Мodu, Маоdun, Моdun chanyu (234 b.c. ? – 174 b.c.) – founder of the Great Hun Empire and the famous chanyu who ruled the empire in 209 – 174 bc. 


The earliest data on an ancient ethnos that was known to the society under the name “Hun” in the science of the national history [1. 25-436) was cited by the Chinese historian Sima Qian in his work, which became known under the name “Shiji” (“Historical Records) for the first time by two hieroglyphs of Huns (匈奴). There are opinions that these two hieroglyphs, which are called “Xiōngnú” in modern Chinese, were read as ɕjʊŋ.nǔ *, qʰoŋ.nˤa, etc. in ancient Chinese. European sources left in the records that the groups of Huns who came to Europe in the following centuries were called «Huns». 

Thus, the section “History of the Huns” of the work of Sima Qian “Shiji” (“Historical Records”) is the most famous work in world history, which provided systematic and comprehensive information about the history of the Huns. He first used the name “Huns” in his work when he mentioned the Chinese commander Li Mu. Lee Mu’s birth date, who is mentioned here, is not known, but it is obvious that he lived until 229 BC. In this regard, the date of registration of the name of the Huns in the data is the first half of the 3rd century BC. In the narration of historical events that took place before that era, Sima Qian registered steppe nomadic peoples with different ethnonyms depending on the locality and the time of registration of events. Such diverse ethnonyms are found not only in the writings of Sima Qian, but also in other historical works of the same period. The most important of them were: “guifang (鬼 方)”, “kun i (昆夷)”, xun [yu] 獯 [鬻] ”, “xian yun (猃狁)”, “Run (戎)”, ”di (狄)”, “hu (胡)”, etc. Chinese scholars who are currently engaged in complex scientific research on this topic report that reading the above phrases in the Chinese language of the ancient era is very close to the Huns, Hun, Hunni, Xouw, which were written by European authors. [2, 4 p.].  

Dwelling on the origin of the Huns in his work, Sima Qian wrote “The Huns are descendants of the Xia” [3, p. 2879], spreaded the ethnogenesis of the Huns from one ancestor with the ethnic Han (Chinese). However, scientists are skeptical that this information provided by Sim Qian is so reliable that they conduct research to determine the exact ethnogenesis of the Hun ethnic group. One of them, the Chinese scientist Wang Govei (1877-1927), published an article entitled “Research on Guifang, Hun and Xian Yun” in the early twentieth century. Wang Govei, in his study, doubted that the ethnogenesis of the Huns is homogeneous with the Chinese as it was shown by Sima Qian and he explored the ancestors of the Huns connecting them with the ancient peoples who were adjacent to the Chinese, populating the steppe zones from the north of Chinese land in ancient times. In this regard, he noted that: the ancestors of the Huns were associated with peoples under the names “guifan (鬼 方)”, “kun i(昆夷)”, “xun [yui] (獯 [鬻]”, and later “hiang yun (猃狁)”, “zhun (戎)”, “di (狄)”, ” hu (胡) “, which were mentioned in the works in the past historical period, in particular, the Shang dynasty that ruled around the 16th and 11th centuries BC, as well as the Zhou dynasty that ruled from the 11th century to 256 BC. Currently, it is believed that the ethnogenesis of the Huns is not limited to the ancient ethnic groups indicated by the Wang Govei, and their ancestors are associated with all nomadic peoples inhabiting entire steppe zones in the south and north of the Gobi steppe in that era.  

Modu’s ancestors originated from the ruling tribe of the Huns Luandi tribe. In the data regarding this it is written that: “Personal surname of chanyu was Luandi, their people called him: Chen li gu tu chan yu (writing and reading in modern Chinese language: 撑黎孤涂单于//Chēng lí gū tú chán yú)”, in Hun’s language “Tian” (Almighty) is called “chen li”, and son is called “Gu tu”. The word “Chanuy” here means “broad, generous, and exalted.” Its exact meaning was clarified as “a chanyu as a supreme one” [4, 3760 p.]. This can be understood as “the son of Heaven – darkhan (tarkhan)” or “the son of Tengri – darkhan [5, 98 p.]. That is why in the science of national history sometimes the word “divine” is used as the equivalent of the title of chanyu [6, 8-т., ?? p.]. This is the first historical information that we have on historical issues about the ruling dynasty and the supreme ruler of the Huns, etc.

