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Chinese History - The City-States of the Silk Road

The official dynastic history of the Later Han dynasty, the Houhanshu 後漢書 (47 Ban Chao zhuan 班超傳), lists 36 city-states of the Western Territories (xiyu 西域) that were located along the northern and southern route of the Silk Road. The number later increased to 55 (according to Xie Cheng's 謝承 commentary in Sanguozhi 三國志 7) and even more than a hundred independant polities. During the 3rd century CE, only a few of them were still to be called independant states (Shanshan 鄯善 [the former Loulan 樓蘭], Yutian 于闐, Qiuci 龜茲, Cheshi 車師, Shule 疏勒 and Yanqi 焉耆).
There were ten states along the southern part of the Taklamakan Desert (the southern route of the Silk Road), namely: Twelve states were located along the southern flank of the Tianshan Range 天山 and the northern part of the Taklamakan (the northern route of the Silk Road): North to the northern route were two states: Eight states were located in the Congling Range 蔥嶺 (modern Pamir, Kashmere, Hindukush), namely: A whole set of other countries was located beyond the modern borders of China:
Weixu Yanqi Weili Quli Wulei Qiuci Gumo Wensu Weitou Shule Shanguo Loulan Shanshan Ruoqiang Qiemo Xiaowan Jingjue Yumi Ronglu Yutian Pishan Shache Kangju Xiye and Zihe Puli Yinai Wulei Juandu Dayuan Wusun Xiongnu"" Cheshi Tubo (Tibet) Han China Qule Deruo Wutuo Nandou Taohuai Xiuxun Wutanzili Danhuan Qiemi Jie Beilu Yulishi Yizhi Pulei Huhu Dunhuang This is an interactive map showing the approximate locations of the city-states of the Silk Road during the 1st century BCE. Click on the names to read information about (nearly) all states. The underlined names are those of the most important states. Map produced by Ulrich Theobald according to Tan Qixiang 譚其驤 (ed. 1982). Zhongguo lishi ditu ji 中國歷史地圖集, vol. 2, pp. 37-38, 65-55.

The state of Loulan 樓蘭 was located in the eastern part of the Western Territories (xiyu 西域), in the modern district of Ruoqiang 若羌, Xinjiang. It controlled the region around Lake Lop Noor, reached to the River Kongque 孔雀河 (vanished since) in the north and River Milan 米蘭河 in the south. The Chinese commandery (jun 郡) of Dunhuang 敦煌 was the eastern neighbour of Loulan. Loulan was famous for its cattle breeding and produced a lot of donkeys, horses and camels. The blacksmiths from Loulan also produced weapons for the 2,900 troops strong army. In Loulan lived about 14,000 persons. The language of Loulan belonged to the Indo-European language family and was similar to the tongues of Yanqi 焉耆 and Qiuci 龜茲. As the first state on the way to the west, Loulan had to suffer from the requisitions the troops of the Han empire 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) demanded, and often robbed missions of the Han, according to Chinese historians as "eyes and ears" of the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴, the main target of the military campaigns of the Han. In 108 therefore, general Zhao Ponu 趙破奴 was sent out to punish Loulan. He captured the king of Loulan who immediately declared his submission. In fear of being attacked by the Xiongnu, the king concurrently sent an envoy to the Xiongnu to demonstrate his willingnis to further cooperate with the powerful khan. The Loulans so continued harassing the Chinese on their way to the west, and therefore the Han court sent out Fu Jiezi 傅介子 to Loulan in 77 BCE. Fu Jiezi killed King Changgui 嘗歸 (also called Angui 安歸) and enthroned his younger brother Weituqi 尉屠耆 as king of Loulan. The new king was forced to transfer his capital to the south and to change the name of his country to Shanshan 鄯善. In Yixun 伊循 (modern Milan 米蘭), the Han established military agro-colonies (tuntian 屯田) to ensure the military supply. From Dunhuang to Loulan, signal towers (fengsui tingzhang 烽燧亭障) provided for a quick communication.
Loulan is famous for the tomb findings in that region that mainly date from the 2nd centry BCE to the 3rd century CE. The older tombs of the period contain boat-shaped coffins and are marked with paddle-shaped boards. This shows that the people during that time still lived of Lake Lop Noor. They wore woolen clothes and leather shoes. The tombs from the later part of the period are equipped with jade, lacquer and bronze objects, and the dead wore silk clothes. The tombs of Loulan are famous for the 2,000 years old mummies. The interesting point in fact is that these mummies show that the inhabitants of Loulan were not of Mongolian ("Asian") but of Indo-European stock. Lake Lop Noor has virtually dried up since, and the plain has served for the first tests of atomic bombs during the early 1960s.


The state of Shanshan 鄯善 was the successor state of Loulan 樓蘭 after the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) had forced the latter into submission. The territory of Shanshan was almost totally located in the desert. The new capital was Yuni 扜泥. The population lived from cattle breeding and the production of jade stones, the export of reeds and other agronomically used plants. The blacksmiths were famous for their weapons. The Han dynasty had forced upon the king of Shanshan a bureaucratic administration, with a Commander Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯), a Commander Warding off the Barbarians (quehuhou 卻胡侯), a Commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉) and a Commander for the Attack on Cheshi 車師 (ji Cheshi duwei 擊車師都尉). The dependency from the Han empire relaxed somewhat during the Later Han period, and Shanshan was able to control the access to the southern route of the Silk Road. In 45 CE eighteen states of the Western Territories (xiyu 西域) sent an embassy to the Han court asking for the establishing of a protectorate (duhufu 都護府), but the emperor declined. A year later the king of Shache 莎車 suggested blocking the way to the east towards the Han empire, but King An 安 of Shanshan declined and killed the envoy of Shache. King Xian 賢 of Shache thereupon attacked Shanshan and forced King An to flee. A second request to the Han court to establish a protectorate in order to ensure the peace of the region was again declined. Shanshan thereupon turned its back to the Han court and again became an ally of the mighty steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 . In the following years Shanshan occupied the neighbouring states of Xiaowan 小宛, Jingjue 精絕 and Qiemo 且末 and so controlled the eastern stretch of the southern route of the Silk Road. In 73 CE it happened that Ban Chao 班超, envoy of the Han court, and a Xiongnu envoy arrived in Shanshan at the same time. Ban Chao killed the Xiongnu envoy and forced King Guang 廣 to surrender to the Han. A permanent envoy of the Han was appointed in 119 who was residing in Yiwu 伊吾, an outpost of the commandery of Dunhuang 敦煌. Shortly after an army of Rear Cheshi 後車師 killed the Chinese envoy Suo Ban 索班. The king of Shanshan asked the governor of Dunhuang for support. In 124 Ban Yong 班勇 bestowed the king of Shanshan with an imperial seal. A year later, Rear Cheshi was defeated, and the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) came into full being. The kings of Shanshan stayed loyal to the next Chinese dynasties and were willing to become vassals to the Wei 曹魏 (220-265) and Jin 晉 (265-420) dynasties. In 445 the Northern Wei 北魏 (386-534) general Wan Dugui 萬度歸 conquered Shanshan, killed King Zhenda 真達 and established a defense command (zhen 鎮) in the place of Shanshan.


The state of Ruoqiang 婼羌 was located in the area of modern Ruoqiang 若羌, Xinjiang. The inhabitants were pastoral nomads and often relied on grain imports from Shanshan 鄯善 or Qiemo 且末. Yet there were iron ores in the region, and the blacksmiths of Ruoqiang were famous for their weapons. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) Ruoqiang had only 1,750 inhabitants.


The state of Qiemo 且末 was located in the area of modern Qiemo, Xinjiang. It capital city was located on the upper course of River Čerčen 車爾臣河. The population was during the Han period 漢 (202 BCE-220 CE) 1,600 persons. The region was famous for its grapes and the cattle. During the Southern and Northern Dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600) there were two cities, namely Mocheng 末城 and Zuomo 左末. At that time the inhabitants cultivated fields but did not know how to use oxen to plough the fields. Tree cultivation was very popular in Qiemo. The region was conquered during the Sui period 隋 (581-618) and transformed into the commandery (jun 郡) Qiemo. In the monk Xuanzang's 玄奘 report of his travels to the West, the Da-Tang Xiyu ji 大唐西域記, the city is called Zhemotuona 折摩馱那.


