Rouran overlords in 546 (Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten,
vol. 1: 7). The Terx inscription (E, 16-19) references the fall of the Türk Qağanate, the
disorders among the (Toquz) Oğuz and the earlier Uyğur Qağanates (Kljaštornyj, Runičeskie
pamjatniki: 36, 39, 176–78.
95 Drompp, ‘Lone Wolf’: 517–18; Jila, ‘Myths’: 166–75.
96 Roux, Le sang: 42–43, 52. Pole-axes of chieftains decorated with a wolf’s head are
found in the Kama region and date from the sixth to the fourth century bc, see Goldina and
Chernykh, ‘Forest and Steppe’: 42.
97 Kershaw, The One-eyed God: 27, 59, 60–61, 118–19, 134–42; Roux, La religion: 188;
White, Myths of the Dog-Man: 28. Vatic powers were associated with them as were warrior
cults, whose members were caught up in ‘wolsh rage’ (Lincoln, Death, War, and Sacrice:
131–37; Speidel, ‘Berserks’: 280–81, 85; West, Indo-European: 450–51). Berserkers (Norse
úlfheðnar ‘wolf-skinned’) mimicked wolsh ways and donned wolf skins.
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 309
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the Türks (and later the Činggisid Mongols) the wolf was worshipped
as an ancestor, whereas in other wolf tales (e.g., Roman, Sāsānid), it is a
‘divinely guided nurse’.98
The wolf motif and the cavern motifs, whatever their origins, played
an important role in the symbolic life of the Türks.99 ‘Holy caves’ were
a means to enter the ‘underground world’, which was much like the
one previously mentioned. These notions were well known in Siberian
A wolf-headed man is noted in a tale in the Taiping Guanji101 (292.128)
and Xin Tangshu (6139), appearing as a ‘guest’ (or mendicant) seeking
the leader of the Xueyantuo union102 (which briey rose to power after the
fall [630] of the First Türk Qağanate in the east). The wolf-headed guest
was fed by his Xueyantuo host and then left. The Xueyantuo followed
this curious being to the Ötüken. There, they were frightened off by two
men they encountered who said: ‘We are supernatural ( shen) beings.
The Xueyantuo will be destroyed. We have come to take the head of your
Gardīzi in his section on the Turkic peoples recounts a tale in which the
‘sparseness’ of the facial hair of the Turks and their ‘canine disposition’
are attributed to the wolf’s milk (along with ant’s eggs) that was given
98 See Drompp, ‘Lone Wolf’: 518.
99 Zhoushu (Pelliot, ‘Neuf notes’: 213–14): ‘The Qağan resides continually on the Ötükän
mountain. Every year he leads the nobles to perform sacrices at the ancestral cavern.’ Suishu
(Chavannes, Documents: 15): ‘Every fth month, on the eighth day, they (the Western Türks)
gather to offer sacrices to the spirits. Every year they send a high functionary to the cavern
where their ancestors resided to offer sacrices to them.’
100 Tatár, ‘Mythology as an Areal Problem’: 269–70.
A collection of ction/literary works of the Song era (it appeared in 978), it was copied
from the Youyang zazu (Kapusuzoğlu, Taping Derlemesinde Türkler: 9–11; Wilkinson,
Chinese History: 651–52).
102 Chin. 薛延陀 EMC: siat jian da LMC: siat jian t
a, Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 351, 356,
314). Kljaštornyj, Istorija Central’noj Azii: 305 saw in the Xueyantuo a possible rendering
of *Sir Yamtar. While the Sir constituted an important Turkic confederation, Yamtar is noted
only as a personal name (cf. KT, E33, ïšβara Yamtar/YamDar, Berta, Szavaimat: 159). On the
Ashina-Türk-Xueyantuo rivalry and relations with China, see Pan, Son of Heaven: 140–43,
176–78, 189–94, 200, 214; Taşağıl, Çin Kaynaklarına Göre: 102–11 (his identication of
the Xueyantuo as the Sir Tarduš, often made, is questionable).