 However, after some time, the name of the tribe that ruled the Huns also began to be called “Xu lian ti” (虚连题// Xū lián tí). Until now, no one has restored the names of these tribes in the language of the Huns. When historical facts were written about the Luandi and Xu lian ty dynasties: it was clearly written that the Chanyu, all the rulers of the ruling 24 tribes, the right and left wing vans, the right and left wing gu li vans, the right and left wing jeju vans, the right and left wing of weng yu di vans, jiang jiang vans of the right and left wing, they all consist (are appointed) of members of one dynasty [3, 2890 p.]. As indicated there, the post of Chanyu was inherited in the same manner.

In historical data, it is specifically mentioned that in addition to the Luandi tribe or the Syu lian ti tribe, the names of the four tribes of the Huyang, Xubo, Zulin and Lan are mentioned among the most common tribes of the Hun tribe, and they were the most famous tribes in the country, and they were especially noteworthy in that were shawls with the Chanyu dynasty [3, 2889 p.]. Тhis tells us that these four tribes and ruling dynasties were closely connected and related to each other and were elites of the Huns society. 

Based on the available data, it is impossible to systematically describe the history of the Huns till Tumen’s era. That is why historians systematically present the history of the Huns since the Chanyu Tumen era. 

In historical works, including the aforementioned work of Sima Qian “Shiji” (“Historical records”), as well as in the work of Bany Gu “Hanshu” (the history of the Han Dynasty) and in other historical works, no special information was saved about the years of coming to the throne and leaving the throne. 

The only data about this was preserved in the work “Shi Ji Ji Jie” (Commentary of scientists on Historical Records) by a historian named Pei Yin who lived in the era of the Southern Song Dynasty in China (1127-1279) [7, 130 p.]. In this part of the work, the author indicateв that this information was taken from the author, Sui Guang, who lived in the years 352-425. Unfortunately, not one of Sui Guang’s historical works has reached our era. Pei Yin, referring to the information given by Sui Guang, in his work called that in 209 BC, Modu was a divine (chanyu). It is unclear how Sui Guang received such information at that time.

In his famous work, Sima Qian said that Modu killed his father, Tumen, and he himself sat on his throne. According to this information, at the moment these two historical events, that is, the coming to the throne of Modu and the passing away of life, the Divine Tumen will have to be folded in the year 209 BC. Thus, even if, guided by the opinions of Sima Qian and Sui Guan, to assume that Tumen Chanyu died in 209, the question still remains when his service as a chanyu began, and how many years his political life as a chanyu continued.

Therе is evidence in “The history of Li Mu” of the work of Sima Qian that Li Mu destroyed the Huns, and the Huns did not dare to attack the border cities of Zhao for more than ten years. According to evidence, during the era of the rebellious feudal lords, to be more precise, in 265-245 BC, the incumbent Zhao Xiaocheng sent his commander Li Muu to the place like Yanmen. Li Mu destroyed the Huns in that area and drove them into the northern steppe zones. This event occurred before 243 BC. Since there are accurate facts about the life of Li Mu after that year, and in 229 BC, he was killed by his ruler.

In the section “History of the Huns” of the work of Sima Qian “Shiji” (“Historical Records”) is written that Chanyu Tumen could not win the Kingdom Xin. He moved north forcibly. Ming Tien died after more than ten years. there is evidence that the Huns again began to feel freedom, and began to approach Henan and other border places and graze cattle. As you know, Emperor Qin Shi Huang died in 210 year. In the same year, Chinese General Ming Tien died. Min Tien, was the commander of the Chinese side, who shifted the above Tumen to the north.

Based on these two sources, scholars suggest that Tumen Chanyu came to power before Emperor Qin Shi Huang, and has been in power for almost 40 years [8, 174 p.]. That is why a series of historical questions during the rule of the Huns by Tumen Chanyu is full of such assumptions. 

