Section 13 – The Kingdom of the Da Yuezhi 大月氏 (the Kushans)

1. The Da Yuezhi 大月氏 [Ta Yüeh-chih]. There is a translation of this whole passage, plus many others on the Kushans, in the very useful and interesting article by Zürcher (1968), pp. 346-390. See also: Enoki (1968), pp. 1-13. 
          There have been many theories about the possible connections of this name, Yuezhi. Translated literally it would mean something like “The Moon People,” but this explanation seems to lead us nowhere, and finds little additional support other than as a direct translation of the characters.
          Of more interest, perhaps, are the theories connecting the Chinese name (Da) Yuezhi with one or the other tribes or peoples mentioned by Classical and Indian writers as invading first the Bactrian region and, later, India itself.
          The first theory, developed by W. B. Henning in his 1965 paper, “the first Indo-Europeans in history,” is discussed at some length in Mallory and Mair (2000), pp. 281-282. They explore Henning’s suggestion that the ancient pronunciation of ‘Yuezhi” could be approximately reconstructed as *Gu(t)-t’i and related it to the ‘Guti’ people who began harassing the western borders of Babylon from c. 2100
          According to Assar (2003), people the Parthian king Mithradates II mounted a major campaign into the “Gutian country” circa 120
BCE and there is a reference to actions by Parthia involving the Guti as late as circa 77 BCE.
          Apparently, Henning believed that Guti in the ‘Kuchean-Agnean’ or ‘KA’ language “would have been rendered Kuči, and hence be equivalent to Kuchean. As for the toχri mentioned in the Uighur colophon, Henning believed one need look no further than the name of the Tukriš who had been neighbours of the Guti in western Persia and hence had given their name both to the toχri of the northern Tarim and the Tocharians of Bactria.”
          Unfortunately, for this theory, Mallory and Mair find his supposed support on the basis of similar ceramics unconvincing but, “Of greater detriment to such a theory is that Henning accepted a reconstructed Chinese pronunciation of Yuezhi as *Gu(t)-t’i when, in fact, it is commonly reconstructed now as *ng
wāt-tĕg which makes it a far less transparent correspondence.”

A far more convincing argument is made, I believe, in H. W. Bailey’s detailed essay on the name ‘Gara’ in Bailey (1985), pp. 110-141 and his ‘Epilogus’ on p. 142. I shall try here to summarize the development of his position by quoting brief excerpts from his text but, for those with a special interest in the issue, I recommend a thorough study of his original essay. Thus:

“In Khotan-Saka script this name is written gara, inflected as an – a- stem, plural gara, gen. plural –garāṃ, loc. plural garvā, garrvā, and allative (‘towards’) garvāṣṭä….
          Below, reasons are given for equating the Khotan-Saka gara- with the γαρα of Greek Θογαρα, and Tibetan -gar  in to-gar. The -a- is always an essential part of the name, and was emphasized by the long -ā- in Bud. Skt. tukhāra, N Persian tuxāristān and Khotan-Saka ttahvāra….
          The development of g,  γ,  χ (stop, fricative, unvoiced fricative) is important. Tibetan had -gar, -ggar  in tho-gar and thog-gar, but also bḥo-gar for Bukhāra, and could put -d-k, -dk- in place of -g-.
          The replacement of voiced γ by unvoiced χ is fairly common in various languages….
          The forms of the name Gara involve many complex differences. In the ninth- to tenth-century Khotan-Saka texts, when the Turks of various tribes are reported in the Chinese cities of Ṣacū and Kamcū (Θροανα and Θογaρα) in good orthography, the people of Gara are cited: KT 2.113.102 mājā gara ‘our Gara (allies)’….
          The Chinese records report a people whom they named with the syllable
(with added suffix or, with the same pronunciation according to an old gloss, ) one of whose centres was the very Čaʼn-ie, the centre also of (θο-)γαρα, Tibetan hgar and, as proposed above, of the Khotan-Saka gara- in the region of Kamcū (Θογαρα)….
, if it can in any way be found to indicate such a syllable as this gara-, will easily express the same ethnic name in the very place of its base. This can in fact be shown….
the Tibetans spelt hgvyar, hgyar, hgvar in which the laryngeal h- could also indicate a nasal sound, as in Ga-hĵag [the circumflex accent over the ‘j’ should be inverted] for Kančaka-, the name of Kāšɣar….
          The importance of the unaccepted transcriptions of
by G. Haloun (sgu), K. Enoki (sguĵa) [again with an inverted circumflex over the “j”], and Ed. Pulleyblank’s (iat-) [with a circumflex under the “i”], lies in their recognition that the name began with and that consequently the t’ai, ta ‘great’ placed before was an adjective epithet. When later two divisions of these people were known, besides the ta ‘great’ they employed also ‘small, little’ for the group remaining beside them in the Nan-şan and in the Köke-nagur (Kokonor) region.
          The Chinese quoted this name adding to
( = ɣar) a syllable K 1212 ṭṣï < tśi (from t’a), G 864 a ťě, and K 879 ṣï < tśi, G 864 a ťĕg. The syllable is then a foreign -čik, -jik to be read -čik, with either -i- or -ī-.
          To an Iranist the -čik is the commonest of suffixes to form ethnic names. Three forms are known….
          The base tau-: tu- ‘to increase in size, strength or number’ is very widely attested in Indo-European….
          For the present problem of the gara- it is important to recognise Iranian tu- ‘great’….
          In the θο- of θογara (second century
A.D.) and το- of τόχαροι of 300 years earlier (second century B.C.) is transmitted and Iranian tu- ‘great’ (from earlier tuυi-, as in Old Ind. tuυi-). Note that Old Iranian did not have the graphic means to distinguish ŭ from ǒ, so that foreigners recorded Iranian u as either u or ǒ. With u and o distinct, Greek τόχαροι, Armenian toxara-stan, touuxrstan, touxari-k’ (ou = u), Bud. Skt. tukhara-, Old Ind. tokşāra-, Kuči-Skt tokharika, Arabic script tuxāristān….” Bailey (1985), pp. 110-115 + 118-119, 123.

So, there we have (in a very abbreviated form) Bailey’s argument that the Chinese Da Yuezhi referred to the same people as those known in the Classical texts as the Tocharoi people who invaded Bactria and provides, I believe, very strong evidence for the equivalence of these two names. Following from this it is likely the ‘Kara’ mentioned of some of Kujula’s coins denotes that he belongs to the Gara  people = the Yuezhi.

          There is also a possibility worth considering that the name Yuezhi is related to that of the Άσιοι or Asiani mentioned in Classical sources along with the Tochari as one of the tribes who invaded ancient Bactria:

   “Pelliot cited this example apropos of the famous and controversial name Yüeh-chih 月氏 M. ŋwαt-cįe, pointing out that the initial ŋ- was unlikely to have represented a foreign g-, as has been generally assumed, before the mid-T’ang period. Pelliot did not himself  make any proposal as to the true equivalent of the name but his argument greatly strengthens the case for one of the many proposals that have been made, namely that of the ’Ιάτιοι found on the north side of the upper Yaxartes in Ptolemy. The initial of the second syllable would have been still unpalatalized *t- ath the beginning of the Han dynasty when the Yüeh-chih first appear. The labial element in the Chinese transcription remains unexplained. The true initial may have been the yw- found in some Tocharian words (= I.P. ´?) which could not have been exactly represented in any other way in Greek. The question as to whether the ’Ιάτιοι are the same as the Άσιοι or Asiani, as has often been stated, must be left aside for the moment. The equation seems highly probable on historical grounds.” Pulleyblank (1963), pp. 93-94. For a discussion of the occasional later replacement of the second character in Yuezhi (zhi: rad. 83) by other characters (zhi: rad. 65; zhi: rad 75-4), see ibid. pp. 106-107.

Other proposals and quotes of interest on this subject follow:

            “As we have just mentioned, the people who emerge as Tocharians in Western sources are often equated with a branch of the Yuezhi of Chinese sources who were driven first from the Gansu borderlands by the Xiongnu, then further west by the Wusun, arriving at the Oxus, and going on to conquer Bactria and establish the Kushan empire. Narain argues that once one accepts the equation Tocharian = Yuezhi, then one is forced to follow both the Chinese historical sources (which for him would propel the Yuezhi back to at least the 7th century BC) and the geographical reference of their first cited historical location (Gansu) to the conclusion that they had lived there ‘from times immemorial’. Narain infers that they had been there at least since the Qijia culture of c. 2000 BC and probably even earlier in the Yangshao culture of the Neolithic. This would render the Tocharians as virtually native to Gansu (and earlier than the putative spread of the Neolithic to Xinjiang) and Narain goes so far as to argue that the Indo-Europeans themselves originally dispersed from this area westwards. Seldom has a tail so small wagged a dog so large.” Mallory and Mair (2000), p. 281.

“By the third century B.C.E., when the Xiongnu became a real threat to the border of the Chinese empire, the Yuezhi were better known as suppliers of horses.” Liu (2001), p. 272.

“In the Sanguozhi 三國志, ch. 3, it is recorded that on the date of Guimao 癸卯 of the 12th month, in the third year of Taihe 太和 (i.e., A.D. 229), “The king of the Da Yuezhi, Bodiao 波調 (Vāsudeva), sent his envoy to present tribute and His Majesty granted him a title of "King of the Da Yuezhi Intimate with Wei 魏.” If the Guishuang Kingdom was established by the Daxia, it would not have accepted this title.

            In my opinion, the so-called Da Yuezhi actually [by this time] included the Asii, the Tochari, the Gasiani and other tribes. The Xihou of Guishuang may have been the Gasiani, because “Guishuang” can be a transcription of “Gasiani”. As mentioned above, the Gasiani and the Yuezhi had the same origin, thus “Guishuang” and “Yuezhi” were objectively different transcriptions of one and the same name. Therefore, there was no difference between “the king of the Da Yuezhi” and “the king of the Great Guishuang”. Why should Podiao not have gone ahead to accept?” Yu (1998), p. 31.


“The Yuezhi resided on the border of agricultural China even earlier that the Xiongnu. While the Xiongnu were famous in history because of their conflicts with Chinese empires, the Yuezhi were better known to the Chinese for their role in long-distance trade. Ancient economist Guan Zhong (645 B.C.E.) referred to the Yuezhi, or Niuzhi, as a people who supplied jade to the Chinese. It is well known that ancient Chinese rulers had a strong attachment to jade. All of the jade items excavated from the tomb of Fuhao of the Shang dynasty [a royal consort of the early 12th century BCE], more than 750 pieces, were from Khotan in modern Xinjiang. As early as the mid-first millennium B.C.E. the Yuezhi engaged in the jade trade, of which the major consumers were rulers of agricultural China.” Liu (2001), p. 265.


2. The identification of the town of Lanshi 藍氏 [Lan-shih] has also been a subject of contention for well over a hundred years. In the Shiji 123.14 it is given as Lanshi 藍市, and in the Hanshu 96A, Kan- or Jian-shi 監氏 [K’an- or Ch’ien-shih] – see CICA p. 119, n. 278. It is clear at a glance that the 監 (gan or kan) of the Hanshu was probably a scribal mistake for the very similar-looking character, lan 藍.

            Since the standard phonetic reconstructions and their possible interpretations have already been adequately discussed in the previously-mentioned note in CICA, I propose here to focus on other possible translations and interpretations of the name.

            The character lan 藍 can be read as: 1. ‘blue’; 2. ‘rags’; 3. ‘Buddhist monastery or monasteries’ (as an abbreviation of sengqielanmo – the transcription of the Sanskrit sanghârâma). From: GR No. 6666.

            Two interesting new possibilities are presented here for the character. The first is that, in spite of the reconstructed pronunciations (by K609k of *glam / lâm, – or EMC lam), it may have been intended to represent the foreign sound, ‘râ(m)’. The second consideration is that it may have been intended to mean ‘monastery’ or ‘monasteries’.

            The second character used in our earliest example, that of the Shiji is shi 市 (K963a, *đi̯əg / źi; EMC döü’ / diü’), which can be read as: ‘public place’, ‘commercial quarter’, ‘town’ or ‘municipality’.

            The character shi (or zhi) 氏, (K867a *đi̯ĕg / źi; EMC, düiĕ / düi or tiă / ti) which replaces it in the transcriptions of the Hanshu and Hou Hanshu can be read as: ‘family’, ‘line’, ‘sir,’ and was very frequently used as a shorthand way to represent the (Da) Yuezhi (大)月氏.

            Putting all this information together we end up with a name which could be read as something like ‘Monastery Town’ or, in the later accounts (presumably after the Yuezhi had moved into the city), ‘Yuezhi Monasteries.’ It could equally, however, been meant to represent a name which sounded something like *Raghi.

            It is my opinion that either could be correct. Bactra was noted as a Buddhist monastic centre and this could explain its name here. On the other hand, the name *Raghi could well have been an attempt to transcribe the name Rajagriha. In this connection, it is of great interest to note that Xuanxang wrote:


“The capital, which all called “Little Rajagriha city…” Watters (1904-05), I, p. 108. Also see Beal (1884), p. 44.


According to the “Life of Hiuen-tsiang” as translated by Beal (1911), p. 48. The new Shah of Bactra said: “…men call the capital city the little Râjagriha – so many are the sacred traces therein.”

            Eitel (1888), p. 127 describes the original Râjagriha as: “…lit. the city of royal palaces. The residence, at the foot of Gridhrakûṭa, of the Magadha princes from Bimbisara to As’oka ; meeting place of the first synod (B.C. 540) ; the modern Radghir (S.W. of Bahar) venerated by Jain pilgrims….”
          Other, later, variant forms include ‘Yingjianshi’ in the Peishi, and ‘Lujianshi’ in the Weishu. Ying has the same meaning as, and looks quite similar to ying
, but, unfortunately, I do not have the correct character available in my fonts. [It can be seen in Zürcher (1968), p. 388 ae, or in Williams, p. 931] and translates as ‘an escort’, or ‘to accompany’ and, perhaps, indicates here an administrative township close to the main city of Bactra itself (rather in the manner that Ctesiphon served as an administrative centre for the Parthians directly across the river from the major city of Seleucia). The character lu added to the name in the Weishu simply means, ‘black.’

            Although I think the evidence is overwhelming that the name ‘Lanshi’ referred to Bactra/Balkh, I have been unable to decide which is the more likely explanation, and so I will just add these two new suggestions to the ones made by earlier authors. 

            Earlier writers have variously identified Lanshi or Jianshi as Bactra (anciently known as Vahlika or Bactra-Zariaspa and, in modern times, as Vazīrābād or Balkh), or as the city of Khulm (Tāshkurghān), or at various spots in Badakshān. See, for example, the detailed discussions in Chavannes (1907), p. 187, n. 2; CICA, p. 119, n. 278, and Pulleyblank (1963), p. 122, where he makes a case for identifying it as Khulm. However, Yu (1998), p. 25, says:


The Da Yuezhi had possibly established its principal [sic] court in Tirmidh at the beginning of their conquest of Daxia.” Ibid. pp. 27-28


“Lan-shi [heam-zjiə] may be a contracted transcription of “Alexandria”, another name of Bactria.[34]


“34. See Specht. “Tarn (1951), p. 115 suggests that “Lanshi” may have been identical with Alexandria. On the location of Lanshi, there are also various theories; for example: Puṣkalāvatī theory, see Levy; Badhakshan theory, see Chavannes (1907); and Khulm theory; see Pulleyblank (1962), p. 122; etc. I consider all of them unconvincing.” Ibid. p. 41.