103 Kapusuzoğlu, Taiping Derlemesinde Türkler: 14, 82 (Chinese text); Liu, Die
chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 460, with a variant of this tale.
310 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
to Japheth, the ancestor of the Turks, during a childhood illness.104 The
evocation of wolf’s milk points to what may be a reection of the Ashina
tale. Al-Birūnī (973–1048) in his comments on the origins of the Turkišāhī
dynasty of Kabul mentions that they derived from the Turks and the rst
of their kings was ‘Burha Tegin’ (or Baraha Tegin) who entered a cave in
Kabul and several days later a person ‘emerged as though being born from
his mother’s belly’, attired in Turkic clothing. He was designated king
with the title ‘Shah of Kabul’. Kljaštornyj connected Baraha with Turk.
Baraq is ‘a long-haired dog’,105 which was perhaps a taboo name for the
lupine ancestor and with the importance of a cave in the Ashina legend.106
The wolf continued as a potent symbol in Qïpčaq religious beliefs,107
before their conversion to Islam in the Činggisid era. Relics of it remained
among the Qaračay-Balqars of the North Caucasus.108 In the southwestern/
Oğuz Turkic languages, böri is regularly replaced with Osm. qurt/kurt,
Azeri ġurd and Türkmän ġurt, a word originally (and still) denoting
‘worm’ in other Turkic languages (including Oğuz).109 Böri was probably
tabooed in Oğuz, as it denoted a magical, holy totem/ancestor,110 but its
continuation in the other Turkic languages was not affected. A satisfactory
explanation is still lacking. Interestingly, in the version of the Oğuznāma
recorded in Uyğur script and composed in old Oğuz-Qarluq mixed Turkic
sometime in the fourteenth century,111 Oğuz H
˘an, the eponymous founder
of the Oğuz polities who bestows names on other Turkic peoples, declared
that kök böri (‘blue wolf’) will be the battle cry (uran) of his people.112
104 Dromp, ‘Lone Wolf’: 518–19; Gardîzî, Ta’rīh
-i Gardīzī: 547; Martinez, ‘Gardîzî’s
Two Chapters’: 118. The Japhetic origin of the Turks is a commonplace in many medieval
Muslim and Jewish genealogies of the nations.
105 Clauson, Etymological Dictionary: 360.
106 Kljaštornyj, ‘Al-Birūnī’s Version’: 248–51. For the reading burha see Rezakhani,
Reorienting the Sasanians: 168.
107 Golden, ‘Wolves, Dogs and Qıpčaq Religion’: 97–98.
108 Golden, ‘Qaračay Nart Tale’: 160–63.
109 In Turkish dialects, böri can denote ‘worm, insect, scorpion, spider’ (Blagova,
Étimologičeskij slovar’…na bukvu ‘K’: 167–68; Sevortjan, Étimologičeskij slovar’…na
bukvu ‘B’: 219–21.
110 İnan, Makaleler: 625–27; Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 1: 461.
111 Bayat, Mitten Tarihe: 37–40.
112 Bang and Rachmati, ‘Die Legende’: 690 [l. 99], 696 [ll. 217–18] (the kök böri speaks to
Oğuz H
an); Drompp, ‘Lone Wolf’: 519; Bayat, Oğuz Destanı: 64–75 (equating the boz qurt
[‘gray wolf’] of Oğuz tradition with the kök böri and repeating the inaccurate identication
of Ashina with Mong. čino ‘wolf’).
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 311
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Shemo (Žama) and the Deer Tale
The ‘Shemo/Žama Tale’ is recorded in the Youyang zazu (4.44–45) and
the Taiping Guangji (480.3957).113
The ancestor of the Tujue bore the name Shemo,114 the god of the *Šar Sea.115
This sea was west of the cave of the Ashide tribe.116 Shemo had a divine power.
