Chapter One

Historical Development of the Multi-Ethnic Region

1. PrimitivePopulationMigrationandCulturalExchanges

1.Archaeological Data and Primitive Residents in the Western Regions Today's Xinjiang Region in the northwest of China was called the Western Regions in history. That name tirst appeared in the history records during the Han Dynasty more than 2000 yearsago.Atthattime,theWestern RegionsreferredtoareaswestofYumenPassandYangPass. Later on, the entire northwest of the territories of Chinese dynasties of the Central Plains was generally described as the Western Regions. Despite differences of the outreach in history books of different dynasties, the central part of the Western Regions has always been today's Central Asianregion including Xinjiang of China. When did primitive humans in the Western Regions first appear? Archaeol ogical discoveries and research in the 20lh century have presented us a general picture about the historical source of thehumansinXinjiang. Therehave been reportson Palaeolithicsites there,suchasPalaeolithic chipped stone implements of 20,000 to 10,000 years ago unearthed in the southwest of the old city of Jiaohe, . There are more discoveries of Neolithic sites in Xinjiang. However, Neolithic stone implementswere often found side by side with bronze or iron implements. The dates could be as early astheMesolithicAgeoraslateastheBronzeAgeorevenearly IronAge. Inplacessurrounding theWesternRegions, including the Central Asia and South Siberia of the former Soviet Union, Gansu and Qinghai of China as well as some spots in India, their Neolithic sites were all more than 4,000 years old. Those places basically went into the Bronze Age afterwards. The Western Regions should not be a dramatic exception given its geographic location. All the abovementioned information combined, we believe the Western Regions do have Stone Age sites dated 4,000yearsago. Therefore,ourstoryofthepre-historicalWesternRegionsshouldstartfrom then. As to archaeological conclusions and related descriptions before that time, they still have to be confirmed in future discoveries and research. The primitive residents in the Western Regions have long been an issue that tremendously intereststheacademic circle. Overthepastdecade,thankstobotharchaeologicaldiscoveriesand ethnicand racial studies of historical humans in the Westem Regions, we now have a rough idea about the source, distribution, migration, integration and development of the primitive residents in that area. Up to now, no site has been found in the Western Regions suggesting the evolution


of the anthropoid or apes, on which basis we may deduce that the primitive residents in the Western Regions came from the surrounding areas in different historical times . Despite the absence of a full-blown palaeo-anthropological explanation of the ancient racial and ethnic structure in today's Xinjiang due to data inadequacy, it can be asserted for sure that the primitive residents in Xinjiang were composed of two branches, the western race and the eastern race, thanks to archaeological and anthropological data in today's Khotan, Lop Nor, Hami and IIi.

2. Western Humans in the Western Regions The western humans refer to the ancient Caucasoid race. There are two proofs pointing to their entry into ancient Xinjiang. One is the archeological and anthropological data in Central Asia, which is close to Xinjiang. Fossils of Homo Neanderthal in the Palaeolithic era were excavated from the rock cave at Queshka-Tash in Uzbekistan. Two skulls of pre-historic European man with Cro-Magnon features were unearthed in eastern Kazakhstan, one of the Neolithic era and the other Bronze-Stone Age . In some other places narrow-faced skulls of the Neolithic age were found . All those skulls have a lot of things in common with the skulls unearthed from tombs in the Neolithic age in the Mediterranean areas. Conclusion can be drawn from those data that those primitive Europeans moved further east to the ancient Western Regions. The second proof is the data in Xinjiang. Elements of the two types of primitive European people, the Neanderthal and the Cro-Magnon have also been found in the palaeo-anthropological data after the Bronze Age in Xinjiang. As pointed out by the famous Chinese palaeo-anthropologist Mr. Han Kangxin, "At least by the end of the Bronze Age, European races with primitive features were already in the region near Lop Nor. It is still not possible to pin down from where and how they came to the heartland of Xinjiang, however, the anthropological features of the residents of the Gumugou (in the area of Lop Nor) Culture show that racially, they were closely linked with residents in South Siberia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia or even the lower reach of River Volga at the Bronze Age ." "Elements of the European race with east Mediterranean features seemed to have come later, as they were found in the ancient tombs in Shanpula at Lop (in Khotan area) , outskirts of Loulan at Lop Nor, and Alagou (south of the eastern part of the Tianshan Mountains). Such features were dominant in the first two places." Mr. Han gives a sketch on how the primitives around the Tarim Basin in ancient Xinjiang travelled: "People with elements of the Mediterranean race in Central Asia traversed the Pamirs and then divided into two groups. The First group moved further east along the southern edge of the Tarim Basin, arriving in Lop Nor, possibly forming an important part of the residents in the State of Loulan during the Han Dynasty either by themselves or together with another primitive group with European racial elements who arrived earlier in that region. The other group moved eastward along the northern line of the Tarim Basin until they arrived at the eastern part of the Tianshan Mountains. In their infiltration process, it is likely that they mixed more with local people than their southern-route counterparts." As to the primitive population to the north of the Tianshan Mountains, Mr. Han states as follows: "In the hundreds of years around the beginning of Gregorian calendar, people living in the upper reach of River IIi (north of Tianshan Mountains) were the ancient Sak and Usun, who had another type of anthropological features, that is, the short-skulled Pamir-Fergan type, or otherwise known as the Central Asia Transoxiana type. Some of them had transitional features

between the Transoxiana type and Andronov (European) type. On the whole, they were obviously similar in physique to other Sak (excluding South Pamir Sak) and Usun people in Central


Asia, but quite different from the afore-mentioned European and Mediterranean primitives."!

3. Eastern Humans in the Western Regions

The eastern humans refer to the Monguloid race. At present, data showing the suurce and distribution of those people in ancient Xinjiang are still very sketchy, but the existing archaeological and anthropological materials do point to a number of preliminary conclusions.

First, the Monguloid race already moved into ancient Xinjiang before the starting year of the Gregurian calendar. "Shortly before the Christian era, with the major racial movements at that time, features of the Mongoloid 'sedimented", to varying degrees, into the Transuxiana type (active in today's Central Asia and north to the Tianshan Muuntains) that was taking shape then.'?

Second, it is assumed on the basis of archaeological and anthropological data on Yablak Tomb in Hami and Turki tomb in Lop Nor that "possibly at least before the Chinese Han Dynasty, the western and eastern races moved into Xinjiang in the opposite direction. But in comparison, the westbound infiltratiun by the Mongoloid was rather fragmentary, unlike the active eastward-moving western-type humans." ]

Third, it is found widely that people with elements of the eastern and western races tended

to stay in the same place (including the same tomb or tomb complex), as demonstrated by the

ancienttombs inAlagou,Yablak inHami and lateron,LoulanandZhaosu(inIIiarea). It is still

notclear whether those people were uf a race-based master-slave relationship or members of the


From what has been discussed above, we can see that the primitive residents in ancient Xinjiangcame from the neighbouring regions. People moved from east or west to Xinjiang along grassland(including the grassland hidden deep in mountains), rivers and alluvial plains and oases on the verge of the basins. The Caucasoid from the west spread wider in the Western Regions, andtheygraduallymovedfurther intotheeastandarrivedintoday'sHamiinEasternXinjiangby early Irun Age. The Mongoloid from the cast mainly lived in the eastern part uf the Western Regiuns,and they also moved westward as time passed by, arriving in today's IIiRiver valley by early Irun Age. Archaeological excavations and study show that those primitive residents of Xinjiang coming from different directions met on their route of migration and mixed with each other ethnically.

4.Ancient Exchanges Between Civilizations What has been unearthed also reflects the aboriginal social and cultural customs of the earl y residents in the Western Regions, which were a combination uf local features and their neighbours' way oflife. In the middle of the Western Regions, localllavuur was pretty strong, while theborderareasweresubjecttobiggerinfluence ofeithertheeastern urwesterncivilizations. It can be deduced that the primitive people went through a period uf stable integration and devel

1Han Kangxin, Ethno-anthropological Research on Ancient Residents in Xinjiang, in Xinjiang Ancient

Bodies. Xinjiang People's Publishing House, February 2002, pp214-223.

