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March 8, 2014
Table of Contents
1 Introduction


Wusun --- information about this historic people can be found in
Chinese historical annals.


Originally, the Wusun people lived near the Yuezhi people, probably
in the region of the eastern Tien Shan Mts. Later they moved to the
Ili valley and the Issyk Kol basin.

Anthropology and archeology

According to Chinese archeologists: excavated skeletal remains of
presumed Wusun people are short-headed Europoid of the Central Asian,
Transoxanian type.

The Wusun were described as having "green eyes and red beards", i.e.,
of Caucasoid appearance.


At the beginning of what is known about the history of the Wusun,
they lived near the Yuezhi people. The Yue-zhi were defeated by the
rising Xiongnu empire and fled westward. En route they overran the
Wusun. The future Wusun king, Kunmo (< MC mak = Kun Beg?), lost his
father and was left in the wild, then miraculously was saved from
hunger by sucking from a she-wolf. The Xiongnu Shan-yu (ruler) was
impressed and adopted the child. When the child grew up the Shan-yu
gave him command of his tribe (reconstituted?) and ordered the Wusun
to attack the Yuezhi, who had taken refuge in the Ili Valley, said
to be originally peopled by the Se (< MC s@k = Saka) people. The Yuezhi was crushed completely and fled further to Ferghana, and finally settled in Bactria, and became known as the Tocharoi. The Wusun took over the Ili Valley and then expanded to occupy a large area. They were said to number 630,000 and became a respected force in Central Asia.

When the Han Dynasty|Han empire began the counter-offensive against the Xiongnu, the Wusun was won over to her side through political marriages, and the Wusun became a bitter enemy of the Xiongnu. After Han retreat from Central Asia, no much was recorded about the Wusun. They were said to be pressed by the Jou-Juan (Avar) and migrated to the Congling Mts. (Pamir Mountains). After this event the Wusun disappeared from history, and later we found the western Turks in the former habitat of the Wusun.


There were Sai (Saka) and Yuezhi (Tocharian?) peoples among the Wusun, so maybe they spoke Iranian or Tocharian? The Wusun shared a similar ancestor myth with the Kok Turks, so they may well be a Turkic people. There was a Wusun king called Fu-li, and Chinese
scholar Han Rulin suggested a likeness to Turkic "bori = wolf".

  • Hill, John E. 2003. "Annotated Translation of the Chapter on the Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu." 2nd Draft Edition.

  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE. Draft annotated English translation.

  • Mallory, J.P. and Mair, Victor H. 2000. The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. Thames & Hudson. London.

  • Stein, Aurel M. 1921. Serindia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China, 5 vols. London & Oxford. Clarendon Press. Reprint: Delhi. Motilal Banarsidass. 1980.

  • Watson, Burton. Trans. 1961. Records of the Grand Historian of China Translated from the Shih chi of Ssu-ma Ch'ien. Chap. 123. The Account of Ta-y?an. Columbia University Press.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wusun".

Last Modified:   2005-04-13

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