The state of Xiaowan 小宛 (might also be read Xiaoyuan) was located somewhere in the mountaineous area south of modern Qiemo 且末, Xinjiang. The population was during the Former Han period 前漢 (202 BCE-8 CE) 1,000 persons. The capital city was Yuling 扜零. Their king was aided by a Commander Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯) and two Commanders-in-chief (duwei 都尉).


The state of Jingjue 精絕 was either located at the banks of River Andir 安遞爾河 in Fengxian 豐縣, Xinjiang, or might have been based in the ruins of Niya 尼雅 in the same region. The city was during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) populated by 3,300 persons. Jingjue was destroyed by the state of Shanshan 鄯善 during the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) .


The state of Ronglu 戎盧 was reigned from the capital Bipin 卑品 that had 1,600 inhabitants during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE). The exact location of Bipin is not known, but must have been somewhere in the mountainous area between modern Qiemo 且末 and Fengxian 豐縣, Xinjiang.


The state of Yumi 扜彌, also called Jumi 拘彌 or Ningmi 寧彌, was located in the region of the River Keriya 克里雅河 near modern Yutian 于田, Xinjiang. Some historians identify the ruins of Kaladun 喀喇墩 with the city of Yumi. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) the population of Yumi was 20,000 people. In 129 CE King Xing 興 was killed by the ruler of Yutian 于闐. The Chinese governor (taishou 太守) of Dunhuang 敦煌 therefore in 132 ordered the king of Shule 疏勒 to attack Yutian 于闐. Yet in 157 again, troops of Yutian 于闐 invaded Yumi and killed a lot of persons, along with the new king. The Han government thereupon decided to intervene in Yumi with an own army. A new king was installed as the new ruler, but Yumi had lost its significance from then on and soon disappeared. During the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) Yumi was given the name Yutian 于田.


The state of Qule 渠勒 was located on the banks of the upper course of Keriya River 克里雅河 in Yutian 于田, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) the population of Qule was 2,000 people. The capital city was called Jiandu 鞬都. Qule was subject to the Chinese Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府). During the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) it was conquered by Yutian 于闐.


The state of Yutian 于闐 ruled over the region of modern Yutian 于田, Moyu 墨玉 and Luopu 洛浦, Xinjiang. It was also known by the names of Yutian 于窴, Jusadanna 瞿薩旦那, Huanna 渙那, Qudan 屈丹, Yudun 于遁 or Huadan 豁丹. The population of the city during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) was 19,000 persons living in 3,300 households. The army could be as large as 2,400 troops. The people of Yutian were related to the Sakas (Chinese transliteration Sai 塞) and spoke a language belonging to the Indo-European family. The native name of Yutian was Gostan, and the region was called Gostana (compare the Chinese transcription Jusadanna). The king was supported by two generals and two Masters of the Cavalry (qijun 騎君), two cityheads (chengzhang 城長) and interpreters. Yutian was famous for its precious jade found in the White Jade River 白玉河 (Yurungkaš River 玉龍哈什河) and the Black Jade River 黑玉河 (Karakaš River 喀拉哈什河).
At the beginning of the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) Yutian was occupied by the neighbouring state of Shache 莎車. It took the noble families of Yutian a few decades before King Guangde 廣德 was able to found a stable reign. He even succeeded in occupying all states between Jingjue 精絕 and Shule 疏勒 and to control the largest part of the southern route of the Silk Road. Yet the mighty steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 ordered the armies of Yanqi and Qiuci to conquer Yutian, and King Guangde had to submit to the Xiongnu. His master changed when the Han general Ban Chao 班超 expelled the Xiongnu from the Silk Road. In 86 CE Yutian killed the ruler of Shache that had been enthroned by the Xiongnu. Shache escaped the control of Yutian in a large-scale rebellion of the cities of the Western Territories (xiyu 西域) in 106. The insurgency could only brought down in 127 by general Ban Yong 班勇. In 129 King Fangqian 放前 enthroned his favourite as ruler in Yumi 扜彌 but was forced to cede his control over Yumi in 132, when a great Han army threatened Yutian. The King of Yumi took revenge for this affair in 151 when the Chief Clerk in Command of Troops (zhangshi 長史) of the Western Territories, Zhao Ping 趙平, died in Yutian. He accused King Jian 建 to have murdered the Han official. The new Chief Clerk, Wang Jing 王敬, led an army to Yutian and killed King Jian. His son and successor, King Anguo 安國, again interfered in the dynastic affairs of Yumi in 175.
After the demise of the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE), Yutian was one of the large states on the Silk Road but nevertheless paid formal tributes to the courts of the Cao-Wei 曹魏 (220-265), Jin 晉 (265-420), Former Liang 前涼 (314-376), Former Qin 前秦 (351-395) and Northern Wei 北魏 (386-534) dynasties. In 445 the chieftain of the Tuyuhun 吐谷渾, Muliyan 慕利延 (r. 436-452), withdrew to Yutian after a battle lost against the Northern Wei. In Yutian he killed the king and several nobles and occupied the whole region for a while. In 457 again Yutian sent tributes to the Northern Wei, and the king was given a Wei princess called "Lady Fairy" (Xian Ji 仙姬). The steppe federation of the Rouran 柔然 attacked Yutian in 470, and in the following decades Yutian had to send tributes to the court of the Yeda 嚈噠 (often translated as "Hephthalites"). Only in the 490s the contact to the Northern Wei court was resumed, and Yutian even sent tributary missions to the court of the Liang dynasty 梁 (502-557) taking with them jade Buddhas to present them to Emperor Wu 梁武帝 (r. 502-549), a great adherent of Buddhism. This situation of contact to the Chinese empires changed again with the rise of the federation of the Turks 突厥 in the 6th century.
In 639 a large mission was sent to the court of the Tang empire 唐 (618-907) in Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi), where several embassadors stayed for a longer time. In 644 the Buddhist monk Xuanzang 玄奘 arrived in Yutian back from India where he had collected a large amount of Buddhist writings. He stayed in Yutian for a longer period of time and translated a lot of writings into Chinese, as told in his book Da-Tang Xiyu ji 大唐西域記. In 648 the Tang general Xue Wanbei 薛萬備 conquered Qiuci on the northern route of the Silk Road and also traveled to Yutian. He urged King Fudu 伏闍 (also transcribed as Weichi 尉遲; this rather seems to be a family or dynastic name) to visit the court in Chang'an, where he was received with greatest honours before he returned. Yutian was made one of the four defense commands (sizhen 四鎮) of the Protectorate of the Pacified West (Anxi duhufu 安西都護府) in 658. A year later Yutian suffered the first raid by the Turks. In the north, the power of the Western Turks 西突厥 grew, and in the south, Yutian was threatened by the waxing strength of the kingdom of Tubo 吐蕃 (Tibet). The armies of Tubo occupied Tutian in 670 and became so strong that the Tang court recalled the Protector-general of the Pacified West. Four years later King Fudu Xiong 伏闍雄 was able to get rid of the Tibetans and paid a visit to the capital of the Tang. For this loyalty he was appointed head of the area command (dudufu 都督府) of Pisha 毗沙 and had to oversee ten indirectly governed prefectures (jimizhou 羈縻州). The next decades were characterised by a permanent fight for power between Tubo and the Tang empire. Yutian was during that time an important garrison for the Tang armies that were commanded by famous generals like Gao Xianzhi 高仙芝 or Tang He 湯和. In 725 King Tiao 眺 with the support of the Western Turks rebelled against the Tang but was killed soon and replaced and succeeded by a series of rulers willing to serve as vassals to the Tang empire. In 749 King Sheng 勝 paid hommage to the Tang emperor and was given a Tang princess to his wife. He cooperated with general Gao Xianzhi and several times defeated the armies of the kingdom of Tubo. He even personally led a contingent to Chang'an in order to support the Tang court against the rebel An Lushan 安祿山. His successor Weichi Yao 尉遲曜 continued campaigning against the Tibetans. The kingdom of Tubo disintegrated in the mid-9th century, so that Yutian was able to control the southern route of the Silk Road without being further harrassed from the south. The relations with the court in Chang'an were also suspended. Instead, the military commissioner (jiedushi 節度使) of Guiyi 歸義 in the prefecture of Shazhou 沙州 (modern Dunhuang 敦煌, Gansu) was the virtual representant of the Tang empire.
In 912 a new dynasty took over regency in Yutian, with Visasambhava as king (Chinese name Li Shengtian 李聖天. He had graciously been allowed to bear the family name of the Tang dynasty, Li 李). Li married the daughter of military commissioner Cao Yijin 曹議金 and established good relationships with one of the successor states of the Tang, the Later Jin empire 後晉 (936-946). A lot of people from Yutian lived in Dunhuang and contributed to the richness of the Buddhist grottoes in Mogao 莫高窟. Li Shengtian's son Li Congde 李從德 (original name Tcum-ttehi, royal name Visasura) personally traveled to the court of the Song empire 宋 (960-1279) in Kaifeng 開封 (modern Kaifeng, Henan) to bring the tributes of Yutian. Around the year 970 Mohammedan invaders began to bring turmoil into the region of Yutian. At the beginning of the 11th century the Khanate of the Karakhans 黑汗 from Shule (Kašgar) occupied Yutian and destroyed the Buddhist culture of that ancient kingdom. A lot of inhabitants fled to Dunhuang or even further east. The political status of Yutian (now called Khotan) remained unchanged, and tributed envoys continued to be sent to the court of the Song dynasty. Yutian also continued being an important trade spot on the Silk Road under the rule of the Western Liao 西遼 (Karakhitans), the Mongols 蒙古, the Dzungars 準噶爾, and finally the Manchus 滿洲. The population gradually became Turkish and was converted to Islam.
Yutian had a prospering economy during the Later Han period that enabled it to take control of the neighbouring states. Yutian even casted its own coins that were modeled both after Chinese coins (like the heavy 24-zhu 銖 coins) and coins of the empire of Kushana (by the Chinese called Guishuang 貴霜; located in modern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan) imitating the inscriptions in Kharoṣṭhī or Gandhari script (Chinese: Quluwen 佉盧文). Yutian was also the first state in the Western Territories that learned to breed silkworms and to spin silk yarns. Yet the main export article of Yutian was jade (nephrite). From the 3rd century time on, religion played an important role in the region, and Yutian was one of the most famous locations where Buddhism flourished along the Silk Road. The monasteries in Yutian so were the main source for Buddhist writings brought to China, like the Garland Sutra (Huayanjing 華嚴經) that was translated by the Khotanese monks Devaprajna and Siksananda. In the 20th century scholars discovered some Buddhist writings in Sanskrit as well as in the local language of Yutian, like a kind of popular biography of the Buddha, the Fo bensheng zan 佛本生贊 (Chinese title). The people of Yutian were famous for their music and painting that was enjoyed at the Tang court. The painter Weichi Yiseng 尉遲乙僧, hailing from Yutian, lived for a long time in the Tang capital Chang'an.