2 Kinsburg (pronunciation), Basic Palaeo-anthropologic al Issues in Central Asia Concerning Origin of

CentralAsian Peoples, in Russian-version Brief Report of the Research Centre on Ethnology, Issue No. 31, 1959.

3 Han Kangxin , pp214-223.


opment after moving into the Western Regions, on which basis the unique civilization of the Western Regions came into being.

Human civilizations do not move along at the same pace in different regions. To the east of the Western Regions, the Central Plains along the Yellow River were advancing faster in their own civilization. Before 2000 BC, the Xia tribe in that area set up the first slave state in the history the Central Plains-the Xia Dynasty. At about the 15th century BC, the Shang Dynasty then ruling the Central Plains was at the peak of the slave society. In the 8th century BC, the system enfeoffment was prevalent in both the western and eastern Zhou Dynasties. At the same time, the Western Regions were in transition to the class societj; However, the ancient Transoxiana, which was to the west of the Western Regions, only gradually developed a class society between the IO" and T" centuries Be. It came under the rule of the ancient Persia Kingdom in the 6th century BC. The mountains at the western edge of the Tarim Basin and the Pamirs restricted the eastward expansion of the ancient Persian Kingdom, which made it much easier for the Western Regions to interact with the east, including both the land-farming civilization on the Central Plains and the nomadic civilization on the northern grassland. As a result, the Western Regions has a long history of exchanges and communications with areas to its east. As time passed by, their interactions intensified, and more and more people from the east moved to the Western

Regions and lived there. Such inter-civilization exchanges then formed a part of the increasingly

inclusive ancient Chinese civilization.

It is universally recognized both at home and abroad that the earliest written record on the Western Regions was in Chinese and that no study on the Western Regions (including the Central Asia) before the 6th century BC can be made without referring to the Chinese-language historical data. A lot of records of the geography, history and legends of the Western Regions can befound in those Chinese historical materials written during or around the Warring-States Period (465-221 BC), such as Book of Mountains and Seas, Chronicles on Bamboo, Biography of Mutianzi, Yi Zhou Book, and Da-Dai-Li-Ji. There are even more lengthy accounts in Records of History and Book of Han.

All those records share one feature in common, that is, the Western Regions were described

as part of the Chinese civilization. For example, in records of geography, the landscape, moun

tains and rivers, mineral resources and other products of the Western Regions were always put

side by side with the relevant items on the Central Plains. As recorded in Book of Mountains and

Seas, the Kunlun Mountains and the Altun Mountains, which are located in the mid-south and

southeast of the Western Regions respectively, were called as the Southern Mountains together

with the Qilian Mountains west of the Yellow River in today's Gansu Province and the Qinling

Mountains in today's Shaanxi Province. The Qinling were also called the End of the Southern

Mountains, since they are the concluding part of the Southern Mountains. In the same book, it

was also written that the Yellow River on the Central Plains had its origin from the Western

Regions. According to the book, the Congling River (today's Kashgar and Yarkand Rivers) and

Yutian River (today's Khotan River) converged into one (also known today as the Tarim River),

which flowed into Youze (today's Lop Nur) and then went underground and ran through the

Southern Mountains (today's Jishi Mountains in Qinghai), forming the source of the Yellow

River. Although that assumption was mistaken and was gradually abandoned during the Tang

Dynasty, it did reflect that ancient people in China thought the Western Regions and the Central

Plains as a whole.

There are numerous records and legends about the interactions and friendly exchanges


between the ancient Western Regions and the Central Plains. For example, it was recorded in Chronicleson Bamboothatin the26th year of DawuofZhongzong's reignintheShangDynasty (about 1612 BC), Xirong sent people eastward and the king of Shang reciprocated by sending Wang Meng to Xirong. The best known story is the visit by the king of Zhou Dynasty, Muwang, to the Western Regions. The story has it that Muwang led a big entourage eastward and received welcome in the Western Regions by the local leader, a lady called Xiwangmu. Muwanggavetheladyalotofgiftssuchassilk,bronzeware andshellcoins,whileXiwangmu hosted a banquet in Muwang's honour at Yaochi. The two leaders were so happy that they improvisedpoemsatthebanquet. Inthk17thyearofMuwang'sreign(about985BC),Xiwangmu cametotheCentralPlainstoseeMuwangandwasaccommodatedintheZhaoPalace', Todayon themuralsof Cave No. 423 of Mogaoku in Dunhuangand thosein the forechamberofTombNo. 5duringtheWuliangPeriodunearthedin 1978atXijiazha,JiuquanofGansu,peoplecanstillsee the vivid story of the meeting between Muwang of the Zhou Dynasty and Xiwangmufrom the WesternRegions. Althoughsuchstoriesmaywellbejustlegendary,theydolendusadditional supporttoargue for the time-honouredand harmoniousrelationsbetweentheWesternRegions

andtheCentral Plains.

Amongeverythingthat has been discovered,two types of culturalrelicsaremostconvincing evidenceforthematerialexchangesbetweentheWesternRegionsandtheCentralPlains. The first type is the jade the Western Regions sent to the Central Plains. For long, the Western Regions have been famous for their jade stones. All the kings and lords of the Central Plains "took pride in possessing Yuzhi Jade". Yuzhi was another name for Rouzhi people in the northwest, wholivedinplacesfromeastTianshanMountainstoDunhuang,thecorridorlinking theWestern RegionsandtheCentralPlains,hencejade producedinthe Western Regionscalled YuzhiJadebytheCentralPlains. Inaddition,therewasKunlunJade,whichwasproducedinthe KunlunMountains. In 1976,thetombofFuhao,thewifeofthekingofShangDynastyWuding, wasunearthedatYinxu,AnyangofHenan. Fromthatover-3,200 yearsoldtomb,756piecesof jade wares were excavated, most of which were made of Kunlun Jade. The Yumen Pass at Dunhuang is literally translated as the Pass of Jade Gate, which apparently suggests it was a must-go passforthetransportationofjade fromthe WesternRegions.

The second type is the silk fabrics produced on the Central Plains that were transported to

theWesternRegionsorfurtherwest. TheearliestsilkfabricsunearthedintheWesternRegions

uptonowwerefoundinthe tombsduring theearly yearsof theWesternHanDynasty,about the

2nd centuryBC Giventhedifficultyofpreservingsilkandtheevidenceofsilkbeingtransported

to Persia via the Western Regions as early as in the latter half of the 5th century BC, it must be

waybeforethelate5th century BC thatsilk was transportedintotheWesternRegions.

Inaddition, archaeologicaldataoftheformerSovietUnionshowthatbronzemirrorsofthe

Warring States period in the history of the Central Plains were found in the tombs of the Hujie

PeoplelivingintheAltayareaof theWesternRegionsinthe5th century BC, and that the mirrors

werebasicallyidenticalwith thoseunearthedfromtheGuoguoTombat ShangfenglinginShaan

Countyof Henan (a province on the Central Plains) both in terms of shape and size. In another

development, the lacquer wares popular in ancient Western Regions were also undoubtedly

transported from the Central Plains.

1 Chronicles on Bamboo.


II. Western Regions and the Northern Regimes as well as the Central PlainsKingdoms

1. Western Regions under the Hun Rule

From the Warring States period to the Qin and Han Dynasties (i.e., from the 5th century BC to the 3rd century AD), sedentary or semi-sedentary residents living in the oases on the verge of the Tarim Basin or depressions between mountains already fromed their relatively independent tribes and towns, hence the name "city states". At that time, the nomadic Rouzhi tribe active in the River West (or Hexi) area gradually prospered and expanded west to the Altay Mountains and east Tianshan Mountains. In the latter half of the 3rd century BC, the Rouzhi reached out to the plateau north of the desert and controlled the Hun people who were roaming in that area. The Rouzhi tribe even obliged the head of the Huns, Touman Chanyu (?-209 BC) to send his crown prince, Maodun over as a hostage. In 209 BC (the first year of the Ershi's reign ofQin Dynasty), the Huns went into armed resistance against Rouzhi, and Maodun fled back to his own people and claimed himself Chanyu (ruler, or chief) of the Hun. After driving the Rouzhi out of the northern steppe, the Huns headed south to provoke the Han Dynasty. In 200 BC (the T" year of Gaozu's reign of the Western Han Dynasty), Maodun and his troops besieged Gaozu Emperor of Han Dynasty at Baidengshan (northeast of today's Datong City, Shanxi Province), which resulted in the Han Dynasty offering a royal marriage as a gesture for reconciliation. After that the Huns expanded their influence northwest and entered the Western Regions around 177 Be.