          The earliest account of the region brought back to China was the one from Zhang Qian’s visit circa 129 BCE, soon after it was conquered by the Da Yuezhi, and which is recounted in the Shiji:

   “Ta-hsia is situated over two thousand li southwest of Ta-yüan, south of the Kuei River. Its people cultivate the land and have cities and houses. Their customs are like those of Ta-yüan. It has no great ruler but only a number of petty chiefs ruling the various cities. the people are poor in the use of arms and afraid of battle, but they are clever at commerce. After the Great Yüeh-chih moved west and attacked and conquered Ta-hsia, the entire country came under their sway. The population of the country is large, numbering some million or more persons. The capital is called the city of Lan-shih [Bactra] and has a market where all sorts of goods are bought and sold.” Watson (1961), p. 269.


In this account, Lanshi 藍市 [Lan-shih] must surely stand for Bactra, as Burton Watson indicates, as it was certainly the largest city and greatest trading centre in the region.

          I would like to digress for a moment here to discuss the status of this town, Lanshi (identified as Bactra or modern Balkh), which Burton Watson and others have identified as the country’s “capital.” In the above passage it is quite clear that the country was not ruled by an overall king located in Lanshì nor was there any central administration of the country from that city.

          As we have seen, Zhang Qian carefully notes that, “It [Bactria] has no great ruler but only a number of petty chiefs ruling the various cities.” The Chinese word used to describe the status of Lanshi is du [tu] which can mean either the capital (of a country) or, preferably here, a large town, city or metropolis. It is clear from the context that the latter is the sense in which it should be interpreted in this context. See Dorn’eich (1999b), p. 40; GR No. 11668; CED, p. 291

          This is undoubtedly the sense of the character du in the line a few sentences earlier which says that the Da Yuezhi, after being defeated by the Xiongnu fled “far away through (Da) Yuan to the west, attacked Daxia and subdued it, and then advanced to a large city (du) to the north of the Oxus River [Termez?] where they established the court of their king” (yuan qu guo (Da) Yuan xi ji Da Xia er chen zhi sui du gui shui wei wang ting). Dorn’eich (1999b), p. 39.

          In our next text, the Hanshu, we find Daxia divided into five principalities each controlled by its own Yuezhi xihou – which I establish in note 13.4 below means something like a “united” or “allied” or “confederated” prince. There is no mention at all of an overall ruler. In other words, the situation has reverted to the situation described earlier by Zhang Qian of a country with, “no great ruler but only a number of petty chiefs ruling the various cities.”

          In both the Hanshu and the Hou Hanshu the main city of the Da Yuezhi (and, by this time they had presumably established themselves to the south of the Oxus), is described as a ju. Now, the character ju [chü] carries the basic meaning of a place of residence. It is often used, together with the character wang or ‘king,’ to indicate the place of residence of the king of the country or, in other words, the ‘capital,’ as it has been commonly translated.

          However, in both the Hanshu and theH Hou Hanshu there is no mention that this town is the residence of the wang or ‘king’ of the Yuezhi. The word exists by itself, and is, therefore, probably better translated with its alternate meaning of ‘to occupy militarily,’ rather than ‘capital.’ See GR No. 2797.

          Both the Hanshu and the Hou Hanshu make it plain that the region was divided by the Yuezhi into five princedoms which, as we learn from the Hou Hanshu were not united into a single entity until Kujula Kadphises conquered the other four and set about establishing the Kushan Empire around the middle of the 1st century CE.

          Unfortunately, none of this really “proves” anything, but it does seem that all these related names most likely refer to the ancient city of Bactra (modern Balkh).

          This identification gains support from the fact that the Wei shu, chap. CII, p 8b [which covers the years 220-265 CE] states that in the kingdom of Tokharistan there is a town called Boti [Po-t’i] , which is 60 li [25 km] in circumference. Again, it is not referred to as a “capital.” To the south of the town is a big river which flows towards the west called the Hanlou [Han-lou] river. Marquart identified this town with Bactra or Balkh and it is impossible to think of another town in the region that could have been so large. See also Chavannes (1900), p. 155, n. 4.

          This is the first use of a Chinese name which approximates the name Bactra薄提 Boti – K. 771p *b’âk + K. 866k *d’ieg; EMC: bak + dεj) which is, perhaps, closer to the Old Persian name for the region of Bactria – Bākhtri – or the Avestan form: Bāxδi or Bachdi’.

          Other, later, Chinese sources transcribe the name of the city as Fohe 縛喝 (EMC: buah-xat) or Foheluo 縛喝纙 (EMC: buah-xat-la) – see Eitel (1888), p. 28. Interestingly, the name for the mint at Bactra / Balkh on some Kushano-Sasanian coins is given as Bahlo – Dani and Litvinsky (1996), p. 104. It also appears in the form of Bāhlī in the Mahāmāyūrī-vidyā-rājñī – see Bailey (1985), p. 54. Xuan Zang transcribed Balkh as Fohe 縛喝 (EMC: buah-xat) and said:


“This country was above 800 li from east to west and 400 li north to south, reaching on the north to the to the Oxus. The capital, which all called “Little Rajagriha city,” was above twenty li [8.4 km] in circuit, but though it was strong it was thinly peopled.” Watters (1904-5) I, p. 108.


   “Today, it [Balkh] is a vast ruin field – a huge citadel, with great towered outer walls of sun-dried brick; ruined Buddhist stupas, Zoroastrian fire temples, and Nestorian Christian churches – all religions made their homes here. A medieval Muslim poet describes the city in a lovely image, surrounded by its gardens: ‘as delightful as a Mani painting’. The City sits under the north side of the Hindu Kush, where the sun rises over the fertile fields, fed by a spread of tributaries fanning out from the Balkh river. It was replaced by Mazar in the last century, and there is not much left of its civic life now, beyond a few winding mud-brick lanes amid groves and gardens in the centre. Old Balkh is virtually gone, but a few people still live here. At the ancient gates, there are little shrines to ancient holy men, still neatly maintained with offering flags, and swept floors. Right in the centre of the old city, in a circle of palm trees, are the great shrines of the Timurid Age. Still especially popular with the people of the region is the grave of Rabia Balkhi. Even today she is the female protectress of the city, just as the ancient patroness of Balkh, Anahita goddess of the Oxus, was in Alexander’s day. Anahita’s magnificent gilded statue had been gifted by one of Darius’s predecessors, Artaxerxes II. Thousands had come to licentious rites in the precinct of the ‘High girdled one clad in a mantle of gold, on her head a golden crown with rays of light and a hundred stars clad in a robe of over thirty otter skins of shining fur’….


From Balkh, it was only 80 kilometres to the river, a four-day journey for Alexander’s main army, but a minor disaster was narrowly averted as they ran into the sand dunes beyond the oasis and suffered very badly from heat and thirst. the time was early summer – very, very hot – and what the Greeks experienced, modern travellers still experience.” Wood (2001), p. 150.


            Interestingly, this identification of Balkh as the later centre for the Da Yuezhi finds support from distances given in the Hanshu. There are two small kingdoms west of Kashgar called 捐毒 Juandu (‘Tax Control’ – near modern Irkeshtam or Erkech Tam) and Xiuxun 休循 in the Hanshu which is rendered Xiuxiu 休脩 in the Weilue.

            Now, 捐 juan (see GR No. 2980) means ‘to pay’ or ‘tax’, while 毒 du (GR No. 1164) can mean ‘poison’, ‘to hate’, ‘suffering’, ‘to direct’ or ‘govern’. I have taken the least negative connotation and translated the name as ‘Tax Control,’ a function that has continued into modern times.

            xiu (GR No. 4562) means ‘to rest’, ‘to stop for a few moments’; 脩 hsiu (GR No. 4579) carries among its meanings: ‘beautiful’, ‘good’, ‘excellent’, ‘long’, ‘high’, ‘big’; 循 xun (GR No. 4770) can mean ‘to walk’ ‘to console’, ‘comfort, or ‘good’ . So, I think I am justified to translate the name in both cases as ‘Excellent Rest Stop’). See also CICA, pp. 138, 139 and nn. 355-358.

            M. A. Stein (1928), Vol. II, pp. 849-851 makes, I believe, a very strong case for placing Juandu in the region of Irkeshtam, about 200 km west of Kashgar, on the modern border between China and Kyrgyzstan, and Xiuxiu not too far to the west (260 li or 108 km), on the Alai Plateau. Stein places Xiuxiu/Xiuxun near modern Chat, but this is too far from Juandu, being about 155 km southwest of Irkeshtam.

            Instead, measuring it out on a modern map, we find that Xixun/Xiuxiu just about exactly corresponds to the small modern settlement of Karakavak (Turkic for: ‘Black Poplar’ – Populus nigra L.), about half way along the fertile pasturelands of the Alai Valley at approximately 39o 39’ N; 72o 42’ E.

            The Alai Valley through which the Kizil Su (‘Red River’) runs, is the favoured summer pasture grounds of the local Kirghiz. This would fit in well with the description of it in the Hanshu as a very small settlement of only 1,030 pastoral nomads and adds that “in company with their stock animals they go after water and pasture”. It would have been the perfect place for caravans to exchange goods and rest and refresh their animals after the long haul from Bactra or the Tarim Basin.

            Interestingly, they, and the inhabitants of Juandu are both said to be originally of the “Sai race.” For detailed discussions see Yu (1998), pp. 86-90.

            Irkeshtam is near a major fork in the route from Kashgar to the west. One branch headed over the Terek Pass to Ferghana; the other led down the Alai Valley past Karakavak, Daraut-kurghān and Chat (where Stein locates Xiuxiu/Xiuxun), along the valley of the Surkhab (or Kizil-su) and on to Termez, where there was a famous crossing of the Oxus River (or Amu Darya) which led to ancient Bactra (modern Balkh).


Notes on the Terek Pass mainly adapted from Merzliakova (2003):


The Terek Pass: “Height = 3,871 m [12,700 ft]. The Pass leads from Irkeshtam to the valley of Kush-Aba.” “The main trade route linking Kashgar and Fergana went over the Pass. It was used in winter. An alternative summer route went through Alai valley and Passes: Taldyk [11,200 ft or 3,414 m], Archan [or Archat: 11,600 ft or 3,536 m.] and Shart [14,000 ft. or 4,389m]. This road was the shortest one free of any natural obstacles.” x_coord = "73.666664", y_coord = "39.950001".
   “The road from Irkeshtam to the Terek Pass was passable only by laden animals. No carriage could go there.” Permanent snow.”

            The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica gives its height as 12,205 ft or 3,720 m. and records that it is open all year round. More recent sources on the internet give its height as 3,730 m or 12,238 ft.

            I am deeply indebted to Professor Merzliakova, who not only very kindly supplied me on the 12th May 2003 with an excellent map illustrating the old route from Irkeshtam to Osh over the Terek Pass, with the main points marked in English, and she had measured the route accurately to 156.5 km.


   “But during the centuries before and after the beginning of the Christian era, when Baktra was a chief emporium for the great silk trade passing from China to Persia and the Mediterranean, all geographical factors combined to direct this trade to the route which leads from Kāshgar to the Alai valley and thence down the Kizil-su or Surkh-āb towards the Oxus. Nature has favoured the use of this route, since it crosses the watershed between the Tārīm basin and the Oxus where it is lowest. Moreover, it has, in Kara-tēgin, a continuation singularly free from those physical difficulties which preclude the valleys draining the Pāmīrs farther south from serving as arteries of trade. According to the information received at Daraut-kurghān and subsequently on my way through Kara-tēgin, the route leading mainly along or near the right bank of the Kizil-su is practicable for laden camels and horses at all seasons right through as far as Āb-i-garm. From there routes equally easy lead through the Hissār hills to the Oxus north of Balkh.” Stein (1928), Vol. p. 848.


            The Hanshu says that it was 1,610 li (670 km) west to the Da Yuezhi from Xiuxun. This is exactly (as well as I can measure it on modern maps) the distance from modern Balkh via Dushanbe to Karakavak, adding credence to both the identification of the “capital” of the Da Yuezhi as being Bactra/Balkh, Xiuxun being in the region of Karakavak and Irkeshtam representing ancient .

            The Hanshu also gives a distance of 690 li (287 km) from Dayuan (presumed to be centred near modern Kokand) southwest to the Da Yuezhi. Unfortunately, as Yu (1998), p. 59 points out, this is far too short a distance, even if the Da Yuezhi were presumed to still have their main settlement on the north bank of the Oxus. There doesn’t seem any way around this except to assume there was a scribal mistake – perhaps leaving out the character qian 千 for a thousand. If this was in the original text – giving instead 1,690 li (703 km), it would be a close approximation of the distance from Bactra via the Iron Gates and Samarkand to the region of modern Kokand.


3. Daxia 大夏 [Ta Hsia] = Bactria – derived from Old Persian Bākhtri-, an Iranian but non-Persian form of the name. Frye (1963), p. 69. The Avesta gives the form Bāxδi (or Bachdi’). Negmatov (1994), p. 442. For other possible derivations of this name see Bailey (1985), p. 130.

“It was in 165 CE that the Da Yuezhi, defeated by the Xiongnu, began their great exodus to the west which led them from Gansu to the Ili Valley and, from there, as far as the banks of the Oxus….” Translated from Chavannes (1907), p. 189, n. 1.

          There can be no doubt that Daxia referred to the ancient region of Bactria. It was taken over by the Da Yuezhi and other nomad hordes in the late second century BCE. The previous rulers were of Greek descent and heritage and had been there since Alexander’s conquest c. 328 BCE. It had become independent of the Seleucids about the middle of the third century CE but had retained its largely Greek ruling class and was heavily influenced by Hellenistic culture.
          Bactria was not really a state but a region consisting of the fertile plains on either side of the Amu Darya or Oxus River, also known to the Persians as the Jayhun. It is usually considered to have included most of northern Afghanistan, including Badakhsh
ān in the east, and what is now southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, at least as far west as the region of Termez.

“It should be emphasized that Bactria never resembled Parthia in being a unified state. Bactria is above all a historico-geographical term, rather than a political one. During these nearly five hundred years various states were formed in this area – the Graeco-Bactrian state, the empire of the Kushans (which continued to exist for a while after the fall of the Parthian state, and the various principates of the Great Yüeh-chih.” Rtveladze (1995), p. 181. 

Bactrias major city, under both the Persians and Greeks (and probably the Kushans), was Zariaspa or Bactra (modern Balkh). It was situated south of the Oxus, 84 km southwest of Termez, and about 15 km northwest of modern Mazar-e Sharif. It is a very ancient city, still known throughout the region as the ‘Mother of Cities.’
          It is not clear whether the Greeks managed to retain control of the city or whether, as some claim, it was taken from them by the Parthians:

“The root of the name Aspionus [an eastern district of Bactria taken by the Parthians probably between 160 and 150 BCE] is clearly the word asp (horse), which was used to form many toponyms in Central Asia. In Bactria in particular, it was one of the main components of the name of the town Bactra-Zariaspa (golden horse), which is mentioned by Strabo and Pliny. In view of the linguistic similarities, it is a reasonable hypothesis that the satrapy of Aspionus was connected with the region of Bactra-Zariaspa. If this is true, during the reign of Mithradates I the Parthians wrested from the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom of Eucratides the western territories of Bactria, including Bactra.” Rtveladze (1995), p. 185.

Mark Passehl commented (personal communication July 7 2003) on the two quotes from Rtveladze above, and I believe his criticisms are worthy of serious attention:

“I find Rtveladze’s distinctions between Parthia and Baktria meaningless and completely improper, and really have no idea of what he is trying to say.
          Both were former Persian satrapies which became the “home territories” of successful conquests states/dynasties (Parthian Empire of the Arsakids, Bactrian empire of the Thousand Cities of the Diodotids, Euthdemids, etc.)
          Next page the same man’s comments about the Arsakid seizure of Baktra seems quite wrong. The Arsakids probably took the two satrapies right near the end of Eukratides’ reign when he was campaigning in India (ca. 146 BC), but the archaeology (Rapin’s article) seems to say that even when the great nomad invasions came in the 140s-130s BC Baktra held out longest as a Greek-dynasty outpost. So either at their weakest they retook it from the Parthians (unlikely!) or never lost it when they lost the two westernmost provinces.”

