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Avar (Avars)

The Avar (Common Script: Avar; IPA: /ɑvɑr/; Chinese: 烏讙, ; Old Turkic: 𐰯𐰺; Greek: Ἀβάρις, Βαρχονίτες) were remnants of the Northern Xuŋa, who took on the name of the ancient Avar, a Mongolic tribe that once roamed Inner-Asia. While a member of the Tägäräk confederation, they first appeared in the West during the 5th century C.E.


The Avar ethnonym may derive from Mongolic *ɑb “to take;” hence, Turkic *ɑpɑr “to take, steal, confiscate.” They are also referred to as Varxun (Βαρχονίτες), a conflation of Avar and Xunı. Alternatively, their name may be tied to the Iranic Aparni or Parni, the ancestors of the Parȿaw.



The Pannonian, Western, Turkic, or Pseudo-Avar, as they are sometimes referred to as, are ultimately Hunnish remnants of the Northern Xuŋa, who either joined or were absorbed into the Tägäräk confederation upon the collapse of the Northern Xuŋa state. Upon their migration West, they likely adopted the historic name of the ancient Avar, a Mongolic tribe that once roamed Inner-Asia. Therefore, the Avar we speak of here are not the Avar (烏丸) that are also mentioned as loyal to the Tabğaç state of Northern Wei, who were likely the descendants of the original Avar.

Early Mentions

Priscus is the first to mention the Avar in the West. In ca. 463 C.E., he claims that the Avar (Ἀβάρις) were responsible for expelling the Śavar from their land. It is also mentioned that the Avar, themselves, were displaced by another group fleeing man-eating griffons. However, nearly two centuries later, the Suishu lists both the Avar (烏讙) and the Śavar as occupying territory described as “west of Yi-wu (伊吾), north of Agni (焉耆), and on the side of Aqtağ Mountain (白山).” At that time, both tribes were members of the Tägäräk confederation, capable of raising 20,000 fighting men each. The Kök Türük lord Tamğan, in a mid-5th century letter to the Byzantines, also claims a fighting force of 20,000 for the Avar. It can therefore be reasoned that the Avar of the 5th century were one and the same as the Avar of the 6th and 7th century.

Under the Kök Türük Qağanate

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