In the early days of the Western Han Dynasty, the city states dotting around the Tarim Basin to the south of the Tianshan Mountains were called the "Thirty-six States", among which Loulan (northwest of today's Lop Nur) in the east was the most powerful. To the north of the Tianshan Mountains were the Sak, Usun and Hujie people, who mainly relied on herding for a living, sometimes complemented by hunting. Among those people Usun (near today's Hami) and Hujie (south of today's Altay Mountains) were among the strongest. In addition, there were the Jiankun tribe along the upper reach of today's Yenisei River, and the Dingling people living next to Hujie and Jiankun. Both of the two tribes were subject to the Huns.

States in the Western Regions were very unbalanced in terms of the stage of social development, yet basically they all belonged to the class society. Those states also varied in size, as their population ranged from a thousand to tens of thousands. "States" as they were called, they were nothing more than a group of people with a city or a tribe as their centre. On the whole, the Western Regions were in a state of "no unity, with each group having its own elders and troops'".

The Huns were at their prime time under the reign of Junchen Chanyu (161 BC to 126 BC), with their influence from the Daxing'anling Mountains (east) to the Talas River (west of the Western Regions), and from north of the desert (north) to the Great Bend of the Yellow River (south). The ruling body of the Huns was composed of the Royal Court of Chanyu, the Left Prince and the Right Prince. The Royal Court of Chanyu was the centre of the regime, while the Left and Right Princes controlled the east and the west respectively. After being unified by the

1 Western Regions, Book of Han.


Huns,the Western Regions were first put under the administration of the Right Prince, and later on, his subordinate, the Rizhu Prince. In 92 BC (the first year of Zhenghe reign), the Rizhu Prince installed local official in the Western Regions. Known as Tongpu Duwei, that official roamedbetween Yanqi (today's Yanqi County), Weixu (southeast oftoday's Hoxud County) and Yuli (today's Ziniquan, south ofYanqi County) and levied taxes and collected tributes from the states there.

The Book of Han devoted a whole article on the Western Regions, which told us states in the Western Regions "did not feel attached to the Huns despite their subordination... they would not obey military dictates from the Huns although they gave the latter horses, cattle, wools and rugs". Such records suggest that after the unification of the Western Regions, the Huns only subjected the Western Regions under their rule politically (through vassal states status) and economically(through tributes or taxes), without exercising any direct administration. That was atthattimeatypicalmodeofrulingbynomadicpeople. TheHunswerethefirststrongnomadic peopleemerging from China's northern steppe. Despite their loose relationship with the WesternRegions,or in some remote areas, only indirect or nominal controls, the Hun Royal Court was thefirstChineseregimethatdid somethingintheWestern Regions.

The unification of the Western Regions by the Huns was an epoch-making event in the

Chinesehistory, and particularly, in the history of the Western Regions. The significance can be

exemplified in the following dimensions. First, the Western Regions and the inland were unified

forthefirsttimeinhistory, upliftingtheirinteractiverelationsfromaculturalleveltoapolitical

one. Second, formerly dispersed and mutually-independent states in the Western Regions were

broughtcloser to each other, which benefited the internal interactions and integration of the entire

region. Third, groundwork was made and experience accumulated for the unification of the

Western Regions by the Central Plains regimes. Limited as the Hun rule was over the Western

Regions, such rule broadened the exchanges between civilizations in the Western Regions, the

northernsteppe and the Central Plains, defined the road of a unified China in history and laid

downfoundation for wider unification in the following centuries. Fourth, while unifying the

Western Regions, the Huns also placed areas west of the Western Regions under their control,

whichfacilitated the east-west transportation. According to historical records, from Usun west

wardtoAnxi (or Parthia, today's Iran), "when a Hun envoy travelled with a certificate issued by

Chanyu,he was always well fed, well accommodated and sent on his way without delay by

countrieson the way'". That description captured the state of transportation in that area at that


2.Western Regions under the Central Kingdoms of Western and Eastern Han Dynasty In the initial years of the Western Han Dynasty, the Han rulers curried favour with the Huns by marrying their daughter to the latter's leaders. However, the Huns still attacked the borders frequently, posing a threat to the Han Dynasty. During the Wudi reign (140 BC-87 BC), havingregained national strength and military might, the Han emperor decided to change the policyand fight back. In that connection, the Han government formulated a strategy of fighting

1 Dalwan, Book of History.


the Huns through coalition with the Western Regions.

The main prospective ally on the mind of the Han rulers was the State of Da-Rouzhi (or the Kushans). The Rouzhi people were forced to move to the IIi river basin and Chu river basin in the Western Regions after being defeated by the Huns, hence their long-harboured hostility against the Huns . In 139 BC (the 2nd year of Jianyuan reign), the Western Han government sent Zhang Qian together with over 100 people to Da-Rouzhi to seek coalition. Unfortunately, Zhang and his men were intercepted by the Huns on their way and detained for 10 years before they finally escaped . During that time, the Da-Rouzhi people were driven out of Iii and Chu river basins by the Usun and moved further west to the Amu River in Central A..aia. Zhang Qian and his men continued to seek Da-Rouzhi people and arrived first at the State of Dawan (orTa Yan), in today's Ferghana Valley. The king of Dawan greeted the group led by Zhang Qian and sent guides and interpreters to go to Kangju State and then further to Da-Rouzhi, But by then Da

Rouzhi already conquered Daxia and occupied both sides of Amu River, which was blessed with luxuriant grass and agreeable climate. Now being geographically far from the Huns, the DaRouzhi was content with the peaceful surrounding and reluctant to join force with the Han Dynasty to set on the expedition against the Huns. Zhang Qian and his men stayed in Da-Rouzhi for over a year before they went home via the Southern Mountains (today 's Karakorum, Kunlun and northern Altun Mountains) in 128 BC (the first year ofYuanshuo reign). Again they were seized by the Huns on their way back, but they managed to escape during an infight of the Huns and returned to Chang'an in 126 BC (the 3nl year ofYuanshuo reign).

Zhang Qian's travel to the Western Regions took 13 years. The over l00-memberteam was reducedto2whenitcamebackafterallthehardships. Inspiteoffallingshortofforgingcoalition with Da-Rou zhi, that trip was still very worthwhile as it was the first ever group of people the Central Plain authorities sent to the Western Regions after the Qin Dynasty unified the Central Plains. Those people brought back their first-hand experience and all sorts of information about the Western Regions and big states like Usun, particularly the political situation there, which played an important role for the Han Dynasty in their efforts to formulate strategies and policies for unifying the Western Regions. Zhang Qian also took home information about Dawan, DaRouzhi, Daxia and Kangju (in today' s Central Asia), and about Yancai (located near the Aral Sea and the Caspian Sea), Anxi (Parthian Persia), Tiaozhi (the ancient Sylium Kingdom of Syria), Lixuan (the Tolemian Kingdom of Egypt) and Shendu (ancient India), which enabled the Central Plains kingdoms to learn, for the first time, about the world beyond the Western Regions. Even today, when we describe the Central Asia and its surrounding areas before the 2nd century BC, we still have to turn to the records about Zhang Qian's travels to the west.