There are many opinions about the etymology of the word Touman written in Chinese. Historians argue that the word Touman is the equivalent of “Tumen“, which in the Turkic-Mongolian term means “ten thousand.” [9, 230 p]. This opinion has been supported by world-class scientists and has not lost its value until today [10, 223-224 p.p.]. Thus, at present it is generally accepted that this name is the very word “Tumen”, which in Turkish means “ten thousand”.

If this assumption is true, then the country of Huns (syunnu) where Tumen Chanyu ruled should be considered the largest country known for its outstanding achievements. Tumen is considered the highest digital indicator in the knowledge of the Turkic people, this word literally means “ten thousand”, and in a figurative sense means “infinitely many”. According to this version, the title “Tumen Chanyu” means the head of an infinite number of people or unit (army). In fact, it is known that the country of Tumen Shan and the number of its troops were more numerous. This can be proved by the fact that, during his reign, he gave his son a ten-thousandth army when he, having stolen a horse of Yuezhi, returned alive and unharmed from a bloody war.

A century ago, the etymology of the word Modu (Mode) was also in the minds of scientists when a scientific analysis of the etymology of Tumen was carried out. Thus, the word “Modu” was supposed to be associated with the word “bahadur” in the Turkic-Mongolian language, and this point of view was supported and developed [11, 9 p]. In one of these studies, the Japanese scientist Siratori Kurakichi considered the name Modo in connection with the word baghdo (Bagdo) or boghdo (Bogdo) in the Turkic-Mongolian language [10, 224 p].

Tumen had many yanshi (wives) and from them he had many children. Modu was the eldest son of Tumen. According to the nomadic ruling system formed before the era of Tumen rule, the hereditary place belonged to the first son. This tradition has survived to later eras. In fact, the place of inheritance had to be stabilized until the moment Modu was born. However, for Tumen Chanyu, the holder of infinite power, it did not seem so stable. According to some reports, one of the most beloved women of Tumen Chanyu once gave birth to a son, Tumen Chanyu intended Modu to deprive the right of inheritance and change the heir to the throne. To this end, he gave the son Modu to his oldest neighbor and worst enemy, the country of Yuezhi, as a pledge. In this case, if the pledging party violates the word will attack, then the life of the hostage child was in danger. Nevertheless, in violation of his promise to end the attack given to Yuezhi, Tumen Chanyu took a cruel step that endangered Modu’s life. History scholars suggest that Tumen Chanyu acted in this way in order to kill Modu with Yuezhi’s hands.

But the feat of Modu radically changed his fate. He found out that Yuezhi was about to kill him, and he stole their fast horse and fled to his country. Tumen Chanyu was delighted with the deed of his son, he refused his decision to deprive him of the right to inherit and transfered the ten thousandth army under the personal control of his son.

Although Tumen refused his bad thought, which he thought of about his son, but the wound from this in Modu’s heart did not heal. This is indicated by information transmitted through historical works. This incident is told as following in the section “History of the Huns” of the work of Sima Qian “Shiji” (“Historical Records”):

Tumen Chanyu had an heir son named Modu. After this, Chanyu had a son from one of his wives. Chanyu decided to exclude Modu’s inheritance rights and instead give the throne to his youngest son. Thus, he pledged Modu to Yuezhi’s country. After Modu arrived in Yuezhi, Tumen suddenly attacked that country. When Yuezhi were about to kill (Modu), he saddled their fast horse and fled to his country. Tumen Chanyu, impressed by the courage of his son, formed a ten-thousandth army and gave them under his personal control. Modu made an amazingly whistling arrow and trained his soldiers to shoot these arrows while riding horses in the direction of the whistle. Once he ordered: “When my whistling arrow shoots at a target, the heads of those who will not shoot together with me will be cut off.” Once, during his trip for hunting, Modu killed someone who did not shoot a target with a whistling arrow. Shortly afterwards, Modu, aiming with a whistle arrow, shot his horse. This time he killed those people who did not dare to shoot his horse. The next time, Modu shot his beloved wife. People standing nearby couldn’t shoot. Modu also killed them. Shortly after this, Modu, while hunting, took an aim and shot at a chanyu (Tumen) horse. This time, those who were with him shot with him. Modu became convinced that his soldiers began to meet the requirements. Later, while hunting with his father, Tumen Chanyu, Modu took aim with a whistle. This time, his soldiers fired at Chanyu with him and killed Tumen Chanyu. After that, he killed his stepmother, younger brother and the lords who did not want to obey him, and he himself became a Chanyu [3, 2892 p.]. 