Every day at sunset, the daughter of the Sea-God mounted a white deer117
and met with Shemo. Together with him she went into the sea and the next
day, emerged from it and saw him off. This went on for years. Later, when a
great hunt drew near, at midnight the daughter of the Sea-God said to Shemo:
‘Tomorrow when you are going to hunt, a white deer with golden antlers will
come out of the cave where your ancestors were born and it will try to run
113 Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 41–43 (Youyang zazu~Taiping Guangji); Kapusuzoğlu,
Tapiing Derlemesinde Türkler: 12–13 (Taiping Guangji); Ōsawa, ‘The Cultural Relationship’:
401–03 (Youyang zazu); Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 230–31 (Youyang zazu).
114 Chin. 射摩 Shemo EMC:
iah ma, LMC:
ia ̀ mua (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 279, 217),
alternate pronunciation shi mo /ye mo /yi mo: EMC:
iajk ma /jiah ma /jiajk ma LMC:
iajk mua /jia ̀ mua /jiajk mua (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 283, 364, 370, 217). Erkoç, ‘Türk
Mitlerindeki’: 42, 60 reads it as Yama, following Ōsawa, ‘Revisiting the Ongi Inscription’:
168; Ōsawa, ‘The Cultural Relationship’: 401, n. 2, (dated 732?, Ongi, W-1): ačümïz
apamïz *yama Qağan (‘Our ancestor Yama Qağan’), but most readings of the inscription
have: *yamï Qağan (cf. Ölmez, Orhon-Uygur: 190). We nd the name (title?) in Tibet Ms
Pelliot Tibétain 1283: Zha-ma Kha-gan (Venturi, ‘An Old Tibetan’: 20–21, 27, 29). Atwood,
‘Some Early Inner Asian Terms’: 78–79, n. 157, argues that Tibet. zha-ma is from EMC
iah ma (see also Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 42–43, n. 10). Rybatzki, ‘Titles’: 209, nds
the Zhama-Yamï identication unconvincing. A later, LMC (Tang-era) form, Atwood avers,
would have produced in Tibetan sha-‘ba. This would imply Chinese intermediation in the
Uyğuro-Tibetan text, for which we have no evidence. Overlooked in these discussions is
the still unidentied ‘Šâba [ ] H
āqān’ a great ‘king’ of the Türks defeated at Herat in
588/589 by Bahrām Čōbīn. His name (or more probably title) is strikingly similar (Golden,
‘The Great King’: 26–43). The m~b alternation is well known in Turkic.
115 Chin. 射摩舍利海神 shemo sheli hai shen. Sheli 舍利: EMC
ia’ lihLMC
ia′ li//
iah lih, LMC
ia ̀ li ̀ (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 278, 279, 188). Sheli = *Šar
(unidentied). Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 230, translates it as ‘Shê-mo-shê-li, a lake spirit’.
116 阿史德 Ashide: EMC
tək (Pulleyblank, Lexicon, pp. 23, 283, 74) = *Aštaq? This
is the name of the consort or ‘in-law’ clan of the Ashina (Zuev, Rannie tjurki: 33, 34, 86–88,
168). Bailey, Indo-Scythian Studies: 104–05, suggested a resemblance to Iranian *xšaita
‘ruler’, cf. Sogd. xšēδ, axšēδ ‘ruler’. Atwood, ‘Some Early Inner Asian Terms’: 57, 73–75,
proffers A-she-tig or A-shi-teg. Ms Pelliot Tibétain 1283: a-sha-sde = Ashide (Venturi, ‘An
Old Tibetan’: 21).
117 On the deer and white-coloured sea-goddess motifs in Turkic and Turko-Mongolian
tradition, see Ögel, Türk Mitolojisi, vol. 1: 569–83, vol. 2: 101–09.
312 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
away from there. If you shoot an arrow and hit it, you will be able to continue
to maintain a close relationship with me. If you shoot at it and cannot hit it,
we will part forever’. The next day when he surrounded the cave where his
ancestors were born, the white deer with golden horns appeared at the mouth
of the cave. Shemo sent his attendants left and right to surround [the area]
and when the white deer was going to jump out, one of his men hit it [with an
arrow]. Shemo was extremely angry and with his own hands he killed the leader
A’er118 and swore an oath: ‘After this we will have to offer human sacrices to
Heaven ( tian)’. The majority of the sacrices will come from A’er’s tribe
(部落 buluo). Thereafter, they will kill and sacrice the sons and grandsons of
this tribe to Heaven. Up to our day, the Türks (Tujue), offer human sacrices in
accordance with this tradition to a banner ( du/dao) and the group uses this
banner. Shemo after having killed A’er, when evening came, the daughter of the
Sea-God came returned to him, however the daughter of the Sea-God seized
Shemo and said ‘you have killed someone with your own hands and stink of
foul blood, we have no shared future [together]’ and ended their relationship.