Bactria was a key centre on the extensive trade routes developed to transport lapis lazuli, spinel rubies and, quite possibly, emeralds – see Giuliani et al (2000), pp. 631-633 – from the mines in the mountains. Lapis lazuli from Badhakshan was being traded to Mesopotamia, and Egypt as early as the second half of the fourth millennium BCE and to the Indus River cultures by the third millennium. These routes were later to form the basis of the so-called ‘Silk Routes.’

“Daxia (Bactria) is described as lying more than 2,000 li [838 km] southwest of Ferghana, south of the Gui (Amu Darya). Like the people of Ferghana, its occupants were a settled people living in walled towns. They lacked powerful chiefs and rather were divided into small individual towns with their own leaders. Their armies are described as insignificant and cowardly, a clear come-down from their reputation when they faced Alexander, but they excelled in commerce with enormous markets, especially in their capital Lanshicheng (Bactra). They numbered about a million people. While in Bactria, Zhang saw trade goods from Sichuan and asked how they had come there. He learned that they were obtained from a land called Shendu (i.e. Sind, the Punjab), which lay in the region of a great river (the Indus) and was occupied by a people who employed elephants in warfare.” Mallory and Mair (2000), p. 59.

 “Archaeological evidence reveals intensive exploitation of new agricultural land and the expansion of agricultural oases at the beginning of the Christian era in the river valleys and ancient agricultural oasis areas of Central Asia, especially in the southern regions, even though the best and most suitable croplands were by that time already under cultivation. It has also been established that, with the opening up of new regions and the extension of crop-farming to the northern provinces of Central Asia on the lower reaches of the Zerafshan, on the middle reaches of the Syr Darya and in the Tashkent oasis, large numbers of nomadic livestock-breeders switched to a settled way of life and new centres of urban civilization were formed. As a result of the extensive development of irrigation networks, practically all the main provinces of Central Asia were brought under cultivation during this period and the establishment of the major crop-growing oases was completed. The extent to which northern Bactria was populated and brought under cultivation at this time can be judged from the 117 archaeological monuments of the Kushan period recorded in recent years in the territory of the Surkhan Darya province. A major channel, the Zang canal, leading from the Surkhan river, was constructed. In the zone irrigated by it a new oasis, the Angor, was established around the town of Zar-tepe. The founding of Dalverzin-tepe as a major urban centre also dates back to this period. The Surkhan Darya and Sherabad Darya valleys, with their flourishing agricultural oases, fortified towns and extensive grazing lands, were able to provide a strong base for unifying the domains of the Yüeh-chih on the right [northern] bank of the Amu Darya. When they were unified by the ruler of the Kuei-shuang [Kajula Kadphises], who subjugated the four other Yüeh-chih principalities, the nucleus of the Kushan Empire was formed.” Mukhamedjanov (1996), pp. 265-266. 

Strabo (c. 23 CE), XI. xi. 1, also describes the exceptional fertility of ancient Bactria and proves that its reputation had spread as far as the Mediterranean world:

As for Bactria, a part of it lies alongside Aria towards the north, though most of it lies above Aria and to the east of it. And much of it produces everything except oil. The Greeks who caused Bactria to revolt grew so powerful on account of the fertility of the country that they became masters, not only of Ariana, but also of India, as Apollodorus of Artemita says: and more tribes were subdued by them than by Alexander....

          The Da Yuezhi overran and settled in Bactria in the late second century BCE. This gave them control of the main, and increasingly busy, overland trade routes between China, India and the West. This not only quickly made them rich and powerful, but their exposure to Persian, Hellenic and Indian cultures helped turn them into a more sophisticated and effective force. It is thought that before they entered Bactria they were not literate. By the time they invaded northern India in the first century CE they had become capable administrators, traders and scholars.
          The derivation and significance of the Chinese name for Bactria, Daxia
大夏 [Ta Hsia], is still being contested. Here are accounts of a few of the main theories:

“Haloun (1926), pp. 136, 201-202, has made it clear that the term Ta Hsia originally referred to a mythical or fabulous people, vaguely located in the North (but eventually shifted to the West and even to the South). He states that it was Chang Ch’ien personally who identified the Bactrians with the Ta Hsia, the westernmost people he knew, but that he did not use the words ta and hsia to reproduce their actual name. Haloun rightly stresses this last point, viz. that the pronunciation of this old-established, mythological term need not have been anything like an approximation of the name of the actual country. Henri Maspero completely endorses Haloun’s views in his review of the latter’s work in JA 1927, pp. 144-152.” CICA: 145, n. 387.

“Further to the west the Chinese name for Ferghana, “Dawan,” and that for Bactria, “Daxia,” were also variations of Tuhara.15 Bactria, a name given by the Greeks to northern Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, was known as the “land of the Tuharans” as late as the seventh century C.E., according to the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang.16

15. Yu Taishan. A Study of Saka History, p. 72.

16. Ji Xianlin, Da Tang Xiyuji Jiaozhu (An Edited Edition of the Travelogue of the Western Region by Xuanzang of the Great Tang Dynasty) Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 1985), p. 100.

Liu (2001), p. 268.

“The coexistence of Hellenistic traditions might have continued after the Yuezhi-Kushan entered into Daxia. One Tang Dynasty scholar, who also annotated Sima Qian’s History, quoted from the a now-lost text [the Yiwuzhi by the 3rd century scholar, Wan Zhen] as saying:

“The Great Yuezhi is located about seven thousand li north of India. Their land is at a high altitude; the climate is dry; the region is remote. The king of the state calls himself “son of heaven.” There are so many riding horses in that country that the number often reaches several hundred thousand. City layouts and palaces are quite similar to those of Daqin (the Roman empire). The skin of the people there is reddish white. People are skilful at horse archery. Local products, rarities, treasures, clothing, and upholstery are very good, and even India cannot compare with it.”36

   It is difficult to verify the sources of this record about the Kushan, since the quoted book is perhaps lost.37 The descriptions, however, accord very well with the horse-riding Kushan who ruled a formerly Hellenistic country. The climate and location sound like Bactria; the kings of the Kushan did indeed call themselves devaputra, meaning “son of heaven” or “son of god.” They owned numerous good horses and cultivated nomadic skills and cultures. Yet they ruled a country with a population of Greeks and other immigrants from the Mediterranean, so that the architecture of the country combined Greco-Roman style with local materials and flavor. At least it looked similar to the Roman style in Chinese eyes, and the people looked fairer than Indians and some other Central Asian populations.”

36. Sima Qian, Shiji, 123/3162.

37. The book entitled Nanzhouzhi, literally “the history of the southern states,” authored by Wan Zhen [3rd century CE – see Leslie and Gardiner (1996), p. 333], was available to Zhang Shoujie, the Tang scholar who annotated the History by Sima Qian, as it was listed in the bibliographies of the Tang History with the title of Nanzhou Yiwuzhi, meaning “history of exotic things in the south states.” However, it did not appear in the bibliographies of later official histories.

          Liu (2001), pp. 278-279.

Taishan Yu also has some interesting comments to make on “Daxia” and its history:

   “In the “Xirongzhuan” 西戎傅 of the Weilue 魏略 it is recorded: “the states of Jibin, Daxia, Gaofu and Tianzhu are all subject to the Da Yuezhi.” “Da Yuezhi” here also refers to the Guishuang Kingdom. If the Guishuang Kingdom was established by the Daxia, the record of the Weilue would be tantamount to saying that the Da Yuezhi were both the conqueror and the conquered.
          In my opinion, “Da Yuezhi” here actually refers to the Guishuang Kingdom. However, “Daxia” here must refer to Tukhārestān. Therefore, the statement that the state of Daxia was subject to the Da Yuezhi only shows that Tukhārestān (the land of the former state of Daxia) was a part of the Guishuang kingdom, namely the Xihou of Guishuang, was established by the Daxia, but it was not equal to the state of Daxia, and that the territory of the Guishuang Kingdom far exceeded the boundary of the former state of Daxia.” Yu (1998), pp. 31-32.

   “Daxia” was a transcription of “Tochari”, but there were some differences between “Daxia” as described in the Shiji, ch. 123 and the Hanshu, ch. 96 and “Daxia”, in the pre-Qin books. The latter was referring to the Tochari. The former had in fact included the Asii, the Gasiani and the Sacarauli. As far as the Tochari, those who had migrated west to the valleys of the Ili and Chu and then to Tukharestan should be different from those who remained in the Hexi region, dur to being affected by different surrounding tribes. More accurately, there must have been some differences in language, custom and physical characteristics between them.
          Also, there must have been differences between the Tochari who moved south into the Pamir region from the valleys of the Rivers Ili and Chu and then spread east to the Tarim Basin, and those who entered Tukharestan from the northern bank of the Syr Darya.
          For the same reason, though “Yuezhi” “Guishuang”, and “Jushi” and “Qiuci” all were transcriptions of “Gasiani”, there must have been some differences between those who migrated west in late [sic] of the 7th century B.C. and those who migrated west in c. 177/176 B.C. The former had divided into two groups later. One of them entered Tukharestan, and the other entered the Tarim Basin. There must have been some differences between the two groups. The circumstances of the Asii and the Sacarauli may be explained at the same time.” Ibid. p. 35.


Here are a couple of pertinent quotes from Yu’s notes to his chapter on the Daxia:


“Markwart (1901), p. 206, suggests that the Tochari must have been identical with the Daxia. The Hellenic Kingdom of Bactria was destroyed by the Daxia, and the latter was destroyed by the Yuezhi. I think his theory is correct….” Yu (1998), pp. 38-39, n. 18.


“…. Tarn suggests that “Asii”, whose adjectival form was “Asiani”, may have been identical with “Kushān”. I disagree. Ibid. p. 40, n. 30.


4. Xihou 翖侯 [hsi-hou] – literally: ‘United’ ‘Allied’ or ‘Confederated Prince(s).’ 
          Apparently it was Friedrick Hirth in Nachworte zur Inschrift des Tonjukuk: 47-50 who first suggested that xihou represented the Turkish title yabgu. However, it seems more likely now that the Turkish title was originally derived from the Chinese xihou which meant something like ‘United,’ ‘Allied,’ or ‘Confederated’ Princes. See Sims-Williams (2002), especially pp. 229-230 and 235. Also of interest are the discussions in Bailey (1985), pp. 32; 130, and Pulleyblank (1963), p. 95.
           Xihou was also used as a title in the Hanshu for various princes of the Wusun (CICA: 151, 156, 157, 159, 215); a people who had had long and close contacts with the Yuezhi.
          Unfortunately, the Chinese sources do not make clear whether the title was one bestowed on foreign leaders by the Chinese or is, rather, a descriptive title indicating that they were allied, or united. Again, it remains unclear whether the title indicates an alliance with the Chinese or simply with each other.

“The presence of the Sakas and Scythians in Bactria was obvious even under the rule of the Kushan. Yu Taishan argued that the five tribes, or Xihou as recorded in Chinese history, unified by the Kushan were not necessarily from the Yuezhi, because the Xihou was not a known institution in the Yuezhi structure before they entered Bactria. The Xihou were probably tribal chiefs in Bactria before the Yuezhi and were assigned by the Yuezhi ruler to maintain order there. While those tribes were probably Tuharan speakers, there is also the possibility that they were Sakas, who spoke another Indo-European language. It is difficult to distinguish the material cultures of the Sakas and the Kushans, as they both had the background of steppe life. Differences between the two groups before they were absorbed into the sedentary population, however, were clearly discerned by both the Chinese and the Indians, probably through differences in language.” Liu (2001), p. 277.

“The five Xihou do not occur in the Shiji, ch. 123, which seems to show that they did not yet exist when the Da Yuezhi entered “the land of the Daxia”. However we should not infer that the five Xihou were not the Da Yuezhi people or the “minor chiefs” in the former Daxia, because it was very likely that the Da Yuezhi extended progressively to the east of Tukharestan after they had occupied Bactria and its surrounding regions, and ruled over there by propping up the Daxia or the former “minor chiefs”. Therefore, the fact that the five Xihou is not recorded in the Shiji at most shows that the five Xihou who acknowledged to the Da Yuezhi had not appeared at that time. Also, Pulleyblank (1968), suggests that the passage concerning the five Xihou in the Hanshu, ch. 96 was interpolated on the basis of information, dating from A.D. 74/75, given by Ban Chao 班超 after this chapter had been composed. But it is very hard to believe the information in the Eastern times was inserted into the Hanshu.” Yu (1998), p. 41, n. 35.


“…. As for the statement “all the five Xihou are subject to the Da Yuezhi”, it shows precisely that all the five Xihou were not Da Yuezhi, even if as Egami said, the original text should be read as “subject to [the king of] the Da Yuezhi.” Yu (1998), p. 43, n. 50.


“Nomadic tribes used to rule over an agricultural area by propping up the puppet regime of the original inhabitants after having entered their lands. Similar patterns occurred repeatedly in the Xiongnu, the Yeda (the Hephthalites), the Türks, and other tribes. Cf. Yu (1986), pp. 129-142.” Yu (1998), p. 41, n. 36.


Mark Passehl comments on the above quotes (personal communication 7 July 2003): “

“Mr. Liu speaks of the Kushan unification of the five xihou when the HHS explicitly attests Kujula’s (Q.Q.’s) destruction of the other four. Most of us are guilty of thus confusing the princely dynasties with the territories and peoples under them, myself included.
          But really Kujula effected a political unification by exterminating rival politicians and their families, but the unification of the peoples they had ruled had been proceeding apace for centuries and the establishment of the five xihou was probably no impediment whatsoever to that process. That the Yuezhi/Tochari themselves remained a little separate and outside the on-going melding of the Baktrians (even after they moved back into Baktria circa 118 BC) is shown by the testimony of Ammianus (from the perspective of Kushan rule) that the Tochari obeyed the Baktrians.
          I agree with Taishan Yu that the five xihou was an arrangement imposed on Baktria by the Yuezhi and has nothing to do with Yuezhi organisation that we know about (it MAY reflect some such internal/tribal division by five – but there is no evidence to support the notion).
          On the other hand I also think these 5 princely administrations were set up soon after the conquest and may represent old existing lordships/strategiai or a combination of previously separate regions and lordships. Above all it seems to me that the five xihou were of dynastic families who “defected” to the invaders tout-suite and were prepared to do their bidding almost from the first and as a result were rewarded by the conquerors as the most reliable intermediaries for keeping their new subjects in order, and paying their taxes, etc.
          In short, we should speak of the xihou as princes/dynasties and make up another word to describe the areas of their authority (for which xihou-provinces, xihou-domains, or xihou-territories might do, reflecting that the xihou were subject to Yuezhi overlords, or at least to the wang family).”

It appears probable that the territories of these five Bactrian or Yuezhi xihou stretched in an arc from the western entrance of the Wakhan corridor to Termez. I have, below, provided locations for each of these xihou based on the best evidence available to me. However, it should be kept in mind that, other than Xiumi, the locations of these xihou which I have proposed are provisional only and there is still no general agreement about their locations. We will have to await archaeological confirmation before we have certainty.
          I would like to add my thanks here to Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London who kindly pointed out a serious error in my earlier draft version of this note. I had misidentified the rather uncommon form of xi used in the Hou Hanshu text for the first character in the title xihou
翖侯, as the very similar-looking character ling = ‘plume’ or ‘decorative feather.’ This had, in turn, led my whole analysis of this passage astray.

“In the light of the evidence that “they provide supplies for Han envoys [with the Da Yuezhi] the five Xihou” seemed to have some autonomy in diplomatic matters. The statement, “all the five Xihou are subject to the Da Yuezhi”, probably indicates that they paid tribute and acknowledged allegiance to the Da Yuezhi.” Yu (1998), p. 26.