Obviously, such a historical tragedy arises from the brutal actions of the rulers. At that time, all the Chinese who traveled to the Huns with many visits considered this action as an act of savagery. Nevertheless, not only Modu was guilty of the tragedy, but the dispute began with the action of Tumen Shanu regarding the replacement of the heir.

Despite the fact that the information that “he killed his father and sat on his throne” is convincing, there is no historical fact proving this in the future. This also does not mean that this is false information arising from the revenge of a Chinese historian whose people were attacked by the Huns and suffered very severely. We would like to emphasize here that in the subsequent history of the Huns such “savagery” was not repeated. As mentioned in the aforementioned fact, Modu’s ability to accustom his subordinates to strict order gave him a great opportunity to raise the state which he himself ruled to the level of a “giant state consisting of hundreds of peoples.”.

There is no clear evidence of the era from which the Huns became strong. Nevertheless, it is noticeable that their strengthening began in the era of Tumen or on the eve of his coming to power. Since when Tumen was in power, he did not have enough opportunities for the conquest of Donghu in the east. Their western neighbor Yuеji was considered their rival in the region. Nevertheless, it was noted that Tumen Shanуu was able to send troops to them in order to seize the power of the entire steppe region. This is proved by the fact that Tumen Chanyu, leaving his son Modu to pledge with Yuji, and attacking Yuеji, was confident in conquering this countrу. However, there is no clear evidence of the outcome of another war between the Huns and Yuezhi. However, it is known that after Modu, having escaped from Yuezhi, was freed, Yuezhi did not attack the Huns in order to take revenge. 

According to the historical data given above, in 209 BC, Modu killed his father Tumen and sat on his throne. Thе time when Modu Chanyu came to power coincided with the era when the state of Donghu in the east (Oriental hu) reached a certain level of development and began to strangle neighboring countries. This story was presented by Sima Qian as follows :

The inheritance of the Modu of the paternal throne coincided with the strengthening of the Eastern Hu. When they heard that Modu killed his father and sat on his throne, they sent an envoy to Modu asking the Tumen’s horse. Modu asked the lords for advice on this issue. Then his lords said: “A horse is an invaluable treasure of our country, and we cannot give it away.” And Modu responded to them: “They are our neighbors, and it will not be right if we do not give them a horse” and gave the horse to Donghu. Soon, Donghu thought that Modu was afraid of them, so they sent an envoy and asked him to give them his most beloved yanshi (wife). This time, Modu again brought up their request to his lords. Hun’s lords got angry: Donghu are people who do not know anything, and what humiliation is what they asked yanshi. Modu replied them: «They are our neighbors, and it will not be right if we do not give them a yanshi” and gave Donghu his most beloved wife. This time, the ruler of Donghu more and more admired himself. The idea came to him to go west to attack the country of the Huns. Between Donghu and the Huns was a deserted steppe that stretched about 500 kilometers. On both sides of the border, two countries placed guards for protection. This time, the ruler Donghu sent his envoy to Modu, and through him conveyed his message: the Huns should not enter with their feet on the deserted land that is between the Huns and the guards of the border of our country. We will get this land.” This time, Modu again brought up their request to his lords. The lords of Huns said: This is the land of a deserted steppe region, we can give it or not. But this time, Modu became angry and said: “The land is the foundation of the state, you cannot give it to others!” Thus, all those who were ready to give the land to the eastern hu were beheaded. Modu mounted his horse and issued a decree: “Whoever does not go on this campaign, chop off his head.” So they crusaded to the east and captured Donghu. Donghu did not pay attention to Modu and were without any preparation for war. When they were overtaken by a huge army of Modu, they were very confused. A powerful attack Modu destroyed the Donghu. He killed their ruler and plundered their people, land and property [3, 2893 p.]. Thus, the state of Donghu ceased to exist. The former people of Donghu became servants of the Huns and began to appear in a new guise as their component.