While sending Zhang Qian to the Western Regions, the Han Dynasty also staged military counterattacks against the Huns, first in the south'of the Great Bend of the Yellow River, then the Hexi area. In the autumn of 120 BC (the 3nl year ofYuanshou reign), the Han troops took a detour atJuyanhai(today'sJuyanhaiinthenorth ofGansu Province) and attackedtheHunforcesin eastern Tianshan Mountains. The Kunye Prince of the Huns surrendered to the Han Dynasty together with his 40,000-odd troops. The Han Dynasty set up Jiuquan Prefecture in the Hexi area(lateronWuwei,Zhangye andDunhuangPrefectureswereadded,forming thefamousFour Prefectures West of the River). The next year, the Han Dynasty sent troops to fight the Huns to the north of the desert and won complete victory. After that, "no Hun was spotted in the entire region from Jincheng (today's Lanzhou) to the Southern Mountain s (today 's Qilian Mountains) and to Yanze (or "Salty Lake", today' s Lop Nur)". The route from the Central Plains to the


WesternRegions was cleared and conditions for the unification of the latter by the Han Dynasty ripened.

In 116BC (the first year of Yuanding reign), Zhang Qian was sent on to the Western Regions again by the Han emperor, this time with 300 people and lots of gold and silk. The major target for this trip was Usun, and deputy envoys were sent to all other countries on the way. When the delegation arrived at Usun, Zhang Qian found the local king, Liejiaomi was too old, the three factionsunder the king were very much divided, and the officials were both afraid of the Huns and ill-informed about the Han Dynasty, therefore they were reluctant to ally with the Han Dynasty to fight against the Huns. Yet, for the purpose of getting to know about the strength of the Han Dynasty,Usun agreed to send envoys over with Zhang Qian to the Han court to reciprocate the goodwill of the latter. Dozens of Usun envoys went to Chang'an, where they saw the large population and material prosperity of the Han Dynasty. After returning to Usun, the envoys reported what they saw to the king and the king decided to forge friendship with the Han Dynasty. In 108 BC (the 3rd year ofYuanfeng reign), the King of Usun asked the Han emperor to marry him one of the Han princesses, and Jieyou Princess became his wife. The marriage in fact represented political alliance. In another development, the deputy envoys Zhang Qian sent also arrived in other small city states in and near the Western Regions such as Dawan, Kangju, Da-Rouzhi,Daxia, Anxi and Shendu. Consequently, those countries also sent their envoys to the Central Plains when those Han deputy envoys went home.

The Han Dynasty frequently sent envoys on westbound trips. It was recorded that the Han

envoyteams in the Western Regions "could be seen from time to time on the road, with members

ranging from several hundreds to a little bit over one hundred'". Such frequent visits made the

Huns extremely suspicious and unhappy, resulting in their frequent ambushes against Han

envoys. Some states in the Western Regions, such as Loulan and Gushi, also found Han envoys

disturbingand attacked them as well. These two states were the starting points of the southern

and northern routes of the Western Regions. From the viewpoint of the Han Dynasty, it had to

controlthe two routes before it controlled the entire Western Regions; for that to happen, Loulan

and Gushi were states that must be conquered first. Therefore, in 108 BC (the 3rd year of

Yuanfeng reign), the Han troops captured the king of Loulan and seized the state of Gushi, and

extendedtheir beacon towers from Jiuquan (in the Hexi area) to Yumen.

Despite the Han Dynasty's temporary control of the northern and southern routes, the

HunsstillcarriedasignificantweightintheWesternRegions. Generallyspeaking,statesinthe

WesternRegions "feared the Huns more than Han envoys", and some states had no alternative

but to curry favour with both. As the king of Loulan told Wudi Emperor of the Han Dynasty,

"small countries caught between two bigger ones had no choice but to please both in order to

securethemselves'". His remarks best captured the dilemmas of small states. For the purpose

of promote its authority in the Western Regions and give a hard lesson to the Huns, the Han

Dynasty fought two major wars-the Dawan war and the Cheshi war.

The Han Dynasty at first pursued a policy of alliance with Dawan, a power in the west of

theWesternRegions, as embodied by the "emperor sending envoys to Dawan with lots of money

andgoldhorseinexchangefortheprecioushorseinDawan". However,therulersinthestateof

1 Western Regions, Book of Han.
2 Western Regions, Book of Han.


Dawan were divided in opinion, one weaker group headed by a noble called Meicai advocating amity with the Han Dynasty and one stronger team headed by the king, Wugua, who argued for subordination under the Huns and against good relations with the Han Dynasty. Wugua refused to give the Han envoys the precious horse; instead, he ordered the killing of the envoys and looting of their properties. In 104 BC (the first year of Taichu reign), the Han Dynasty sent Ershi General Li Guangli and tens of thousands of troops to fight Dawan. The first expedition was met with failure. Two years later, Li Guangli led his troops to fight again, this time with complete victory. The king of Dawan Wugua was killed by his subordinates and the Han troops installed Caimei as the new king. Dawan presented the Han Dynasty the precious horse.andthe treaty of amity and alliance was signed. Later Wugua's brother Chan was installed as the king. He sent his prince to the Han Dynasty as hostage and gave the latter the "heavenly horse" as tribute, thus

maintaining Dawan's status of being ally and vassal state of the Han Dynasty.

Dawan's subordination exerted huge influence to other states in the Western Regions. They forged alliance with the Han Dynasty one after another, paying tributes and sending sons over as hostage. Even in those states where the rulers wished to follow the Huns, there was opposition in the country. For example, the king of Loulan Angui was loyal to the Huns, which aroused disapproval from his brother Yutuqi. In 77 BC (the 4th year ofYuanfeng reign), the Han Dynasty unseated Angui, installed Yutuqi as the king, and married the new king a maid of honour in the Han court. Afterwards Loulan was renamed Shanshan, and the southern route of the Western Regions became unimpeded thereafter.

It was a different story in the case of Cheshi (previously known as Gushi). Given their geographical proximity, Cheshi was still under direct control of the Huns, which meant that the traffic along the northern route of the Western Regions was blocked. Therefore, the Han Dynasty must compete with the Huns for Cheshi. The famous Cheshi war went through 5 major battles in about 40 years, from 99 BC to 60 BC, until the final victory of the Han Dynasty. By then, the northern route, and moreover, the road leading to further west from Cheshi, was in the control of the Han Dynasty. The last remaining power in the Western Regions submitted to the authority of the Central Plains. The Western Regions were no longer in subordination to the Huns.

In60 BC (the 2nd year of Shenjue reign), the Rizhu King of the Huns surrendered to the Han Dynasty, and the Hun forces finally pulled out of the Western Regions. In the Huns' place was the Han Dynasty, which unified the Western Regions. From then on, the Western Regions was officially put under the rule of the central kingdoms.

The Eastern Han Dynasty was founded in 25 AD. Cashing in on the change of regime on the Central Plains, the Huns started to compete with the Eastern Han for the Western Regions. The Eastern Han was weaker than the Western Han Dynasty. According to Book of Later Han, "from the Jianwu reign to Yanguang reign, traffic to and from the Western Regions was thrice off and thrice on", which was a succinct summary of the competition for the Western Regions by the two sides. The so-called "on" and "off' referred to the alternate control of the Western Regions by the Huns and the Central Plains dynasty. When the Western Regions were in the control of the Huns, the traffic was "off' to the Eastern Han Dynasty, and vice versa. The road to unification of the Western Regions by the Eastern Han was tortuous, yet still, unity remained the major trend in that process.

On the whole, the Western Regions were unified under the Huns after 177 BC, and under the

Western Han D nasty after 60 Be. After 25 AD, that area was under alternate control by the


Huns and Eastern Han. From that we can see unification was the dominant theme of that period fortheWesternRegions. Asstatesthereweremostlyoasisstateletsscatteredindifferentplaces, theunification oftheWesternRegionswasgood forinter-statecoordination,henceintheinterest oflocalsocialand economic development.