Tibetan Dog Myth
The Ms Pelliot Tibétain 1283 includes a report of a mission of ve Uyğur
envoys to the Inner Asian Turkic world.119 It contains a version of a
legend that would appear to reect points of contact with the Wolf Tale.
The report breaks off with fragments of yet another legend regarding the
‘savage Turks’, which is too incomplete to be intelligible. The ‘report’ has
been discussed by a number of scholars and still poses many problems120:
To the north of these, beyond the great mountain chain of sandy desert (l. 69)
there are two tribes of the king of heaven.121 At the time when the rule of Zha
118 阿唲 A er (Ošanin, Kitajsko-russkij slovar’, vol. 4: 439 [12656]: ěr/wa): LH:
aińe MC:
âńźje (Schuessler, Minimal: 211 [18-1m], 123 [7-11e]), MC ’anye (Kroll,
Dictionary: 1, 101).
119 Most probably from an oral source and then written in Tibetan (hence the various
renderings of foreign names) composed sometime between 744 and the end of the eighth
century (Venturi, ‘An Old Tibetan’: 1–8: Tibetan text: 15–18, trans.: 19–32, in particular
29–30, ll. 68–84).
120 See bibliography in Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 44–46 and Venturi, ‘An Old Tibetan’:
121 Venturi, ‘An Old Tibetan’: Tängri Qağan?
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 313
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
ma qaghan, the king of the 'Bug chor,122 was peaceful, when [he] led the army
in this direction, the army could not pass and (l. 71) two men went wandering
about. Having run into the tracks of a female camel, as the tracks went towards
pure water, near a herd of female camels (l. 73), they ran into a pure woman, and,
speaking in Turkic, the woman led [them] and they followed [her] into hiding. A
pack of dogs123 (l. 75) that was chasing game came back, so the dogs perceived
them with their nose and [they] prostrated to the dogs. Then, the dogs loaded on
ten female camels whatever they needed and water to cross over the sandy desert
(l. 77), and having sent [them] back, they arrived (i.e., returned) to the country of
the Turks. [p. 30] The rst dog descended from heaven. It emanated into two, a
red dog and a black dog, and as a consort, (l. 79) whilst [they] found a she wolf
and mated [with her], she was not suitable for children. Then, [they] abducted
a maiden from the wing of a Turkic household and united with that girl. As for
the male children, [they] came out as dogs. Concerning the daughters, (l. 81)
[they] came out as human and appeared as pure women (i.e., genuine women).
Concerning the tribe of the red dog, it is called Ge zir gu shu.124 Concerning the
tribe of the black dog, it is called Ga ra gu shu125 and the dogs and (l. 83) the women
speak in Turkic. As for [their] wealth and food, such as cattle, (l. 83) the women
put it together and use it. Beyond that, none have heard tell that there are men.
There are no direct references to the Ashina-Türks as necessarily a
nomadic people in the origin tales. The references to Hu components and
Xiongnu antecedents are open to several interpretations. Hu, by this time,
denoted not only ‘Northern steppe nomads’ but included other groupings,
122 Cf. Chin. 默啜 Mochuo EMC: mək t
hwiat LMC: muək t
hyat (Pulleyblank, Lexicon:
218, 63); MC mjuk hjwät (Schuessler, Minimal: 113 [5-38de], 241 [22-10c]) = Beg čor?
Bögü čor? This is Qap[a]ğan Qağan killed by the Bayırqu (716), following a campaign.