After conquering Donghu, Modu continued its crusade towards the west. He attacked Yuezhi and drove them away.

Subsequently he invaded countries (Henan) Loufang, Baiyang in the southern part of the Yellow River and made them dependent on him.

Soon after, he took away the entire Hun possessions, which were taken away by the Chinese commander Meng Tien in the Qing Shihuang era, made the ancient fortresses in the south of the Yellow River the border between the Kingdom of Han, conquered lands like Chao-na (the current Gu-yuan region), Fushe (near Yulin City, which is now in Shanxi Province). After that, they often attacked Yang, Dai fortresses. At that time, units of the Kingdom of Han fought with Xiang Yu, and people suffered greatly from the civil war that took place in China. at this time, Modu’s strength became more powerful, and he formed a total of more than 300,000 troops.  

In 201 BC, Modu completely conquers the four deltas of the Altai Mountains. Regarding this is written in “Shiji” (“Historical Records”) as follows:

Subsequently, Modu conquered the countries of Hunyu, Queshe, Dinlin, Gekun and Xinli in the north. For this reason, the nobles and officials of the Huns admired him and considered Modu Chanyu as a Bilge [3, 2893 p.].

If you look at the location of the places that were mentioned here, it is noticeable that at that time Modu began to unite one part of the entire steppe region.

Іn the above-mentioned source, the first to mention the name of a country named Hunyu (浑 庾 // hún yǔ). Іn historical data, the name of this country is also found in another way – Hun-yu (浑 窳 // Hún yǔ). According to scientists, the location of the country was on the coast of the Shilka River.

In the same text, the place of the second country, also known as Qushe (屈射 // Qū shè), also existed on the territory of the city of Chita of the current Russian Federation in the east of Lake Baikal. 

As for the Dinlins mentioned in the list of states conquered by Modu, this is an even broader topic.  At that time, the Dinlins settlement was near the current Lake Baikal, which the Chinese indicated as Lake Beihai. History scholars say Dinlins are indigenous people who have lived in this region for many years. In this regard, Li Yanshaw, the historian who wrote the Beishi (History of the Northern Kingdoms) book in 643, claimed that the Dinlin were descendants of ancient people called Chi-di, that is, Red Di. Currently, historians believe that the peoples of Guifang, Dinlin, Gauche (gaoguy), tele, and so on, which have been dating from 1600 BC, they are all different names of one ethnos called Dinlin. 

Gekun (鬲昆 Gé kūn) – this country is described as the ancient ancestors of the Yenisei Kyrgyz. Their settlements at that time were in the Sayan Mountains, along the Yenisei River. 

Sinli – this name of the country is written as Sinli (薪 犂 Xīn lí), and also occurs under the name Lun Sinli (龙 薪 犂 // Lóng xīn lí). The exact location of this country is unknown, although it is believed that this country was not far from the Ob River and modern Novosibirsk. 

The following crusades of Modu were directed to his southern neighbor. In 200 BC, Modu with his army of 400,000 people seized the Han’s emperor Gaozoo in the vicinity of Datong, Shanxi Province for seven days, and then freed him. After this incident, Emperor Han sent an envoy to ask Modu to come to an agreement on peace and matchmaking. Thus, Emperor Gaozu was obliged to give Modu his daughter and annually pay him tax as a gift.

According to Chinese sources, these historical events are described as follows:

This was a time when the Kingdom of Han was just unifiing the Chinese people. Van of the Han Han Xing, who was sent to the lands of the Dai principality, lived in the city Mei-i. At that moment, the Huns attacked with a large number of people and surrounded the city of Mei-i, and van of the Han Han Хing knelt in front of them. After the Huns conquered Han Xing, they went south to Guzhu Mountain and conquered the city of Tai-yuan, and then approached the city of Xinyan. At this moment, Han Gaodi became the leader of the army, went to war against the Huns. The warriors of the Kingdom of Han were in the cold and snowstorms in winter, froze their hands and feet. Modu imitating defeat fled and the units of the Kingdom of Han followed him. Han’s units were deceived by Modu’s cunning and pursued him. Modu left the best detachments of his army in a secluded place, and only the old, weak detachments put forward in the front ranks. Thus, 320,000 soldiers of the Kingdom of Han headed north, driving away the Huns. Therefore, Emperor Gaodi (Liu Ban) arrived in Pincheng before the arrival of his main army. Mоde launched an attack with 400,000 soldiers, and Emperor Gaodi was surrounded on Mount Bаіden. Meanwhile, at that time Gaudi’s infantry had not arrived yet. The army of the Kingdom of Han could not receive help for seven days, and it began to starve very much. The Huns placed troops only on white horses on the western front, only on dark brown horses on the eastern front, only on black horses on the northern front, only on red horses on the southern front. Gaody sent a secret messenger to his wife, Modu, and handed her a present. “It is not proper for the two kings of the two countries to torture each other,” said wife of Modu Chanyu to him, “Even if today you capture the lands of the Kingdom of Han, you still will not settle there. the ruler of the Kingdom of Han is also a holy man. You have to think about it, Chanyu.” Previously, there were several clandestine agreements between the commanders of Modu and Han Xin – Wang Huang and Zhao Li. However, the units of Wang Huang and Zhao Li did not arrive on time at the previously agreed place. That is why Modu suspected them of compromising the Kingdom of Han. Тherefore, on the instructions of his wife, he opened a cordon from one end. Gaodi ordered his troops to leave the cordon without lowering their bows. They left the cordon and joined the main army of the Kingdom. Modu immediately pushed his army back. The king of Нans also pushed the army back. Subsequently [the emperor] sent Liu Jin to the Huns for an “agreement of peace and kinship.” 

After that Han Xin will be the commander of the Huns. He, along with his subordinates Zhao Li and Wang Huang, several times attacked the regions of Daijuаn, Yanmen, Yongzhong, which contradicted the agreements reached between the two countries. Shortly afterwards, Chen Xi betrayed (the Kingdom of Han) and, interacting with Han Xin, attacked the Daijuan region. The Kingdom of Han sent Fan Quaya against them and returned most of the areas of Daijuan, Yanmen and Yongzhong. But they did not go far from the cordon. At that time, several commanders of the Kingdom of Han surrendered to the Huns and a multitude of traitors appeared. For this reason, Modu repeatedly attacked the Daijuan area and looted them. Very worried about this, King Gaodi sent Liu Jin and handed over one of the girls of the royal palace under the guise of a “princess” to chanyu. He sent to the Huns every year a large number of silk fabrics, vodka, rice and other food. An agreement on “peace and kinship” was concluded between the two countries and a relationship was established. Since then, Modu had reduced invasions by a little. Later, lord of Yans Lu Van betrayed and surrendered to the Huns with tens of thousands of soldiers. In the Han Gaodian era, (they) came from the east to Shangu and attacked them.  

When Han Gaozu died, during the reign of Xiao Huidi (Han Hueidi) and Queen Lu, Modu became more and more impudent. He sent an envoy to Queen Liu and handed over a letter through him: “I am a poor king who lost his wife. I was born near a lake and grew up on the pastures of cows and horses. I came to the border many times and thought about taking possession of the lands of the Kingdom of the great Han. You are also a widow, and now I am also in mourning. We have no other consolation. But what if we connect our hearts?” Тhe queen was very angry at this, called the viziers Chen Ping, Fan Quaі, Ji Bu and convened a meeting on cutting off the head of the envoy and the direction of the punitive crusade to the Huns. During the council, Fan Quai said: “If you gave me 100 thousand people, I would have destroyed the Huns.” Then the queen asked the opinion of Lu Zibu. Jiu Bui replied: “In my opinion, we need to kill Fan Kuai. Earlier, when commander Chen Xi committed treason in the principality of Dai, Fan Quai was the commander of a group of 320,000 people in our Kingdom. When King Han Gaodi remained under siege in Pincheng City, this Fan Quai was unable to get out of that siege. A verse about it was circulated among the people: “How heavy was the siege in Pinchen, we starved for seven days and didn’t have the strength to pull the bowstring?” Тraces of this grief have not yet subsided. When our old wounds had not yet healed, the statement by Fan Quai that he, with a hundred thousandth army, would destroy the Huns was a clear boast and deceit of the queen. foreigners of the Huns are like wild animals, so you should not rejoice at their good words and be angry at their bad words.” The queen agreed with his opinion, ordered secretary Zhang Yi to write an answer and set out the following: “Shanуu, remembering us you sent a letter, we were excited about this. I am an old woman of old age who is not beautiful and has gray hair, no teeth, legs do not hold. You probably heard about me wrong, so you should not humiliate your Chanyu status for me. I think we can’t blame you for this. We do not want to be guilty before Chanyu. I think you will get it right. I am sending you two chariots and eight horses that you may need.” Chanyu received a letter, again sent an envoy and said: “I apologize for disrespect, because I was not aware of the internal affairs of the Chinese Kingdom” and gave the horse. Thus, peace and kinship continued [4, 3834].

