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Title: Rouran  
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Subject: Bumin Qaghan, Göktürks, 6th century, 391, Ancient history, Ethnic groups in Chinese history, Ulan Bator, Xiongnu, Northern Wei, Xianbei
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Rouran Khaganate




The Rouran Khaganate (green), c. 500.
Capital Not specified
Religion Tengrism
Political structure Khaganate
 -  330 Yùjiǔlǘ Mùgǔlǘ
 -  555 Yujiulü Dengshuzi
Legislature Kurultai
Historical era 1st millennium
 -  Established 330
 -  Disestablished 555
Part of a series on the
History of Mongolia
Ancient period
Xiongnu 209 BC – 155
Xianbei 93–234
Nirun 330–555
Göktürk 552–744
Uyghur 742–848
Kirghiz 539–1219
Khitan 916–1125
Medieval period
Khamag Mongol 1120–1206
Mongolian tribes 900s–1207
Mongol Empire 1206–1271
Yuan Dynasty 1271–1368
Northern Yuan 1368–1691
Zunghar 1635–1758
Qing rule
1636/91/1758– 1911
Modern period
National Revolution 1911
Mongolia (1911–21) 1911–1921
Occupation 1919–1921
People's Revolution 1921
People's Republic 1924–1992
Democratic Revolution 1990
Democratic Mongolia
Mongolia portal

Rouran (Mongolian: Нирун, Nirun; Chinese: 柔然; pinyin: Róurán; literally "soft-like"; Wade-Giles: Jou-jan), Ruanruan/Ruru (Chinese: 蠕蠕/茹茹; pinyin: Ruǎnruǎn/Rúrú; Wade–Giles: Juan-Juan/Ju-Ju; literally "wriggling insects/fodder"), or Tan Tan[1] (Chinese: 檀檀; pinyin: Tántán) was a nomadic Mongolian empire on the northern borders of Inner China from the late 4th century until the middle 6th century.[2] It has sometimes been hypothesized that the Rouran are identical to the Eurasian Avars who later appeared in Europe.[3]

The term Rouran is a Mandarin Chinese transcription of the pronunciation of the name the confederacy used to refer to itself. Ruanruan and Ruru remained in modern usage despite once being derogatory. They derived from orders given by the Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei, who waged war against the Rouran and intended to intimidate the confederacy.

The power of the Rouran was broken by an alliance of Göktürks, the Chinese Northern Qi and Northern Zhou dynasties and tribes in Central Asia in 552.

Origin and expansion

The Rouran were a confederation led by Xianbei people who remained in the Mongolian steppes after most Xianbei migrated south to Northern China and set up various kingdoms. They were first noted as having defeated the Tiele and establishing an empire extending all the way to the Hulun, in eastern Inner Mongolia. To the west of the Rouran was a horde known in the west as the Hephthalites who originally, until the beginning of the 5th century, were a vassal horde of the Rouran.[4]

The Rouran controlled the area of Mongolia from the Manchurian border to Turpan and, perhaps, the east coast of Lake Balkhash, and from the Orkhon River to China Proper. Their ancestor Mugulu is said to have been originally a slave of the Tuoba tribes, situated at the north banks of Yellow River Bend. Mugulu's descendant Yujiulü Shelun is said to be the first chieftain who was able to unify the Rouran tribes and to found the power of the Rouran by defeating the Tiele and Xianbei. Shelun was also the first of the steppe peoples to adopt the title of khagan (可汗) in 402, originally a title of Xianbei nobility.

The Rouran and the Hephthalites had a falling out and problems within their confederation were encouraged by Chinese agents. In 508, the Tiele defeated the Rouran in battle. In 516, the Rouran defeated the Tiele. Within the Rouran confederation was a Turkic tribe noted in Chinese annals as the Tujue. After a marriage proposal to the Rouran was rebuffed, the Tujue joined with the Western Wei, successor state to the Northern Wei, and revolted against the Rouran. In 555, they beheaded 3,000 Rouran. Some scholars claim that the Rouran then fled west across the steppes and became the Avars, though many other scholars contest this claim.[2] The remainder of the Rouran fled into China, were absorbed into the border guards, and disappeared forever as an entity. The last Rouran khagan fled to the court of Western Wei, but at the demand of Tujue, Western Wei executed him and the nobles that accompanied him.