The state of Shache 莎車 was located in the area of modern Shache and Maigaiti 麥蓋提, Xinjiang. The capital was inhabited by 2,300 persons during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) whose number increased to 16,300 persons during the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) . The name Shache already appears in a geographical list in the book Yizhoushu 逸周書 (chapter Wanghui 王會). The inhabitants of Shache belonged to the Indo-Iranian people of the Sakas (Chinese transliteration Sai 塞).
During the early first century BCE Shache became subject to the Protector-general of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhu 西域督護). Under Emperor Xuan 漢宣帝 (r. 74-49), the ruling dynasty of Shache was ended, and the people asked to be ruled by a son of a Wusun 烏孫 princess, Wannian 萬年. Wannian was killed for his brutality by a younger brother of the former king, Hutuzheng 呼屠徵. Hutuzheng persuaded all states of the southern route of the Silk Road to rebel against the Han. The Chinese general Feng Fengshi 馮奉世 killed the rebel in 65 BCE and enthroned a new king. In the turbulent times between the Former and Later Han periods, King Yan 延 and his son King Kang 康 were the only rulers of that region not submitting to the Xiongnu 匈奴 but staying loyally to the Han dynasty. This loyalty was rewarded, and King Kang was officially appointed King of Shache at the foundation of the Later Han dynasty. He was granted the prestigious title of King Establishing Merit and Considering Virtues (jiangong huaide wang 建功懷德王) and was appointed Grand commander-in-chief (da duwei 大都尉) of the Western Territories. His son Xian 賢 was appointed General-in-chief (da jiangjun 大將軍). He was later also appointed Protector-general and was given an imperial seal for this position. Yet the emperor of the Han soon claimed back the seal and so incited the rebellion of King Xian. He conquered Shanshan 鄯善, Qiuci 龜茲, Guisai 嬀塞 and many other smaller states and killed their kings. He captured the ruler of Dayuan 大宛, King Yanliu 延留. This glorious phase of the overlordship of Shache over the Western Territories was ended in 60 CE, when the rebellious armies of Yutian 于闐 conquered Shache and killed King Xian and his son Bujuzheng 不居征 and enthroned Qili 齊黎 as king of Shache. A decade later Shache again became a powerful state so that general Ban Chao 班超 had to force the king of Shache into submission in 87 CE. In the following decades Shache was to became a vassal state of of Qiuci and Shule 疏勒. In 127 Shache again sent tributes to the Han court. During the Northern Wei period 北魏 (386-534) Shache was called Qusha 渠莎 and was soon conquered by Shule.


The state of Shan 山國, also called Moshan 墨山 or Shanwangguo 山王國 "Land of the mountain king", was located in the area of Mt. Kuluk 庫魯克 near modern Turfan 吐魯番, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) it had a population of 5,000 persons. The king of the state was aided by a Commander Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯), a left and a right general, a left and a right commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉) and a translator. The population mainly lived in the mountains but cultivated grain that was exported to Yanqi 焉耆 and Weixu 危須. During the Han period it was subject to the Protector-general of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhu 西域督護). In the 3rd century CE it was conquered by Yanqi.


The state of Huhu 狐胡, also called Guhu 孤胡, was located in the valley of Cheshiliu 車師柳谷 near modern Turfan 吐魯番, Xijiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) it had a population of no more than 200 persons. The king was aided by a Commander Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯) and two commanders-in-chief (duwei 都尉). During the Former Han period it was subject to the Protector-general of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhu 西域督護). During the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) it was several times conquered by Cheshi 車師 but was able to win independence again.