So, in 177-176 BC, Modu for the last time crusaded to Yuezhi and finally defeated them. This time the Yuezhi moved to the Ili Valley, and the rest depended on the Huns. In that year, he invaded East Turkestan and 26 countries (principality), including Wusun. After that, all of them “entered the Sunnu army and became one tribe.”

According to the information of “Hanshu” (History of the Kingdom of Han), data on this event were set forth in a letter of Chanyu Modu, which he sent in 176 BC to the emperor of the Kingdom of Han. There was written:

“In order to punish the king On bilge, I sent an army to the country of Yuezhi in the west of the country. Thanks to the Almighty and the strength of the will of my warriors and commanders, we destroyed Yuezhi. We chopped off the heads of the resisting people and bent the knees of the conquered people. The peoples of Loulan (Kruran), Wusun, Hujie and the other 26 neighboring countries were conquered by the Huns. All the nomads with bows were people of the same house. In the north, peace reigns. Now I intend to stop the war and establish peace to give our army and horses the opportunity to rest. We want to praise the past, re-establish the old world and family relations, establish peace of the inhabitants of the border region, and thus restore long-standing friendship. Then our descendants will grow without sorrow, and our elderly people will receive the return of their labor [4, 3835].” 

The location of the state of Loulan (Kruran) indicated here is in the western part of Lake Lobnor in the eastern part of modern Xinjiang Autonomous Republic of People’s Republic of China. 

We are well aware of the settlement of the country of Wusun indicated as the second state of that period, and of historical events concerning them.

The name of the third country described in the letter is in Chinese Hujie (呼 揭 // Hū jiē). The name of this country is also known as Huji (呼 偈 // Hū jì). In a work “Weilue”, which was written later, it is known that such a country was named Hude (呼 得 // hū dé). In the Modu era, this country was located in the west of the Kyrgyz people, upstream from the Irtysh, regions from Altai to Tarbagatay, as well as in most of Еast Kazakhstan.

From this source we can fully imagine the exact boundaries of the gigantic empire during the reign of Modu of the Great Steppe.


35 years of Modu’s life in power was full of success. His achievements raised nomads to the level of an unprecedented empire. The territory of the Hun Empire lies in the east from the Korean Peninsula, in the west to the land of Central Asia, in the north from northern taiga of the Lake Baikal, to the Chinese Wall in the south. Modu believed that “the basis of the country is the land.” To achieve this goal, he brought together different peoples living in a vast territory under one roof and united them under one flag. They all called themselves “we are sunnyu (hun)”. That is why neighbors called Confederation of the Huns as a “gigantic state of hundreds of nations.” That was the very important content of Modu’s historical merit.

In fact, Modu’s merit was not limited to this. Modu was the first historical figure, who created and improved a rational military and administrative management system in a nomadic society. Thus, in the era of his reign Modu set a system of rational management and organization, consisting of a team of officials who will only fulfill the chanyu’s decree appointed by him.

As we indicated earlier, the foundation of the Great Huns country was fixed before Modu came to the throne, when his father, Tumen Shanui, was in power, the military and administrative system of the state matured to a very high level. It should be noted here that such an advanced Modul of the state system was a solid foundation for the great achievements of Tumen Shanуu. 

