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Nushibi (Nu-shibi, Chinese: 弩失畢; pinyin: Nǔ shībì) was a Chinese collective name for five tribes of the right (western) wing[1] in the Western Turkic Khaganate, and members of On oq (Turkic ten arrows) confederation found in the literature about the Western Turkic Kaganate as Ten arrows (ten tribes) Türks. The references to Nushibi appeared in Chinese sources in 651 and disappeared after 766. The Nushibi tribes occupied the lands of the Western Turkic Kaganate west of the Ili River of contemporary Kazakhstan.


Yury Zuev reconstructs Nushibi's Middle Chinese pronunciation as nou siet-piet,[2] which, he asserts, transcribes Turkic ong shadapit "right[3] wing". Shadapit, attested from Bilge Khagan's memorial complex, either means "entourage of the Shad" (Clauson, 1972)[4] or is a title cognate with Old Persian *satapati (Bombaci, 1976)[5] "lord of a hundred".[6]

On the other hand, János Harmatta reconstructed "Nushibi" as *nu śipiɺ, *nu śipir; and proposed Iranian etymologies, meaning "good horsemen": with *nu "good" (cf. Old Persian *naiba-) and *aśśaβâra, *aśva-bâra, or *aśśaβârya (cf. Saka aśśa "horse", Old Indic bhârya, "soldier, servant").[7]

Historical outlineEdit

Western Turkic KaganateEdit

After the split of the First Turkic Khaganate in 604, the Western Turkic Kaganate was initially reorganized as a "ten arrows" Onoq confederation with Nushibi five-tribe right wing dominating over the left wing of the Dulu group of five tribes. Both Nushibi and Dulu (Dulo) belonged to the Turkic tribes of the Chuy group, and spoke close dialects.[8]

The transfer of supremacy from the Dulu group to Nushibi had outcome reverberating across Erasian continent. Nushibi controlled, and benefited, from the operation of their section of the transcontinental trade road (Silk Road), and were in alliance with Sogdiana, a chain of small oasis principalities who were also members of the Western Turkic Khaganate, and served as main operators of the Silk Road. Nushibi interest in the Silk Road operation brought them, in addition to the Sogdians, into a coalition with Byzantine and China, two other superpowers interested in the east-west trade. In the west, the coalition included Khazars in the N. Caucasus, and Bulgars in the N. Pontic steppes. This alignment was opposed a coalition of two other powers, Persia and Eastern Turkic Kaganate, which brought about the first world wars of the 7th century Early Middle Ages.[9][10]

Nushibi interests in the Western Turkic Kaganate were advanced by the Kagan Tun-djabgu-khan (Djabgu = dialect. Yabgu), known from the Armenian annals as "King of the North". The capital was located north of Chach (modern Tashkent) oasis. The period of Nushibi dominance was interrupted in 628 by a joined revolt of Karluks and Dulu tribes, and a consequent death of Tun-djabgu-kagan from the hands of his uncle. In the interregnum, led by his uncle with a title Külüg Sibir-Khan, the Dulu fraction restored its former dominating position. The coup brought a considerable upshot, in 630 Sibir-Khan had to grant Bulgarians their independence and allow them reorganize as what became known as Great Bulgaria.[11] Nushibi opposition to the usurper was headed by Nishu-Kana-shad, a ruler with a seat in Paykend (Paikent), who ruled Bukhara province. Sibir-Khan was killed in 631, and Nushibi installed their choice, son of Tun-djabgu-kagan with a title Irbis Bolun djabgu-khan, who received a derisive nickname Sydjabgu (Turkic treacherous), and was known to western contemporaries as Sinjibu and Silzibul [12] but soon had to replace him with Nishu-Kana-shad under a name Dulu-khan (632–634), probably to appease the northern Dulu tribes. The next succession followed the traditional lateral succession order, a younger brother of Nishu was enthroned with a title Yshbara Tolis-shad (634–639), he enacted a major reform by consenting to the Dulu and Nushibi wings' autonomy and native leadership, not drawn from the Ashina clan. The order, favorable to the Dulu and Nushibi, was hurtful to the Karluks, Yagma, Kipchaks, Basmals, and worst of all to the descendants of the Eastern HunsChuyüe (later Shato) and Chumi they were especially anguished because their kins Chumuhun were in the privileged Duolu and Chuban in both Duolo & Nushibi wings.[11]


In 647 the Western Turkic Kaganate was split into two independent states as a result of Ili River treaty. The independence period lasted until the rise of the Second Turkic Khaganate. In 667 the Nushibi wing of the On oq allied with Tibet.[13] At about 720, a campaign led by Kul Tegin defeated the forces of the Nushibi tribal union led by the Ezgil (Izgil) tribe, and subjugated the former "eastern wing", which from that time disappeared from the literature. The episode of the military campaign is mentioned in the Bilge Kagan inscription in the Orkhon written monuments.[14]

Nushibi tribal leadersEdit

Tongdian, Vol. 199 records the five sub-tribes' names and titles of their leaders.

