The '''Hephthalites''', '''Ephthalites''', '''Ye-tai''', '''White Huns''', or in Sanskrit+ as the '''Sveta Huna''', were a nomad+ic confederation in Central Asia+ who expanded their domain westward in the 5th century.
The Hephthalites invaded India for the first time in the 5th century and were defeated by Emperor Skandagupta+ of the Gupta Empire+. By the end of the 5th century, the Hephthalites overran the part of the Gupta Empire that was to their southeast and conquered Central and North India+. Emperor Bhanugupta+ of the Guptas defeated the Huns under Toramana+ in 510. Later the Hephthalites were defeated and driven out of India by the Indian kings Yasodharman+ and Narasimhagupta+ in the early 6th century.
In Chinese chronicles, the Hephthalites are called ''Yanda'' or ''Yediyiliduo'' or "Bikova", while older Chinese sources of c. 125 call them ''Hua'' or ''Hudun'' and describe them as a tribe living beyond the Great Wall+ in Dzungaria.''Columbia Encyclopedia'' Elsewhere they were called the Xionites+ or "White Huns", known to the Greeks as ''Ephthalite'', ''Abdel'' or ''Avdel'', to the Indians as ''Sveta Huna'' ("White Huns"), or ''Turushka'', to the Armenians+ as ''Haital'', and to the Persians and Arabs as ''Haytal'' or ''Hayatila'', while their Bactrian+ name is ηβοδαλο (''Ebodalo'').
According to most specialist scholars, the spoken language of the Hephthalites was an Eastern Iranian language+, but different from the Bactrian language+ written in the Greek alphabet+ that was used as their "official language" and minted on coins, as was done under the preceding Kushan Empire+.Enoki, Kazuo: "On the Nationality of the White Huns", ''Memoirs of the Research Department of the Tokyo Bunko'', 1959, No. 18, p. 56. Quote: "Let me recapitulate the foregoing. The grounds upon which the White Huns are assigned an Iranian tribe are: (1) that their original home was on the east frontier of Tokharestan; and (2) that their culture contained some Iranian elements. Naturally, the White Huns were sometimes regarded as another branch of the Kao-ch’e tribe by their contemporaries, and their manners and customs are represented as identical with those of the T’u-chueh, and it is a fact that they had several cultural elements in common with those of the nomadic Turkish tribes. Nevertheless, such similarity of manners and customs is an inevitable phenomenon arising from similarity of their environments. The White Huns could not be assigned as a Turkish tribe on account of this. The White Huns were considered by some scholars as an Aryanized tribe, but I would like to go further and acknowledge them as an Iranian tribe. Though my grounds, as stated above, are rather scarce, it is expected that the historical and linguistic materials concerning the White Huns are to be increased in the future and most of the newly-discovered materials seem to confirm my Iranian-tribe theory." here or or .Xavier Tremblay, ''Pour une histore de la Sérinde. Le manichéisme parmi les peoples et religions d’Asie Centrale d’aprés les sources primaire'', Vienna: 2001, Appendix D «Notes Sur L'Origine Des Hephtalites” , pp. 183–88 «Malgré tous les auteurs qui, depuis KLAPROTH jusqu’ ALTHEIM in SuC, p113 sq et HAUSSIG, ''Die Geschichte Zentralasiens und der Seidenstrasse in vorislamischer Zeit'', Darmstadt, 1983 (cf. n.7), ont vu dans les White Huns des Turcs, l’explication de leurs noms par le turc ne s’impose jamais, est parfois impossible et n’est appuyée par aucun fait historique (aucune trace de la religion turque ancienne), celle par l’iranien est toujours possible, parfois évidente, surtout dans les noms longs comme ''Mihirakula'', ''Toramana'' ou ''γοβοζοκο'' qui sont bien plus probants qu’ ''αλ''- en ''Αλχαννο''. Or l’iranien des noms des White Huns n’est pas du bactrien et n’est donc pas imputable à leur installation en Bactriane [...] Une telle accumulation de probabilités suffit à conclure que, jusqu’à preuve du contraire, les Hepthalites étaient des Iraniens orientaux, mais non des Sogdiens.» Available here or here [http://www.azargoshnasp.net/history/Hephtalites/Hephtalites.htm]Denis Sinor, "The establishment and dissolution of the Türk empire" in Denis Sinor, "The Cambridge history of early Inner Asia, Volume 1", Cambridge University Press, 1990. p. 300:"There is no consensus concerning the Hephthalite language, though most scholars seem to think that it was Iranian."
Although the Hephthalite Empire was known in China as ''Yàdā'' (嚈噠), Chinese chroniclers recognized this designated the leaders of the empire. The same sources document that the main tribe called themselves ''huá'' (滑). The modern Chinese variation ''Yanda'' has been given various Latinised+ renderings such as "Yeda", although the corresponding Cantonese+ and Korean+ pronunciations ''Yipdaat'' and ''Yeoptal'' () are more compatible with the Greek ''Hephthalite''.