After that, Modu Shanуu further improved the state system, which reached a high level over the centuries in the political history of the nomads of the Great Steppe and adapted it to modern requirements. Most importantly, he established a strict routine in the system of military and administrative control of the whole country based on the rigorous execution of chanyu orders. These measures taken by Modu were able to remove flaws in the form of distraction in the character of nomads and to unite the peoples who settled the Great Steppe under one roof.

The books of Shiji (Historical records) and Han Shu (History of the Kingdom of Han) showed some information about the system of political management of the Huns in their era. According to the information given by Ban Gu:

“The Huns had the ranks as left and right bilge khan, left and right Guli khan, left and right general, left and right main duwei, left and right danhu, left and right guduhou. The Huns called the word “wise” as “tutsi.” Therefore, usually the heir to the throne was appointed to the post of Tutsi Khan of the right wing. Ahead of ten thousand and several thousand soldiers behind them were from the ranks of the right and left bilge khan to danghua. Their total number was 24 different military ranks, all of them were called “heads of the Tumen.” The degrees of the rulers were inherited from father to son. Tribes like Huiyang, Lan, and then the Xu bu tribe who joined this series, these three tribes were considered noble tribes. Kings and commanders of the left wing lived in the east of the country. Their possession began in the middle of Shangui (now the city of Zhangjiakou), in the east it bordered on Huihao, Chaoxiang. Kings and commanders of the right flank lived on the western side of the country. Their possessions were in the region toward the west of Shanjun, and in the western region, it was neighboring countries such as Yuezhi, Ding, and Qiang. The Shanуu horde extends to the zones of Daizong, Yuanzhong. They settle in settlements with pastures and clear waters that are in their possession. The possessions of the left and right bilge khans, as well as the left and right Guli khans are huge. Left and right guhuhou help Chanyu in the affairs of governing the country. Each of 24 different ranks has subordinates such as centenarians, centurions, foremen, minor khans, viziers, fan duvei, danhu, tsetsyu [4, 3836].

This system, which had been documented in historical records, was a system of power of the Huns in the era of Modu Chanyu. The formation of such a career system in the social system of the state of the Huns should be related to the era before the reign of Modu. Nevertheless, it can be said that Modu made his invaluable contribution to the improvement and development of this system, as well as to the functioning of its specific functions in full measure throughout the Hun society. Subsequently, this system of Huns was preserved in the thousand-year history of the Great Steppe as a model for the creation of the state.

Years related to the era of Modu:

  • In 215 BC, Qin Shihuandi sent 300,000 soldiers against the Huns. Chinese commander Meng Tian set off on a campaign in the northern steppe zone against the Huns.
  • In 214 BC, Meng Tian defeated the Huns, built 44 districts in the region south of the Yellow River, built mounds to protect against attacks by the Huns. The western part of the fortress extended to Lintao (now the city of Dingxi in Gansu) and east of Liaodong.
  • In September 201 BC, the general of the Kingdom Han Han van xin surrendered to the Huns. Modu made a campaign to city Tai Yuan.
  • In October 200 BC, Emperor Liu Bang went on a crusade to punish Han van xin. In the same year, Emperor Liu Bang was defeated by the Huns and besieged, and sending messengers to the Huns barely survived.
  • In 198 BC, the Kingdom of Han sent an ambassador to the Huns and asked for an agreement of “peace and kinship.”
  • In September 197 BC, the Chinese commander Cheng Xi was conquered by the Huns
  • In March 195 BC, the next military commander of the Kingdom of Han Lu Wang, was defeated by the Huns and conquered by them.
  • In 195 BC, the Kingdom of Han gave Modu one of the girls of the horde disguised as a princess.
  • In 182 BC, the Huns crusaded to the Kingdom of Han.
  • In 181 BC, the Huns crossed the territory of the Kingdom of Han and captured more than 2,000 people.
  • In 177 BC, the khan of the right wing of the Huns arrived south of the Yellow River and settled not far from Shangjun.
  • In 174 BC, Modu sent a peace letter to Emperor Han Wendy. Modu Chanyu died. Instead, his heir, Ji Yu, sat on the throne and was inaugurated as a “Laoshan Chanyu”. Emperor Han Wendi inaugurated the girl from the royal dynasty as a princess from the royal dynasty and gave her away to the Huns’ Chanyu, and came to peace with the Huns. 


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