Skip to content

Some Early Inner Asian Terms Related to the Imperial Family and the Comitatus

Pages 49 - 86


This article suggests philological explanations for a number of terms that have so far wholly or
partly resisted analysis. The chosen examples highlight the fact that lacking progress was not due
to inaccurate Chinese transcriptions, but rather that much of the terminology is neither Iranian,
nor Tokharian, nor attested in Old or Middle Turkic inscriptions. Recent work on Kitan and Tuyuhun
vocabulary, but also early Sanskrit / Prakrit loanwords used widely in Türk and pre-Türk
Inner Asia and other eastern Inner Asian languages has, moreover, produced insight into previously
unknown Inner Asian vocabulary from Chinese and other sources of the Türk and Uyghur eras.
Holding these together is a renewed appreciation for the general consistency and accuracy of Chinese
transcriptions, which when properly read can provide considerable information about a now completely
defunct Inner Asian political vocabulary.


Indiana University

1 Adams, Douglas Q. 1999. A Dictionary of Tocharian B. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

2 Allsen, Thomas T. 1987. Mongol Imperialism: The Policies of the Grand Qan Möngke in China, Russia, and the Islamic lands, 1251–1259. Berkeley: University of California Press.

3 Atwood, Christopher P. 2012. “Huns and Xiōngnú: New Thoughts on an Old Problem.” In Dubitando: Studies in History and Culture in Honor of Donald Ostrowski, ed. Brian J. Boeck, Russell E. Martin and Daniel Rowland (Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2012), pp. 27–52.

4 Atwood, Christopher P. 2010. “The Notion of Tribe in Medieval China: Ouyang Xiu and the Shatuo Dynastic Myth.” In Miscellanea Asiatica: Festschrift in Honour of Françoise Aubin, ed. Denise Aigle, Isabelle Charleux, Vincent Gossaert, and Roberte Hamayon, pp. 593–621. Sankt Augustin: Insitut Monumenta Serica.

5 Azarnouche, Samra, and Céline Redard, eds. 2012. Yama/Yima: Variations indo-iraniennes sur la geste mythique. Paris: Édition-Diffusion De Boccard.

6 Barthold, W. 1968. Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion. 3rd ed. London: Luzac.

7 Beckwith, Christopher I. 1987. Tibetan Empire in Central Asia: A History of the Struggle for Great Power among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese during the Early Middle Ages. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

8 Beckwith, Christopher I. 2005. “The Chinese Names of the Tibetans, Tabghatch, and Turks.” Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 14, pp. 5–20.

9 Beckwith, Christopher I. 2009. Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

10 Bei shi 北史. 1974. Li, Yanshou 李延壽. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

11 Blockley, R.C. 1985. The History of Menander the Guardsman. Liverpool: F. Cairns.

12 Bombaci, Alessio. 1976. “On the Ancient Turkish Title Šadapït.” Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher 48, pp. 32–41.

13 Bosworth, C. Edmund. 2013. “Shughnān.” Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online.

14 Bosworth, C. Edmund. 2007. “Jabḡuya, ii: In Islamic Sources.” In: Yarshater, Ehsan, (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol 14/3. New York: Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation Inc., pp. 316–17.

15 Boyce, Mary. 1979. Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

16 Brough, John. 1962. The Gāndhārī Dharmapada. London: Oxford University Press.

17 Carling, Gerd, with Georges-Jean Pinault and Werner Winter. 2009. Dictionary and Thesaurus of Tocharian A. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

18 Carroll, Thomas D. 1953. Account of the T’ù-yǜ-hún in the History of the Chin Dynasty. Berkeley: University of California Press.

19 Chavannes, Edouard. 1900. Documents sur les T'ou-kiue (Turcs) occidentaux. Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve.

20 Chavannes, E. 1912. “Épitaphes de deux princesses Turques de l'époque des T'ang.” In Festschrift Vilhelm Thomsen zur Vollendung des siebzigsten Lebensjahres am 25. Januar 1912, by Vilhelm Thomsen, 78–87. Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz.

21 Chen, Sanping. 2002. “Son of Heaven and Son of God: Interactions among Ancient Asiatic Cultures Regarding Sacral Kingship and Theophoric Names.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, ser. 3, 12 (3): 289–325.

22 Clauson, Gerard. 1972. An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth Century Turkish. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

23 Coblin, W. South. 1991. Studies in Old Northwest Chinese. Journal of Chinese Linguistics Monograph Series 4. Berkeley: Project on Linguistic Analysis, University of California.