“Seeing that the seats of all five Xihou's governments were situated in the eastern mountainous area of the former state of Daxia, we may infer that the Da Yuezhi controlled the western part of the state of Daxia, especially Bactra and its surrounding regions directly, and indirectly its eastern mountainous area through the five Xihou after they had invaded Bactria.” Yu (1998), p. 27.


“The Ch’ien Han-shu speaks of the conquest of Ta-hsia by the Great Yüeh-chih and then the existence of five hsi-hou in that country. One of these was the hsi-hou of Kuei-shuang. The relationship between these hsi-hou and the Great Yüeh-chih conquerors is expressed in the same text by the word shu (屬).
          Some scholars are of the opinion that these five hsi-hou were in existence in Ta-hsia even from a time prior to its reduction by the Yüeh-chih. They are inclined, explicitly or implicitly, to interpret the term shu as meaning “dependent”, and to think that the hsi-hou themselves were not Yüeh-chih, but were only dependent on the latter.
          We must note here that there is no direct reference in the Ch’ien Han-shu to the presence of these hsi-hou before the advent of the Great Yüeh-chih in Ta-hsia.
          It is recorded in that work that “Ta-hsia originally (italics ours) had no great kings or heads, but everywhere in their walled cities and settlements they had installed small heads”. The text in question then continues to state that “the people are weak and fear war, (and) therefore when the Yüeh-chih came migrating (from the west) they completely subdued and tamed them (i.e. the people of Ta-hsia). Almost immediately after the latter statement we find references to the five hsi-hou, and also to their walled cities and their relation to the Yüeh-chih.
          It appears from the context that the political division of Ta-hsia into the five hsi-hou is incompatible with the evidence of the existence of several small “city-states” in Ta-hsia before its conquest by the Yüeh-chih. It is noteworthy that the Ch’ien Han-shu used the term “originally” in connection with the description of the five states, and speaks of the five hsi-hou after referring to the Yüeh-chih annexation of Ta-hsia. Apparently, the Ch’ien Han-shu here describes the political conditions of two different periods, one to be dated prior to and the other to be placed posterior to the establishment of the Yüeh-chih hegemony over Ta-hsia. Thus the five hsi-hou came into being, in all probability, only after the Ta-hsia had acknowledged the Yüeh-chih supremacy.
          The word shu, which has been used in the Ch’ien Han-shu to express the relation between the five hsi-hou and the Great Yüeh-chih, not only means “to depend on”, but may also, inter alia, denote “belong to”. Moreover, the Hou Han-shu expressly states that the Yüeh-chih “moved to Ta-hsia and divided their country among the five hsi-hou of Hsiu-mi, Shuang-mi, Kuei-shuang, Hsi-tun and Tu-mi”. Thus the ruler of each of the five political or administrative divisions indicated by the Hou Han-shu must have been a Yüeh-chih. It should also be remembered that even if, for the sake of argument, the word shu is considered as meaning “dependent”, we may interpret it as indicating the dependence of the five Yüeh-chih chiefs on a paramount Yüeh-chih authority. The passage of the Ch’ien Han-shu, which refers to the five hsi-hou, also speaks of the king of the Great Yüeh-chih country residing at the city of Chien-shih.
          Thus there can hardly be any doubt about the ethnic affiliation of the five rulers to the Yüeh-chi people. This means that the hsi-hou of Kuei-shuang belonged to the Yüeh-chih.” Mukherjee (1967), pp. 7-9.

5. Xiumi 休密 [Hsiu-mi] = Wakhan or, at least the western portion of it, including the region of modern Ishkashim. See, for example, Lévi and Chavannes (1895), p. 347, n. 1. This identification can be taken as certain.
          It is likely that, as in more recent times, its territory would have also included Zibak and Sanglich, which are easily accessible over a low pass. These have, since early times, formed a geographically and linguistically distinct region. See Stein (1928), pp. 871-872.
          This easily defended territory controlled all the main strategic routes north into Badakhshan, southeast over the Dorah Pass (4,554 m or 14,940 ft) to Mastuj and Chitral, and southwest to the Panjshir Valley and Kabul. 

“There are two roads towards Chitral from Gow-khanah and Zé-bak; one leading through the district of Sanglich and crossing the chain of Hindú Kosh by the pass named Dorah, nearly south of Zé-bak; the other runs to the south-east, and affords three distinct passes over the mountains. The route by one of these, the Nuksan pass, has been recently traversed and surveyed by one of Major Montgomerie’s emissaries. The road into Kaffiristan also leads by Sanglich, and thence by a pass called the Dozakh Dara, or valley of hell. – (Faiz Baksh).” Wood (1872), p. 202, n. 1.   

          Both Stein and Chavannes identify Xiumi 休密 with the Humi (or ) of the Tang (and other) accounts and follow Marquart’s identification of it as Wakhan. See: Stein (1921), p. 60 and n. 1; and Chavannes (1900), pp. 152 n., 164; (1907), p. 190 and n.; CICA p. 121-122 and 121 n. 289; 122 n. 296. 
          See also Stein (1921), pp. 61-62, for later notices on this region including those by Song Yun and Xuan Zang, showing that Xiumi must have referred to the region about the western end of the Wakh
ān corridor. P’iankov (1994), p. 43 says:

“Xiumi has been convincingly identified with Wakhan. While this at first appears to eliminate the possibility of including Wakhan in Nandou [which I propose refers, rather, to the Chitral/Kunar Valley – see note 13.14], later Chinese sources from a period when Xiumi actually did correspond to Wakhan gave the capital city of Xiumi as Saijiazhen (= Ishkashim). udūd al-‘ālam also calls Sikashim the capital of Wakhan. Therefore, Xiumi (or Xumi) was a domain that included Wakhan and Ishkashim and was centered in the latter. In this ancient period, Xiumi might have been bordered by the region of Ishkashim. Between Ishkashim and Wakhan stands the ancient fortress of Yamchum [= Qala Panja – see below], which was in existence in the Kushan period, perhaps marking the border between Xiumi as a part of the Great Yuezhi and Nandou.”

          By the time of Xuan Zang (7th century) the capital is named Saijiashen 赛迦密 [Sai-chia-shen] which, as Marquart first recognised, and Stein (1921), pp. 61-62, points out, “undoubtedly corresponds to Ishkāshim, a group of villages on the western extremity of Wakhān.

“We then crossed [on the way from Zibak – on the 4th of February is open in winter] the southern range of mountains on our right hand, and debouched on the plain of Ish-kashm. The pass is 10,900 feet [3,322 m] above the sea ; and its crest divides the valleys of the Oxus and the Kokcha. Here the eastern fork of the latter river has its rise, while on the Ish-kashm slope, the drainage falls at once into the Oxus ; which can be seen from the crest of the pass, but was hidden from our eyes by the snowy mantle which covered the landscape. The Ish-kashm plain has a width of about five miles [8 km]. Behind it rise, though not abruptly, the towering mountains of Chitral, while in front flows the Oxus, along the southern face of a range of hills, less high but more mural in their aspect.” Wood (1872), p. 204.

   “The ruby mines are within twenty miles of Ish-kashm, in a district called Gharan, which word signifies caves or mines, and on the right bank of the river Oxus. They face the stream, and their entrance is said to be 1,200 feet [366 m] above its level. The formation of the mountain is either red sandstone or limestone largely impregnated with magnesia. The mines are easily worked, the operation being more like digging a hole in sand, than quarrying rocks. Above Ish-kashm the water of the Oxus is beautifully transparent, but after issuing from the mountains below Darwaz, it is of a dirty red colour. The galleries are described as being numerous, and running directly in from the river.” Wood (1872), p. 206.

There is an old fort at Qala Panja (Qal‘eh-ye Panjeh or Kila Panj), an easily defended position at the top of a hill on the right bank of the Oxus, which has traditionally formed the border point between the lower Wakhan and the two main valleys to the east:

“The valley of the Oxus may be said to terminate at Issar…. the latitude of Issar is 37o 02 10 N., and its height above the sea 10,000 feet [3,048 m]. here the main valley divides into two, which, when a little beyond Kila Panj, bore respectively E. 20o S. and N. 40o E. The former, we were told, conducted into Chitral, Gilgit, and Kashmir, and the latter across the table-land of Pamir to Yarkand.” Wood (1872), pp. 216-217.

It seems probable that the eastern border of the xihou of Xiumi would have been in this region. The land to the west, particularly that along the southern branch route leading to Sarhad, at the head of the strategic and relatively easy 12,460 ft (3,798 m) Baroghil Pass into the Chitral Valley was, I believe, controlled by the kingdom of Wulei [Wu-lei] = Sarhad at the time see note 20.3 below.

6. Shuangmi 雙靡 = Shughnān. In the Hanshu [CICA p. 122] the capital of the xihou of Shuangmi is said to have the same name as the country.
             This territory should not be confused with the kingdom of Shangmi [Shang-mi] described by Xuan Zang, the famous Chinese pilgrim monk – Watters (1904-05), II, pp. 282-285, and Beal (1884), II, pp. 296-298. For a good discussion as to why Shuangmi should instead be identified with the country Xuan Zang called Shiqini (transcribed Shih-k’i-ni in Watter’s translation) which certainly refers to the modern region of Shughnān, see Lévi and Chavannes (1895), p. 346 n. 3.
            The country Xuan Zang called Shangmi 商彌 referred to the Mastuj/Chitral region but is frequently mistaken for the Shuangmi of the Han period due to the superficial similarity of the transcripted sounds. Yu (1998), pp. 26 and 60, among others, makes this mistake, which leads him, in turn, to incorrectly place the state of Nandou in the “lower reaches of the Gilgit River”.
            Pavel Lurje of the Department of Ancient Near East, St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (email 18 May 2002) suggests correctly that Shuangmi refers to “Shughnan (Tang-shu Shi-ki-ni, Arabic Shiqinān)”, and this identification can be considered certain. This position is strongly supported by Aurel Stein:

“It has long ago been recognized that the territory which the T’ang-shu and the narratives of several Chinese Buddhist pilgrims mention under the slightly varying names of Shih-ch’ih-ni, Shih-ni, Sê-ni, &c., is Shughnān. This identification is clearly proved by the position as assigned to the territory by the several records, quite apart from the similarity of the above names to Shighnān, a still current variant to the locally prevalent form Shughnān.” Stein (1928), p. 878. Also see, for example, the discussion in Stein (1921), p. 43, where he identifies Shuangmi as Mastuj, in the upper Chitral Valley.

          Shughnān nowadays refers to the area centred near the modern town of Khorough (Korog) on the upper Oxus or Ab-i-Panj River, north of Ishkashim and the entrance to the Wakhān Valley, but separated from them, and from lower Badkashān by narrow and difficult gorges. In winter, if the upper Oxus freezes over, it is sometimes possible to travel from Shughnān to Badakhshān on the ice, but this is not possible every year. Wood (1872), p. 195.
          Shughnān was of great strategic importance. Not only was it on the track running through Wakhān to Badakhshān, but also formed the western terminus of an important route through the Pamirs leading north to Sary-Tash. Here it connected with two other major caravan routes. These were the main east-west route between Kashgar and down the Kyzyl Suu Valley towards modern Dushanbe, and the main route northwest into the Ferghana Valley and thence to Samarkand. Along the way to Sary-Tash there are at least two reasonably easy passes across the ranges to the east into the Kashgar oasis. They had the added advantage of avoiding the Ak Baital (‘White Horse’) Pass that, at 4655 metres (15, 272 feet), was the highest pass on the route between Khorog and Sary Tash.

“The only practical route through this forbidding country is the Khorog-Kyzylart highway, which contains three high mountain passes. It is part of the ancient Silk Route connecting medieval Europe with the riches of India, Tibet and China. Caravans of up to 2,000 camels and horses once passed this way, laden with silks and spices. For centuries the caravan leaders, who were said to require at least 30 years’ experience before they mastered the art of balancing and securing the loads, took their valuable animal trains up the precipitous passes, across glaciers and through mountain streams with hardly a lost consignment, singing songs that were as long and melancholy as the route.” St. George (1974), p. 129.

          Shughnān was famous for its climate, good water and wine. It was also the source of the celebrated “Balas rubies” (actually spinel, not true rubies) of the ancient world. Although, apparently no longer mined today, they were being mined at least until the 19th century:

“The ruler of Shignan claims the title of Shah. The present Shah, Eusuf Ali, rules over both Shighnan and Roshan…. The country of Shignan and Roshan is sometimes called Zujan (two-lived), its climate and water being so good that a man entering it is said to have come into the possession of two lives. Bar Panja, the capital of Shignan, containing about 1500 houses, stands on the left bank, and Wamur, the capital of Roshan, on the right bank of the Oxus ; but the greater portion of both countries is on the right [i.e. the eastern] bank…. Much wine is made and drunk in the country. It is a red sweet liquor produced from the cherry. There are now about 4700 houses or families in Shighnan and Roshan together, but the population is said to have been much greater in former times. Shighnan and Roshan used to receive from the Chinese, during their occupation of Eastern Turkistan, a yearly payment similar to that made to Sirikol, Kunjut, and Wakhan, for the protection of the frontier and the trade routes. The ruby mines of Gharan are now worked under the orders of Sher Ali, the Amir of Kabul. It was said that one large ruby the size of a pigeon’s egg, as well as some smaller ones, were found lately and sent to the Amir. The working of these mines appears to be attended with considerable risk and great hardship.” Gordon (1876), pp. 139-141.

          It is possible that Shuangmi also, at times, may have controlled the region of the upper Kokcha river in Badakhshān containing the important ancient lapis lazuli mines, which were usually controlled by whoever was in power in Badakhshān. Certainly, in c. 658 CE the Chinese government established a district of Shuangmi (employing exactly the same characters as in the Hou Hanshu) centred in the town of Julan or Kuran, which is at the head of the Kokcha River, near the lapis lazuli mines. See Chavannes (1900), pp. 71 n., 159, 159 n. 2, and 278. This is presumably also the place named Qulangna [Ch’ü-lang-na], which Xuan Zang visited on his way back to China in 644 CE. See Watters (1904-05), II, pp. 278-279; Beal (1884), II, p. 292. 
          It is often stated that the mines in Badhakshan were the only source of lapis lazuli in the ancient world. While it is true that they were the major source – particularly for Mesopotamia and Egypt, other sources are known which have possibly been utilised since ancient times. For example, one such source is near the town of Ghiamda (modern Gyimda), about 200 km as the crow flies northeast of Lhasa:

“The lapis lazuli, stag’s horn, and rhubarb, are also materials of a great commercial intercourse with Lha-Ssa and the neighbouring provinces. They affirm here, that it is the mountains about Ghiamda that the best rhubarb grows.” Huc (undated), p. 98.

7. Guishuang [Kuei-shuang]. For the derivation of the name Kushan from Guishuang see CICA, p. 122, n. 292. Pulleyblank (1963), p. 218, gives Guishuang as: “M. kwəi -ṣαη = Kushan (either final –i or Karlgren’s –d would be inappropriate).” In Pulleyblank’s later 1991 Lexicon…. he gives: “E. kujh + E. êia÷. Note that the last character here “÷” may, in Han times, have been used to represent foreign “n” sounds – see footnote 23 on the note below:

“The Chinese treatise Hou Han-shu alludes to the annexation of Shen-tu, identifiable with a region on the Indus, by a “king of Kuei-shuang.”.... The form Kushāṇa or of one of its above-mentioned variants may have some phonetic affinity to such pronunciations.23 The word Kushāṇa seems to denote the power only whose name could have such phonetic similarity and which could also have been indicated in Indian sources to have conquered part of the Indus region. These considerations appear to support the universally accepted equation Kushāṇa = Kuei-shuang. And the Hou Han-shu does not at all indicate the word Kuei-shuang as having a shorter base.

