The Book of Zhou (周書) 50 (English)


The Kök Türük (突厥) are a separate branch of the Xuŋa (匈奴) with the clan name of Aşın (阿史那). At one point, their clan was nearly destroyed by neighboring states. The only survivor was a boy of ten. The soldiers, seeing that he was young, were reluctant to kill him. So, they cut off his feet and left him in the middle of a marsh. He was found by a she-wolf who nursed him back to health with meat. In time, the boy grew and mated with the she-wolf, leaving her pregnant. The king heard of this and dispatched troops to kill them. His envoy found the wolf laying on her side and desired to kill her. The wolf (noticed and) immediately escaped the envoy, fleeing to the northern mountains of Qoça (高昌). In the mountains, there was a cavern of flat land and lush vegetation. It had a circumference of several hundred li and was surrounded on all four sides by mountains. The wolf hid here and gave birth to ten sons. Here, the ten sons grew strong. They brought back women from the outside, who soon became pregnant. Thereafter, each son had their own surname. One of these was Aşın. Each generation raised another, increasing their numbers until they numbered 100 households. After many generations, they (eventually) decided to leave the cave, (thereupon) becoming vassals of the Tatar Qağanate. They made their home on the southern side of the Altay Mountains, where they became blacksmiths for the Tatars. Since the Altay mountains are said to resemble a cauldron, and because it was their custom to call a cauldron Türük, they called themselves Türük.

It is also said that the Türük originally came from the state of Saqa (索), (located) to the North of the Xuŋa. The chief of (their) tribe was named A-bang-bu (阿謗步) (who) had seventeen brothers. One of them was named Ertiş Ni-shi-dou (伊質泥師都), who was also born of a wolf. A-bang-bu and the rest (of his brothers) were foolish and ignorant. As a result, their states suffered (defeats) and (were ultimately) destroyed. Ni-shi-dou alone was affected by a spirit (which) allowed him to summon wind and rain. He married two women. It is said that they were the daughters of the Summer and Winder gods. One of them became pregnant, giving birth to four sons. One was (able to) change into a white swan; one (founded) a state named Qırğız (契骨) between the A-fu (阿輔) and Jian (劍) rivers. One (founded) a state on the Chu-zhe (處折) river. One resided at Jian-si Chu-zhe-shi Mountain (and) was the eldest of the sons. The kinsmen of A-bang-bu still exist on this mountain, where it is often cold and foggy. The oldest son supported them, providing fire for warmth. (Thus, were) they all (able to) survive. They forthwith honored the elder son as their lord. His name was Türük. (When he was entitled, he took the name of) Ne-dou-liu Şad (訥都六設). Ne-dou-liu had ten wives, whose sons were accordingly all given the clan name of their mothers. Aşın was (the name given to) the son of the youngest wife. (After) the death of Ne-dou-liu, (they) desired to establish one of the sons of the ten mothers. Therefore, one after another, (they gathered) under a great tree. Together, they agreed to enthrone the one who could jump the highest along the tree. Aşın’s son, who was the youngest, was able to jump the highest. They forthwith honored the son as their lord. His name was A-xian Şad (阿賢設).

(His son) was named Tümän (土門), (under who) the tribe slowly flourished, beginning to (purchase) silks at the border markets. They were willing to exchange with the Central States. In the eleventh year of Da-tong, Tai-zu dispatched the Hu An-nuo Pan-tuo (安諾) to Jiu-quan (酒泉). Everyone in the country celebrated and said:

"Now that the great powers have arrived, our country will be prosperous."

(After) twelve years, Tümän forthwith sent gifts. At the time, the Tägäräk (鐵勒) nearly defeated the Tatars (茹茹) (so) Tümän led his troops to intercept and attack (the Tägäräk), destroying (them in the process). He finished off more than 50,000 of them. Relying on his increasing strength, he proposed a marital (alliance) with the Tatars. The Lord of the Tatars, Anağay (阿那瓌), was furious, sending (an emissary) to insult (Tümän), stating:

“You are my blacksmith slave, how dare you utter these words?”