Venturi, ‘An Old Tibetan’: 20–21: ‘twelve tribes of the ‘Bug chor Turks: the king Zha
ma Qaghan (…) [among the tribes are the] A sha sde’ (= Ashide), 24: ‘the ‘Bug chor the
great chief of the nine tribes, which are called in Tibetan the nine bones’. Sinor, ‘Some
Components’: 152–53 (citing Liu, Die chinesischen Nachrichten, vol. 2: 733, n. 1876), 156,
notes the mochuo 默啜 tujue mentioned by the Tang ofcial Zhang Jiuling (648–740) and
equates them with ‘Bug chor, which he views as a ‘political’ term denoting ‘a real people’.
123 Erkoç, ‘Türk Mitlerindeki’: 61–63, viewing this ‘report’ as a variant of the wolf tale,
suggests that the Tibetans in their translation of the Uyğur report rendered ‘wolf’ as ‘dog’.
124 Venturi, ‘An Old Tibetan’: ‘red snouts’ Turk. qïzïl küšü (Ligeti, ‘A propos du “Rapport”’:
125 Venturi, ‘An Old Tibetan’: ‘black snouts’ Turk. qara küšü (Ligeti, ‘A propos du
“Rapport”’: 186).
314 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
in particular Central Asian Iranians, especially the Iranian-Sogdian
mercantile diaspora. The Xiongnu, while predominantly pastoral nomads,
also practised ‘small-scale farming’ and controlled subject agrarian
populations.126 ‘Nomads’ in Central Eurasia and the Middle East have
often moved along a sliding scale, from a ‘pure nomad’ (a relative rarity)
to a settled agriculturalist with a strong pastoralist component. Economic
strategies were exible.127 The culture of the later imperial-age Türks was
‘complex’ but pastoralism predominated.128
The themes of ‘enclosure and emergence’, which gure in the origin
accounts, were part of a complex web of themes in which ‘a Mountain, a
Tree, a Cave, Water and a Female Spirit’ all gure prominently.129 The cave/
ancestral cavern theme appears in the legends and historical accounts.130
It should be underscored that the she-wolf tales focus on the Ashina, not
on other Turkic peoples who have their own origin accounts (lupine and
non-lupine), while the Ashide/*Aštaq appear indirectly in the Tibetan
Dog Tale. The tales, as Sinor noted, clearly represent different traditions,
albeit with more points of intersection than he accepted. Nonetheless, one
can agree with his conclusion regarding ‘the composite ethnic character
of the Türks’, comprising non-Turkic elements as well.131 The eastward
orientation of the Türks (not typical of the Turkic peoples), and their peculiar
numerical system, Sinor argues, further underscores their non-Turkic
origins.132 Some DNA tests point to the Iranian connections of the Ashina
and Ashide,133 highlighting further that the Turks as a whole ‘were made up
of heterogeneous and somatically dissimilar populations’.134 Geographically,
126 Di Cosmo, ‘Ancient Inner Asian’: 1094–195.
127 Honeychurch, Inner Asia; Khazanov, Nomads.
128 Kubarev, Kul’tura: 149.
129 DeWeese, Islamization: 11, 43–48, 273.
130 Sinor, ‘Legendary Origin’: 235–36; Sinor, ‘Some Components’: 147–49; Sinor and
Kljaštornyj, ‘The Türk Empire’: 329–30.
131 Sinor, ‘Some Components’: 146–47, 152; Sinor and Kljaštornyj, ‘The Türk Empire’:
132 Sinor and Kljaštornyj, ‘The Türk Empire’: 330. Mair and Cheng, ‘The Relationship’:
241–43 present a more complicated picture, based on Türk-era burials, indicating a variety
of practices. Moreover, the early Uyğur inscriptions employed the same numerical system
(Erdal, Grammar: 220) and elements akin to it are partially preserved in Sarïğ Uyğur (Šera
Yoğur). Tenišev, Sravnitel’no-istoričeskaja Grammatika[...]Morfologija: 179–80, viewed
this system, which evolved over time, as part of ‘Proto-Turkic’.
