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Bumin Qaghan

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Bumin Qaghan

Bumin Qaghan
Qaghan of the Turkic Khaganate
Reign 551–552
Coronation 552 in Altai Mountains[1]
Successor Issik Qaghan
Died 552
Spouse Princess Changle
Full name
Bumin Qaghan
House Ashina Clan
Father Ashina Tuwu

Bumin Qaghan (Old Turkic: , Bumïn qaγan,[2] a.k.a. Bumın Kagan) or Illig Qaghan (Chinese: 伊利可汗, Pinyin: yīlì kěhàn, Wade–Giles: i-li k'o-han, died 552 AD) was the founder of the Turkic Khaganate. He was the eldest son of Ashina Tuwu (吐務 / 吐务).[3] He was the chieftain of the Türks under the sovereignty of Rouran Khaganate.[4][5][6][7] He is also mentioned as "Tumen" (土門, 吐門, commander of ten thousand[8]) of the Rouran Khaganate. His name is certainly not of Turkic origin, but rather a loanword from another language.[9]

According to History of Northern Dynasties and Zizhi Tongjian, in 545 Tumen's tribe started to rise and frequently invaded the western frontier of Wei. The chancellor of Western Wei Yuwen Tai sent An Nuopanto (Nanai-Banda, a Sogdian from Bukhara[10]) to Kök Türks to greet its chieftain Tumen to try to establish commercial relationship.[11][12] In 546, Tumen presented tribute to Western Wei.[12]

And in the same year he put down a revolt of the Tiele tribes against their overlords the Rouran Khaganate.[12] He took advantage of this success and requested a Rouran princess in marriage. But the qaghan of Rouran Anagui refused this request and sent to Bumin a mission and message: You are my blacksmith slave. How dare you utter these words?. Bumin got angry and killed Anagui's mission and cut all relationship with Rouran Khaganate.[11][13][14][15]

Anagui's "blacksmith" (鍛奴 / 锻奴, Pinyin: duàn nú, Wade–Giles: tuan-nu) insult was recorded in Chinese chronicles and historians accepted that the Kök Türks were indeed blacksmith servants for the Rouran elite,[4][5][6][7] and that "blacksmith slavery" may indicate a kind of vassalage system prevailed in Rouran society.[16] Nevertheless, after this incident Bumin emerged as the leader of the revolt against Rouran.

In 551, Bumin requested a Western Wei princess in marriage. Yuwen Tai permitted it and sent Princess Changle of Western Wei to Bumin.[11][13][14] In the same year when Emperor Wen of Western Wei died Bumin sent mission and gave two hundred horses.[11][13]

The beginning of formal diplomatic relations with China propped up Bumin's authority among the Turks. He eventually united the local Turkic tribes and threw off the yoke of the Rouran domination.

In 552 Bumin's army defeated Anagui's forces at the north of Huaihuang and then Anagui committed suicide.[13] With their defeat Bumin proclaimed himself "Illig Qaghan" and made his wife qaghatun.[13] According to the Bilge Qaghan's memorial complex and the Kul Tigin's memorial complex, Bumin and Istemi ruled people by Turkic laws and they developed them.[2][17]

Bumin died within several months after proclaiming himself Illig Qaghan. He was succeeded by his younger brother Istemi in the western part and by his son Issik Qaghan in the eastern part. In less than one century, his khaganate expanded to comprise most of Central Asia.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Kultegin’s Memorial Complex, TÜRIK BITIG
  3. ^ Ouyang Xiu et al., New Book of Tang, Cilt 215-II (Chinese)
  4. ^ a b 馬長壽, 《突厥人和突厥汗國》, 上海人民出版社, 1957, (Ma Zhangshou, Tujue ve Tujue Khaganate), pp. 10-11. (Chinese)
  5. ^ a b 陳豐祥, 余英時, 《中國通史》, 五南圖書出版股份有限公司, 2002, ISBN 978-957-11-2881-8 (Chen Fengxiang, Yu Yingshi, General history of China), p. 155. (Chinese)
  6. ^ a b , V. Cilt, Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1991, s. 731.X. Türk Tarih Kongresi: Ankara 22 - 26 Eylül 1986, Kongreye Sunulan BildirilerGao Yang, "The Origin of the Turks and the Turkish Khanate",
  7. ^ a b Burhan Oğuz, Türkiye halkının kültür kökenleri: Giriş, beslenme teknikleri, İstanbul Matbaası, 1976, p. 147. «Demirci köle» olmaktan kurtulup reisleri Bumin'e (Turkish)
  8. ^ "Tumen" is used for expressing 10,000 and "Bum" is used for expressing 100,000 in Secret History of the Mongols, Larry Moses, "Legend by the numbers: The Symbolism of Numbers in the 'Secret History of the Mongols'", Asian folklore studies, Vol. 55-56, Nanzan University Institute of Anthropology, 1996, p. 95.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Shing Müller, "Sogdian in China um 600 n. Chr. Archäologische Zeugnisse eines Lebens zwischen Assimilation und Identitätsbewahrung", NOAG, Vol. 183-184, 2008. p. 123. (German)
  11. ^ a b c d Li Yanshou, History of Northern Dynasties, Vol. 99. (Chinese)
  12. ^ a b c Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 159. (Chinese)
  13. ^ a b c d e Linghu Defen et al., Book of Zhou, Vol. 50. (Chinese)
  14. ^ a b Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 164. (Chinese)
  15. ^ Christopher I. Beckwith, Empires of the Silk Road: a history of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present, Princeton University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-691-13589-2, p. 9.
  16. ^ Larry W. Moses, "Relations with the Inner Asian Barbarian", ed. John Curtis Perry, Bardwell L. Smith, Essays on Tʻang society: the interplay of social, political and economic forces, Brill Archive, 1976, ISBN 978-90-04-04761-7, p. 65. Slave' probably meant vassalage to the Juan Juan confederation of Mongolia, whom they served in battle by providing iron weapons, and also marching with qaghan's armies.
  17. ^ Bilge kagan’s Memorial Complex, TÜRIK BITIG
Bumin Qaghan
Preceded by
Qaghan of the Turkic Khaganate
Succeeded by
Issik Qaghan
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