24 Coblin, W. South. 1994. A Compendium of Phonetics in Northwest Chinese. Journal of Chinese Linguistics Monograph Series No. 7. Berkeley: Project on Linguistic Analysis, University of California.

25 Czeglédy, K. 1983. “From East to West: The Age of Nomadic Migrations in Eurasia.” Trans. P. B. Golden, Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 3, pp. 25–125.

26 de Rachewiltz, Igor, trans. and ed. 2004. Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

27 Doerfer, Gerhard. 1963–67. Türkische und mongolische Elemente in Neupersischen. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

28 Duan, Chengshi 段成式. 1982. Youyang zazu 酉陽雜俎. Taipei: Yüan-liu Publishing House.

29 Erdal, Marcel. 1998. “Old Turkic.” In The Turkic Languages, ed. Lars Johanson and Éva Á. Csató, pp. 138–57. London: Routledge.

30 Gharib, B. 1995. Sogdian Dictionary: Sogdian-Persian-English. Tehran: Farhangan Publications.

31 Golden, Peter B. 1992. An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

32 Golden, Peter. 2004. “Khazar Turkic Ghulâms in Caliphal Service.” Journal asiatique 192, pp. 279–309.

33 Golden, Peter. 2006. “Turks and Iranians: An Historical Sketch.” In Turkic-Iranian Contact Areas: Historical and Linguistic Aspects, ed. Lars Johanson and Christiane Bulut. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, pp. 17–38.

34 Holmgren, Jennifer. 1986. “Yeh-lü, Yao-lien and Ta-ho: Views of the Hereditary Prerogative in Early Khitan Leadership.” Papers on Far Eastern History 34: 37–81.

35 Hsiao, Ch'i-ch'ing. 1978. Military Establishment of the Yuan Dynasty. Cambridge: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University.

36 Janhunen, Juha. 1996. Manchuria: An Ethnic History. Helsinki: Finno-Ugrian Society.

37 Jia Jingyan 賈敬顔. 1979. Shengwu qinzheng lu jiaoben 聖武親征錄校本. Beijing: Minzu University (mimeograph).

38 Jin shi 金史. 1975. Tuotuo 脫脫 [Toqta'a], ed. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

39 Ji Xianlin, with Werner Winter and Georges-Jean Pinault. 1998. Fragments of the Tocharian A Maitreyasamiti-Nāṭaka of the Xingjiang Museum, China. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

40 Jiu Tang shu 舊唐書. 1975. Liu, Xu 劉昫 et al., eds. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

41 Juvaini, 'Ala ad-Din 'Ata-Malik. Trans. John Andrew Boyle. 1958. The History of the World Conqueror. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

42 Kane, Daniel. 2009. The Kitan Language and Script. Leiden: Brill.

43 al-Kāšγarī, Maḥmūd, Robert Dankoff, ed. and trans., with James Kelly. 1985. Compendium of the Turkic Dialects (Dīwān luγāt at-Turk). Cambridge: Harvard University.

44 Kljaštornyj, S.G. 1994. “The Royal Clan of the Turks and the Problem of Early Turkic Iranian Contacts.” Acta Orientalia Hungarica, 47.3, pp. 445–47.

45 Kljaštornyj and Livšic. 1972. “The Sogdian Inscription of Bugut Revisited.” AOH 26, pp. 69–102.

46 Kuwayama Shoshin 桑山正進. 1989. “The Hephthalites in Tokharistan and Northwest India.” Zinbun, Annals of the Institute for Research in the Humanities, Kyoto University, vol. 24, pp. 25–77.

47 Li, Fang 李昉, ed. 1962. Taiping guangji 太平廣記. In Biji xiaoshuo daguan xubian 筆記小說大觀續編. Reprint, Taipei: Hsin-hsing shu-chü.

48 Liang shu 梁書. 1973. Yao, Silian 姚思廉. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

49 Liao shi 遼史. 1974. Tuotuo 脫脫 [Toqta'a], ed. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

50 Minorsky, V., trans. and ed. 1970. Hudūd al-'Ālam: ‘The Regions of the World.’ A Persian Geography 372 A.H.—982 A.D. Cambridge: E. J. W. Gibb Memorial Trust.

51 Molè, Gabriella. 1970. The T'u-yü-hun from the Northern Wei to the Time of the Five Dynasties. Rome: Insituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente.

52 Molnár, Ádám. 1994. Weather Magic in Inner Asia. Bloomington: Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies.