The state of Shule 疏勒, also called Shale 沙勒, Sute 粟特 (as mother town of the colonies in the Soghdiana) or Qusha 佉沙, covered the area of modern Kashi 喀什, Shule 疏勒, Shufu 疏附, Gashi 伽師, Inggišahr 英吉沙, Yuepuhe 岳普河, Atuš 阿圖什, Wuqia 烏恰, Aktao 阿克陶 and Taškurgan 塔什庫爾干. The city of Shule was an important trade spot of the Silk Road where the northern and southern route bypassing the Taklamakan Desert reunite in the west. Shule was also the point from which the Pamir Range has to be crossed in order to reach India or Central Asia. The inhabitants of Shule spoke a language belonging to the Indo-European family.
During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) Shule was inhabited by 18,000 people, living in 1,500 households and able to raise an army of 2,000 men. In 73 CE the king (amozhi 阿摩支 in the local language) of Qiuci 龜茲, backed by the mighty steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴, killed King Cheng 成 of Shule and enthroned one of his own favourite, Douti 兜題. The latter was in turn captured by the Han general Ban Chao 班超, who at that time resided in Yutian 于闐, and was replaced by King Yule 榆勒 (by the Chinese granted the name of Zhong 忠 "the Loyal"). King Zhong supported as leader of auxiliary troops the Han campaign against Gumo 姑墨 in 78 CE. Yet in 84 Zhong rebelled against the domination of the Han empire, in alliance with the king of Shache 莎車 and the leader of the Kangju 康居. Ban Chao occupied Shule, executed King Zhong and enthroned King Chengda 成大. In 91 CE Ban Chao took over the office of Protector-general of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhu 西域都護). He resided in Qiuci, while Xu Gan 徐幹 stayed in Shule as Chief Clerk (zhangshi 長史). King Anguo 安國 drove his uncle Chenpan 臣槃 into exile in Kushana (Chinese name Guishuang 貴霜, a state in modern Afghanistan). When Anguo died without a heir, Chenpan's son Yifu 遺腹 was enthroned, but Chenpan returned to Shule and dethroned his own son. In 124 CE he supported Chief Clerk Ban Yong 班勇 in the campaign against Cheshi 車師. Shortly later the state of Shache tried to escape the domination of the king of Yutian and sought for the support of Shule and Guishuang. Shule had at that time already a population of 21,000 households. In 127 King Chenpan sent tributes to Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi), the capital of the Han empire, and was appointed Grand commander-in-chief (da duwei 大都尉). He led in 132 the punitive campaign against Yutian whose ruler had killed the ruler of Yumi 扜彌. In 168 Chenpan was killed by his uncle Hede 和德 who was defeated by the armies of the Han empire and gave up further expansion to the east.
During the 3rd century Shule greatly expanded and conquered Zhenzhong 楨中, Shache, Jieshi 竭石, Qusha 渠沙, Xiye 西夜, Yinai 依耐, Manli 滿犁, (Ji)deruo 紀德若, Yuling 榆令, Juandu 捐毒, Xiuxun 休循 (Xiuyiu 休脩) and Qin 琴, most of them located in the mountaineous region southwest of Shule. The king of Shule presented tributes to the court of the Jin empire 晉 (265-420) and was reconfirmed in his title of Commander-in-chief representing the Jin empire. In 437 the tributes were instead brought to the court of the Northern Wei 北魏 (386-534). During the late 5th century the Yeda 嚈噠 (often translated as "Hephthalites") gained dominance of the region, from the mid-6th century on the Turks 突厥. The king of Shule was married to a daughter of the khan of the Western Turks 西突厥. Relations to the Tang 唐 (618-907) court were very scarce until 658 when the armies of the Tang defeated the Western Turks under Ashina Helu 阿史那賀魯. The Tang established the Protectorate of the Pacified West (Anxi duhufu 安西都護府), and Shule was made one of the four defense commands (sizhen 四鎮). Yet the location of this post was very precarious because the Turks were easily able to occupy Shule and make it a base for their raids on Yutian. Only in 675 general Xiao Siye 蕭嗣業 reconquered Shule, that was then made an area command (dudufu 都督府) from which several indirectly governed prefectures (jimizhou 羈縻州) were administered. In 676 a new power emerged in the area. The armies of the kingdom of Tubo 吐蕃 (Tibet) occupied Shule, and the Tang had to give up this place between 686 and 692. This time the Protector-general of the Tang empire had established military agro-colonies (tuntian 屯田) in Shule to support a larger contingent of troops. Shule became the base of the military operations of the Tang armies into Central Asia and across the Pamir and Hindukush mountain ranges. In 728 the Emperor Xuanzong 唐玄宗 (r. 712-755) reconfirmed King Pei An 裴安 in his position as king of Shule. His son Pei Guoliang 裴國良 traveled to Chang'an to present tributes to the Tang empire. With the disintegration of the central government of the Tang after the rebellion of An Lushan 安祿山, Shule was again occupied by the Tibetans in 788.
After the demise of the Tang, Shule stood under the influence of the Turkish federation of the Qarluqs 葛邏祿 and the Uyghurs 回鶻. In the second half of the 10th century the state of the Karakhans 黑汗 "Black Khans" came into being in Shule (from that time on called Kašgar). Their rulers were adherents of Mohammedanism. In 1041 the Karakhan empire was divided into two parts. The eastern empire in Kašgar controlled the region from Lake Balkhash (in modern Kazakhstan) to the states of Yutian (Khotan) and Qiuci (Kuča) on the Silk Road. In 1130 the empire of Kašgar became subject to the Western Liao 西遼 (Karakhitans, 1124-1218). Kašgar disappeared as an independant state before the conquest by the Mongols 蒙古. The region was later influenced by the Dzungars 準噶爾 and finally the Manchus 滿洲.
The state of Shule was famous for its agricultural products and its textiles that were sold as far as Gaochang 高昌 (modern Turfan). When Chenpan returned from Guishuang be brought with him the religion of Buddhism and introduced it in Shule. Shule became an important centre of Buddhism among the Western Territories, and many monks gathered there, among others the famous translator Kumārajīva 鳩摩羅什. During the Tang period the monk Huilin 慧琳, a native of Shule, traveled to Chang'an, where he compiled a compound commentary to Buddhist writings, the Yiqiejing yinyi 一切經音義. The Mohammedan community of Kašgar produced several famous scholars. Abu'l-futūḥ ‘Abd al-Ghāfir ben Ḥusayn al-Alma’ī wrote a history of Kašgar, the Al-Kādjgharī, in Arabian language (lost). Yusūf Khāṣṣ Ḥājib wrote the ballad Kutadgu Bilig in Turkish, and Maḥmūd ibnu 'l-Ḥussayn ibn Muḥammad al-Kāšġarī (shortly called Maḥmūd al-Kāšġarī) wrote the famous Turkish dictionary Dīwānu 'l-luġat at-Turk that was finished in Bagdad.