According to B.A. Litvinsky, the names of the Hephthalite rulers used in the ''Shahnameh+'' are Iranian+. According to Xavier Tremblay, one of the Hephthalite rulers was named "Khingila+", which has the same root as the Sogdian+ word ''xnγr'' and the Wakhi+ word ''xiŋgār'', meaning "sword". The name Mihirakula+ is thought to be derived from ''mithra-kula'' which is Iranian for "the Sun family", with ''kula'' having the same root as Pashto+ ''kul'', "family". Toramāna+, Mihirakula's father, is also considered to have an Iranian origin. In Sanskrit, ''mihira-kula'' would mean the ''kul'' "family" of ''mihira'' "Sun", although ''mihira'' is not purely Sanskrit but is a borrowing from Middle Iranian+ ''mihr''. Janos Harmatta gives the translation "Mithra's Begotten" and also supports the Iranian theory.
There are several theories regarding the origins of the White Huns, with the Iranian+ and Turkic+David Christian ''A History of Russia, Inner Asia and Mongolia'' (Oxford: Basil Blackwell) 1998 p248, ''Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia'' theories being the most prominent.
For many years, scholars suggested that they were of Turkic stock. Today the Hephthalites are generally held to have been an Eastern Iranian people+. Some still claim that some groups amongst the Hephthalites were Turkic+-speakers. The Hephthalites enscribed their coins in the Bactrian+ (Iranian+) script, held Iranian titles, the names of Hephthalite rulers given in Ferdowsi+'s Shahnameh+ are Iranian, and gem inscriptions and other evidence shows that the official language+ of the Hephthalite elite was East Iranian. In 1959, Kazuo Enoki proposed that the Hephthalites were probably Indo-European (East) Iranians+ as some sources indicated that they were originally from Bactria+, which is known to have been inhabited by Indo-Iranian people in antiquity.Enoki, Kazuo: "On the Nationality of the White Huns", ''Memoirs of the Research Department of the Tokyo Bunko'', 1959, No. 18, p56 – "Let me recapitulate the foregoing. The grounds upon which the White Huns are assigned an Iranian tribe are: (1) that their original home was on the east frontier of Tokharestan; and (2) that their culture contained some Iranian elements. Naturally, the White Huns were sometimes regarded as another branch of the Kao-ch’e tribe by their contemporaries, and their manners and customs are represented as identical with those of the T’u-chueh, and it is a fact that they had several cultural elements in common with those of the nomadic Turkish tribes. Nevertheless, such similarity of manners and customs is an inevitable phenomenon arising from similarity of their environments. The White Huns could not be assigned as a Turkish tribe on account of this. The White Huns were considered by some scholars as an Aryanized tribe, but I would like to go further and acknowledge them as an Iranian tribe. Though my grounds, as stated above, are rather scarce, it is expected that the historical and linguistic materials concerning the White Huns are to be increased in the future and most of the newly-discovered materials seem to confirm my Iranian-tribe theory." Available here or here . Richard Frye is cautiously accepting of Enoki's hypothesis, while at the same time stressing that the Hephthalites "were probably a mixed horde". More recently Xavier Tremblay's detailed examination of surviving Hephthalite personal names has indicated that Enoki's hypothesis that they were East Iranian may well be correct, but the matter remains unresolved in academic circles.
According to the ''Encyclopaedia Iranica+'' and ''Encyclopaedia of Islam+'', the Hephthalites possibly originated in what is today Afghanistan+ and Pakistan+.G. Ambros/P.A. Andrews/L. Bazin/A. Gökalp/B. Flemming and others, "Turks", in ''Encyclopaedia of Islam'', Online Edition 2006A.D.H. Bivar, "", in ''Encyclopaedia Iranica'', Online Edition. They apparently had no direct connection with the European Huns+, but may have been causally related with their movement. It is noteworthy that the tribes in question deliberately called themselves ''Huns'' in order to frighten their enemies.M. Schottky, "", in ''Encyclopaedia Iranica'', Online Edition
Scholars believe that the name ''Hun'' is used to denote very different nomadic confederations. Ancient Chinese chroniclers, as well as Procopius, wrote various theories about the origins of the people:
* They were descendants of the Yuezhi+ or Tocharian+ tribes who remained behind after the rest of the people fled the Xiongnu+;
* They were descendants of the Kangju+;
* They were a branch of the Tiele+; or
* They were a branch of the Uar.
