Origins of the Xiongnu

The Xiongnu or (Hsiung-nu) first appear in Chinese historical records about the 5th century BC. when their repeated invasions prompted the small kingdoms of North China to begin erecting what later became the Great Wall. PEOPLE AND ART Xiongnu are Turko-Mogolian nomadic people, who speak Altaic language and move migrate following water and grass. From the Chinese source, they are identified as short people with stock body and a very large round head, broad face, prominent cheek-bones, wide nostrils, a fairly bushy mustache and no beard except for a tuft of stiff hair on the chin; their long ears are pierced and adorned with a ring. The head is usually shaved, except for a tuft on the top. They wear a loose robe to the calf, split at the sides and gathered in by a girdle whose ends hang down in front. XIONGNU RISES IN POWER At the third century BC, Xiongnu tribes formed a confederation under a ruler known as the shan-yu or Xiongnu cheif. They ruled over a territory that extended from western Manchuria (Northeast Provinces) to the Pamirs and covered much of present Siberia and Mongolia. CULTURE AND LIFE STYLE The Xiongnu moved with their livestock in search of water and pasture. They ate only meant, dressed in skins, slept on furs, and camped in felt tents. Their religion was a vague shamanism based on the cult of Tangri or Heavon and on the worship of sacred mountains. Both Xiongnu and Scythians were head-hunters and drank blood from the skull of the enemies. To mourn the dead, both Scythian and Xiongnu gash their faces with knives, "so that blood flows with their tears." ECONOMY AND TRADE CONTROL OF THE SILK ROAD CONFLICTS WITH THE CHINESE EMPIRES EARLY HUN With the eastern Xiongnu, we have lots of records about them from Chinese source; however the western Xiongnu leaves no record of history, for lack of contact with any great civilized nation which might have preserved some information about them.

   Contact us  | © 1997-2000