The state of Yanqi 焉耆, also called Wuyi 烏夷, Yanyi 傿夷, Wuxi 烏耆, Yini 億尼, Yini 憶尼 or Axini 阿耆尼, was located in the modern region of Yanqi, Xinjiang. The native name might have been Argi and was changed to Solmi 唆里米 in the 7th century. After the occupation by Mohammedan invaders it was called Čališ, and in the 18th century, after the occupation by the Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911), was given the Turkic name of Qarašahr (Karashar, Chinese transliteration 喀喇沙爾). The inhabitants spoke a language belonging to the Indo-European family called Tokharian A. From the 7th century on the population was mixed with Turkic immigrants (mainly Uyghurs), in the 18th century with Mongolian (Oirats) and Chinese immigrants.
The ancient capital was Yuanqu 員渠, also called Henan 河南城 (modern ancient city of Bogedabi 博格達泌). The population during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) was 4,000 (or 30,000?) and rose to 15,000 (52,000) during the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE). The inhabitants lived of farming and pasturing, but to a large extent also from the silk trade.
In the early 1st century BCE Yanqi was controlled by the mighty steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 that had appointed a Commander-in-chief of the Tributary Slaves (tongpu duwei 僮僕都尉) who resided in Yanqi and the neighbouring cities of Weixu 危須 and Weili 尉犁 and collected tributes from the states of the Western Territories (xiyu 西域). After the armies of the Han empire had conquered the Western Territories they set up military agro-colonies (tuntian 屯田) in Quli 渠犁 near Yanqi. In 60 BCE the Protectorate of the Western Territories (xihu duhufu 西域都護府) was established whose offices were located in Wulei 烏壘 west of Yanqi. When Wang Mang 王莽 (r. 8-23 CE) usurped the throne of the Han, the Xiongnu used the chance to regain control over the Western Territories. The king of Yanqi joined the rebellion and killed the envoys of Wang Mang, general Wang Jun 王駿 and Protector-general Li Chong 李崇. Yanqi again became a subject to the Han in 45 CE, when a large envoy of 18 states was sent to the Han court to ask for a reestablishment of the protectorate. Emperor Guangwu 漢光武帝 (r. 25-57 CE) declined, and only in 73 CE a Han army arrived in Yanqi to expell the Xiongnu and brought a new Protector-general, Chen Mu 陳睦. The latter and his whole staff were killed two years later by Yanqi and Qiuci 龜茲 who stood under the protection of the Xiongnu. The Xiongnu used the two states to attack Yutian 于闐 on the southern route of the Silk Road. In 91 CE general Ban Chao 班超 forced Qiuci into submission, but Yanqi could only be pacified three years later. Ban Chao executed King Guang 廣 and enthroned Yuanmeng 元孟 as the new ruler of Yanqi. Yet in 106 the Western Territories again rebelled against the Han and could only brought down in 124 CE, except Yanqi that only surrendered in 127.
After the downfall of the Han, Yanqi became one of the powerful states of the region and conquered its rival Qiuci. King Long An 龍安 had once been insulted by King Baishan 白山 of Qiuci. Long An's son Long Hui 龍會 took revenge for his father and occupied Qiuci, while his own son Long Xi 龍熙 ruled over Yanqi. Yanqi suffered defeat against the armies of the Former Liang empire 前涼 (314-376) in 345 and accepted that a Chief Clerk in Command of Troops (zhangshi 長史) was sent as a governor to Yanqi. The kings of Yanqi also accepted the Former Qin 前秦 (351-395) and the Northern Wei 北魏 (386-534) dynasties as their overlords. In 448 the Northern Wei court accused Yanqi having plundered their embassadors and sent out general Wan Dugui 萬度歸 to conquer Yanqi and Cheshi 車師. King Jiushibina 鳩尸卑那 fled to Qiuci. This defeat brought an end to the glorious phase of Yanqi that was eclipsed by the steppe federations of the Rouran 柔然 and the Gaoche 高車. The Long dynasty nevertheless continued to rule Yanqi for a short interception in which a son of the Qu dynasty 麴 of Gaochang 高昌 was ruling. In the 6th century Yanqi sent tributes to the Western Turks 西突厥 and the Turkic federation of the Tölöš 鐵勒, but also to the Sui dynasty 隋 (581-618).
After the Tang dynasty 唐 (618-907) was founded, Yanqi declared its submission to the Tang and so enjoyed the profits from the merchandise that now again was transported along the old northern route and not via the new northern route of Gaochang. Critically disturbed by this economic loss, Gaochang joined an alliance with the Western Turks and attacked Yanqi. Emperor Taizong 唐太宗 (r. 626-649) therefore sent out an army to destroy the state of Gaochang in 640. In the same year the king of Yanqi married his daughter to a younger son of a high noble of the Western Turks, Qulichuai 屈利啜. Four years later the Protector-general of the Pacified West (Anxi duhu 安西都護), Guo Xiaoke 郭孝恪, conquered Yanqi, captured King Tuqizhi 突騎支, sent him to the Tang capital Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi) and appointed Lipozhun 栗婆準 as regent of Yanqi. As soon as the Tang army withdrew, the Western Turks occupied Yanqi and captured Lipozhun. The latter was killed by people from Qiuci, and the Turks enthroned his older brother Xuepo'anazhi 薛婆阿那支 as the new king. In 648 the Tang general Ashina Sher 阿史那社爾 conquered Qiuci and enthroned Xiannazhun 先那準 (or Pokali 婆咖利?) as king of Yanqi. Tuqizhi was sent back to Yanqi shortly before his death and was succeeded by King Nentu 嫩突. In 658 general Ashina Helu 阿史那賀魯 appeased the rebellious city-states, and Yanqi became one of the four defense commands (sizhen 四鎮) of the Protectorate of the Pacified West. Between 674 and 676 Yanqi was itself for a short time an own area command (dudufu 都督府). In 679 Yanqi was deprived the status of a defense command in favour to Suiye 碎葉 that was strategically more advantageous to cut off the communication lines betwen Tubo 吐蕃 (Tibet) and the Western Turks. In 710 the military commissioner (jiedushi 節度使) Tang Jiahui 湯嘉惠 gave Yanqi back the status of a defense command and established military colonies nearby. In 788 Yanqi was lost again to the armies of Tubo, but soon, the Uyghurs 回鶻 expelled them and controlled the region for more than half a century. The Uyghur khanate disintegrated in 840, and Yanqi (now called Karašahr) was able to fill the power vacuum. Still ruled under the Long dynasty, its population now consisted to a great part of Uyghurs. Yanqi expanded to the east and occupied the former Tang prefecture of Xizhou 西州 (modern Yelufan 葉魯番). The Uyghurs living in that region were therefore called the Uyghurs from Xizhou 西州回鶻. The city of Yanqi at that time was called Solmi. It had lost its status as an independant state and became subject to the various masters of that region, from the Mongols 蒙古 to the Dzungars 準噶爾 and the Manchus 滿洲.
Yanqi was an important centre of Buddhism. A lot of monasteries were to be found on its soil, like the famous "Thousand Buddha Grottoes" of Mingwu 明屋千佛洞. In the 20th century a lot of Buddhist writings were discovered in Yanqi, written in Sanskrit and also in the local language, Tokharian A. A very important example is the Tokharian translation of a Buddhist play by Aryacandra that is in Chinese known as Mile huijian ji 彌勒會見記. These writings influenced not only the genre of bianwen 變文 that flourished during the Tang period, but also the Buddhist Uyghur literature. Yanqi also harboured adherents of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrian writings in Persian and Uyghur language have been detected in Turfan 吐魯番 that is located not far from ancient Yanqi.
Yanqi was famous for its distinct culture and its own language and script. Males shaved their heads, and women wore trousers. The death were buried after cremation. The inhabitants of Yanqi loved grape wine and were good musicians. Silkworm breeding was known, but not the production of silk textiles. Instead, silk was only used as wads. Yanqi produced a wide range of fieldcrops and a lot of different cattle.


The state of Weixu 危須 was located on the banks of Lake Bosten 博斯騰湖 in the modern region of Heshuo 和碩, Xinjiang. Some historians identify the modern city of Quhui 曲惠 with the ancient capital of Weixu. The 700 inhabitans of Weixu were controlled by the Xiongnu 匈奴 before they became part of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE). During the Tang period 唐 (618-907) it was conquered by Yanqi 焉耆.


The state of Weili 尉犁 was located in the region of modern Weili, Xinjiang. During the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) it was part of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (xiyu duhufu 西域都護府). During the Tang period 唐 (618-907) it was conquered by Yanqi 焉耆. The Qing empire 清 (1644-1911) installed a district of Xinping 新平. At that time the region was called Karakum (transcribed as Kalakumu 喀喇庫木 or Kalagong 喀喇工).


The state of Quli 渠犁, also written 渠黎, was located on the banks of the Kongque River 孔雀河 in the region of modern Kurle 庫爾勒, Xinjiang. This state with a size of 1,500 inhabitants was controlled by the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 before it fell into the hands of the Chinese. Because its soil was comparatively fertile, the region was transformed into a military colony commandery (tuntian xiaowei 屯田校尉). The agricultural products of Quli served to support the military logistics of the campaigns that the Han empire 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) fought in the Western Territories (xiyu 西域). In the 60s BCE there were even people from Cheshi 車師 settled down in Quli as labourers in the fields of the colony. Quli was later conquered by Yanqi 焉耆.


The state of Wulei 烏壘 was located around the region of modern Cedaya 策達雅 near Luntai 輪臺 (also called Bügür or Tarbugur 塔爾布古爾.), Xinjiang. During the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) it was the seat of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (xiyu duhufu 西域都護府). There was a prefecture (zhou 州) of Wulei during the Tang period 唐 (618-907).