Tümän was furious and killed (Anağay’s) envoy. He forthwith cut ties (with the Tatars) and proposed a marital (alliance) with us. (Yu-wen) Tai allowed it. In the sixth month of the seventeenth year, Princess Wei Zhang-le (魏長樂) became his wife. That year, the Emperor of Wei passed away, and Tümän sent a messenger in mourning, presenting 200 horses (in his honor).

On the first month of the first year of Emperor Wei Fei, Tümän sent troops to attack the Tatars, causing them great damage to the north of Huai-huang (懷荒). Anağay committed suicide, and his son Amraqçin (菴羅辰) fled. The rest established Anağay’s uncle Deng Shu-zi (鄧叔子) as their lord. Tümän forthwith declared himself Illig Qağan (伊利可汗), which in old times was the equivalent to Darğa. He declared his wife Qatun (可賀敦), which in old times was the equivalent of Yan-zhi (閼氏). (When) Tümän died, his son Qara (科羅) was established.

Qara declared himself Isıq Qağan (乙息記可汗). He too delivered a defeating blow to (Deng) Shu-zi north of Wo-ye (沃野) at Mu-lai Mountain (木賴山). In the third month of the second year, Qara sent ambassadors to bestow 50,000 horses. Qara died and his younger brother Erkin (俟斤) was established, declaring himself Muqan Qağan (木汗可汗).

Erkin’s name was Eŋtolu (燕都). He had an odd and peculiar appearance. His face was more than a chi (尺) wide and his (cheeks) were very red. His eye color resembled that of a lapis lazuli. He had a strong and violent character, and his business was in conquest. Thus, he led his troops in an attack on Deng Shu-zi, destroying him (in the process). Shu-zi and the remnants (of his forces) fled (to us). Erkin also went West, destroying the Yedivar (囐噠). (He then destroyed) the Qitan (契丹) in the East and the Qırğız (契骨) in North. He overpowered and conquered the many states beyond the Long Wall.

His land extended from Liao River (遼海) in the East to the Western Sea (西海) in the West for ten thousand li, and from the desert (沙漠) in the South to Lake Bayqal (北海) in the North for five to six thousand li, all of which belonged to (him now). It is their custom to have unbound and disheveled hair, wear the labels (of their robes) on the left, yurts covered in felt, and migrate in search of water and grass. Their business is to tend to livestock and hunt game. They look down on the old and value the strong, and few have integrity or a sense of honor. They do not practice ceremony and propriety. They are just like the Xuŋa of old. When their lord is first established, his personal servants, court ministers, and the like roll him in felt and, following the sun, revolve him around nine times. Upon each turn, the ministers under him worship him. When they are finished worshipping, they help him ride his horse, strangling his neck with silk, waiting until the last moment, they release their grip, immediately asking him:

“How many years will you serve as Qağan?”

Their lord, already in a confused state, could not competently specify how many. So, the ministers and the like follow his words in order to verify how long or short (his reign will be). Their greatest official is the Yabğu (葉護). Then it is the Şad (沒), the Tägin (勒), the Iltäbär (俟利發), the Tudun (吐屯), and remaining smaller officials, all together, number twenty-eight. They have talent in using the bow and arrow (and are known to use) whistling arrows (鳴鏑), armor, lances, daggers, swords, and belt ornaments. As a rule, they hold two or more positions at the same time, concealing (one force) to ambush with. They erect a golden wolf’s head above their banner. Their guards are warriors known as the Büri (附離), in the language of the Central States, a “wolf.” Because they were originally born of a wolf, they do forget (its importance in) their past. They enlist cavalry forces, levy taxes, keep various kind of livestock, keep carts, and engrave wood for numbers. They use an arrow with a golden head and sealed wax to mark their approval to an agreement. According to their criminal code: rebels, murderers, unfaithful women, and those who steal horses are all executed. The man and woman accused of adultery are held fiscally responsible, even if (the man) has a wife and daughter. Those accused of injuring another are, in light of the severity of the crime, punished with the loss of property. Those accused of stealing horses and other things (of such importance) are in debt ten times over.