Hanzi Pinyin Beckwith's reconstruction[15][16] Zuev's reconstruction[17]
阿悉結闕俟斤 Āxījiē què sìjīn *Ärski čur irkin *Ezgil Kül-erkin
哥舒闕俟斤 Gēshū què sìjīn *Qošu čur irkin *Kashu Kül-erkin
拔塞幹暾沙缽(略)俟斤 Básègàn tūn shābō(lüè) sìjīn *Barsqan tun iśbara irkin *Barskhan Tun-ashpa [ra]-erkin
阿悉結泥孰俟斤 Āxījiē níshú sìjīn *Ärski niźuk/nêšug irkin *Ezgil Nizuk-erkin
阿舒處半俟斤 Gēshū chùbàn sìjīn *Qošu čupan irkin *Kashu Chopan-erkin

Ethnic and linguistic affiliationEdit

The difference between Nushibi and Dulu groups was solely economical, a consequence of their relative geographical location. Dulu occupied northern portion of the Middle Asia steppes, away from the main artery of the Silk Road, and were little affected by the intracontinental trade. The main source of Dulu trade income came from Turfan of the Turfan basin. Nushibi occupied lands south of Dulu, controlled a major stretch of the caravan road artery and numerous branches, and were profoundly affected by its operation. The constellation of oasis city-states with a common name Sogdiana, whose merchants were the main trade operators, spoke a Turkic language, and established a symbiotic relationship with their Nushibi nomadic sponsors. Lev Gumilev noted that Dulu and Nushibi language was a "djo"-type dialect (djabgu), as opposed to the "yo"-type dialect (yabgu).[18] The "djo"-type dialect belongs to the Ogur (Karluk) branch of the Turkic language family.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Yu. Zuev, "The Strongest tribe - Izgil"//Historical And Cultural Relations Between Iran And Dasht-i Kipchak in the 13th through 18th Centuries, Materials of International Round Table, Almaty, 2004, p. 53, ISBN 9965-699-14-3
  2. ^ Yu. Zuev, "The Strongest tribe - Esgil", p. 53, ISBN 9965-699-14-3
  3. ^ Golden, Peter B. Studies on the Peoples and Cultures of the Eurasian Steppes, (January 2011), p. 24
  4. ^ Golden, Peter B., “Oq and Oğur ~ Oğuz”, Turkic Languages, 16/2 (2012). p. 8 of 29
  5. ^ Shimin, Geng (耿世民) (2005). 古代突厥文碑铭研究 (Studies on Ancient Tūjué stele inscriptions). p. 147 (in Chinese)
  6. ^ Briant, Pierre. (2002). From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire. Translator: Peter T. Daniels. Eisenbrauns. Winona Lakes, Indiana. p. 1179
  7. ^ Golden, Peter B., “Oq and Oğur ~ Oğuz”, Turkic Languages, 16/2 (2012). p. 8 of 29
  8. ^ Chavannes, Édouard. Documents sur les Tou-kiue (Turcs) occidentaux. 1900. Paris, Librairie d’Amérique et d’Orient. Reprint: SPb, 1903, p. 47.
  9. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", Moscow, 'Science', 1967, Ch. 12, (In Russian)
  10. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", Moscow, 'Science', 1967, Ch. 15 World War of the 7th century, (In Russian)
  11. ^ a b Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", Moscow, 'Science', 1967, Ch. 16
  12. ^ Sinjibu, or Silzibul (Turkish leader) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  13. ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. (1987), pp. 32–33. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02469-3.
  14. ^ Yu. Zuev, "The Strongest tribe - Izgil", p. 58,
  15. ^ Golden, Peter B. (1992). An Introduction to the History of the Turkic People. Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden. p. 136.
  16. ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey. p. 210.
  17. ^ Zuev Yu.A. "The strongest tribe Esgil" Materials of International Round Table, Almaty, 2004, ISBN 9965-699-14-3. p. 47
  18. ^ Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", Moscow, 'Science', 1967, p.150, note 3