The state of Qiuci 龜茲, also called Quzhi 屈支, Guici 歸茲, Jiuci 鳩茲, Juyi 拘夷, Juyunang 俱與囊, Kucha 苦叉, Kuxian 苦先, Qiuci 邱茲 or 丘茲, Quci 屈茨, Kushi 庫事 or Quxian 曲先, was located in the region of modern Luntai 輪臺, Bachu 巴楚, Kuche 庫車, Shaya 沙雅, Xinhe 新和 and Baicheng 拜城, Xinjiang. The original name might have been Kutsi, and during period of Uyghur 回鶻 domination it was called Käsän or Küsän (compare the Chinese transcription Quxian). The old capital was called Yancheng 延城, whose name was changed to Yiluolu 伊邏盧 during the Tang period 唐 (618-907). During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) the population was over 80.000 persons large. At that time Qiuci was controlled by the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴. In 77 BCE the Chinese general Fu Jiezi 傅介子 returned from a mission to the Dayuan 大宛 in Central Asia. When he stayed in Qiuci he had killed the Xiongnu amabassadors and forced the king of Qiuci to accept the superiority of the Han empire. Prince Laidan 賴丹 of Yumi 扜彌 was ordered by the Han court to oversee the establishing of military agro-colonies (tuntian 屯田) in Luntai 輪臺 near Qiuci, yet a noble of Qiuci killed Laidan and so caused an attack by a Han army commanded by Chuang Hui 常惠. The murderer was killed, and King Jiangbin 絳賓 accepted to marry a daughter of the Han Princess Jieyou 解優公主 that was married to the ruler of the Wusun 烏孫. In 65 BCE he even traveled to Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi) to pay a visit to the court of the Han and to offer his tributes. In 60 BCE the Han court founded the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) with its seat in Wulei 烏壘 just east of Qiuci. King Jiangbin's son Chengde 丞德 was awarded the title of outer imperial grandson (waisun 外孫; "outer" means, being the son of a daughter of the emperor). After the demise of the Former Han and during the usurpation of Wang Mang 王莽 (r. 8-23 CE) the city-states of the Western Territories 西域 turned their back to China and were again controled by the Xiongnu. In 46 CE the king of Shache 莎車 killed the king of Qiuci and enthroned his own favourite Zeluo 則羅. Zeluo was soon killed by nobles of Qiuci and replaced by Shendu 身毒. King Shendu, with the support of the Xiongnu, was able to gain control over the states of the northern route of the Silk Road. Qiuci conquered Shule 疏勒, Shache and even Yutian 于闐 on the southern route of the Silk Road. Yet in 72 CE, the newly founded Later Han dynasty 後漢 (25-220 CE) was strong enough to send some troops under the command of general Ban Chao 班超 who took over control of the southern route and expelled the Xiongnu. All city-states again became subservient to the Han empire, and in 74 the protectorate was reestablished. Yet a year later Qiuci and its neighbour Yanqi 焉耆 used the opportunity of Emperor Ming's 漢明帝 (r. 57-75 CE) death to kill the imperial Protector-general Chen Mu 陳睦. Only in 91 CE Qiuci and its rebellious allied Yanqi, Gumo 姑墨 and Wensu 溫宿 could be brought back into line by Ban Chao after his campaign against the Yuezhi 月氏 (Tokharians). The great general himself became Protector-general, residing in Taqian (or Tagan) 它乾 near Qiuci. He dethroned King Youliduo 尤利多 and enthroned the more subservient King Baiba 白霸. With the support of the native armies of Qiuci and other states Ban Chao conquered Yanqi and Weili 尉犁, the last rebellious cities. In 106 the population of Qiuci rebelled, killed Protector-general Duan Xi 段喜 and King Baiba. The access to the northern route was again blocked for the Han empire for a few years. Ban Chao's son Ban Yong 班勇 took control over Qiuci and led the armies of the northern city-states in 124 CE against the kingdom of Cheshi 車師. Qiuci also took part in Cao Kuan's 曹寬 campaign against Shule in 170 CE.
During the Southern and Northern Dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600), Qiuci brought tributes to the courts of the Cao-Wei 曹魏 (220-265), Western Jin 西晉 (265-316), Former Liang 前涼 (314-376), Former Qin 前秦 (351-394), Northern Liang 前秦 (351-395) and Northern Wei 北魏 (386-534) empires. In 448 the Northern Wei general Wan Dugui 萬度歸 led an army against the rebellious Yanqi so that the king of Yanqi fled to Qiuci. For providing him exile Qiuci was plundered all its cattle. During the 5th century Qiuci also suffered from the domination of the steppe federation of the Rouran 柔然 and the Yeda 嚈噠 (often translated as "Hephthalites"). In the 6th century the Turks 突厥 took over control of the steppe and also dominated the city-states of the Silk Road. In 615 Qiuci sent tribute to the Sui dynasty 隋 (581-618). King Heli Bushibi 訶黎布失畢 was married to a daughter of the khan of the Turks. When an army of the Tang empire 唐 (618-907) attacked Yanqi in 644, Qiuci supported Yanqi. Three years later the Tang general Ashina Sher 阿史那社爾 (who had Turkic origins) pacified Qiuci, forced the Western Turk leader Ashina Helu 阿史那賀魯 into submission and paved the way for a new Protectorate of the Pacified West (Anxi duhufu 安西都護府). King Bushibi was reconfirmed by the Tang court in his position as King of Qiuci. After the death of Emperor Taizong 唐太宗 (r. 626-649), in 651, Ashina Helu rebelled against the Tang and forced all city-states into the conflict of the two parties. In Qiuci, general Jieliedian 羯獵顛 took over control of the state. The Tang general Su Dingfang 蘇定方 defeated the Western Turks in 657. This time Qiuci was made an area command (dudufu 都督府) to administer nine indirectly governed prefectures (jimizhou 羈縻州). King Baisuqi 白素稽 was concurrently commander-in-chief (dudu 都督). At the same time the seat of the Protector-general was transferred from Jiaohe 交河, prefecture Xizhou 西州, in Gaochang 高昌 to Qiuci. Qiuci so became the centre of the Tang administration of the Western Territories. Yet the rule of the Tang over this region did not lost very long for the Western Turks allied with the kingdom of Tubo 吐蕃 (Tibet) and conquered most of the city-states until 679 when they were again occupied by the Chinese under general Pei Xingjian 裴行儉. Tubo occupied the four area commands (sizhen 四鎮) of the Pacified West a second time and was repelled again in 686 by Wang Xiaojie 王孝傑. For the next decades the situation was stable, Qiuci being the capital of Tang China's colonial area in the west. In 718 the Protector-general was concurrently made military commissioner (jiedushi 節度使). During the rebellion of An Lushan 安祿山 a lot of Tang troops were withdrawn from the Western Territories to defend the capital Chang'an. Tubo used this situation and again tried to conquer this area. The remaining troops, with the support of Uyghur allies, were able to withstand the Tibetans until 790. With the decline of the central power in Tibet the influence of the kingdom of Tubo waned, and the Uyghurs started dominating the Western Territories. Qiuci was controlled by the Uyghurs of Xizhou 西州回鶻. Qiuci became an ulus (federal kingdom) of the Uyghur khanate, and the population gradually adoptec Turkic customs and habits.
The Uyghurs of Qiuci were politically independant but sent tributes to the court of the Northern Song 北宋 (960-1126) and Liao 遼 (907-1125) empires. In the 11th century the the khanate of the Karakhans 黑汗 from Kašgar (former Shule) began dominating the region and enforced the introduction of Mohammedanism. Qiuci, now called Kuča (Chinese transliteration Kuche 庫車), was in the centuries to come dominated by the Mongols 蒙古, the Dzungars 準噶爾 and finally the Manchus 滿洲.
Qiuci was famous for its rich agricultural products that ranged from hemp, wheat, grapes and abricots to horses and sheep. Its area also produced gold, copper and iron, so that a lot of blacksmiths were living and working in the city of Qiuci. As a trade spot of the Silk Road, the relatively large city of Qiuci had a great importance for the caravans going and coming. In the first century CE Buddhism was introduced in the region of Qiuci, where it broadly flourished and developed an own culture with monasteries (Queli 雀離大寺 and Ashelinigalan 阿奢理貳伽蘭) and cave monasteries (shiku 石窟; like Kezir 克孜爾 or Kumtula 庫木吐拉). During the period of the Sixteen Barbarian States 五胡十六國 (300~430) a general of the Former Qin empire 前秦 (351-395), Lü Guang 呂光, conquered and plundered Qiuci. Among the war prisoners were a lot of musicians that were brought to Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi) and introduced the music of Qiuci to China. Music from Qiuci flourished at the Sui and Tang courts. The famous translator Kumārajīva 鳩摩羅什 who stayed at Chang'an for a long time to translate Buddhist sutras from Sanskrit into Chinese, was a native of Qiuci.


The state of Gumo 姑墨 was located in the region of modern Aksu 阿克蘇, Xinjiang. The capital city of this state was called Nancheng 南城 "Southern City". It declared its tributary status towards the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) in the early 1st centry BCE and was administered by the Protectorate of the Western Territories (xiyu duhufu 西域都護府). Gumo was an important hub on the northern route of the Silk Road and connected Qiuci 龜茲 with Yutian 于闐 in the south and the land of the Wusun 烏孫 in the north. During the reign of the usurper Wang Mang 王莽 (8-23 CE), King Cheng 承 killed the king of the neighbouring state of Wensu 溫宿. During the Northern Wei period 北魏 (386-534) it belonged to the state of Qiuci 龜茲. In later times Gumo was also called Asu 阿速 or Moman 末蠻.


The state of Wensu 溫宿 was located in the region of modern Wensu, Xinjiang. It declared its tributary status towards the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) in the early 1st centry BCE and was administered by the Protectorate of the Western Territories (xiyu duhufu 西域都護府). There were roads of communication accross the Tianshan Range 天山 into the land of the Wusun 烏孫. In the late 2nd century CE it was conquered by the state of Gumo 姑墨. During the Northern Wei period 北魏 (386-534) it belonged to the state of Qiuci 龜茲. From the late Tang period on the name of the place changed to Yukuang 于況, Woyi 倭亦, Wuyi 烏亦 and Uš 烏什 or Učturpan.


The state of Weitou 尉頭 was located in the region of modern Uš 烏什 and Aheqi 阿合奇. The population during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) was 2,300 persons. They lived as pastoral nomads, and their customs and habits were similar to those of the Wusun 烏孫 living north of the Tianshan Range 天山. Although the state of Shule 疏勒 was very close, the access to the south was impeded by steep mountains. The king was assisted by two commanders-in-chief (duwei 都尉) and two masters of the cavalry (qijun 騎君). The state of Weitou still existed during the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) and had even expanded to the north.