The Central Plains were more advanced in terms of social and economic development than theWesternRegions. After being unified by the central kingdom, the Western Regions enjoyed politicalstability and faster social and economic progress. For example, during the 10-plus years (91-102AD) when Banchao was the local official appointed by the Eastern Han government, the WesternRegions were stable and economically growing. In 97 AD (the 9th year ofYongyuan reign), in the name of the royal court, Banchao sent Ganying as envoy to Daqin (Roman Empire), whoarrived at Tiaozhi (today's Syria) but failed to cross the sea. However, historical data had itthat''Tiaozhi,Anxiandcountries40,000lis(oneIiisequal tohalfkilometre)awayoverthesea all valued translations and presented gifts'". From such records we can see that after the unificationofthe Western Regions, China's influence reached out to other major civilizations of the world.

3.PolicyMeasuresandAdministrative RegimesoftheHan Dynastyin theWestern


The unification of the Western Regions by the Han Dynasty was also a process of improv

ingthe administrative structure there. Before the Han Dynasty affirmed its controlling position,

in101BC(the4th yearofTaichureign), a postcalledEnvoy Captain (shi-zhe-xiao-wei)was

installed in Luntai (today's Luntai) and Quli (west oftoday's Korla), both central spots along the

northern route. The Envoy Captain led a number of soldiers, who also took part in agricultural

activities while being stationed there. On the one hand, the Envoy Captain and his troops

protectedtransport and provided for the travelling Han envoys; on the other, they were also a

basic military force there, who could rally allied troops in the Western Regions to complete

militarymissions when necessary. The Envoy Captain was the first official and military post

theHanDynasty installed in the Western Regions, and Luntai and Quli were the first area in the

Western Regions directly administered by the Han government, which made both the post and

theareaverymeaningfulintheadministrativehistory oftheWesternRegions. After 77 BC (the

4th yearofYuanfengreign), atthe requestoftheking ofLoulan, Yutuqi,theHanDynastysetup

anothercaptain (yi-xun-xiao-wei) in Yixun (east of today's Ruoqiang and Miran) at Lop Nor,

whoalsoledsometroopstosafeguardthesouthernrouteanddevelopagriculturethere. Thetwo

captainposts laid down the foundation for the unification and administration of the Western

Regionsby the Han Dynasty.

The finishing touch of the unification was made in 60 BC (the 2nd year of Shenjue reign),

whenthe Han Dynasty set up the Office of the Western Regions Protector (xi-yu-du-hu-fu) in

Urli(today'sQedireast ofLuntaiCounty),thecentralcityofthatregion. ThisOfficebecamethe

highestmilitary and administrative body the Han Dynasty installed in the Western Regions. It

hadtwodimensions. First, the Western Regions was defined as a "jun", equivalent to a province,

under direct control of the central government. In the Han Dynasty, the Military Governor

1 Western Regions, Book of Later Han.


(Duwei) was a military post at the provincial level assisting the Governor. In some places, there was no Governor but only a Military Governor, who could be very powerful. So was the Protector of the Western Regions. Therefore, the Western Regions was indeed administered as a province, although the Han Dynasty did not set up a "province" in the sense of those on the Central Plains in the Western Regions after the unification. The second dimension was that the official sent by the Han government to the Western Regions acted both as an envoy and as a supervisor. The Protector was despatched by the royal court and charged to supervise, protect and administer that region. The Office of the Protector was a military and administrative body tasked by the central government of the Han Dynasty, and the Protector was tl}e official in charge with a wide-ranging portfolio.

To sum it up, the policy measures and administrative regimes of the Han Dynasty in the Western Regions included the following elements.

I, Posts and Agencies .

The Office of the Protector was the highest military and administrative body in the Western Regions, under which there were other posts such as Deputy Captain (fu-xiaowei), Minister (chen), sima, hou and qianren, which were either military or civilian in nature. The main responsibilities of the Protector was to issue decrees and orders of the royal court, engage and contain states in the Western Regions, oversee administrative affairs, coordinate different localities, deploy troops and fight against riots. At peacetime, the task of the Protector was to station troops and protect transport. According to Book of Han, there were altogether 18 successive Western Regions Protectors sent by the Han government. Ten of them are now known by name, who were: Zheng Ji, Han Xuan, Gan Yanshou, Duan Huizong, Lian Bao, Han Li, Guo Shun, Sun Jian, Dan Qin and Li Chong. The rule of the Han Dynasty was that frontier officials should be changed every three years. However, towards the end of the Western Han Dynasty, the central government was tremendously weakened, and the Protector's term requirement was not strictly followed. For example, Dan Qin served as the Protector for 13 years, from 1 AD (the first year of Yuanshi reign) to 13 AD (the 5th year of Shijianguo).

The Western Regions had two other bodies in addition to the Office of the Protector. One

was the Office of Yixun Military Governor set up in 77 BC (the 4th year in Yuanfeng reign),

whose seat of administration was in Loulan area, controlling the hub of the southern route.

According to the rules of the Han Dynasty, some border provinces were run by Country

Military Governors (shu-guo-du-wei), who administered the ethnic groups in the related area.

Yixun Military Governor had similar functions. The other body was the Office of Wuji Captain

set up in 48 BC (the first year of Chuyuan reign), whose seat of administration was first in Jiaohe

City in Anterior Cheshi (today's Jiaohe Old City in Turpan) and later moved to Gaochang

(today's Ganchang Old City in Turpan). Under the Office of Wuji Captain there were one

Minister, one sima, and five hous. That body's main responsibilities were stationing troops,

farming the land, protecting local people, and safeguarding the northern route. Both of the two

bodies were directly under the administration of the central government (or according to some

people, under the administration of Dunhuang Governor), but with power restrained by the


The Protector, the Military Governor and the Captain were headquartered in Luntai, Ante

rior Cheshi (or Gaochang) and Loulan respectively, forming a triangle controlling the vast West

ern Regions.

There were both central and local agencies in the governing structure of the Western Regions


", '


during the Han Dynasty. The afore-mentioned Offices of the Protector, Military Governor and Captainwere all bodies despatched by the central government, which exercised direct administrationin their designated areas on the one hand and oversaw local affairs on the other. Specific dayto-day administration of local affairs was taken care of by officials from the vassal states, who had to be appointed by the Han Dynasty. That practice was widely applied in all major vassal states in the Western Regions. It was written in the chapter about the Western Regions in Book of Han that a wide spectrum oflocal officials such as "yizhang, chengzhang,jun,jian, li, chief-lu, baizhang,qianzhang, duwei, qiequ, danghu, general, minister, hou and lord of subordinate states "wereconferred official seals and ribbons b~ the Han Dynasty, adding up to 376". Officials like chief-Ii, chief-lu and chief-jian from some bigger states, such as those from Usun, were given gold seals and purple ribbons, which only the highest-ranking officials on the Central Plains were qualifiedto have or wear. Later, the seals were changed to copper ones and ribbons to black for thesakeofconsistencywiththeroyalrules. Thoselocalofficialswerethegrass-rootadministratorsof the Han Dynasty in the Western Regions. Some native people even assumed the post of Han officials, such as Captains. The crown prince of Yumi State, Laidan, used to be a Captain

appointed by Zhaodi Emperor of the Han Dynasty.

il, Troops and Crops

The Han Dynasty stationed its troops mainly in three locations, Urli City and its surround

ing area (including Luntai and Quli), Yixun City and Jiaohe City in Anterior Cheshi (moved to

Gaochanglater). The first location, Urli-Luntai-Quli, had the biggest number of stationed troops,

about2000 men; the other two each with hundreds to a little over a thousand troops. In 53 BC

(thefirstyearofGanlureign),UsunsubordinateditselftotheHanDynasty. Afterthat,troops

werestationedin Chigu City in Usun as well. In addition, there was a Captain in Dunhuang who

led some troops as backup for the military forces in the Western Regions. The Han troops

stationed in the Western Regions also farmed land, and the crops produced were used to support

boththetroopsandthetravellingenvoysandotherofficialsfromtheHanDynasty. Thiswasa

significantmeasure to administer the border area, which was followed by all the succeeding

dynasties. Despite limited in number, the Han troops in the Western Regions were distributed in

abalancedway and formulated an effective defence system, hence their prominent role in helping

theHanDynasty's governance in the Western Regions.

iii. Maps and Population

Maps of boundaries and household statistics are a symbol of power of a nation and an importantmeans for governance. Since the Zhou and Qin Dynasties, all the Chinese central governmentsattached such great importance to maps and demographic data that they charged veryseniorofficials to look after them. The same was true with the Han Dynasty, particularly afterit unified the Western Regions.