53 Moriyasu, Takao 森安孝夫. 1977. “Chibetto-go shiryō chū ni arawareru Hoppō minzoku–Dru-gu to Hor チベット語史料中に現れる北方民族Dru-gu と Hor.” Ajia Afurika gengo bunka kenkyū アジアアフリカ言語文化研究 14: 1–48.

54 Moriyasu, Takao. 1980. “La nouvelle interprétation des mots Hor et Ho-yo-hor dans le manuscript Pelliot tibétain 1283.” Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 34: 171–84.

55 Nadeliaev, V. M. et al.. 1969. Drevnetiurkskii slovar’. Leningrad: Nauka.

56 Nan Qi shu 南齊書. 1972. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

57 Nan shi 南史. 1975. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

58 Osawa, Takashi. 2009. “The Cultural Relationship between Old Turkic Kingship and Deer Image.” In Current Archaeological Research in Mongolia: Papers from the First International Conference on “Archaeological Research in Mongolia” held in Ulaanbaatar, August 19th–23rd, 2007, edited by Jan Bemmann, Hermann Parzinger, Ernst Pohl, and Damdinsüren Tseveendorzh, 401–416. Bonn: Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität.

59 Ouyang Xuan 歐陽玄. 1922. “Gaochang Xieshi jiazhuan 高昌偰氏家傳.” In Guizhai ji 圭齋集. Chenghua era (1470–1473); rpt. Shanghai: Commercial Press, juan 卷 11, 3a–13a. Pali Text Society. 1972.

60 Pali-English Dictionary. 1921–25: rpt. Routledge & Kegan Paul.

61 Pelliot, Paul. 1921. “Notes sur les T'ou-yu-houen et les Sou-p'i.” T'oung Pao 20, pp. 323–331.

62 Pelliot, Paul. 1929. “Neuf notes sur des questions d'Asie centrale.” T'oung Pao 26, pp. 201–65.

63 Pelliot, Paul. 1959. Notes on Marco Polo. 2 Vols. Paris: Imperimerie Nationale Librairie Adrien-Maisonneuve.

64 Pelliot, Paul. 1961. Histoire ancienne du Tibet. Paris: Libraire d'Amerique et d'Orient.

65 Pritsak, Omeljan. 1985. “Old Turkic Regnal Names in the Chinese Sources.” In Niġuča Bičig/Pi Wên Shu: An Anniversary Volume in Honor of Francis Woodman Cleaves, ed. Joseph Fletcher, et al. Cambridge: Harvard University, pp. 205–11.

66 Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1962. “The Consonantal System of Old Chinese.” Asia Major 9: 58–144, 206–265.

67 Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1965. “The Chinese Name of the Turks.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 85 (2): 121–125.

68 Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1983. “The Chinese and their Neighbours in Prehistoric and Early Historic Times.” In The Origins of Chinese Civilization, edited by David N. Keightley, 411–466. Berkeley: University of California Press.

69 Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1990. “The ‘High Carts’: A Turkish-Speaking People before the Türks.” Asia Major, 3rd Ser., 3: 21–26.

70 Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1991. Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese, and Early Mandarin. Vancouver: UBC Press.

71 Rybatzki, Volker. 2000. “Titles of Türk and Uigur Rulers in the Old Turkic Inscriptions.” Central Asiatic Journal, 44.2, pp. 205–292.

72 Schuessler, Axel. 2007. ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.

73 Schuessler, Axel. 2009. Minimal Old Chinese and Later Han Chinese: A Companion to Grammata Serica Recensa. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.

74 Shimunek, Andrew E. 2007. “Towards a Reconstruction of the Kitan Language, with Notes on Northern Late Middle Chinese Phonology.” M.A. thesis, Indiana University.

75 Shi ji 史記. 1982. Sima Qian 司馬遷. Ed. Pei Yin 裴駰, Sima Zhen 司馬貞 and Zhang Shoujie 張守節. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

76 Sima Qian. Trans. Burton Watson. 1993. Records of the Grand Historian. Vol. I, Qin Dynasty; Vol. 2, parts 1 and 2: Han Dynasty. Revised edition. New York: Columbia University Press.

77 Sims-Williams, Nicholas. 2013. “Palaeography, Chronology, and Geography of the Bactrian Documents (4th–8th Centuries CE)”, lecture at Peking University, Beijing, China. November 4.

78 Sims-Williams, Nicholas. 2003. “Ancient Afghanistan and Its Invaders: Linguistic Evidence from the Bactrian Documents and Inscriptions.” In Indo-Iranian Languages and Peoples, edited by Nicholas Sims-Williams, Nicholas, 225–242. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

79 Sims-Williams, Nicholas, and Étienne de la Vaissière. 2007. “Jabḡuya, i: Origin and early history.” In: Yarshater, Ehsan, (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol 14/3. New York: Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation Inc., pp. 314–16.