The kingdom of Cheshi 車師, in early times also called Gushi 姑師, was located in the area of modern Jimsar 吉木薩爾 north of the Turfan Basin. The kingdom was divided into two parts, Fore Cheshi (Qian Cheshi 前車師, Qianguo Cheshi 前國車師, Cheshi qianguo 車師前國 or Cheshi qianbu 車師前部, geographically seen from the Chinese perspective) was reigned from the city of Jiaohe 交河, and Rear Chechi (Hou Cheshi 後車師, Houguo Cheshi 後國車師, Cheshi houguo 車師後國 or Cheshi houbu 車師後部) that was located in the Wutu Valley 務涂谷. The inhabitants of the two kingdoms lived from settled agriculture, but also from pastoral nomadism. They seemed to have spoken a Turkic language. Their rulers had to pay tributed to the Xiongnu 匈奴. In 108 BCE Zhao Ponu 趙破奴 was the first Chinese general attacking Cheshi and forcing it under the supremacy of the Han empire 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE). Cheshi declared its vassal status to the Han in 89 BCE. In the next decades the Xiongnu and the Han empire fought for the dominance over Cheshi. The Han court therefore sent out Zheng Ji 鄭吉 to establish military agro-colonies (tuntian 屯田) in Quli 渠犁 whose fields were to be worked by people from Cheshi. The Xiongnu on their side enthroned a new king, Doumo 兜莫. From that time on, Cheshi was divided in two parts, Fore Cheshi being controlled by the Chinese, and Rear Cheshi by the Xiongnu. In the year 60 BCE the Xiongnu khan Rizhu 日逐 submitted to the Han, and from then on Cheshi was administered by the Chinese Protector-general of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhu 西域督護). In the year 48 BCE a military colony was set up on the territory of Fore Cheshi, the commandery (xiaowei 校尉) of Wuji 戊己. At that time Fore Cheshi had 700 households, Rear Cheshi 600. During the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) these had increased to 1,500 and 4,000, respectively. The protectorate was dissolved during the usurpation of Wang Mang 王莽 (r. 8-23 CE), and after the foundation of the Later Han dynasty eighteen states of the Western Territories sent an embassy to the Han court with the request to reestablish the protectorate. Emperor Guangwu 漢光武帝 (r. 25-57) declined and left the statelets managing their own affairs. Rear Cheshi thereupon conquered some smaller states in the neighbourhood. The remaining states Qiemi 且彌, Beilu 卑陸, Pulei 蒲類, Yizhi 移支 and the two Cheshi were therefore also known by the name of "the six Cheshi" (Cheshi liuguo 車師六國). In 74 CE the Chinese generals Dou Gu 竇固 and Geng Bing 耿秉 forced Cheshi into submission. Two years later Cheshi had to be liberated from the Xiongnus, but only in 90 CE the steppe federation could be repelled so far that there was no further danger of Xiongnu intrusions for a decade. Instead, there was a conflict between the king of Rear Cheshi, Zhuodi 涿鞮, and that of Fore Cheshi, Weibeida 尉卑大. The Han general Wang Lin 王林 executed Zhuodi and replaced him by his younger brother. In 107 again, the Xiongnu controlled the whole region and had to be expelled by general Suo Ban 索班 who took his seat in Yiwu 伊吾. Suo Ban was killed by Junjiu 軍就, the king of Rear Cheshi, in 120. General Ban Yong 班勇 appeased Fore and Rear Cheshi only in 126 CE and appointed new rulers to the two kingdoms. The Xiongnu khan Huyan 呼衍 continued harrassing Rear Cheshi until he was defeated in 137. In 153 the king of Rear Cheshi, Aluoduo 阿羅多, rebelled against the Han empire, but had to seek refuge among the Xiongnu when his successors did not follow him. He later returned and was pardoned by the Han emperor.
During the turbulent period of the Sixteen Barbarian States 五胡十六國 (300~430), Cheshi was located in the commandery (jun 郡) of Gaochang 高昌 but remained an independant polity in the territory controlled by the dynasties of Former Liang 前涼 (314-376), Later Liang 後涼 (386-403) and Northern Liang 北涼 (398-439). Under the Northern Wei dynasty 北魏 (386-534), the ruler of Cheshi was given the formal title of palace attendant (shizhong 侍中) and was appointed Grand commander-in-chief (da duwei 大都尉). The kingdom was finally extinguished in 450 when general Juqu Anzhou 沮渠安周 besieged the city of Jiaohe. King Che Yiluo 車伊洛 fled to Yanqi 焉耆 and gave up his throne.


The state of Jie 劫國 was located in the valley of Danqu 丹渠谷 in the eastern parts of the Tianshan Range 天山, within the terrritory of modern Changji 昌吉, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) the population was 500 persons. The king of Jue was aided by a Marquis Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯), a commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉) and a chief translator (yizhang 譯長). It was administered as part of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府).


The state of Qiemi 且彌 was located in the valley of Yuda 于大谷 in the eastern part of the Tianshan Range 天山 in the territory of modern Fukang 阜康, Xinjiang. It was divided into the proper Qiemi or Western Qiemi 西且彌, and Eastern Qiemi 東且彌, which was located in the valley of Duixu 兑虛谷. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) Western Qiemi had a population of 1,900 persons, Eastern Qiemi was populated by the same number of people. During the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) Eastern Qiemi had 3,000 inhabitants. The King of Western Qiemi was aided by a Marquis (hou 侯), a left and right general and a left and right Master of the Cavalry (qijun 騎君), the King of Eastern Qiemi by a Marquis and a left and right Commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉). The people of Qiemi often lived in tents and were pastoral nomads, but some of them also worked the fields. At the beginning of the Han period Qiemi was controlled by the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴, before it became subject to the Han Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府). In the late 2nd century CE Qiemi was conquered by Rear Cheshi 車師後部. Western Qiemi again gained independence during the Northern Wei period 北魏 (386-534).


The state of Beilu 卑陸 was located in the area of modern Fukang 阜康, Xinjiang. The proper Beilu was reigned from the city of Qiandang (or Gandang) 乾當, Rear Beilu (Beilu houguo 卑陸後國) from the valley of Panqulei 番渠類. Beilu had a population of 1,300 persons during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE), Rear Beilu was inhabited by 1,100 persons. The king of Beilu was aided by a Marquis Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯), two generals, two Commanders-in-chief (duwei 都尉) and two chief translators (yizhang 譯長). The ruler of Rear Beilu was aided by a Marquis Supporting the State, a Commander-in-chief, a chief translator and two generals. Beilu was part of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire. In the 3rd century CE Beilu was conquered by Rear Cheshi 車師後部.


The state of Yizhi 移支 was located in the territory of modern Balikun (Barköl) 巴里坤, Xinjiang. It was during the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) inhabited by 3,000 persons. The warriors of Yizhi were famous for their fierce style of fighting and their threatening appearance because of the dishevelled hair. The people lived as pastoral nomads on a territory that was formerly part of the kingdom of Pulei 蒲類.


The state of Pulei 蒲類 was located in the valley of Shuyu 疏榆谷 on the territory of modern Balikun (Barköl) 巴里坤, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) it had a population of 2,000 persons living in 300 households and able to recruit 800 troops. The king was aided by a Marquis Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯), a left and a right general, and left and a right Commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉). The people lived in tents and were pastoral nomads, changing their dwelling place with the seasons. Pulei was famous for the bows and arrows produced by the warriors. The people of Pulei was dominated by the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 that had forced 6,000 people to move closer to the centre of the land controlled by the Xiongnu, into a land called A'wu 阿惡. The state of Pulei came into being after many persons had fled this forced settlement in the Xiongnu land. When the armies of the Han empire defeated the Xiongnu khan Rizhu 日逐, they divided Pulei into two states, Fore Pulei (Qian Pulei guo 前蒲類國) and Rear Pulei (Hou Pulei guo 後蒲類國). Both were parts of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire. In the 3rd century CE Pulei, then called Pulu 蒲陸, was conquered by Rear Cheshi 車師後部. In the 7th century the protector-general of the Tang empire 唐 (618-907) established a district (xian 縣) of Pulei that was subject to the prefecture of Tingzhou 庭州.