There were maps of the Western Regions during the Han Dynasty, but they failed to survive. Historical records told us that such maps were used while Sanghongyang made the case for stationing troops in Luntai. He elaborated on "the system of shared responsibility among three Captains" by "using relevant terrain maps'". After being established, the Office of the Western Regions Protector verified and confirmed the land area, topographical features, number

1 Western Regions, Book of Han.


of nobles, household statistics, roads and boundaries of all the states under its supervision. The chapter on the Western Regions in Book of Han had explicit records about 49 states under the control of the Office of the Protector as well as information about Jibin, Wugeshanli, Wuge, Anxi, Da-Rouzhi, Daxia, Kangju and Yancai, the latter footnoted as "not under the Protector's control" so as to make a distinction on the scope of the Protector's control.

iv. Comforting and Containing

The ruling policy of the Han Dynasty in the Western Regions was mainly comforting, supplemented by containment. The strategy was if there was any trouble at home or abroad, "placate if placation works, and fight otherwise". As officials sent by the cenJral government to the Western Regions were only in dozens, and troops stationed there in thousands, the Han Dynasty had to rely heavily on comforting, which included offering royal marriage, giving expensive gifts and valuing local appointees. Containment was another policy tool aimed at keeping social stability; therefore it was more about stabilizing than suppressing. When disputes arose, particularly on demographic matters or boundary alignment, it was officials sent by the Han court who made coordinating efforts. The same applied to issues that were likely to cause

turmoil, such as population resettlement. For example, in 62 BC (the 4th year ofYuankang reign), the Envoy Captain coordinated the relocation of Cheshi State from its original place to Quli in order to get away from the assaults of the Huns. In 53 BC (the first year of Ganlu reign), the Western Regions Protector helped divide land and population between the Major and Minor Kunmo of Usun. As to issues that could not be dealt with through placation or coordination, such as assaults or invasion, it was up to the Protector to pool the forces of various subordinate states to fight back. One case in point was an internal conflict in Usun taking place during the reign of Xuandi, when the rioting troops besieged Princess Jieyou and the Han envoy. It was finally put down by the then Western Regions Protector Zhengji, who mustered troops from several vassal states.

v, Hostages and Tributes

Since the Zhou and Qin Dynasties, the Central Plains kingdoms always followed the regime of keeping princes of vassal states as hostages, who served both as a collateral for political credit and a symbol of subordination. The Han Dynasty extended such regime to the Western Regions, which was significant in another dimension, that is, the central government aimed at developing closer relations with states in the Western Regions through exerting influence on the hostage princes. With that motivation, the Han Dynasty usually provided the hostage princes good education and quality life, hence visible effect of that policy. According to Book of Later Han , after Wang Mang stole the throne and ruled the Central Plains, the Huns restored its control over ,I'e Western Regions, but met with resistance from many states, among which "Wangyan of Shache was the fiercest and least willing to give in". The reason, according to the Book, was that he used to be a hostage prince in Chang'an, and he "admired the Middle Kingdom so much that he often referred to the laws of the Han Dynasty and frequently urged his sons to remain loyal and faithful forever to the Han court without any second thought".

Tributes were also a symbol of subordination. They arose from levies and contributions that dukes and princes gave to the emperor. Levies were what the emperor asked for from his subjects. that is, money and goods the state collected from the people; while contributions were what the subordinate voluntarily gave to the emperor, that is, money and goods that dukes and princes contributed to the emperor. In the Han Dynasty, a system of contribution without levies was carried out in the Western Regions, as the vassal states were required to give their local goods


as a token of subordination to the central kingdom (however, it was totally different if a nonvassal state paid tributes). When the vassal states came to pay their tributes, the Han court would always give them back rich gifts, whose value far exceeded the tributes. The purpose of theexpensive return gifts was to placate and win those states over. Many states in the Western Regionsoften gave tributes in expectation of return gifts from the Han Dynasty as a mode of economic exchange with the Central Plains.

Being the corridor linking the east and the west, the Central Regions were frequently travelled by Han envoys, which inflicted on the vassal states along the route the burden of receiving andprovidingforthosepeople. Asaway oflevyindisguise,theburdenofreceivingenvoyswas notevenlydistributed among those states due to their different geographical locations.

vi.Sovereignty and Repatriation

Repatriation was yet another symbol of sovereignty. Despite scanty records, such cases did show the importance of sovereignty. After usurping the power, Wang Mang altered the Western Regions policies wilfully, which led to local turmoil. King of Posterior Cheshi, Guju and kingofRuoqiangQuhulai,Tangdouchangedheartandpledged allegiancetotheHuns. Thecentral government of the Han Dynasty sent Zhonglang General Wang Chang to make representations withthe Huns, stating that the Western Regions belonged to the Han Dynasty, hence the Huns being in no position to accept unfaithful subjects. "The Chanyu of the Huns admitted his mistake and gave the two kings back to the envoy. Wang Mang entrusted Zhonglang Wang Meng to waitat Edunu, the border area of the Western Regions to meet the envoy and receive the two disloyal people." I

vii.Roads and Traffic

TheWesternRegionswasanimportantsectionintheSilkRoad. Limitedbythegeographic

conditions, traffic was only available on oases in the front of mountains, which made road-guard

veryimportant. The Han Dynasty attached great attention to the control of roads in the process

ofreaching out to the Western Regions. It captured the king of Loulan and set up Yixun Military

Governor so as to control the starting point of the southern route; it vied for Cheshi and installed

WujiCaptain for the sake of controlling the beginning point of the northern route; it stationed

troops in Luntai and set up Envoy Captain to secure the control over the middle of the northern

route. The name of the highest post in the Western Regions, the Protector, suggested that post

wasaimed at "protecting the northern and southern routes".

Apart from installing posts and stationing troops, the Han Dynasties built stations and

beacon towers from west Dunhuang all the way to Lop Nor in order to safeguard the transport,

which was recorded in Book of Han. By the time the Western Regions was unified, a system of

road-guard was already in place thanks to the stationed forces, military fortresses and beacon

towers. There were inspection points at certain important sections. All these measures com

binedprovided a basic safeguard for the administration of the Western Regions.

viii. Records and Institutionalization

After the Han Dynasty unified the Western Regions, that area became a part of the official history books, and remained so in all the following Chinese dynasties. Moreover, the Western Regions usually had a separate chapter in the official history records. The first such chapter was

1 Western Regions, Book of Later Han.


found in Book of Han, and the name for that place, "Western Regions", was decided since then. The Book of Han systematically recorded the changes of the Western Regions' territorial entitlement, its unification by the Han Dynasty and administrative policies of the Han Dynasty there. Since there were special chapters on the Western Regions in official history books of the central government, the unification of the Western Regions by the Central Plains was supported by ample evidence, and such records could also be seen as a way to rule the Western Regions as they ensured the continuation of institutions and administrative regimes there.