They were first mentioned by the Chinese, who described them as living in Dzungaria+ around 125. Chinese chronicles state that they were originally a tribe of the Yuezhi, living to the north of the Great Wall, and subject to the Rouran+ (''Jwen-Jwen''), as were some Turkic peoples at the time. Their original name was '''Hoa''' or '''Hoa-tun'''; subsequently they named themselves '''Ye-tha-i-li-to''' (厌带夷栗陁, or more briefly Ye-tha 嚈噠), after their royal family, which descended from one of the five Yuezhi families which also included the Kushan+.
They also invaded the regions Afghanistan and present-day Pakistan+, succeeding in extending their domain to the Punjab region+.
The Hephthalite was a vassal state to the Rouran Khaganate+ until the beginning of the 5th century. Between Hephthalites and Rourans were also close contacts, although they had different languages and cultures, and Hephthalites borrowed much of their political organization from Rourans. In particular, the title “Khan+“, which according to McGovern was original to the Rourans, was borrowed by the Hephthalite rulers. The reason for the migration of the Hephthalites southeast was to avoid a pressure of the Rourans. Further, the Hephthalites defeated the Yuezhi+ in Bactria+ and their leader Kidara led the Yuezhi to the south.
Procopius claims that the White Huns lived in a prosperous territory, and that they were the only Huns with fair complexions. According to him, they did not live as nomads, did acknowledge a single king, observed a well-regulated constitution, and behaved justly towards neighboring states. He also describes the burial+ of their nobles in ''tumuli+'', accompanied by their closest associates. This practice contrasts with evidence of cremation+ among the Chionites in Ammianus+ and with remains found by excavators of the European Huns and remains in some deposits ascribed to the Chionites in Central Asia. Scholars believe that the Hephthalites constituted a second "Hunnish" wave who entered Bactria+ early in the 5th century, and who seem to have driven the Kidarites+ into Gandhara+.
Newly discovered ancient writings found in Afghanistan reveal that the Middle Iranian Bactrian language+ written in Greek script+ was not brought there by the Hephthalites, but was already present from Kushan times as the traditional language of administration in this region. There is also evidence of the use of a Turkic language under the White Huns. The Bactrian documents also attest several Turkic royal titles (such as ''Khagan+''), indicating an important influence of Turkic people on White Huns, although these could also be explained by later Turkic infiltration south of the Oxus+.
According to Simokattes, they were Chionites who united under the Hephthalites as the "(Wusun+) vultures descended on the people" around 460.
The '''Uar''' (also '''Var''' or '''War'''; ) were one of the many ethnic components constituting the confederation known to the west as the Hephthalites+ and to the Chinese as ''Yanda'' (嚈噠) and the dominant ethnicity of Khwarezm+. Peoples with similar names had been present along the Silk Road+ for centuries, and several Central European family names actually derive from the names of these tribes.
Theophylaktos Simokattes+ uses the name ''Uar'', sometimes written as ''War'' or ''Var''. According to the Chinese classic ''Liang Zhigongtu+'' the name ''Huá'' was an endonym used by the Hephthalites themselves while 嚈噠 was an exonym derived from their ruling dynasty and applied to them by outsiders.
'''Origin and migration'''
Like Procopius, contemporary Chinese chroniclers had different theories about the origins of the Uar and the Hephthalites:
* That they were related in some way to the Indo-European+Yuezhi+. Based in Turpan+ and conquered by the Rouran+, they were an important part of the early jade trade.
* That they were a branch of either the Kangju+ (believed to be Turkic+, Iranian+ or even Tocharian+ in origin) or Tiele people+, descending from the general Bahua+, based in Turpan. They sided with the Southern Xiongnu+ of Pingyang against the Northern Xiongnu (hence the Huá clan's presence in Pingyang) but were later conquered by the Rouran.
Throughout the 5th century, it was the Uar who managed to succeed to the steppe heritage in a campaign which spread from the Tian Shan+ to the Carpathian Mountains+. By around 460, the Uar had taken over much of Central Eurasia from Xinjiang+ to the Volga River+, and founded a capital at the city of Badiyan or Panjakent+, near what is now Khujand+, though very little is known about the area from the late 5th to early 6th centuries.
According to the Book of Liang+, the Yanda (Hephthalites) were an offshoot of the Yuezhi. It mentions an envoy sent in 516 by their ''Yandaiyilituo''/''Hephthalite'' king to the court at Nanjing+. Chinese chronicles define Yanda as the name of a clan leading the Uar. In the Book of Wei+ they are supposed to be a variety of the Yuezhi, while the Uar, who are also described, are possibly an offshoot of the Tiele. The Book of Wei+ indicates, however, that the Yanda do not share a similar language with the (Tungusic+ or Mongol+) Rouran or the (Turkic+) Tiele. It is said that the Yanda language can be easily translated by the Tuyuhun+, a group of people from the Koko Nor+.