The state of Danhuan 單桓 was located in the area of modern Ürümchi 烏魯木齊, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) the population as not larger than 190 persons. The king was aided by a Marquis Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯), a general, a left and a right Commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉), and a chief translator (yizhang 譯長). Danhuang belonged to the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire. In the 3rd century CE it was occupied by Rear Cheshi 車師後部.


The state of Yulishi 郁立師 was located in the valley of Neiduo 内咄谷 in the area of modern Jimsar 吉木薩爾, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) it was inhabited by 1,400 persons. The king was aided by a Marquis Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯), a left and a right Commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉), and a chief translator (yizhang 譯長). Yulishi belonged to the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire.


The state of Wutanzili 烏貪訾離 was located in the valley of Yulei 于類谷 in the territory of modern Hutubi 呼圖壁, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) their city was inhabited by not more than 230 persons. The king was aided by a Commander Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯), and a left and a right Commander-in-Chief (duwei 都尉). Wutanzili came into being when part of the tribes living in Eastern Pulei 東蒲類 fled the domination of the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 and submitted to the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire. The 1,700 persons were settled down and built the state of Wutanzili. In the 3rd century CE it was occupied by Rear Cheshi 車師後部.


The state of Pishan 皮山 was located in the region of modern Pishan, Xinjiang. Its population during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) was 3,500 persons. The king of Pishan was assisted by two generals, two commanders-in-chief (duwei 都尉), a master of the cavalry (qijun 騎君) and a translator. Pishan was the gateway to the route to Kashmere, Sistan (southeastern Iran) and India. During the Tang period 唐 (618-907) Pishan was conquered by Yutian 于闐.


The state of Xiye 西夜, also called Piaosha 漂沙, was located in the area of the modern Yecheng 葉城, Xinjiang. The capital was to be found in the valley of Hujian 呼犍 (also written 呼鞬) that might have been in the place of the modern Ušyarbaš 烏夏爾巴什. The people was probably related to the Tibetans (Qiang 羌) and lived a live as pastoral nomads. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) 4,000 people lived in Xiye. During the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) the population increased to 10,000. The region of Xiye was famous for its jade. During the Later Han period the state fell apart in Xiye proper and the state of Zihe 子合. It was occupied by the state of Shache 莎車 in the early 1st century CE and later again by Shule 疏勒, at the end of the 2nd century. During the Northern Wei period 北魏 (386-534) the state was renamed in Xijuban 悉居半 and was called Zhujubo 朱居波, Zhujupan 朱居槃, Zhejujia 遮拘迦 or Zhuojujia 斫句迦 during the Tang period 唐 (618-907). At that time the state of gradually won power over the whole region and the polities of Puli 蒲犁, Deruo 德若 and Yinai 依耐.
The ruling dynasty of Xiye is said to have been related with that of Shule, and the people spoke a language similar to that of Yutian 于闐, i.e. an Indo-European tongue, although their appearance was Mongolic ("Asiatic"). The mountain valleys enshrined fertile lands, and the lower regions in the east produced a lot of different fruits. The inhabitants worshipped the Buddha.


The state of Puli 蒲犁 was located in the modern region of Taškurgan 塔什庫爾干, Xinjiang, in the eastern parts of the Pamir Range. The capital is identified by historians as the ruins of Shitoucheng 石頭城. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) the population was as large as 5,000 persons. The king of Puli was assisted by a marquis and a commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉). The customs and habits of Puli were said to be similar of those of Zihe 子合. Grain had to be imported from Shache 莎車 because the region was to mountaineous to cultivate wheat. Puli was one of the stations on the way to India. During the Southern and Northern dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600) the region was called Kepantuo 渴槃陀, Hepantuo 喝盤陀, Hantuo 漢陀, Keguantan 渴館檀, Keluotuo 渴羅陀 or Qiepantuo 朅槃陀. In the early 7th century the reigning dynasty came from Shule 疏勒. The region came in contact with the Tang empire 唐 (618-907) in 635. During the late Tang period the region was occupied by Shule.


The state of Yinai 依耐 was located in the region of modern Yinggišahr 英吉沙 and Shache 莎車, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) the population was as large as 670 persons. The customs and habits were similar to those in Zihe 子合. The ecomical base of the country was cattle breeding. Yinai is not any more mentioned in Chinese sources of the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE).


The state of Deruo 德若 was located close to Zihe 子合 in the Pamir Range in the territory of modern Yecheng 葉城, Xinjiang. It was part of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire 漢 (202 BCE-220 CE). In the 3rd century CE Deruo was conquered by Shule 疏勒.


The state of Wulei 無雷 was located in the Pamir Range. The capital was called Lucheng 盧城. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) the population was as large as 7,000 persons. While the clothes of the inhabitans were similar to those of the Wusun 烏孫, who lived north of the Tianshan Range 天山, customs and habits resembled those in the state of Zihe 子合. Wulei is not any more mentioned in Chinese sources of the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE).


The state of Nandou 難兜 was located in the territory of modern Baltistan in Kashmere. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) Nandou was inhabited by 31,000 persons. It was part of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire. The inhabitants lived of farming and produced, among other fruits, a lot of grapes. Nandou disposed of copper and iron ores and of silver deposits, so that there were also a lot of blacksmiths among the population. After the 3rd centry Nandou was controlled by the Hellenic empire of the Kophen (Chinese name Jibin 罽賓).


The state of Wutuo 烏托, also called Wucha 烏秅 or Quanyumo 權于摩, was located in the mountains of Badak 巴達克 near modern Shache 莎車, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) Wutuo was inhabited by 2,700 persons. The population lived in stone houses scattered in mountain villages and engaged in farming, but also raised a lot of cattle. Wucha was part of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire. During the Southern and Northern Dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600) it was controlled by the people of the Yeda 嚈噠 (often translated as "Hephthalites"), later by the Turks 突厥. During the Tang period 唐 (618-907) it was part of the area command (dudufu 都督府) of Xiuxun 休循.


The state of Juandu 捐毒 was located in the region of modern Uqia 烏恰, Xinjiang. It was to be crossed on the way from Shule 疏勒 to the Dayuan 大宛 and the Kangju 康居 (modern Kirgistan). The capital was located in the valley of Yandun 衍敦谷 and had a population of 1,100 persons. The ecomical base of the country was cattle breeding. Juandu is not any more mentioned in Chinese sources of the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE).


The state of Xiuxun 休循 was located in the valley of Alai 阿賴谷 in the Pamir Range. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) it was inhabited by 1,000 persons and disposed of an army of 480 men. Xiuxun was part of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire. The population belonged to the people of the Indo-European Sakas (Chinese: Sai 塞) and lived of pastoral nomadism. Customs and clothes were similar to those of the Wusun 烏孫. During the 3rd century CE Xiuxun was conquered by Shule 疏勒.


The state of Taohuai 桃槐 was located in the valley of Alai 阿賴谷 in the Pamir Range. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) it was inhabited by 5,000 persons. Xiuxun was part of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire. The people of Taohuai were pastoral nomads.


The country of Jibin 罽賓 was a small state located in the southeastern part of modern Afghanistan, the northern part of Pakistan and the western parts of the union state of Kashmere. It was known as a militarily very strong polity that controlled the valley of River Kabul and the upper course of the Indus River. The main cities of Jibin were located in the place of modern Kabul and Ghazni. The transliteration Jibin is used in the Hanshu 漢書, while the Xintangshu 新唐書 calls this state Geshimi 箇失蜜 or Jiashimiluo 迦濕彌邏 (i.e. Kashmere). The Secret History of the Mongols 蒙古秘史 calls it Keshimir 客失迷兒, the biographic collection Xu gaoseng zhuan 續高僧傳 names it Jiabeishi 迦臂施. In Indian sources like the Book of the Peacock King, it is similary transliterated as Jiapishi (Chinese rendering 迦毗尸) or Jiasipilai (Chinese rendering 迦斯毗拉衣). For travellers crossing the Hindukush Range from Central Asia or China to India, the country of Jibin was not easy to pass and a dangerous place to cross.


The state of Wuyishanli 烏弋山離 was probably located either around the city of Herat in modern Afghanistan or in Beluchistan or Sistan in southeastern Iran. The Chinese name is probably derived from the name of the city Alexandria Prophthasia (as a distorted form of "Alexandria"). Another Chinese name for the region, Paite 排特, is a short form of the second part of this name.

Sources:
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October 16, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail