Σάββατο, 10 Οκτωβρίου 2015

Yuezhi-Tocharians-Kushans : The Thracian Greeks of China and India

The Yuezhi or Rouzhi (Chinese: 月氏; pinyin:Yuèzhī, Wade–Giles Yüeh-chih) were an ancient Indo-European people originally settled in an arid grassland area spanning the modern Chinese provinces of Xinjiang andGansu. After the Yuezhi were defeated by theXiongnu, in the 2nd century BCE, a small group, known as the Little Yuezhi, fled to the south, while the majority migrated west to the Ili Valley, where they displaced the Sakas(Scythians). Driven from the Ili Valley shortly afterwards by the Wusun, the Yuezhi migrated to Sogdia and then Bactria, where they are often identified with the Tókharoi (Τοχάριοι) and Asioi of Classical sources. They then expanded into northern South Asia, where they became unified under one of their five leading branches, who founded the Kushan Empire. The Kushan empire stretched from Turfan in the Tarim Basin to Pataliputra on the Gangetic plain at its greatest extent, and played an important role in the development of the Silk Road and the transmission of Buddhism to China. he Yuezhi may have been an Europoid people, as indicated by the portraits of their kings on the coins they struck following their exodus to Transoxiana(2nd–1st century BCE), portraits from statues in Khalchayan, Bactria in the 1st century BCE, some old place names in Gansu explainable in Tocharian languages, and especially the coins they struck in India as Kushans (1st–3rd century CE). Ancient Chinese sources do describe the existence of "white people with long hair" (the Bai people of theShan Hai Jing) beyond their northwestern border. According to one theory, the Yuezhi were connected to a large migration of Indo-European-speaking peoples from eastern Central Asia in the Bronze Age.These were possibly ethnic Tocharian speakers and connected to the Afanasevo culture. Very well preserved Tarim mummies from the 18th century bc to the first centuries bc with Europoid features (light hair and eyes) and dominated by Haplogroup R1a1a (Y-DNA) have been found in the Tarim Basin. One mummy today displayed at the Ürümqi Museum and dated from the 3rd century BCE, found at the ancient oasis on the Silk Road, Niya, has been connected to the Yuezhi. Evidence of theIndo-European Tocharian languages also has been found in the same geographical area, Although the first known epigraphic evidence dates to the 6th century CE, the degree of differentiation between Tocharian A and Tocharian B and the absence of Tocharian language remains beyond that area suggest that a common Tocharian language existed in the same area of Yuezhi settlement during the second half of the 1st millennium BCE. Esther Jacobson emphasizes that "the Yuezhi/Kushans may properly be considered to have belonged to the larger Scytho-Siberian culture." The nomadic people, probably Scythians, of the Ordos culture of the Ordos Plateau, who lived in northern China, east of the Yuezhi, are another of a later similar migration. According to some scholars the Yuezhi might themselves have been Scythians. The Yuezhi (Rouzhi) are associated by some scholars with the Ordos culture. Also, the Europoid mummies of Pazyryk, which were probably Scythian in origin, were found around 1,500 kilometers northwest of the Yuezhi and date to around the 3rd century BCE. The Pazyryk burials coincide with the apex of Yuezhi power, and has been connected to them by some scholars. The
area between the Qilian Mountains and Dunhuang lies in the modern Chinese province of Gansu. However some scholars have argued that the mountains referred to are the Tian Shan, placing the original homeland of the Yuezhi 1,000 km further west in the northern part of modernXinjiang.The archaeologist Lin Meicun further argues that Dunhuang refers to a mountain in the Tian Shan named Dunhong, which is listed in the Classic of Mountains and Seas. Early Chinese relations with the Yuezhi are described in the Guanzi (73, 78, 80 and 81). This book was compiled around 26 BCE, and while some of the source materials are older, most scholars do not accept its attribution to Guan Zhong, an official of the State of Qi in the 7th century BCE.Unlike the neighbouring
 Xiongnu, who were also nomadic pastoralists, the Yuezhi did not engage in conflict with the nearby Chinese states. Rather, the book described the Yuzhi 禺氏, or Niuzhi 牛氏, as a people from the northwest who supplied jade to the Chinese. The supply of jade from the Tarim Basin from ancient times is indeed well documented archaeologically. The hundreds of jade pieces found in the tomb of Fuhao from the late Shang dynasty all originated from Khotan, on the southern rim of the Tarim Basin. During the Warring States period, the Chinese also turned to the Yuezhi for the supply of good horses. Moreover, the Yuezhi supplied the Qin Empire with crucial military mounts.The Yuezhi maintained a profitable trade of horses and cattle for Chinese silk, which they sold on to their neighbours. Thus the Yuezhi began the Silk Road trade, acting as middlemen between China and Central Asia. However, the Yuezhi were regularly in conflict with their northeastern neighbors, the Xiongnu, who also threatened the Qin empire. During this period, the Xiongnu king Touman gave his son Modu as hostage to the Yuezhi and then attacked them, hoping they would kill Modu, leaving the succession open to Modu's younger brother. However Modu escaped by stealing a fast horse. He subsequently killed his father and became ruler of the Xiongnu. hortly before 176 BCE, led by one of