133 Wen, Muratov and Suyunov, ‘The Haplogroups’: 154–57.
134 Lee and Kuang, ‘A Comparative Analysis’: 198, 211–30.
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 315
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the accounts cover the regions of Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Xinjiang, the
Yenisei zone and the Altay, regions with Turkic, Indo-European (Iranian
[Saka] and Tokharian), Yeniseic, Uralic and other populations. Wusun
elements, like most steppe polities of an ethno-linguistic mix, may have
also played a substratal role.
The history of the Turkic peoples and their languages are marked
by uidity and migrations. Languages are often spread by groups that
are themselves composite in origin but have adopted the ethnonym and
language of one of their components.135 Turkic, an imperial language since
the Türk era, spread across Eurasia and the Middle East in such a process
that it absorbed new elements as it moved.
As a consequence of their mobility, ethnogenetic processes were
dynamic, taking place in multiple territories.136 Attempts to locate a
Turkic Urheimat have ranged across Eurasia, from the Northern Caspian
steppe zone to Southern Siberia and Mongolia, regions in which there was
contact with Indo-European, Uralic, Yeniseic137 or other Palaeo-Siberian
languages. As the other ‘Altaic’/transeurasian languages (whatever their
ultimate relationship, genetic, melded, completely unrelated) appear to
have been located in Manchuria,138 the Turkic Urheimat, a culminating
point in Turkic ethno- and glottogenesis, can be placed on its Western
border in Mongolia, South Siberia,139 most probably in the ethno-
linguistically complex Sayano-Altay, Xing’an region.140 The argument for
such a location is buttressed by the vocabulary for natural surroundings,
ora and fauna in Turkic.141 The Türk origin tales appear to place them,
135 D’jakonov, Puti istorii: 25; Lee and Kuang, ‘A Comparative Analysis’: 229–30.
136 Kljaštornyj, Runičeskie pamjatniki: 198.
137 Attempts to connect Yeniseic to other language families of Eurasia have been
unsuccessful. It appears to be an isolate (Georg, ‘Yeniseic Languages’: 151–68).
138 Janhunen, Manchuria: 238.
139 Genetic studies are also suggestive of this region as ‘a point of origin’ (Yunusbayev
et al., ‘The Genetic Legacy’: 1–24).
140 Bobrov, Vasjutin and Vasjutin, Vostočnyj Altaj: 84–86. This was already an area of
admixture during the Bronze Age (Hollard et al., ‘Strong Genetic Admixture’: 199–207). Lee
and Kuang, ‘A Comparative Analysis’: 229, on the basis of DNA, argue for an Urheimat in
‘northern and western Mongolia and Tuva’ and hypothesise that ‘Turkic’ was the result of
the fusion of Uralic, Mongolic, Yeniseic and Indo-European. The overwhelming majority
of scholars of Turkic do not consider it a ‘fusion language’.
141 Briey discussed in Golden, ‘Ethnogenesis in the Tribal Zone’: 75, 87–94. In detail,
see Tenišev, Sravnitel’no-istoričeskaja Grammatika: Leksika and Tenišev and Dybo,
Sravnitel’no-istoričeskaja Grammatika.Kartina mira pratjurkskogo étnosa.
316 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
at different stages, in and around the probable Turkic Urheimat and the
areas of Gansu and Xinjiang.
The anthroponyms noted in the ethnogenetic accounts cannot be
explained on the basis of Turkic. Yeniseic, Palaeo-Siberian and Iranian
etymologies have been suggested but require further conrmation. The
Old Türk inscriptions contain words of Uralic (Samoyed and Ugric)
provenance, pointing to early contacts or to constituent elements.142
Iranian and Yeniseic connections cannot be ignored. If the Ashina-Türk
were originally non-Turkic linguistically, the question arises, when did
they become Turkic-speakers? Their ‘Xiongnu’ connections, real or a
literary topos, do not provide an answer, as the ethno-linguistic afliations
of the actual Xiongnu remain uncertain. By the time of the Second Türk
Qağanate, the Ashina-Türks are denitely Turkic in speech, employing
a sophisticated and polished Turkic in their Orkhon inscriptions. Famed
as equestrian, pastoral-nomadic warriors, were they earlier a semi-settled
people with livestock-breeding and metal-working components in their
economy? Interestingly, aside from Wolf Tale I, no further mention is
made of metallurgy, which was important to the Ashina-Türks. Indeed,
after establishing relations with Constantinople, one of the products they
offered to the East Romans was iron.143 The ancient ties with the Qïrqïz
implied in Wolf Tale II, a people led by their own Qağan and frequent
foes of the Ashina-Türks, require further exploration. Chinese and other
accounts note a population (or at least part of it) that was Europoid, leading
to speculation that the Qïrqïz were a Turkicised people. The evidence is
ambiguous at best.144 They were clearly Turkic speaking at the time of
the Türk Qağanate.145
142 Sinor and Kljaštorynj, ‘The Türk Empire’: 330.
143 Menander, The History: 116–19; Sinor, ‘The Establishment’: 313 notes that metallurgy,
in this early stage, was ‘the basis of Türk political power’. Whether this was based on their
own skills or political domination of peoples possessing metallurgical skills is unclear
(Golden, Introduction: 126; Stark, ‘Luxurious Necessities’: 476).
144 Drompp, ‘The Yenisei Kyrgyz’: 480–88. The Qïrqïz title are 阿熱 EMC:
a ŋiat LMC:
a riat (Pulleyblank, Lexicon: 23, 265), recorded in the Xin Tangshu and elsewhere and
long suspected to be a non-Turkic term, is now read as rendering Turk. *änäl, a variant of
inäl (usually a qualifying adjective, ‘reliable’ trustworthy’, User, Köktürk ve Ötüken: 175,
276). Other terms remain problematic.
145 Cf. the Qïrqïz runiform Turkic inscriptions from the eighth to ninth century (Aydın et
al., Yenisey–Kırgızistan Yazıtları; Kormušin, Tjurkskie enisejskie épitai. Tektsy; Kormušin,
The Ethnogonic Tales of the Turks 317
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
Knowledge of Türk origins had faded—or were suppressed—by the
time of Mahmūd Kāšġarī (writing in the 1070s), replaced with Islamic and
Judaic (the Khazars) genealogies and eeting references to Alp är Toŋa,
a mythical Turkic hero noted in Qarakhanid-era works, often equated
with Afrāsiyāb of the Iranian tradition.146 In the conversion tales of the
various Turkic peoples under Činggisid rule, there is the familiar ‘mythic
complex’ of holy mountain, tree (of life), cave (ancestral or otherwise),
water and female deity that are adumbrated in one form or another in the
Ashina-Türk origin tales.147 In the aftermath of the Mongol invasions, a
new genealogical dispensation in which Oğuz H
˘an148 or Ulu H
˘an Ata (and
tales of the ‘primal man’, popular among the Qïpčaqs and Mongols) played
a central role also incorporated these symbols.149 The ‘primal man’, Ay
Atam and his wife Ay Wa, bore names suspiciously like Adam and Eve
(cf. Arab. Hawwā, Heb. Hawa) and their grandson was Küčük/Kičik Äri
Bülčägi (‘the wolf cub’ of Küčük Äri),150 a memory of the lupine theme.
OC = Old Chinese
ONW = Old Northwest Chinese
LH = Late Han
EMC = Early Middle Chinese
LMC = Late Middle Chinese
MC = Middle Chinese
Tokh. = Tokharian
Tjurkskie enisejskie épitafii: Grammatika). Kormušin, Tjurkskie enisejskie épitafii:
Grammatika: 310–11, suggests that qïrqïz was an ‘exoethnonym’.
146 Golden, ‘The Turkic World’: 520.
147 Similar elements are found in the Khazar accounts in Hebrew of their conversion to
Judaism, DeWeese, Islamization: 273–78, 300–07.
148 Binbaş, ‘Ogˉuz Khan Narratives’; Kamola, ‘History and Legend’: 561–74. http://www., Jahn, Die Geschichte der Oġuzen; Demir
and Aydoğdu, Oğuzname (Kazan Nüshası); Demir, Oğuzname (İngiltere Nüshası).
149 Demir, Ulu Han; DeWeese, Islamization: 278–82; Golden, ‘Religion among the
Qıpčaqs’: 196–200.
150 Misread as Küčikeri Beljegi by Demir, Ulu Han: 90. The Arab accounts (noted in
Golden, ‘Religion among the Qıpčaqs’: 199–200) term him the farh
(‘animal young’) of
Küčük Äri, cf. Qïpčaq bülčäk ‘young of a wolf’, Toparlı, Vural, Karaatlı, Kıpçak Türk
Sözlüğü: 40.
318 Peter B. Golden
The Medieval History Journal, 21, 2 (2018): 291327
Turkic Inscriptions
BQ = Bilgä Qağan Inscription (734/735)
KT = Kül Tegin Inscription (732)
Toń = Tońuquq Inscription (726)
In references to the inscriptions, N = North, S = South, E = East,
W = West
Declaration of Conicting Interests
The author declared no potential conicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship and/or publication of this article.
The author received no nancial support for the research, authorship and/or
publication of this article.
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This article aims to contribute to the wider debate on the historicity of the Shāh-nāmah by focusing on the way Firdawsī uses the word khargāh. The word, which is first attested in Rūdakī poetry, has not been dealt with adequately in previous scholarship dedicated to the Shāh-nāmah. An analysis of all the occurrences in the text provides results consistent with those obtained from contemporary sources: the khargāh appeared in Central Asia (here, Tūrān); it was the standard dwelling of Turkic-speaking pastoral nomads (here, Tūrānians), whatever their social rank; and it was adopted later as a status symbol by non-Turkish elites (here, during Kay-Khusraw’s reign). In Firdawsī’s Shāh-nāmah khargāh should therefore also be understood as the type of framed tent known as “trellis tent” (the so-called yurt).
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The Qaračay-Balqar (Malqar) people of the North Caucasus, 1 a geographically divided Qıpčaq-Turkic speaking people with a strong Alanic/Osetin, i.e. Northeast Iranian ("Scythian") substratum and as well as roots that probably go back to pre-Qıpčaq 1 This is a is slightly revised and updated version of an article that originally appeared in Omeljan Pritsak Armağanı. A Tribute to Omeljan Pritsak, ed. M. Alpargu, Y. Öztürk (Sakarya, 2007), pp. 149-165. Omeljan Pritsak had an abiding interest in the language and culture of the Qaračay-Balqar people, cf. his "Das Karatschaische und Balkarische" in J. Deny et al. (eds.), Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta, I (Wiesbaden, 1959), pp. 340-368. The literature on them has become quite substantial, see M.D. Karaketov, X.-M.A. Sabančiev (eds.). Karačaevcy. Balkarcy (Moskva, 2014). The Balqars comprise about 10% of the population of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic and the Qaračays about 30% of the population of the Karačaevo-Čerkes Republic, both within The Russian Federation, see V.A. Mixajlov et al. (eds.), Čto nužno znat' o narodax Rosii. Spravočnik dlja gosudarstvennyx služaščix (Moskva, 1999), pp. 217, 228-229. On the complexities of the ethnonyms used by this people, see N.G. Volkova, Étnonimy i plemennye nazvanija Severnogo Kavkaza (Moskva, 1973), pp. 86-89; X.X. Malkonduev, "K voprosu o samonazvanii karačaevcev i balkarcev" in É. R. Tenišev et al. (eds.), Karačaevcy i balkarcy: Jazyk, étnografija, arxeologija, fol'klor (Moskva, 2002), pp. 110-136. Tawlu ("mountaineer") was a term often used as a self-designation and continues to be used by the Balqars (Mixajlov et al. eds., Čto nužno znat' o narodax Rossii, pp.217-218). It was appropriate in that of all the Turkic peoples of North Caucasia, they were the only ones that lived in the mountains, rather than in the plains. The ethnonym Qaračay first appears in the seventeenth century. Balqar is noted at that same time as a place name (see Volkova).