4. Western Regions Scrambled for by Central Plain Kingdoms, Northern Peoples


and River-west (or Hexi) Regimes In 220 BC (the first year of Huangchu), Cao Pi claimed himself emperor and ended the Eastern Han Dynasty. The Central Plains entered the period of Three States-Wei, Shu and Wu. The Wei regime of the Cao family unified the north, subdued local forces in the Hexi area that developed a tendency for independence in the concluding years of the Eastern Han Dynasty, and began to control the Western Regions. Almost fully preoccupied by competition with Shu and Wu, the Wei regime was unable to run the Western Regions effectively. At that time the Western Regions was mainly administered by local officials from Liangzhou or Dunhuang. Due to the weak governance by Wei there, there was no special chapter for the Western Regions in Book of Three States (Volume on Wei), and the existing scattered descriptions about the Western Regions were a lot more sketchy than those in Book of Han. Yet from the limited data and archaeological discoveries. we do find that the Wei regime still maintained administration over the Western Regions. Significant changes took place in the latter part of the Eastern Han Dynasty. During Huandi's reign 047-167 AD) in the Eastern Han Dynasty, the Xianbei people replaced the Huns in occupying the steppe north of the desert. The chief Tanshihuai unified the eastern and western tribes of Xianbei and built up his own royal court in Tanhanshan (north of today's Yanggao County, Shanxi Province). He divided his men into three divisions, the east, the west and the middle, each headed by a senior. The Xianbei people had a sphere of influence bordering "the Han Dynasty in the south, Dingling in the north, Fuyu in the east, and Usun in the west, mostly the former sphere of the Huns" I. However, in 181 AD (the 4th year of Guanghe reign), Tanshihuai died and the Xianbei disintegrated into several groups, most of which attached themselves to the Eastern Han or Wei regime. After the Western Jin unified the Central Plains, it began to rule the Western Regions. At that time the Xianbei forces in the west were somewhat strengthened and vied with the Western Jin Dynasty for the Western Regions. In 271 AD (the 7th year of Taishi), the Tufa division ofXianbei attacked Jincheng and Liangzhou. In 279 AD (the 5th year of Xianning), Liangzhou fell, cutting off the main transport link between the Central Plains and the Western Regions. In the meantime, anotherdivision ofXianbeiforcespenetratedintoGaochangintheWesternRegions andlaunched several attacks against Wuji Captain. Early in 280 AD (the 6th year of Xianning reign), the Western Jin recovered Liangzhou and cemented its administration in the Western Regions. In the following years, big states in the Western Regions such as Anterior Cheshi, Shanshan, Qiuci and Yanqi sent their princes to the Central Plains as hostages.

I Xianbei, Book of Later Han.


Towards the end of the WesternJin Dynasty,the GovernorofLiangzhouZhang Guicashed inonthecivilwaron the CentralPlainsand claimedhimselfkingof theFormerLiangregime in the northwest(theHexiarea). DuringthereignofZhangJun(324-345AD),thesphereofinfluence oftheFormerLiang regimeranged "from theYellowRiverandtheHuangRiverinthe southto Juyan in the north, and from the Congling Mountains in the west to Shaanxi and Gansu in the east'" . At that time, officials appointed by the Western Jin court in the Western Regions no longerobeyedtheorderoftheWesternJinemperor. Instead,oneSeniorOfficial(zhang-shi)by name ofLi Bai switched loyalty to the Former Liang regime, and theWuji Captain by name of ZhaoZhenturnedGaochangintohisownsphereofinfluence. In327AD(the2nd year of Xianhe reign),ZhangJunheadedanarmytofightGaochangandwonacompletevictorythere. Hencea province set up at Gaochang, representing the beginning of provincial establishment in the WesternRegions. Basedonhistoricalrecordsandarchaeologicaldata, countiessuchasGaochang andTiandi were set up under the Province of Gaochang, and townships and villageswere set up undercounties, eachheadedbycertainlocalofficialssuchasduyouandsefu,basicallyequivalent tothelocaladministrativesystemontheCentralPlainsduringtheHanandJinDynasties. The FonnerLiangregime also maintained official posts set up by previousdynastiesintheWestern Regions. The Senior Official of the Western Regions (other sources say Western Regions

Protector), Wuji Captain, Yiwu Military Governor and Gaochang Governor were all under the administrationofShazhouGovernoroftheFormerLiangregime. In329AD,ShiLe fromtheJie peopleunifiedthenorthoftheCentralPlainsandsetuptheLaterZhaoregime. ZhangJunsent anenvoy to the Central Plains to show obedience, but still keeping the title of the FormerLiang. Atthattime,theWesternRegionswasnominallyunder theunifiedruleofthenorthern regimeof theCentralPlains. ZhangJuntriedtochangethesituationoflocalhegemonyintheWestern Regions assumed by a few stronger states, therefore he strengthened control over the Western Regions. In335AD(thefirstyearofXiankangreign),hesenthisarmyovertheLiushaRiver, conquered ShanshanandQiuci,andforcedYanqi,YutianandAnteriorCheshibackintopaying tributes. At the end of 345 AD (the first year ofYonghe reign), Zhang Jun attackedYanqi again andfoughtallthewaytoYuli,takingallthelandenroute. ThekingofYanqihadtocapitulateat last. Bythen,theFormerLiangregimebasicallyrecoveredtheruleofthe WesternRegionsina scope equal to that in previous dynasties. After the death of Zhang Jun, the rule of the Former pang over the Western Regions slacked, but the latter still sent envoys and paid tributes to the FonnerLiangregime. In376 AD(thefirstyearofTaiyuanreign),theFormerQinregimesetup bytheDipeopleoverthrewtheFormer Liang;asaresult,theWesternRegionsweretakenover bytheFormerQin. Insteadoffighting,theFormerQinswitchedtoapolicyofplacationand appeasement towards the Western Regions. In 381 AD (the 6th year of Taiyuanreign), 62 states in the Western Regions and the Eastern Minorities sent envoys to the Former Qin to show respectsandpaytributes. KingXiumituoofShanshanandKingMizhiofAnteriorCheshiwent toChang'aninperson,asking"fortheinstallationofProtectorasduringtheHanDynasty" and offering to be guides of the central dynasty's army on their way to the WesternRegions", In 383 AD(the9thyearofJianyuan reign),theFormerQinregimesentageneralbynameofLuGuang ontheexpedition to the west with the purpose of resuming the rule of the Central Plains over the

1Gu Zuyu, Notes on History-Reading, Vol.3.
2Recordsof lin,Zi-Zhi-Tong-Jian,orliterally, ComprehensiveMirror inAidofGovernment.


Western Regions. When Lu Guang came back, the Fonner Qin regime was already defeated by the Eastern Jin at the Feishui Battle, and the Central Plains were in great turmoil. Lu Guang thus set up the Later Liang regime at Guzang (today's Wuwei). Lu also appointed his own son as General of the West, Military Governor of Regions West of Yumen and Great Protector of the Western Regions, headquartered in Gaochang. The Later Liang regime did not last long, as it was extinguished by the Later Qin regime in 403 AD (the 2nd year of Yuanxing reign). The Later Qin mainly controlled areas in Shaanxi, Gansu and part of Shanxi.

Early in the 5th century, there emerged a strong nomadic group in the northern steppe called Rouran. Originally a tribe of Xianbei, Rouran was unified by Shelun in 40'2 AD (the first year of Yuanxing reign), who claimed himself Khan and dominated the entire steppe. The Rouran regime then moved westward and started to control areas north ofYanqi in the Western Regions. As it continued to expand, smaller states in the Western Regions were "so upset by its assault that they attached themselves to it one after another". Bigger states such as Yanqi,-Shanshan, Qiuci and Gumo were also at its service I. Usun State even moved all its people west to the Congling Mountains as it was tired of the incessant assaults from Rouran. The Xianbei people, who were previously the dominant group on the steppe, had now moved southward and became a powerful regime on the Central Plains-the Northern Wei Dynasty. After unifying the Central Plains, inevitably, the Northern Wei, which regarded itself as an orthodox central regime, would fight against Rouran for the Western Regions. Rouran forced the Northern Liang regime in the Hexi area to obstruct the Northern Wei's entry into the Western Regions. Therefore, the war of the Northern Wei aimed at the unification of the Western Regions started with the Northern Liang. In 439 AD (the T" year of Yonghe), Taiwu Emperor of Northern Wei issued an imperial decree, stating the 12 major crimes committed by the Northern Liang regime, including its separatist rule, collusion with Rouran and Tuyuhun, obstruction of exchanges between the Northern Wei and the Western Regions and heavy taxes on minority merchants in the Western Regions. Based on that decree, Northern Wei sent troops to the west, conquered Liangzhou and wiped out the Northern Liang regime. Two years later, the Northern Wei troops took over Jiuquan. The remnants of Northern Liang crossed the Liusha River and took Shanshan in 442 AD (the 3rd year of Taipingzhenjun reign). Backed up by Rouran, the remnants of Northern Liang forced King Zhen Da of Shanshan into hostility against Northern Wei, which led to several years' traffic blockade in the Western Regions. In 445 AD (the 6th year of Taipingzhenjun reign), Northern Wei sent its Liangzhou troops to fight Shanshan, and King Zhen Da had himself bound and surrendered. Due to the geopolitical importance of Shanshan, Northern Wei decided to build military installations in Shanshan and send officials there for direct administration. In 448 AD (the 9th year of Taipingzhenjun reign), Taiwu Emperor kept Zhen Da at the palace in Pingcheng and appointed his own minister by name of Han Ba Military Governor of Xirong and King of Shanshan, who was responsible for running the troops, safeguarding Shanshan and "levying taxes and services from local people as in other provinces'". At that time, King Cheyiluo of Anterior Cheshi already submitted to the authority of Northern Wei and served as a supporting force for Shanshan, but Gaochang was still in the hand of the remnants of Northern Liang. In 448 AD (the 9th year of Taipingzhenjun reign), Taiwu Emperor of Northern Wei himself led a big army to fight Rouran,