23. E. G. Pulleyblank has informed me that -ng of – (according to his system of pronunciation) could in Han times represent a foreign sound n (Asia Major, 1963, ns, vol. IX, p. 218.

Mukherjee (1967), pp. 4-5 and p. 29, n. 23.

   Khushāṇa probably continued as the general name for all dominions under Kujula and his successors….
          There are definite indications that the word Kushāṇa was at least sometimes used to represent the monarch belonging to the tribe, or group, or sept, or family in question, and ruling over the dominions concerned. The Panjtar epigraph of the year 122 speaks of the reign of Maharaya Gushana, and the Taxila inscription of the year 136 refers to Maharaja Rajatiraja Devaputra Khushaṇa.
          Gushaṇa as well as Khushāṇa may be equated with Kushāṇa…. The dates of the records themselves are generally assigned to the era of 58 B.C. [= the so-called Vikrama or Azes era, more frequently dated to 57
BCE]. And since the epigraphs are found in North-Western India, they may allude to the existence in or about that region for some time during the latter half of the 1st century A.D. of one or two kings called Kushāṇa by name or title.” Mukherjee (1967), pp. 14-15.

There have been extensive speculations on the possible associations of the name Kushan and its variations without, I think, any firm conclusions being reached. See, for example: Konow (1929), pp. xlix-lxii, the whole chapter on the subject in Mukherjee (1967), pp. 3-43, and, more recently, Mallory and Mair (2000), pp. 280-282; 333-334. The only comment I would like to add is that there is possibly some connection with the common modern Farsi word for ‘nomad’: “Koochi” or “Kuchi”, and the northern “Guti” who are mentioned in cuneiform tablets as enemies of the Parthians – see Assar (2003), pp. 32-34, 39, 58,
          If one accepts the theory that the five Yuezhi xihou stretched in an arc from the western entrance to the Wakh
ān corridor to Termez, it seems probable that Guishuang referred to the region of modern Badakhshān plus the adjoining region to the north of the Amu Darya or Oxus river, particularly the Vakash and Kafirnigan valleys where imitations of Eucratides and a number of coins of Heraos have been found (Sebastian Stride, email 5 January, 2003).
          It seems likely that their control may have included the region around modern Dushanbe where several important routes converge: the route north via Ayni and then west to Panjakent to Samarkand; the route north through Aini and the Ura Tyube oasis to the Ferghana Valley, and the route to the northeast along the Alai valley through Garm and Sary Tash to Kashgar.
          The Hanshu 96A – see CICA, p. 122 gives the seat of government as Huzao
護澡 [Hu-tsao]. Pulleyblank (1963), p. 222, reconstructs the pronunciation of this town as *ĥwax-tsa :

“The five yabgu seem to have formed an arc along the north side of Tokharestan from the valley of Wakhan in the east to Tou-mi = Tarmita, Termes … and Balkh in the west. *ĥwax-tsaprobably stands for Waxšab, that is the River Waxš, a tributary of the Oxus entering it from the north somewhat east of Termes. The group of –- would be represented by the Chinese –x ts-, there being no true palatals at this period in Chinese…. In view of the other evidence it is unlikely that the first syllable itself still ended in *-ks.

          The Tang documents refer to Tuhuoluo 吐火 [T'u-ho-lo – also written in several other transcriptions , each with much the same pronunciation] or Tokhāristān of which, however, there is some disagreement as to exactly how far west and north the territory extended. The southeastern region, however, is well-established: Tuhuoluo is clearly stated in the Tangshu to adjoin the district of Kuran where the famous lapis lazuli mines on the upper Kokcha river are located. Chavannes (1900), p. 159 and n. 2. It therefore included at least the region we now know as Badakshān.
          The Da Yuezhi “capital” or, rather, “main centre,” Lanshi, is specifically stated to have been located in
Tuhuoluo (ibid. p. 158). As we have seen above (note 13.2), Lanshi was almost certainly Bactra/Balkh. It seems unlikely that the ancient xihou of Guishuang extended as far west as Balkh.
          The present town of Feyzabad has been the capital of the province of Badaksh
ān since medieval times see Verma (1978), p. 95. However, as Stein notes below, the previous capital was Bahārak, approximately 30 km to the southeast, and this is, quite possibly, the site of the town, Huzao, listed in the Hanshu as the capital Guishuang. See CICA, p. 122 and n. 292. Other contenders could have been in the region of the modern towns of Kunduz or Taloqan, both strategically located in fertile surrounds
          Guishuang is said in the Beishi (and reproduced in the Weishu) to have changed its name to Qiandun
钳敦 [Ch’ien-tun] although the name of its ‘capital’ remained the same, Huzao. See Zürcher (1968), pp. 372-373.

“Communication with Badakhshān  is made comparatively easy for a great part of the year by the fact that the side valleys descending to the left bank both at Barshōr and Andāj give access to Yaghurda plateau on the watershed towards the Wardōj. Across this, paths practicable for laden animals during the summer and autumn lead to the Sarghilān valley and thus to Bahārak, the old capital of Badakhshān, in a couple of marches. A route of similarly easy nature ascends the side valley in which the Shiwa lake finds its outlet to the Oxus opposite Darmārak, and from the rich pastures surrounding the lake leads over the Arghancha pass to Faizābād, the present chief town of Badakhshān. The descriptions I heard of these fine pastures to be found on the range which overlooks from the west to Ghārān to Shugnān portions of the Oxus valley made it easy for me to realise the attractions that they must have offered during successive periods to such originally nomadic rulers of Badakhshān as the Yüeh-chih, White Huns, and Western Turks.
          No detailed account need be attempted here of the three marches which carried me through the whole length of Ghārān to Shugnān. The difficulties that the ground here presented before the bridle-path was made have been fully described by captain Olufsen…. On the way to Andarāb we passed the pits situated above the hamlet of Sīst where rubies, or spinels resembling them, used to be mined by forced labour under the rule of the Mīrs of Badakhshān. the fame of their produce was far-spread in the Middle Ages, and Marco Polo does not fail to mention ‘those fine and valuable gems the Balas Rubies’ and correctly to indicate their place of origin.” Stein (1928), p. 877.                        

          Whoever ruled Badakhshān not only controlled a number of very strategic routes but also the very ancient, famous and profitable lapis lazuli mines in the upper Kokcha River valley. These lapis lazuli mines were the only ones known in the ancient world and were important not only for the production of jewellery; the crushed stone was also the source of the beautiful and widely-used pigment, known as ‘ultramarine’.
          The rulers of Badakhshān would also have controlled the rich iron deposits lower down the same valley. See Wood (1872), pp. 167-172 for a description of both these mines. It is probably worth repeating his remarks about the value of the iron deposits (ibid. p. 168):
“It must not be imagined that the inhabitants of these parts are ignorant of the value of the ore ; on the contrary, the Badakhshies smelt iron more successfully than any people in the East, and with the articles they make they carry on a profitable trade with Eastern Turkistan and the tribes on their southern frontier...” See also the reference on p. 189.
Badakhshān was also famous for its gold: “The Kokcha, like every other tributary of the Oxus, is fertile in gold. Wood (1872), p. 251.  
          At least since the time of the early Arab geographers in the tenth century, and probably since ancient times, Badakhshān was, a mart for the musk of Tibet, which was brought thither by way of Wakhan.” Henry Yule in Wood (1872), p. xxxiv.

“About AD 800 an Uyghur translation of a Sanskrit drama was prepared and in the colophon (that part of a manuscript referring to the circumstances of its creation), one reads in Uyghur: ‘The sacred book Maitreyasamiti, which was composed by the Bodhisattva guru ācarya Aryacandra, native of Agnideśa, in the toχri language from the Sanskrit language, and which has been translated by the guru ācarya Prajñārakṣita, native of Il-baliq (the Uyghur capital of Khocho), from the toχri language into the Turkic language’. In a nutshell, the colophon tells us that a Sanskrit drama was first translated from Sanskrit into the toχri language of Agnideśa (and we know this means the Agnean kingdom) and then from toχri into the Turkish language by two learned gurus. Armed with this equation, in 1908 E. Sieg and F. W. K. Müller reasoned that the apparent Uyghur designation of Agnean, toχri, was very close to the name of the well-known ethnic group Tokharoi (in Greek), Latin Tochari, Sanskrit Tukhāra or Chinese Tuhuoluo, the name applied in ancient sources to Bactria, i.e. Tokharistan. It has been further suggested that the same name can be found in other ancient sources; e.g. Ptolemy’s gazetteer of the known world, dated to the 2nd century AD, lists a Thaugouroi in Gansu, a Takoriaioi north of the Imaus (Himalayas) and a Taguouraioi in the vicinity of Issyk-kul. Peoples with a name sounding like ‘Tocharian’ seemed to be everywhere from the borders of Gansu to Bactria.” Mallory and Mair (2000), pp. 280-281.

          As mentioned above, the Tang shu account (chap. CCXXI, b, pp. 4b – 5a) is of particular interest as it specifically states that Tokharistan is where the Da Yuezhi settled. See Chavannes (1900), p. 158. The name Tocharian has been generally accepted as referring to the Yuezhi and this association of it with Badakhshān is also supported by Xuan Zang – see Watters (1904-5), I, p. 105; II, pp. 277-278.
          The Tangshu gives the following forms of the name Tokharistan:
Tuhuoluo (Tohuoluo or Duhuoluo) said to be called Tuhuluo during the Yuan-Wei dynasty [386-532]. 
          In recent years the
site of the impressive Hellenistic city and citadel, now known as Ay Khanum, is situated above the junction of the Kokcha and Oxus rivers and commands an important ford across the Oxus River. It has been excavated by teams of French archaeologists, greatly adding to our understanding of the history this region. Much has been written about these excavations but for an authoritative brief, and easily accessible overview I would suggest the article The Greek Kingdoms of Central Asia by P. Bernard in HCCA II, pp. 99-129.

“The abandonment of Ay Khanum around 145 B.C., a date that apparently coincides with the death of Eucratides, was most likely caused by the arrival of one of the tribes, called the Yüeh-chih in eastern Bactria. Heliocles, Eucratides' successor, was apparently the last Greek king to reign in Bactria (c. 145-130 B.C.). By then Bactria had also lost the two provinces on its western flank, which had been invaded by the Parthians.”

          The earliest description of the site that I have been able to discover is by Wood (1872), pp. 259-260. It is of great interest and, as Wood’s book is long out of print, I thought I should quote him here. 

“From the summit of I-khanam we had a glorious view of the surrounding country. At the foot of the hill was the junction of the two rivers. From the point of confluence the Kokcha could be traced to its exit from the mountains on the south, while the eye followed the Oxus westward, till distance concealed its brick-coloured stream. To the east and south, the pinnacles of snowy mountains shot up into the clouds, whilst a lower ridge, but also snow-clad, encircled the horizon to the north. Immediately below I-khanam, on its east side, the ground is raised into low, swelling ridges. Here, we were informed, stood an ancient city called Barbarrah, and there is a considerable extent of mud-walls standing, which the Tajiks think are vestiges of the old city, but which are evidently of comparatively modern era. The appearance of the place, however, does indicate the truth of their tradition, that an ancient city once stood here. On the site of the town was an Uzbek encampment ; but from its inmates we could glean no information, and to all our inquiries about coins and relics, they only vouchsafed a vacant stare or an idiotic laugh.
          The whole of this day’s march, a distance of twenty-eight miles [45 km], was over a splendid pasture-ground as the eye ever saw. From the river on our left to the mountains on the right, was stretched out one sheet of verdure, dotted over with sheep, herds of horses, and droves of cattle. This plain is named Turghi-i-Tippa. We several times came on the remains of a canal, which, though filled up, evinced by the height of its two parallel ridges and their width apart, its truly gigantic proportions. At the close of the march, when descending to Jan Kila, which stands down in the bed of the Oxus, and on its left bank, we saw where this canal left the river ; and here its depth, to reach the level of the stream at this season, must have been at least eighty feet [24 m]. Such a work could only be executed under a despotic government or by a wealthy and civilized people.”

          Interestingly, Wood records what the locals claimed was the ancient name of the town, Barbarrah. It seems, however, that in more ancient times, it was called ‘Eucratidia’, at least by the Greeks and Hellenized Bactrians – see Claude Rapin’s recent article on Ptolemy’s Geography – Rapin (2001), p. 202. 


8. Xidun [Hsi-tun] seems to have included at least the region of Bactra or Balkh and the Shibirghan oasis to the east. In the Hou Hanshu the name is given with a variant first character as Xi (see CICA, p. 122, n. 294). Yu (1998), 27 says this latter form of the name “must be a textual corruption for Bidun” but gives no reason for this statement.
          The name of the seat of the ruler of Xidun is given in the Hanshu as Bom
ao 薄茅 [Po-mao]. Marquart followed by Chavannes (1907), p. 191 n., and CICA p. 122 and n. 294; 123 n. 296.4, locate Xidun at Parwan on the Panjshir River, but I can find nothing to support this identification.
          I had, in previous drafts of this note, assumed that B
omao must have referred to the ancient ‘Mother of Cities’, Bactra (modern Balkh), which was the largest city and the major trading centre of the entire region. However, on further reflection, I am of the opinion now that the Yuezhi, although they “controlled” Bactra (see the discussion of this point in note 13.2 above), never actually used it as an administrative capital.
          This interpretation explains why the Chinese never referred to Bactra as the seat of any of the Yuezhi rulers. It would fit in with the common pattern of nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples who conquered urban civilisations. They frequently established their own fortified seats of power outside the great cities (thus avoiding being surrounded and, perhaps, in danger from their conquered and, probably, resentful subjects). This allowed the conquered urbanised populations to retain some degree of autonomy and ‘face-saving’ (making them less likely to rebel), while retaining control and, therefore, ensuring the continuance of the all-important collection of taxes or tribute from the major centres for the conquerors. This pattern can be clearly seen in the Parthian administrative and military centre of Ctesiphon set up directly across the river from the thriving “Hellenised” metropolis of Seleucia.
          I suggest that the likely seat of the xihou of Xidun was, rather, the ancient walled centre at Yemshi-tepe some 105 kilometres to the east of Bactra, in the rich Shibarghan oasis.
          Shibarghan has for millennia been the focal point of power in the northeast corner of Bactria (and, now, of course, Afghanistan). It controls the important route between Balkh and Herat as well as the lands right up to the Oxus river, about 90 km to the north. Just over 60 km to the west begins the fearsome, almost trackless and waterless desert that stretches for some 250 km to the Mughab (Merv) oasis, which, since the time of Alexander the Great, has traditionally formed the final northeastern outpost of Persian influence. As such, Shibarghan formed an important bulwark against advances from the West on the important sites of Temez and Balkh, and the major trade routes to the east and the south. As Yu (1998), p. 60 points out:

   “In the Shiji, ch. 123, it is recorded: “There is Anxi (Parthia) to the west of the state of the Da Yuezhi.” In the Hanshu, ch. 96A, it is also recorded: “East of Anxi are the Da Yuezhi.” The eastern boundary of Anxi was at the town of Mulu 木鹿 (Moūru), which was situated east of the present Merv. East of Mulu was a desert, the boundary of he state of the Da Yuezhi may consequently have extended to the present valley of the Ab-i Maimana River in the west.”

          The heavily fortified town of Yemshi-tepe, just five kilometres to the northeast of modern Shibarghan on the road to Akcha, is only 450 to 500 metres from the now-famous necropolis of Tillya-tepe where an immense treasure was excavated from the graves of the local royal family by a joint Soviet-Afghan archaeological effort from 1969 to1979.
          This was in the westernmost section of ancient Bactria which had, by this time, been under Kushan rule for over a hundred years.
          At the time of writing (in 2003), Shibarghan is the stronghold of the infamous Uzbek warlord, Masoud, who still uses the ancient fort for protection and as a prison. Other than that it is little known to the West. Although a major centre in its own right, it has been somewhat overshadowed by its proximity to the large and more famous entrepôt of Bactra/Balkh, and in later years, by Mazar-e Sharif.
          I will, therefore, include below some of the reports on the splendid Kushan finds here and follow these with some of the brief historical references to the region, spanning about 1,300 years which have come down to us to help convey to the reader some idea of its history, its importance and reputation.

   “At the very outset of our project, ten years back, our eyes had been drawn to the majestic ruins of an ancient metropolis in this region, which the local Turkic-speaking inhabitants call Yemshi-tepe. Its tall, mighty walls pierced by several narrow gateways were fortified by defence towers and formed an impregnable ring of some two thousand feet (5 km) in diameter [sic – 2,000 feet = only 0.6096 km. There is some mistake in the figures and it is not clear what Sarianidi size intended here – in any case, it was obviously a sizeable site]. Inside, in the northern section, stood the citadel, at whose foot were the remains of what had apparently been the palatial residence of the local ruler. Some 50 acres (20 ha) in area, this ancient city, indubitably a vast one for its time, comprised, along with the small villages of its sprawling suburbs, the administrative seat of the entire neighbouring region, once part of the legendary empire of Bactria. The narrow strip of the Shibarghan oasis, which is sandwiched between the northern foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains and the sandy deserts along the left-hand bank of the Amy Darya River, was in its day part of the fertile Bactrian plain.” Sarianidi (1985), p. 7.

The first character of the name of the residence of the xihou of Xidun, Bomao 薄茅 [Po-mao] bo, or bao provides a reconstructed form in EMC of bak – Pulleyblank (1991), pp. 41, 30. It was also employed to represent the Sanskrit bha (as in bojiefan for bhagavat – see GR Vol. IV, p. 1163, No. 9261). The second character, mao, provides a reconstructed form according to K. 1109c of *môg/mau or EMC ma¹w/mεùw.
          Identifying Bomao as Yemshi-tepe (and controlling the region of Balkh not far to the east) would place Xidun in a logical position if the list of xihou actually did, as suggested, stretch in an arc from the western approaches of the Wakhan Valley to the region of Termez – see my remarks in note 13.4 above.
          Six royal tombs were excavated at Tillya-tepe revealing a vast amount of gold and other treasures (see also note 11.11 above). The latest date for any of these burials is indicated by the find of several coins dating up to the early 1st century
CE with none dating from after that point indicating, presumably, the extinction of the local royal dynasty after the conquests of all the other Yuezhi xihou by Kajula Kadphises around the middle of the century. It is probably worth quoting the discussions of the various coins found in the tombs – as they are critical for dating the burials:

“Two coins were recovered from the third tomb. One is of gold and bears the bust in profile of the wreath-crowned Roman Emperor Tiberius. On the reverse is an enthroned, sumptuously draped female figure holding a spray and scepter. Coins of this order were minted in the city of Lugdunum in Gaul, between A.D. 16 and 21. the Tillya-tepe coin is the first case of such a coin to be found not merely in Afghanistan, but in contiguous Central Asia.
          The second coin is silver and has on the obverse the stamped, bearded head of a ruler in profile wearing a diadem. Depicted on the reverse is a seated archer holding a bow in his right, outstretched hand; an inscription in Greek runs around the rim. the coin was minted by the Parthian king Mithridates II, who ruled between 123 and 88 B.C.
          Proceeding from the later Roman coin we may presume the third tomb to date from the first century A.D.”
Sarianidi (1985), p. 34. Note: Mark Passehle (personal communication, 7 July 2003) has kindly pointed out that G. R. F. Asssar (2003), VI, pp. 26-29, has recently “proven” that Mithradates II actually ruled ca. Oct. 122 – Oct. 91 B.C.

   “Discovered in this fourth tomb was but one gold coin; its obverse has embossed upon it a male figure resting on the Wheel of Dharma and also carries and inscription in the old Indian language (ill. 131). The reverse depicts a lion with upraised paw and carries the inscription “as fearless as a lion.” The coin is unique and will not be found in any numismatic catalogue in the world. King Agathocles from the Greco-Bactrian city of Ai Khanoum is known to have minted a similar type of coin; further, the lion was often portrayed on coins struck by the kings of ancient India and the Sakas. Evidently, the coin is of a type struck during the transitional stage between the Indo-Greek and Kushan epochs, and most likely is of the first century A.D., when the warrior in the fourth tomb was apparently interred.” Ibid. p. 44.

   “When the dead woman was laid to rest, a silver coin was inserted into her mouth – quite in keeping with the Greek ritual of internment, as the coin was intended to symbolize the fee to Charon for ferrying the dead person across the Styx to Hades (ill. 129). Depicted on the obverse is the embossed bust of a bearded king wearing a diadem that is knotted at the nape of the neck with long, flowing ribbons. To one side the coin has been counterstamped with the design of a miniature helmeted warrior enclosed in a dotted circle. The reverse carries the figure of an enthroned archer and a Greek legend that tells us that the coin was initially struck during the reign of the Parthian King Phraates IV (38-32 B.C.)
          The countermark, which is of particular interest, was impressed during the reign of Sapaeisis, a nomad Yüeh-Chih tribal chieftain, who ruled Bactria before the rise of the Great Kushan Empire. Note that the counterstamp was neatly added so as to not damage the portrait of the reigning Parthian ruler, which, as experts contend, indicates a certain degree of dependency of local potentates upon their Parthian neighbours.
          Clasped in the deceased’s left hand was one more coin, this one of gold (ill. 128). The obverse depicts the profile of a bearded king with finely etched features, a slightly aquiline nose, deep-seated eyes, and fullish lips; he wears a round tiara. In the empty field behind his head is a heavily worn countermark in the shape of a miniature full-faced head. The revers bears the image of an enthroned archer holding a bow, and along the rim runs a Greek inscription mentioning a Parthian king. No numismatic catalogue in the world reproduces anything like it, from which it may be deduced that this gold Parthian coin is unique.” Ibid. pp. 52-53.

          It is clear from the above finds that Shibarghan was the seat of an important Yuezhi family up until the early 1st century CE. It seems very likely that it formed the stronghold of the xihou of Xidun until Kujula Kadphises combined all five Bactrian (or Yuezhi) xihou into a single unity around the middle of the first century.
          Although much of this fabulous treasure now seems to have disappeared during the recent depredations of the Taliban regime, the details of these excavations and beautiful colour photographs of the extraordinary finds have, most fortunately, been carefully preserved for us in a series of articles and books by the famous Russian archaeologist, Viktor Sarianidi (see the Bibliography under Sarianidi for some of what is available in English).
          Here is a survey of what little has been preserved for us in the later history of Shibarghan until the time of Marco Polo:

          Xuanzhang, after repeated entreaties from their kings, made brief visits to two ‘kingdoms’ to the southwest of Balkh: Ruimotuo [Jui-mo-t’o] and Hushijuan [Hu-shih-chien]. “The kings, being overjoyed, offered him gold and precious stones, and abundance of drink and food ; the Master of the Law declined all such gifts, and returned.” Beal (1911), p. 51.
          The name of the second of these ‘kingdoms,’ Hushijuan, was, according to Watters (1904-5), p. 114, identified first by M. Saint Martin with the district the Persians called Juskān (modern Jowzjān) between Balkh and the district of Merv; the main city of which we know was Shibarghan. This identification appears to be correct. Xuanzhang says about it:

“This country is about 500 li from east to west, and about 1000 li from north to south. The capital is 20 li in circuit [or, roughly 6.5 km based on the Tang li equivalent to about 323 metres]. It has many mountains and river-courses. It produces excellent (shen) horses [literally: ‘divine’ or ‘Heavenly’ horses]. To the north-west is Dalajian.” Adapted from Beal (1884) I, p. 48. Note: this Dalajian seems to be identical to the Talaqan of the later Muslim writers which has been variously identified in the region of modern Chechaktu or Qala Vali (which are very close together) about 200 km southwest (not northwest) of Shibarghan. It was on the upper eastern reaches of the Murqap River that flows into the Merv oasis and considered Persian territory at that time.

In 819 the whole region suffered from a massive earthquake:

Balkh-Taliqan. In Dhu’ i-Hijja 203 a catastrophic earthquake in eastern Khurasan destroyed a quarter of the city of Balkh and ruined the masjid-i jami’ there. Other places severely affected were the towns of Faryab (Daulatabad) and Taliqan (Qal`eh Vali) and the districts of Juzjan in the west and Tukharistan in the east. Many houses were destroyed, with heavy casualties in these areas. The shock was also felt in Marv and Transoxania. As a result of the earthquake the desert at Sidreh between Shaburqan and Balkh was flooded by an excessive rise of the water table, which turned the country into a fertile area. Aftershocks lasted for a long time.” From: EDB.

The udūd al-‘Ālam, a Persian geography written in 982 CE, calls Shibarghan by its old name of Ushbūrqān:

“60. USHBŪRQĀN, a town situated on a steppe (aḥ) on the high road. It abounds in amenities.” Minorsky (1937) Part Two, p. 107.

Minorsky adds in his notes: “Ushbūrqān, now Shibarghān, downstream of Anbīr (altitude 1,303 feet)….” He also adds in a footnote that shāburaqān means “steel”. Ibid. Part Three, p. 335 and n. 2.

          Marco Polo, who visited the town in the late 13th century, describes Shibarghan in glowing terms:

“After six days he reaches a city called Shibarghan, plentifully stocked with everything needful. Here are found the best melons in the world in very great quantity, which they dry in this manner: they cut them all round in slices like strips of leather, then put them in the sun to dry, when they become sweeter than honey. And you must know that they are an article of commerce and find a ready sale through all the country around. There are also vast quantities of game, both beasts and birds.” Latham (1982), p. 59.

9. Dumi 都密 [Tu-mi] almost certainly refers to ancient Tarmita (modern Termez), on the north bank of the Oxus or Amu Darya, and probably included the whole of the Surkhan Darya region where “Heliocles imitations dominate by far” (Sebastian Stride, email, 5 January 2003). Also, see Pulleyblank (1963): pp. 124, 213, 222-223; and the excellent discussion in CICA, p. 122, n. 296.
Yu (1998), pp. 27-28 proposes that this was the principal court of the Da Yuezhi situated north of the Oxus River at the time when Zhang Qian visited the region c. 119 BCE and later on (presumably after Yuezhi power became centred in Bactra [= Lanshi/Jianshi?] became the seat of one of the xihou. This suggestion makes very good sense both on strategic grounds and commercial grounds and the fact we also know it was a major centre for the Yuezhi/Kushans.
          Termez not only controlled one of the major crossing points of the Oxus, but the northern approaches to Bactra/Balkh, the major trading city of the region. These included the main routes leading from Kashgar via Xiuxun and along the valley of the Kizyl Su river past the region of modern Dushanbe, and the routes leading south over the ranges from the Ferghana Valley. It was also strategically placed to guard the western approaches to the region along the river and was close enough to maintain control over the strategic “Iron Gates” guarding the main route through the Hissar range from the plains of Sogdiana to the north.
          Yu (1998), pp. 27-28 agrees with the identification of Dumi with Termez/Taramita/Tirmidh and adds the interesting and suggestion that:

“The Da Yuezhi had possibly established its principal court in Tirmidh at the beginning of their conquest of Daxia. Later, after having moved their capital to the south of the River Gui [Oxus], the Da Yuezhi might have established another Xihou in Tirmidh.”

          Later, as they gained more secure control of the region, they presumably moved “seat of government” across the river to Bactra (now Balkh), the largest and most important city of the region, about 50 km to the south, leaving Termez to become one of the five xihou.
          Now, the Hanshu (see CICA, pp. 138-139) says that the “seat of the king’s government” of Xiuxun (called Xiuxiu in the Weilue) was in the Niaofei Valley (‘the valley where the birds fly’), and that the Da Yuezhi were 1,610 li [669 km] to the west. This is almost exactly the figure one gets if one measures on the map along the valley from the region of modern Dushanbe to Bactra/Balkh, providing additional support for both identifications.

          The Hanshu, in its list of the five Xihou, has Gaofu
高附 instead of Dumi, but the Hou Hanshu makes it quite clear that this was a mistake and Gaofu was not conquered until later, after the conquests of Qiujiu Que 丘就卻 (Kujula Kadphises), probably soon after 55 CE – see notes 13.10 and 13.12 below.
          The Tangshu gives
怛满 da (or dan) man or da (or dan) 怛沒 mo (mei) for what was definitely Termez – see Chavannes (1900), pp. 71 n and 278; Notes additionnelles..., pp. 77 and n. 4, 78 n. 1; also the entry in the Index to Chinese Characters.
          Bailey (1985), p. 119 gives details of the derivation of the name which he reconstructs as meaning *tara-mita-
the town at the river-crossing.
Termez is situated near the junction of the Surkhan Darya and Amu Darya (Oxus) rivers and is the site of a strategic ferry-crossing some 84 kilometres (60 as the crow flies), or 52 miles northeast of Balkh. Timurlane crossed here on a bridge of boats in 1398 CE
          About 107 km northwest of Termez (13 km west of Derbent) the main trade route passed through a formidable, very narrow and easily defended gorge known in antiquity as the “Iron Gates” which has traditionally marked the boundary between Sogdiana and Tokharistan and almost certainly marked the frontier between Kangju and Yuezhi territory.

“When he spoke of borders, Euthydemus [Graeco-Bactrian monarch, late 3rd century CE] probably meant a dense ridge of mountains consisting of a spur of the southern part of the Hissar chain together with the adjacent Baysuntau and Kughitang Mountains. In this area, near the settlement of Darband, a monumental defensive wall of the Kushan period (1st–2nd centuries A.D.) has been discovered. This wall (Fig. 1) was probably built to block the main entry route into Bactria and also the gateway which in early medieval, especially Chinese texts, is known as the «Iron gates». Further investigation of the wall and of the adjoining fortifications has brought to light fragments of pottery of the Graeco-Bactrian period, a fact which may indicate that the wall was already in use in the preceding period, i.e. in the early Graeco-Bactrian period. It is possible that after Euthydemus’s political successes and the consolidation of his power, he and the later kings of Graeco-Bactria managed to defend this part of the border against the onslaught of the nomads. The most valuable part of the border, the one about which the Graeco-Bactrian kings were worried, was in my opinion the north-western side of the country, the area along the middle reaches of the Amu-darya (the area of modern Gaurdak, Mukry, Kerki and Chardjow), where entry into the centre of Bactria was facilitated by the ford over the river at Kerki and not impeded by impassable mountains. At any rate it is precisely this region that Strabo means when he tells of the Parthians annexing «part of Bactria, driving back the Scythians, and even earlier Eucratides and his successors» (STRAB. XI, 9, 2). In the same passage, listing the principal towns of Bactria, Strabo mentions Eucratidea (Dilberdjin)[identified in Rapin (2001), pp. 217-218 however, as Ay Khanum]. «After seizing this region the Greeks divided it into satrapies; of these, the Parthians took the satrapies of Aspionus and Turiva from Eucratides» (X, 9, 2). When he speaks of Sogdiana, «which is situated above Bactria», the ancient author is referring to the region known to modern scholars as southern Sogdiana (the western and south-western parts of the modern region of Kashka-darya).” Abdullaev (1995). In: ITLOTG, pp, 151-152.

            When Xuan Zang passed through here in 630 CE he described it as having iron or ironclad gates with numerous small bells suspended on it. Later writers make no mention of actual gates as such. Clavijo, the Spanish ambassador to the court of Timurlane passed through the Iron Gates in August 1405 CE. He said the ravine looked:


“as if it had been artificially cut, and the hills rise to a great height on either side, and the pass is smooth, and very deep. In the centre of the pass there is a village, and the mountain rises to a great height behind. This pass is called the Gates of Iron, and in all the mountain range there is no other pass, so that it guards the land of Samarkand in the direction of India. These Gates of Iron produce a large revenue to Timūr, for all the merchants who came from India pass this way.” Quoted in Verma (1978), p. 39 from Le Strange, LEC, pp. 441-2.

After passing through the Gates of Iron one could either head north to Samarkand through Kesh (modern Shahrisabz), or northwest towards Bukhara. From Bukhara one route led southwest via Merv into Parthia – the other avoided Parthian territory by heading northwest along the Syr Darya (or Jaxartes) to the Aral Sea and then continued around to the north of the Caspian before reaching Tanais, the port on the Sea of Azov which gave maritime access via the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
          Of great interest is the recent discovery of a Latin inscription in the Kara-Kamar cave complex in Uzbekistan, near the border with Turkmenistan, to the west of Termez. This is far to the east of the easternmost previously-known Latin inscription from the 1st century
CE, which is found some 1,700 km further west, in Azerbaijan.

   “The original function of the cave complex is unclear…. However, I believe that the visible features of the complex, and especially its epigraphic data, suggest that at least for a certain period the cave complex served as a Mithraeum.
          The walls of Kara-Kamar are covered with numerous inscriptions and drawings, mostly mediaeval and modern, in Arabic, Uzbek and Russian. Three badly damaged Bactrian inscriptions were discovered, overcovered with the later ones….
          The Greek and Latin inscriptions were found in a fairly good state of preservation….” Ustinova (2000), p. 172.

It is the Latin inscription is of most interest to us here. It is given as:


 The third line of it: AP.LG:

“stands for (XV) Apollinaris Legio. This legion, first formed by Augustus, was moved from Pannonia to Armenia in 62 (Tac. Ann. 25) and stayed there till 66. The Romans then suffered a crashing defeat from the Parthians, who took crowds of captives. In 71, after several campaigns in the East, the XV legion returned to Pannonia and stayed there (with a break during 86-105 due to the Dacian wars) until in 114 Trajan transferred it to Satala, in Cappadocia (Cass. Dio LV. 23), where it was still stationed at the beginning of the V century….
          Thus, the XV Apollinaris legio was present in Armenia and Cappadocia for a few years in the last third of the first century, and from 114 it was stationed there permanently. In a situation of the unending war with Parthia numerous Roman soldiers must have fallen captives at the hands of the Parthians; some of these prisoners could have arrived as far as Bactria (as it has happened, for instance, in 54 BC, when after the defeat at Carrhae ten thousand Roman prisoners were moved by the Parthians to Margiana and put on frontier duty [Plin. Hist. Nat. 6. 18]).
          In such a case, line 1 of inscription 2 may be restored as PANN(ONICI), fitting well the history of the XV Apollinaris legio: twice it arrived in Armenia and Cappadocia from Pannonia, and some group (or one man) could have continued to bear the name “Pannonian”. In line 2 the G. is the initial of Gaius. Rex may have been his nickname….
          To conclude, it may be suggested that the Kara-Kamar Latin inscriptions, the easternmost known, were incised by soldiers of the XV Apollinaris legio in the second-third centuries AD, and the cave complex itself served perhaps as a Mithraeum.” Ustinova (2000), pp. 176-179.

For further information on the now quite extensive Roman finds in Central Asia (and a brief Chinese inscription on a Crimean tomb of the 2nd-3rd centuries CE), see the article, “Central Asian Mesopotamia and the Roman world”: Staviskij (1995), pp. 191-202.

The northeastern border of the Dumi xihou is harder to define. It seems likely that it did not extend much beyond the valley of the Surkhan-darya and before the region of modern Dushanbe, which may have been under the control of the Guishuang xihou.


10. Qiujiu Que 丘就卻 [Ch’iu-chiu-ch’üeh] = Kujula Kadphises. The identification of this king as the first of the “Great Kushans,” Kujula Kadphises, founder of the Kushan Empire, has long been considered well established. See, for example, Chavannes (1907), p. 191, n. 2.
            Fussman (1998), p. 632, considers the identification certain, though he admits that the Chinese transcription of his name is not very accurate. See also, Pulleyblank (1963), pp. 109, 123, 223. For a detailed discussion of the etymology of this name, and the name of Kujula’s son, Wima Taktu, see the “Appendix: The names of Kujula Kadphises and Wima Taktu in Chinese” in Sims-Williams (1998), pp. 89-90.
            In 55
CE Vardanes, the son of Vologases I – the emperor of the Parthians, made a play to seize power in the East, apparently in the strategic province of Hyrcania, at the southeastern corner of the Caspian Sea. Vologases, who was campaigning against Izates – the Arsacid vassal ruler of Adiabene, south of Armenia – was forced to abandon his campaign due to Vardanes’ activities in the east: 


“There rose up at this crisis a rival to Vologases in his son Vardanes, and the Parthians quitted Armenia, apparently intending to defer hostilities.” Tacitus (109 CE), XIII. 7.

“And immediately that very night Vologases received letters, the contents of which were these, that a great band of Dahae and Sacse, despising him, now he was gone so long a journey from home, had made an expedition, and laid Parthis waste; so that he [was forced to] retire back, without doing any thing. And thus it was that Izates escaped the threatenings of the Parthians, by the providence of God.” Josephus (93 CE), XX. 4, 2.


The statement that Parthis was laid waste at about this time finds confirmation in the archaeological record:


   “When the citadel ceased to function is equally unclear. It has been suggested that the Sasanians were to blame for the destruction of Nisa, yet at this point no strata dating from the second-third centuries A.D. have been recorded. A number of pieces of evidence testify that the last period of active use of the Central Complex dates to the first century A.D. After that time, the citadel structures were neglected, and their final destruction was not the result of a massacre but of an earthquake. Therefore, while the chronological limits of the Parthian state mark the outer limits of the existence of the fortress, its actual history was evidently briefer.” Pilpiko (1994), p. 110.


The “Sacse”, “Sacsae,” or “Sacae” mentioned in Josephus almost certainly included Kushans. For a detailed discussion of the derivation of the name Saka and its many associations, see Bailey (1985), pp. 63-75. There had long been confusion as to who were to be considered Scythian or Sakas. Herodotus VII. 64 says:


   “The Sacae, or Scyths, were clad in trousers, and had on their heads tall stiff caps rising to a point. They bore the bow of their country and the dagger; besides which they carried the battle-axe, or sagaris. They were in truth Amyrgian Scythians, but the Persians called them Sacae, since that is the name which they gave to all Scythians.” Rawlinson, the translator notes, on page 606 that, “According to Hellanicus, the word ‘Amyrgian’ was strictly a geographical title, Amyrgium being the name of the plain in which these Scythians dwelt.” He also adds: “Saka is the word used throughout the Persian inscriptions.”


To top it off, there were, according to Arrian, both ‘European’ and ‘Asian’ Scythians, the Sacae (or Sakās) were the “Scythian people, of the Scyths who inhabit Asia….”. See Yu (1988), pp. 1-15 for details.


According to Strabo (c. 23 CE), 11.8:


“Now the greater part of the Scythians, beginning at the Caspian Sea, are called Däae, but those who are situated more to the east than these are named Massagetae and Sacae, whereas all the rest are given the general name of Scythians, though each people is given a separate name of its own. They are all for the most part nomads. But the best known of the nomads are those who took away Bactriana from the Greeks, I mean the Asii, Paasiani, Tochari, and Sacarauli, who originally came from the country on the other side of the Iaxartes river [the Syr Daria] that adjoins that of the Sacae and the Sogdiani and was occupied by the Sacae.”


These tribes are undoubtedly among the tribes that made up the people known as the Kushans, who have been convincingly identified with them, and particularly the Asii and Tochari, by many scholars – see, for example the discussions in P’iankov (1994), p. 38; Narain (1957), pp. 128-134.

Pliny NH (b) (
VI. XIX) states:


“Beyond [the Syr Darya, which the Scythians call the Silis] are some tribes of Scythians. To these the Persians have given the general name of Sacae, from the tribe nearest to Persia, but old writers call them the Aramii, and the Scythians themselves give the name of Chorsari to the Persians and call Mount Caucasus Croucasis, which means ‘white with snow.’


It is also likely that there is some connection between the invasion of the ancient territory of Parthia by the Kushans and others in 55 CE with the following events:


“Up until the middle of the first century, trade was carried on between the kingdoms in the Tarim basin and the Yen-ts’ai, north of the Caspian. But about the middle of the century – certainly before A.D. 55 – this east-west connection was broken, and at one and the same time the Yen-ts’ai became dependent upon the Kang-chü and changed their name “against that of” the Alani. In other words, in or about A.D. 50-55, the Abzoae-Yen-ts’ai abandoned their old relations with the Sarmatians across the Volga and became part of the confederacy of the Alani. In the new alignment they were linked southeastward with the Kang-chü, and through them with the Kushan empire south of the Oxus. It is of immediate interest, therefore, that a coin of the first Kushan sovereign, Kujula Kadphises, should have been found in Kama in modern times. Ammianus Marcellinus (xxxi. 2. 16) evidently had a basis for his statement that the Alani stretched out as far as the river Ganges.” Teggart, p. 204.

It seems probable that the leader of the so-called “Sacse” was Kujula Kadphises – as the “Puta” that he is said to have destroyed in the Hou Hanshu was almost certainly Parthuaia – as I shall show in note 13.13 below.
            The text of the Hou Hanshu specifically states that Kujula invaded (qīn   [ch’in] = ‘encroach on a territory; invade; attack’) Anxi [Parthia]. Rtveladze (1995), pp. 189 and 190 quotes a mistranslation this passage (apparently retranslated from N. Ja. Bigurin, Sobranie svedenij o narodah, obitavših, Srednej Azii v drevnie vremena, II, Moskva-Leningrad 1951, 183-184) that reads that Kujula only “began a war against An-hsi.” He was thus led to the unjustifiable conclusion that Kujula “was unable to advance any further west [than Termez] owing to the resistance of the Parthians.”
            I do, however, agree with Rtveladze’s analysis that Kujula not only fought against the Indo-Parthians to the south, but against Parthia itself:


“Some scholars hold that the campaigns of Kujula Kadphises mentioned by the chronicles in this passage are those in which he conquered the Indo-Parthian domains of Gondophares, i.e. the area now comprising eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. In my opinion, however, the name An-hsi here refers not to the Indo-Parthian domain of Gondophares but to the Parthian kingdom proper, and the passage from the Hou Han-shou [sic] is clearly describing Kujula’s war against the Parthians. V.M. Masson [MASSON, ROMODIN 1964, 159] also admits that the expression ‹‹began a war against An-hsi›› [sic] should be interpreted as a reference to a military conflict with Parthia, if one compares this passage from the Hou Han-shu with Tacitus’s report that Vardanes moved his camp to Bactria during his war with Gotarzes.” Rtveladze (1995), p. 189.           


The latter campaign took place in 47 or 48 CE. It is not, I believe, in any way connected with Kujula (who I contend only became active in the region in 55 CE) but it is, perhaps, of enough interest to the developing unstable Parthian position in the East to quote Tacitus’s account of the events here. As Rtveladze notes (ibid. p. 188) the rivers Charinda (or Erindes) and Sindes of Tacitus’s report probably respectively refer to the Harirud (which runs through Herat) and the Marghab to the north (which ultimately empties into the oasis of Merv).

Meanwhile Gotarzes, who repented of having relinquished his throne, at the solicitation of the nobility, to whom subjection is a special hardship in peace, collected a force. Vardanes marched against him to the river Charinda; a fierce battle was fought over the passage, Vardanes winning a complete victory, and in a series of successful engagements subduing the intermediate tribes as far as the river Sindes, which is the boundary between the Dahae and the Arians. There his successes terminated. The Parthians, victorious though they were, rebelled against distant service. So after erecting monuments on which he recorded his greatness, and the tribute won from peoples from whom no Arsacid had won it before, he returned covered with glory, and therefore the more haughty and more intolerable to his subjects than ever. They arranged a plot, and slew him when he was off his guard and intent upon the chase.Tacitus (109 CE), Book XI.

By 58
CE Hyrcania had regained its independence from the Parthians and sent an embassy to Rome:

“The [Roman] success [in Armenia] was the easier, as the Parthians were distracted by a war with the Hyrcanians, who had sent to the Roman emperor, imploring alliance, and pointing to the fact that they were detaining Vologeses as a pledge of amity. When these envoys were on their way home, Corbulo [the Roman general], to save them from being intercepted by the enemy’s picquets after their passage of the Euphrates, gave them an escort, and conducted them to the shores of the Red Sea [in 59 CE], whence, avoiding Parthian territory, they returned to their native possessions.” Tacitus (109 CE), XIV.

This interesting passage indicates that the Hyrcanian envoys almost certainly travelled home via India and, thus, through Kushan territory, suggesting probable communications between the Romans and Kushans.
          It seems likely that this was all part of a concerted attempt by both the Kushans and the Romans to open up an alternative trade route, which avoided the high taxes imposed by the Parthians on caravans travelling through their territory. 
          Joe Cribb suggests an approximate date for Kujula’s reign of 30-80
CE see Sims-Williams and Cribb (1995/6), pp. 105-107. Fussman, on the other hand, suggests that he died c. 45-50, but perhaps as late as 60 CE – see Fussman (1998), p. 638.
          As this debate remains unresolved and, as I have little more to add to it, I suggest the interested reader check all the articles mentioned by Sims-Williams, Cribb and Fussman in which will be found a wealth of fascinating new information on the Kushans flowing from the fairly recent discovery of the important Bactrian inscription from Rabatak in Afghanistan.
          There is also the text of a lecture given by Professor Sims-Williams in 1997 in Tokyo available on the Web describing this exciting new discovery and its many implications. Numerous interesting photographs accompany the notes. The lecture, entitled: “New Findings in Ancient Afghanistan – the Bactrian documents discovered from the Northern Hindu-Kush” may be accessed on: Also, see Appendix 4:
More Clues in the Dating of the Great Kushan Kings, and note 13.13 below.

11. For the Hanshu’s account of these events see: Zürcher (1968), p. 365; CICA, pp. 121-123 plus notes 289-297.

12. Gaofu 高附 [Kao-fu] = Kabul. See noto-fareast-font-family: PMingLiU; mso-fareast-language: ZH-TW">əwk / dat which both provide quite acceptable transcriptions for Parthuaia.
          This identification finds support in the fact that the name of the “capital” of Anxi in the Hanshu is not the Hedu, or Hecatompylos mentioned in the Hou Hanshu, but
Bōdōu (which can also be pronounced Fān or Pān), EMC pa / təw or phuan or phan / təw, and which almost certainly refers to the earlier Parthian city of Pathau(nisa). It seems most unlikely that Puda refers to the later capital of Hekatompylos but, instead, far more likely to refer to Old Nisa, about 18 km northwest of modern Ashkhabad (Ashgabat) just northeast of the Kopet Dag range, now in Turkmenistan. See CICA p. 115, and n. 268.
          I should note here, however, that Mark Passehl, in a personal communication, July 7 2003, has suggested that: “The BODOU of the HAN SHU could be Batana (Ekbatana); capital of Media, summer royal residence and the empire’s most important city administratively and second biggest after Seleukeia. Foreign travellers may well have mistaken it for the capital of the whole.”
          Isidore of Charax, briefly refers to the kingdom in his Parthian Stations around the end of the first century

“Beyond [the city of Asaac, in which Arsaces was first proclaimed king] is Parthyena, 25 schoeni; within which is a valley, and the city of Parthaunisa after 6 schoeni; there are royal tombs. But the Greeks call it Nisaea. Then the city of Gathar after 6 schoeni. Then the city of Siroc after 5 schoeni. Of villages it has no more than one, which is called Saphri.” Schoff (1914), p. 9.

The actual Greek spelling of Nisaea (which is the Latinized form of the name), is Nisaia. (I am indebted to Mark Passehl for bringing my attention to this point). Unfortunately, as Mark points out: “It was the universal habit in the 19th century (and most of the 20th) to transcribe Greek nouns into their Latin forms, esp. with names of people and cities. These days the Greek forms are generally preferred rightly too, because Greek is more phonetic (to our eye) than Latin. Thus Caesar in Greek is “Kaisar”, which is exactly how the Romans (whose “c” was always hard, never “s”) pronounced it (“ai” in Grk. and its Latin equivalent “ae” were pronounced exactly like “eye”, or the y in sky). So both Greeks and Romans pronounced Nisaia/Nisaea: “Nees-eye-uh”.

          Puda can probably also be identified with the kingdom of Boda [Po-ta] which, along with several other kingdoms stretching from Termez to the banks of the Caspian Sea, sent ambassadors to China in 747 CE in an ultimately futile mission to seek help against the advance of the Arabs. See Chavannes (1900), Notes additionelles... p 77-78 and 78 n. 1. Boda is stated to be twenty days march east of Qilan, which can be confidently identified as the ancient kingdom of Gilan on the southwest coast of the Caspian Sea. 
          There have, however, been several previous attempts to identify Puta which I shall summarise here for comparison:

Pulleyblank identifies Puda
濮逹 (Putao) as “Pakhalavati, a Prakrit form of Puṣkālavati, Greek Peukelaôtis, i.e., present Charsada in Gandhāra,” just north of Peshawar: Pulleyblank (1999), p. 75, n. 3; see also Pulleyblank (1963), p. 101, and (1968), pp. 247-248 and n. 1. However, his point about the list of Kushan conquests being in the right order: Gaofu (= Kabul), Puda (= Pushkalavati / Gandhara), Jibin (= Kashmir), loses its point if one agrees with my argument in the next note that Jibin refers to Kapisha/Gandhara – not Kashmir. He also equates it with the Putao of the Hanshu, which is stated in that text to be to the north of Wuyishanli or Kandahar. See the discussion in CICA p. 112, n. 253. 
          Chavannes, in a review of J. Marquart’s Untersuchugen zur Geschichte von Eran in T’oung Pao 6 (1905), pp. 512-515, apparently criticises Marquart’s view that Puda (also written Putao) referred to the Paktues mentioned by Herodotus (VII, 67) and proposed instead that it represented Bactra or Balkh. See also, CICA p. 112 n. 253, and Chavannes (1905), p. 191 n. 3 where he notes that O. Franke, in his 1903 work, Beiträge..., p. 99 n. 1, also agreed with this identification.
          Petech (1950), p. 69, reconstructs the early pronunciation of Puda as b’uok-d’ât. Other reconstructions of the various Chinese forms of the name include EMC p’uk or b’uk – d’ât or t’ât (CICA, p. 112 n. 253). These provide some grounds for the identification with the Paktues or Paktyike of Herodotus, which are generally thought to have been located around Kabul and to the west and southwest but could just as well represent Parthava/Parthuaia.
          While Chavannes’ suggestion of Bactra/Balkh may be phonetically acceptable, it is unlikely that Balkh could have retained independence after being surrounded for over a hundred years by the Yuezhi. However, to be fair, it should be remembered that several important Hellenised cities in the Parthian empire, such as Seleucia and Susa, retained a high degree of autonomy for prolonged periods and perhaps there was a similar process in Bactria.
          Lören Stark has kindly written several long and very thoughtful emails to me arguing the case for identifying Puta with Bactra / Balkh – first propounded by Chavannes – and this is certainly a proposal worthy of consideration. I think, though, on long reflection, that the case for Puta = Parthyene is more convincing.
          Also, it is quite clear that Puta is nothing like any of the known or presumed Chinese forms of the name Bactra – see note 13.8 above. For information on the excavations of Parthian Nisa (and the indications that it seems to have been abandoned sometime during the 1st century
CE) see Pilipko (1994), pp. 101-116 and note 13.10 above.

14. Jibin [Chi-pin] = Gandhara-Kapisha. EMC = kiajh + pjin. See the discussion in CICA p. 104, n. 203, on the various phonetic interpretations of the name, none of which I find convincing. The location of Jibin has been the subject of much discussion. There are two main theories: 
          Several scholars maintain that Jibin referred to (the Valley of) Kashmir. This was partly on linguistic grounds – see, for example, Pulleyblank (1963), pp. 218-219, (1999), p. 75 and the discussion in Bailey (1985), pp. 44-46, and partly because Jibin was, in later centuries, used to refer to Kashmir Valley in a few Buddhist texts.
          However, as the discussion below will show, this identification is highly unlikely, at least during the Han and the Tang dynasties.
          Part of the confusion I suspect stems from the fact that most people nowadays (including many scholars) think of “Kashmir” as consisting of the main Kashmir Valley with its beautiful capital, Srinigar, plus Jammu to the south and Indian-controlled Ladakh to the east. However, before partition of the subcontinent in 1947, and for many centuries previously, Kashmir referred to a much larger region extending far to the west into what is now northern Pakistan. Pakistanis to this day still refer to the region of Gilgit, Hunza and Skardu as “Pakistani Kashmir.”
          In the early 20th century the state of Jammu-Kashmir included not only Hunza and Gilgit, but the territory along the Indus past Chilas and, on the southern bank, around the great bend of the Indus River; to the north, it adjoined the Wakhan Valley; to the west, it stretched past Gupis to the easy Shandur Pass (3,725 metres; 12,221 feet), which is only about 20 kilometres from Mastuj.
          Mastuj, on the Yarkhun River is the main centre in the upper reaches of the Chitral/Kunar valley, from where there is relatively easy, year-round access to the region of Jalalabad on the Kabul River. It also controls access to the strategically important Baroghil Pass (3,798 metres; 12,460 feet). See, for example, the foldout map of Kashmir at the end of
Younghusband and Molyneux (1909).
          The second theory is based on the fact that the route to Jibin as given in both the Hanshu and the Hou Hanshu reaches Kandahar after crossing through Xuandu (the ‘Hanging Passages’ = Hunza/ Gilgit), and then through Jipin.
          It is true that there is a route from Gilgit to the Kashmir Valley itself which was in use until 1947, but, political considerations aside, the shortest route from the Tarim Basin for someone headed to the north Indian plains, went over the Kilik or Mintaka Pass, through Hunza and Gilgit and on to the Chitral/Kunar Valley. Looking at the route from the opposite direction, Sir Aurel Stein records:

   “After leaving behind Misgar, the northernmost hamlet of Hunza, the natural difficulties of the route decrease. The valley widens as we approach the watershed which separates the headwaters of the Hunza river from those of the Oxus on the one side and the Tāghdumbāsh Pāmīr on the other. Lord Curzon, in his exhaustive Memoir on the Pāmīrs, has been duly emphasized the important geographical fact that the water-parting in this part of the Hindukush lies considerably to the north of the axial range and is also far lower. This helps to account for the relative ease with which the Kilik and Mintaka passes, giving final access to the Tāghdumbāsh Pāmīr, can be crossed, even with laden animals, during the greater part of the year.” Stein (1907), p. 21.

          The easiest route during summer (it was closed by snow in the winter), and the only one which also allowed the use of pack animals, went over the Baroghil pass to Mastuj and, from there, either east towards Gilgit, southwest down the Chitral/Kunar Valley towards Jalalabad, or, via a more difficult route, (now used mainly because of the artificial border between Pakistan and Afghanistan), south to the region of Peshawar.

“From Sarhad starts the well-known route which leads southwards over the Barōghil pass to the headwaters of the Mastūj river, to this day representing the easiest line of access from the Upper Oxus to Chitrăl as well as to Gilgit.” Stein (1907), p. 8.

“All details recorded of it [the passage of Ko Hsien-chih’s troops in 747 CE] agree accurately with the route which lies over the Barōghil saddle (12,460 feet above the sea [3,798 metres]) to the sources of the Mastūj river, and then, crossing south-eastwards the far higher Darkōt Pass (15,200 feet [4,633 metres]), descends along the Yasīn river to its main junction with the main river of Gilgit. Three days are by no means too large an allowance of time for a military force accompanied by baggage animals to effect the march from the Oxus to the summit of the Darkōt Pass, considering that the ascent to the latter lies partly over the moraines and ice of a great glacier. The Darkōt Pass corresponds exactly in position to the ‘Mount T’an-chü’ of the Annals and possibly preserves the modern form of the name which the Chinese transcription, with its usual phonetic imperfection, has endeavoured to reproduce. The steep southern face of the pass, where the track descends close on 6,000 feet [1,829 metres] between the summit and the hamlet of Darkōt, over a distance of five or six miles [8 to 9.7 km], manifestly represents ‘the precipices for over forty li in a straight line’ which dismayed the Chinese soldiers on looking down from the heights of Mount T’an-chü.
   From the foot of the pass at Darkōt a march of about twenty-five miles [40 km] brings us to the village of Yasīn, the political centre of the valley….” Stein (1907), pp. 9-10.

From Chitral one could travel either through Swat to the region of Peshawar in Gandhara, or via Jalalabad and from there southwest to Kandahar (this latter being the easiest and most direct route to Kandahar). To travel to Kandahar via the Kashmir Valley would entail making a very long and unnecessary detour.
          Additionally, in the Hou Hanshus discussion of Gaofu (which most authorities agree referred to the region of modern Kabul, known later as Kabulistan), it is stated that Jibin, at times, controlled it – see Section 4 of the Text. This alone would seem to eliminate the Kashmir Valley as a possible location.
          Any power that controlled the region of Jalalabad in the Kabul River Valley would normally have included the strategic fortifications at Kapisha near present Begram to the north and, often, Kabul and/or Peshawar, including some of the Ghandharian plains as well.
          It was only natural for such a state to wish to control the trade and possible invasion routes to the northeast, and so would extend their power (as the Da Yuezhi obviously did) up the Kunar/Chitral valley and across to the easily defended gorges of Yasin, Gilgit and Hunza, thus regulating trade and preventing surprise attacks from the north.
          The Da Yuezhi also extended their power up the fertile Swat Valley, which not only provided the main route south to the Gandharan plains but also contained an ancient source of emeralds. There had been some question as to whether emeralds had been mined here in ancient times but an emerald from this region has been recently proven to be the gem in a Gallo-Roman earring – see Giuliani et al (2000), pp. 631-633.
          It seems almost certain that this is the route through Jibin that the Hou Hanshu and the Weilue refer to, especially as we know this whole section of the route was under Kushan control after they conquered it during 1st century
CE. I believe there is now overwhelming evidence for this second theory. Jibin, at the time of the Later Han, seems to have included Gandhara, particularly the regions of Peshawar and the Kabul River valley through to Jalalabad, and on to the important fortress at Kapisha-Kanish, near modern Begram, north of Kabul.

The Hanshu says that Jibin:

 “ flat and the climate is temperate. There is lucerne, with a variety of vegetation and rare trees.... [The inhabitants] grow the five field crops, grapes and various sorts of fruit, and they manure their orchards and arable land. The land is low and damp, producing rice, and fresh vegetables are eaten in winter.... The [state] produces humped cattle, water-buffalo, elephant, large dogs, monkeys, peacocks....” CICA, pp. 105-106.

          It is difficult to imagine anywhere other than Gandhara that would fit the information given above. The extent of the territory it included or controlled undoubtedly varied from time to time.

“From the climate, the geographical features, and the produce, the central area in Han times must have been in Gandhāra, including Taxila. Kaspeiria and Paropamisadae were possibly subject to Jibin, but cannot be regarded as part of the metropolitan territory of Jibin.

   …. Since the metropolitan territory of Jibin lay in the middle and lower reaches of the River Kabul, “Ji-bin [kiat-pien]” was very likely a transcription of “Kophen”, an ancient name for the River Kabul.” Yu (1998), p. 149.

There are many indications that the territory along the Kabul River Valley through Jalalabad to Kapisha (modern Begram) often formed a political unit with the Gandharan plains. The Hanshu (CICA, p. 103), mentions that Nandou (the Chitral/Kunar Valley) was also subject to it at that time.

“Chitral, unlike Gilgit, is not blocked for eight months in the year by Nature. If there were no such things as states, frontiers, and feuds, Chitral could be reached with ease from Peshawar any day in the year. It could be reached via Jallalabad. For, at Jallalabad, the Kabul River is joined by the Kunar River; and Chitral is simply another name for the upper Kunar valley. Unseal the sealed frontier that cuts this valley in two like a travel-proof bulk-head, and that grim annual toll of deaths on the Lowari Pass could be remitted.” Toynbee (1961), p. 143. 

          The History of the Northern Wei provides some valuable additional information on Jibin, stating that it was to the southwest of Bolu (Bolor or Gilgit) and that it was 800 li west to east and 300 li north to south. This description cannot possibly be applied to Kashmir but fits very well with the territory stretching along the Kabul River valley from Kapisha (modern Begram north of Kabul) through Peshawar and across the Gandharan plains to ancient Taxila:

“The History of the Northern Wei [covering the period 386-534 AD] mentions an embassy from Jibin in the 1st zhengping year of Taiwu Di (451 AD). The notice on the Peoples of the West inserted in this history reproduces that of the Han, but adds a few precise details. The capital of Jibin is SW of Bolu, 14,200 li from the capital of the Beiwei (Northern Wei); the country is surrounded by four chains of mountains. It is 800 li [333 km] in length from west to east, 300 [125 km] from north to south.” Translated from the French version by: Lévi and Chavannes (1895), p. 374. Note that Lévi and Chavannes put the embassy in 452 AD, but this is a mistake. The 1st zhengping year of Nan an Wang was 452/3, and he only reigned briefly during 452. Also note that I have converted the li here according to the value of the Han li. It may not have had exactly this value during the period of the Northern Wei, but this does not affect the main thrust of my argument.

          The Chinese pilgrim Wu Kong who, after travelling through Swat to the Indus River, entered Gandhara in 753 CE helps make sense of the confusion between the proposed locations of Jibin in Kapisha and in Gandhara. The conditions he reports, I suggest, were probably typical of the political situation of Jibin for many centuries, although the eastern and western portions of the country (i.e. Gandhara and the upper Kabul River Valley), may have been separately governed at times:

“On the 21st day of the second month of the 12th guisi year (753) [= 15th March, 753], he [Wu Kong] arrived at the kingdom of Qiantuoluo (乾陀罗); the Sanskrit pronunciation is correctly Gandhâra [Jiantuoluo] (健駄邏); this is the eastern capital of Jibin ().
          The king lives in winter in this place; in summer, he lives in Jibin; he seeks out the warmth or coolness to promote his health.” Translated from the French of
Lévi and Chavannes (1895), p. 349.

          For three excellent and detailed studies on the location of Jibin, see Lévi and Chavannes’ essay (pp. 371-384) at the end of their article “L’itineraire d’Ou-k’ong (751-790).” JA (1895) Sept.-Oct.; and Petech’s essay at the end of his article, “Northern India according to the Shu-ching-shu” (1950), pp. 63-80; and Yu (1998), Chapter 8 “The State of Jibin”, pp. 147-166.
          Also worth checking are: Stein (1900): Vol. II, Chap. II, especially, pp. 351-362; Daffinà (1982), pp. 317-318; Molè (1970), p. 97, n. 105; Rapson, ed., (1922), p. 501; Keay (1977), pp. 130, 146, 222, 224; Toynbee (1961), pp. 1, 48, 51-52 130, 125-126; and Pugachenkova, et al., (1994), p. 356.
          Assuming the order of the conquests of Kujula Kadphises in the text is chronological, it is probable that Jibin came under Kushan rule not long after he conquered Puda (Parthuaia) in 55