Little is known of the Rouran ruling elite, which the Book of Wei cited as an offshoot of the Xianbei. The Rouran subdued modern regions of Xinjiang, Mongolia, Central Asia, and parts of Siberia and Manchuria from the late 4th century. Their frequent interventions and invasions profoundly affected neighboring countries. Though they admitted the Ashina of Göktürks into their federation, the power of the Rouran was broken by an alliance of Göktürks, the Chinese Northern Qi and Northern Zhou dynasties and tribes in Central Asia in 552. The Northern Wei, for instance, established the Six Garrisons bordering the Rouran, which later became the foci of several major mutinies in the early 6th century.

Qaghans of the Rouran

The Rourans were the first people who used the titles Khagan and Khan for their emperors (which are, therefore, assumed to be Mongolic in origin), replacing the Chanyu of the Xiongnu, whom Grousset and others assume to be Turkic.[5]

Temple names Regal names Family names and given name Durations of reigns Era names
and their according durations
Modern Mongolian pronunciation
Chinese convention: for those who have regal names, use regal names; otherwise, use family name and given name, or use given name + "Khan"
Yùjiǔlǘ Mùgǔlǘ (郁久閭木骨閭) 4th century Mugului
Yùjiǔlǘ Chēlùhuì (郁久閭車鹿會) 4th century Charugui
Yùjiǔlǘ Tǔnúgūi (郁久閭吐奴傀) 4th century
Yùjiǔlǘ Bátí (郁久閭跋提) 4th century
Yùjiǔlǘ Dìsùyuán (郁久閭地粟袁) 4th century
Yùjiǔlǘ Pǐhóubá (郁久閭匹侯跋) 4th century
Yùjiǔlǘ Màngētí (郁久閭縵紇提) 4th century
Yùjiǔlǘ Héduōhàn (郁久閭曷多汗) 4th century
Qiudoufa Khan (丘豆伐可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Shèlún (郁久閭社崙) 402–410 Jarun
Aikugai Khan (藹苦蓋可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Húlǜ (郁久閭斛律) 410–414
Mouhanheshenggai Khan (牟汗紇升蓋可汗)
(Bukha Yesunggei Khaan)
Yùjiǔlǘ Dàtán (郁久閭大檀) 414–429
Chilian Khan (敕連可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Wútí (郁久閭吳提) 429–444
Chu Khan (處可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Tǔhèzhēn (郁久閭吐賀真) 444–450
Shouluobuzhen Khan (受羅部真可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Yúchéng (郁久閭予成) 450–485 Yongkang Yǒngkāng (永康) 464–484
Fumingdun Khan (伏名敦可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Dòulún (郁久閭豆崙) 485–492 Tàipíng (太平) 485–491
Houqifudaikezhe Khan (侯其伏代庫者可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Nàgài (郁久閭那蓋) 492–506 Tàiān (太安) 492–505
Tuohan Khan (佗汗可汗) (Toghon Khaan) Yùjiǔlǘ Fútú (郁久閭伏圖) 506–508 Shǐpíng (始平) 506–507
Douluofubadoufa Khan (豆羅伏跋豆伐可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Chǒunú (郁久閭醜奴) 508–520 Jiànchāng (建昌) 508–520
Chiliantoubingdoufa Khan (敕連頭兵豆伐可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Ānàgūi (郁久閭阿那瓌) 520–552
Mi'oukeshegou Khan (彌偶可社句可汗) Yùjiǔlǘ Póluómén (郁久閭婆羅門) 521–524
Yùjiǔlǘ Tiěfá (郁久閭鐵伐) 552–553
Yùjiǔlǘ Dēngzhù (郁久閭登注) 553
Yùjiǔlǘ Kāngtí (郁久閭康提) 553
Yùjiǔlǘ Ānluóchén (郁久閭菴羅辰) 553–554
Yùjiǔlǘ Dèng Shūzǐ (郁久閭鄧叔子) 555



  • Findley, Carter Vaughn. (2005). The Turks in World History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516770-8 (cloth); ISBN 0-19-517726-6 (pbk).
  • Grousset, René. (1970). The Empire of the Steppes: a History of Central Asia. Translated by Naomi Walford. Rutgers University Press. New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.A.Third Paperback printing, 1991. ISBN 0-8135-0627-1 (casebound); ISBN 0-8135-1304-9 (pbk).
  • Map of their empire
  • Definition
  • information about the Rouran
  • Kradin, Nikolay. "From Tribal Confederation to Empire: the Evolution of the Rouran Society". Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, Vol. 58, No 2 (2005): 149-169.

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