Kazuo Enoki believed the Yanda to be an Iranian+Satem+-language,Enoki, K. "The Liang shih-kung-t'u+ on the origin and migration of the Huá or Ephthalites," Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia 7:1–2 (December 1970):37–45 in which case they cannot be related to the Indo-European Centum+-branch of Tocharians+.
The Kidarite+ dynasty which ruled the Xionites+ came from the Uar. As a result, the Xionites have sometimes been called Uar-Hunnoi.
''Uar'' and ''Hunnoi'' are the names associated with the two biggest tribes of Procopius+'s ''White Huns'', commonly identified with the Sanskrit ''Sveta Huna'' but called ''Varkhon'' or ''Varkunites'' ''(OuarKhonitai)'' by Menander Protector+. Procopius writes that these White Huns are white-skinned and have an organized kingship. According to him, their life is not wild or nomadic, and they live in cities.
Simokattes mentions the Hunnoi as the other major component under the Hephthalite ruling elite. These were identified as the "True" Avars of the east, and the political force behind what Simokattes calls the "Pseudo-Avars"+ who eventually settled down in Pannonia+. The Göktürks+ also considered the Khwarezmian Uar (possibly associated with the Uyghurs+) as the true Avars and encouraged the Byzantines to regard the "Avars" who had entered Europe as Pseudo-Avars.
Around 630, Simokattes wrote that the European "Avars" were initially composed of two nations, the Uar and the Hunnoi tribes. He wrote that: "...the Barsilt, the Unogurs and the Sabirs were struck with horror... and honoured the newcomers with brilliant gifts..."Theophilactus Simocatta, Historiae, -Ed. C. deBoor. Lipsiae, 1887, ps.251, 258 when the Avars first arrived in their lands in 555.
According to Song Yun+, the Chinese Buddhist monk who visited the Hephthalite territory in 540 and "provides accurate accounts of the people, their clothing, the empresses and court procedures and traditions of the people and he states the Hephthalites did not recognize the Buddhist religion and they preached pseudo gods, and killed animals for their meat." It is reported that some Hephthalites often destroyed Buddhist monasteries but were rebuilt by others. According to Xuanzang+, the third Chinese pilgrim who visited the same areas as Song Yun about 100 years later, the capital of Chaghaniyan+ had five monasteries.
"Interestingly in the Hephthalite dominion Buddhism+ was predominant but there was also a religious sediment of Zoroastrianism+ and Manichaeism+."''Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: Early medieval India''. André Wink, p. 110. E. J. Brill. Balkh+ had some 100 Buddhist+ monasteries and 30,000 monks. Outside the town was a large Buddhist monastery, later known as Naubahar+.
In the northwest of the Indian subcontinent, the Hephthalites were not distinguished from their immediate Chionite predecessors and are known by the same name as ''Huna'' (Sanskrit: Sveta-Hūna, White Huns). The ''Huna'' had already established themselves in Afghanistan and the modern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa+ of Pakistan+ by the first half of the 5th century, and the Gupta emperor Skandagupta+ had repelled a ''Hūna'' invasion in 455 before the Hephthalite clan came along.
The Hephthalites had their capital at ''Badian'', modern Kunduz+, but the emperor lived in the capital city for just three winter months, and for the rest of the year, the government seat would move from one locality to another like a camp. The Hephthalites continued the pressure on ancient India's northwest frontier and broke east by the end of the 5th century, hastening the disintegration of the Gupta Empire+. They made their capital at the city of ''Sakala'', modern Sialkot+ in Pakistan+, under their Emperor Mihirakula+.
But later the Huns were defeated and driven out of India by the Indian kings Yasodharman+ and Narasimhagupta in the 6th century.
The last Hephthalite King, Yudhishthira, ruled until about 670, when he was replaced by the Kabul Shahi+ dynasty.
Hephthalites are believed to be among the ancestors of modern-day Pashtuns+ and in particular of the Abdali+ Pashtun tribe. According to the academic Yu. V. Gankovsky,
The Hephthalites could also have been ancestors of the Abdal tribe which has assimilated into the Turkmens+ and Kazakhs+. In India, the Rajput+s formed as a result of merging of the Hephthalites and the Gurjar+s with population from northwestern India, though this is disputed.
* (long article with a timeline)
* Article archived from the University of Washington's Silk Road exhibition – has a slightly adapted form of the Richard Heli timeline.
* The Ethnonym Apar in the Turkish Inscriptions of the VIII. Century and Armenian Manuscripts – Mehmet Tezcan
* [http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/hephthalites] iranicaonline hephthalites
Hephthalite Empire+ The Hephthalites, Ephthalites, Ye-tai, White Huns, or in Sanskrit as the Sveta Huna, were a nomadic confederation in Central Asia who expanded their domain westward in the 5th century.