Modu's tribal chiefs, the Xiongnu invaded Yuezhi territory in the Gansu region and achieved a crushing victory. Modu boasted in a letter (174 BCE) to the Han emperor that due to "the excellence of his fighting men, and the strength of his horses, he has succeeded in wiping out the Yuezhi, slaughtering or forcing to submission every number of the tribe." The son of Modu, Laoshang Chanyu, subsequently killed the king of the Yuezhi and, in accordance with nomadic traditions, "made a drinking cup out of his skull." (Shiji 123.). Following Chinese sources, a large part of the Yuezhi people therefore fell under the domination of the Xiongnu, and these may have been the ancestors of the Tocharian speakers attested in the 6th century CE. A very small group of Yuezhi fled south to the territory of the Proto-Tibetan Qiang and came to be known to the Chinese as the "Little Yuezhi". According to the Hanshu, they only numbered around 150 families. Chinese sources state that Little Yuezhi were ancestors of the Jie people. Under Shi Le they established the Later Zhao state. The Jie were completely exterminated by Ran Min in the Wei–Jie war following the fall of the Later Zhao. A large group of the Yuezhi fled from the Tarim Basin towards the Northwest circa 165 BCE, first settling in the Ili valley, immediately north of the Tian Shan mountains, where they confronted and defeated the Sai (Scythians): "The Yuezhi attacked the king of the Sai who moved a considerable distance to the south and the Yuezhi then occupied his lands" (Han Shu 61 4B). This was "the first historically recorded movement of peoples originating in the high plateaus of Asia." The Sai then undertook their own migration, which was to lead them as far as Kashmir, after travelling through a "Suspended Crossing" (probably the Khunjerab Pass between present-day Xinjiang and northern Pakistan). The Sakas ultimately established an Indo-Scythiankingdom in northern India.
The Tocharians or Tokharians were inhabitants of medieval oasis city-states on the northern edge of theTarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China). TheTocharian languages (a branch of the Indo-European family) are known from manuscripts from the 6th to 8th centuries AD, after which they were supplanted by the Turkic languagesof the Uyghur tribes who arrived from Mongolia.These people were called "Tocharian" by late-19th century scholars who identified them with the Tókharoi described by ancient Greek sources as inhabiting Bactria. Although this identification is now generally considered mistaken, the name has become customary. Some scholars have linked the Tocharians with the Afanasevo culture of eastern Siberia (c. 3500 – 2500 BC), the Tarim mummies (c. 1800 BC) and the Yuezhi of Chinese records, most of whom migrated from western Gansu to Bactria in the 2nd century BC and then later to northwestern Indian subcontinent where they founded the Kushan Empire. The Kushan Empire  was a syncretic Empire formed by Yuezhi in the Greco-Bactrian territories of the early 1st century. It spread to encompass much of Afghanistan, today's Peshawar,Pakistan, and then the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent at least as far as Saketaand Sarnath near Varanasi (Benares), where inscriptions have been found dating to the era of the Kushan emperor Kanishka the Great.Though Kanishka greatly honored Buddhism, he is also said to have protected the teachings of Zoroastrianism. As Kushan expanded southward, the deities of its later coinage came to reflect its new Hindu
 majority. Kanishka sent his armies north of the Karakoram mountains, capturing territories as far as Kashgar, Khotan and Yarkant, in the Tarim Basin of modern-day Xinjiang, China. A direct road from Gandhara to China remained under Kushan control for more than a century, encouraging travel across the Khunjerab Passand facilitating the spread of Mahayana Buddhism to China. The Kushans were one of five branches of theYuezhi confederation, a possibly Iranian or Tocharian, Indo-European nomadic people who migrated from the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang) and settled in ancient Bactria. The Kushans at first retained the Greek language for administrative purposes, but soon began to use an Iranian Bactrian language closely related to the modern Afghan languages, absorbing the coinage system, Greco-Buddhistreligion and art, and the Central Asian tribes that had previously conquered parts of the northern central Iranian Plateau once ruled by the Parthians. The Kushan dynasty had diplomatic contacts with the Roman Empire, Sassanid Persia, Aksumite Empire and Han China. While much philosophy, art, and science was created within its borders, the only textual record we have of the empire's history today comes from inscriptions and accounts in other languages, particularly Chinese. The Kushan control fragmented into semi-independent kingdoms in the 3rd century AD, which fell to the Sassanians who targeted from the west. In the fourth century, the Guptas, an Indian dynasty also pressed from the east. The last of the Kushan and Sassanian kingdoms were eventually overwhelmed by the Hepthalites, another Indo-European people from the north.Historian like H. G. Rawlinson says "Kushana Period is a fitting prelude to the age of Gupta's".
Πηγη: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuezhi
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocharians
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kushan_Empire

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