1 Story of Ruru, Book of Wei; Story of Ruirui, Book of Song.
2 Story of Shanshan, Book of Wei.


whichturnedouttobeanoverwhelmingvictory. TheRouranretreatedtothesteppenorthofthe desert. Inthemeantime,NorthernWeibegantoattackRouranforceswithintheWesternRegions and defeatedYanqi and Qiuci, tremendously cementing the forces of Northern Wei in that area. Thehistoryrecords read, "all the minorities in the west were subdued and the Western Regions becameobedientagain". TheNorthernWeiDynastysetupmilitaryinstallationsinYanqias well. SuchinstallationsinShanshanandYanqiwereentitieswithbothmilitaryandadministrative purposes, which showed that the military-administrative system on the Central Plains was also applied in the heartland of the Western Regions.

In the first half of the 6th century, a nomadic tribe, the Turks, emerged from south of the Altay Mountains. The Turks were previously under the rule of Rouran. Later on, both Rouran andNorthernWeiweresplitupandthusfatallyweakened. In552AD(thefirstyearofFeidi reign), theTurkswipedoutthe Rouran regime andsetup theTurki Khanate,whichwasa new forceinthecompetitionfortheWesternRegions. Whileflexingtheirmuscles,theTurksgradually tookareas west ofYiwu and north ofYanqi in eastern Tianshan Mountains as well as areas southwestoftheGoldMountains(today'sAltay Mountains) totheeastoftheJunggarBasin. TheTurkiKhanatehadtwocentres,oneintheeastandtheotherinthewest. TheKhaninthe west,Istami, firstforcedGaochangintovassalageandthenheaded 100,000troopstofightother statesintheWesternRegions,occupyingtheoriginalareaofUsun. By558AD,theterritoryof theKhanatecoveredthevastareafromtheLiaoSea(east)totheWestSea(west, today's Caspian Sea) andtheAmuRiver inCentralAsia(southwest),from the northofthedesert(south)tothe North Sea (north, today' s Baikal Lake). The strong and powerful Turki Khanate further expandedthescopeofcontrolofthenorthernnomadicgroups inChina. In583AD,theTurkswere dividedintotheEasternandWesternKhanatesalongtheGoldMountains. TheWesternKhanate controlled the land from Yiwu in the east to the Caspian Sea in the west, and Sulek and Yutian in thesouth to areas beyond the Altay Mountains in the north, which encompassed the Western Regions.

Anoverviewof theover 300years' administration of theWesternRegionsby theCentral Plainskingdoms,northernpeoples andHexiregimesaftertheWeiandJinDynastieshighlights the following features.

FIrst,theprocessof unificationbetweentheWestern RegionsandtheCentralPlainscontinueddespitethe weakened capacity of the latter due to separatistwarlordsthere during this period. Thiswasillustratedinthefollowingdimensions:

Installation of official posts by the central dynasties in the Western Regions, such as the SeniorOfficial oftheWestern RegionsandWujiCaptainintheWeiandJin Dynastiesand Xirong Military Governor in the Northern Wei Dynasty;
Institutionalization of turning in princes as hostage and paying tributes to the central dynasties by the Western Regions in spite of interruptions over the 300-plus years;

(3) Expansion of directadministrationby thecentraldynastiesintheWesternRegions,such astheProvince of Gaochang during the Former Liang Dynasty and Shanshan and YanqiTowns intheNorthern WeiDynasty;

(4)Recording of the Western Regions in the official history books of all central dynasties andmore sophisticated maps on the boundary, as evidenced in the chapter on Xirong in the StrategyofWei,thechapteron theWesternRegionsinBookofWei,andthechapter onthe Western Regionsin History of the North;

(5)Diminishing gaps between the Western Regions and the Central Plains in terms of social


development and constant convergence of social system and folk customs over the 300 years, which was demonstrated by the following example. The State of Gaochang had similar political system and social customs with those of the Central Plains: it had one Lingying, a post equivalent to the Prime Minister in the central dynasties but here assumed by the crown prince; "the king decided on major issues while the crown prince and two other officials decided on minor ones"; the administrative affairs were shared by 8 departments, which were responsible for officials, sacrifice, treasury, storage, protocol, ceremony, civil affairs and the military, each headed by a Senior Official, who had a Si-ma as the deputy; the state was divided into different provinces and counties, just like in the middle kingdom. So some people observed, "the"customs and administrations were all the same as those on the Central Plains".

Second, after more than 300 years' interaction and exchanges, it was a shared and popular idea to promote the unification of the Western Regions and the Central Plains. Once conditions permitted, rulers of the Central Plains would consider recovering the Western Regions, which was applauded as a feat that would "be recorded as a glorious cause forever" I. The Emperor of Northern Wei Tuoba Tao once commented, "All the previous emperors talked about putting Xirong under their administration but without real success; while I have got a firm grip on it, what a feat!" '2 On the part of the Western Regions, distant as those states were from the Central Plains, they did longed for unification in the same way as their eastern counterparts did. The king of Shanshan, Xiumituo, and king of Anterior Cheshi, Mizhi, once travelled to Fonner Qin, paying tributes and asking for "the installation of the Protector as during the Han Dynasty". The ordinary people were also enthusiastic about unification, particularly the merchants. According to history records, once hearing the Central Plains were unified under Sui (581 AD), the merchants in the Western Regions "secretly pledged allegiance and waited anxiously" for the unification of the Western Regions by the Sui Dynasty as soon as possible'.

Third, in this period, most central regimes, more often than not, resorted to a peaceful means of placation and gift-presenting in their endeavour to recover the Western Regions in terms of tactics. All the central dynasties after Wei and Jin that had left their marks in the Western Regions all sent envoys there first, with the purpose of forging friendship, placating local people and giving presents, which received very good results. Such strategy was spelt out by Emperor Fu Jian of Former Qin, as he commented, "The way of ensuring submission is to subdue and "condone, show both power and benevolence of the Middle Kingdom, rather than exhausting , military force or applying endless pillage?'. After the Former Qin conquered Fonner Liang, it immediately asked the Governor of Liangzhou to send an envoy to the Western Regions with lots of silk to placate states there. For several years, scores of states from the Western Regions sent envoys east to pay tributes to the central dynasty, and the kings of Shanshan and Yanqi even went to Chang'an themselves. During the Northern Wei Dynasty, Emperor Tuoba Tao also sent Dong Wan and Gao Ming west with silk, gold and silver, which was followed by dozens of states from the Western Regions coming east to pay tributes.

Fourth, the unification process of the Western Regions and the Central Plains was fre

1 Records About Fujian, Book of Jin.
2 Story of Yanqi, Book of Wei.
3 Story of Peiju, Book of Sui.
4 Records About Fujian, Book of Jin.