80 Sinor, Denis. 1985. “Some Components of the Civilization of the Türks.” In Altaistic Studies, ed. Gunnar Jarring and Staffan Rosén. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, pp. 145–159.

81 Sinor, Denis. 1982. “The Legendary Origin of the Türks.” In Folklorica: Festschrift for Felix J. Oinas, edited by Egle Victoria Žygas and Peter Voorheis, 223–253. Bloomington: Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, Indiana University.

82 Song shu 宋書. 1974. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

83 Soothill, William Edward, and Lewis Hodous. 1937. A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms. London: Kegan Paul, French, and Trübner.

84 Sui shu 隋書. 1973. Wei, Zheng 魏徵 et al., eds. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

85 Takata Tokio 高田時雄. 1988. Tonkō shiryō ni yoru Chūgokugo shi no kenkyū: kyu, jisseiki no Kasei hōgen 敦煌史料による中國語史の研究 —九·十世紀の河西方言. Tokyo: Sōbunsha.

86 Tang Huiyao 唐會要. 1936. Wang, Pu 王溥 ed. Shanghai: Commercial Press.

87 Tekin, Talât. 1968. Grammar of Orkhon Turkish. Bloomington: Indiana University.

88 Du, You 杜佑. 1988. Tong dian 通典. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

89 Uray, Géza. 1978. “Annals of the 'A-ža Principality: The Problem of Chronology and Genre of the Stein Document, Tun-huang, vol. 69, fol. 84.” In Proceeding of the Csoma de Kőrös Memorial Symposium, edited by Louis Ligeti, 541–578. Budapest: Akadémia Kiadó.

90 Wang, Guowei 王國維, ed. 1962. Menggu shiliao sizhong 蒙古史料四種. Taipei: Zhengzhong shuju.

91 Wang Guowei 王國維 1962 [1926]. Menggu shiliao sizhong 蒙古史料四種.: facsimile rpt. Taiwan: Cheng-chung Press.

92 Wang, Renbo 王仁波, et al., gen. ed. 1991. Sui Tang Wudai muzhi huibian 隋唐五代墓誌滙編, vol. 27, Shanxi juan 山西卷, ed. Zhang Xishun 張希舜. Tianjin: Tianjin Old Binding Press.

93 Wei shu 魏書. 1974. Wei, Shou 魏收. 1974. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

94 Wilkinson, Endymion. 2000. Chinese History: A Manual. Revised edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

95 Wittfogel, Karl A., and Chia-sheng Feng 馮家昇. 1949. History of Chinese Society: Liao, 907–1125. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.

96 Venturi, Federica. 2008. “An Old Tibetan Document on the Uighurs: A New Translation and Interpretation.” Journal of Asian History 42: 1–35.

97 Xin Tang shu 新唐書. 2008. Ouyang, Xiu 歐陽修 and Song Qi 宋祁 et al., eds. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

98 Xuanzang 玄奘 and Bianji 辯機, ed. Ji Xianlin 季羡林. 2000. Datang xiyuji jiaozhu 大唐西域記校註. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

99 Yao, Weiyuan 姚薇元. 2007. Beichao Hu xing kao 北朝胡姓考. 2nd Edition, Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

100 Yao Jing'an 姚景安, comp. 1982. Yuanshi renming suoyin 元史人名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

101 Yoshida, Yutaka 吉田豊 and Takao Moriyasu 森安孝夫. 1999. “Buguto himon ブグト碑文.” In Mongoru koku genzon iseki: himon chōsa kenkyū hōkoku モンゴル国現存遺跡・碑文調査研究報告/Provisional Report on Researches on Historical Sites and Inscriptions in Mongolia from 1996 to 1998, edited by Takao Moriyasu and Ayudai Ochir, 122–125. Osaka: Society for Central Eurasian Studies.

102 Yu Taishan. 2011. “History of the Yeda Tribe (Hephthalites): Further Issues.” In Eurasian Studies, ed. Yu Taishan and Li Jinxiu, vol. 1. Beijing: Commercial Press.

103 Yuan wenlei 元文類. 1958. Su, Tianjue 蘇天爵 ed., punctuated. Guoxue jiben congshu 基本叢書 series. 1936; rpt. Beijing: Commercial Press.

104 Zhou shu 周書. 1971. Linghu, Defen 令狐德棻 et al., eds. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.


Export Citation