Nine Tatars

Chinese: 塔塔兒, 大檀, 檀檀
Old Turkic: 𐱃𐱃𐰺
Middle Mongol: ᠲᠠᠲᠠᠷ
8th century–1202
Tatar and their neighbours in the 13th century.
Statusnomadic confederation
Common languagesCommon Mongolic,[1] Turkic[2]
GovernmentElective monarchy
Historical eraHigh Middle Ages
• Established
8th century
• Disestablished
Today part ofMongolia
Mongol victory over the Tatars, 1196
Mongol victory over the Tatars, 1196

Tatar (Chinese: 塔塔兒;[a] Old Turkic: 𐱃𐱃𐰺‎, romanized: Tatar; Middle Mongol: ᠲᠠᠲᠠᠷ) was one of the five major tribal confederations (khanlig) in the Mongolian Plateau in the 12th century.

The name "Tatar" was first transliterated in Book of Song as 大檀 Dàtán (MC: *daH-dan) and 檀檀 Tántán (MC: *dan-dan)[5] as other names of the Rourans,[6] who were of Proto-Mongolic Donghu ancestry.[7][8] The Book of Song and Book of Liang connected Rourans to the earlier Xiongnu while the Book of Wei traced the Rouran's origins back to the Donghu.[9] Xu proposed that "the main body of the Rouran were of Xiongnu origin" and Rourans' descendants, namely Da Shiwei (aka Tatars), contained Turkic elements to a great extent.[10] Even so, the Xiongnu's language is still unknown,[11] and Chinese historians routinely ascribed Xiongnu origins to various nomadic groups, yet such ascriptions do not necessarily indicate the subjects' exact origins: for examples, Xiongnu ancestry was ascribed to Turkic-speaking Göktürks and Tiele as well as Para-Mongolic-speaking Kumo Xi and Khitans.[12]

The Tatars' Rouran ancestors roamed modern-day Mongolia in summer and crossed the Gobi desert southwards in winter in search of pastures.[13] Rourans founded their Khaganate in the 5th century, around 402 CE. Among the Rourans' subjects were the Ashina tribe, who overthrew their Rouran overlords in 552 and annihilated the Rourans in 555.[14] One branch of the dispersed Rourans migrated to Greater Khingan mountain range where they renamed themselves after Tantan, a historical Khagan, and gradually incorporated themselves into the Shiwei tribal complex and emerged as 大室韋 Da (Great) Shiwei.[10]

The first precise transcription of the Tatar ethnonym was written in Turkic on the Orkhon inscriptions, specifically, the Kul Tigin (CE 732) and Bilge Khagan (CE 735) monuments as 𐰆𐱃𐰔⁚𐱃𐱃𐰺⁚𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣‎, Otuz Tatar Bodun, ''Thirty Tatar' clan'[15] and 𐱃𐰸𐰔⁚𐱃𐱃𐰺‎, Tuquz Tatar, 'Nine Tatar'[16][17][18][19] referring to the Tatar confederation. In historiography, the Proto-Mongolian Shiwei tribes are usually identified with Dada or Thirty Tatars.[20][21][22][23] Whereas the sources often refer to the actual Tatars as Nine Tatars, in which nine large clans are traditionally distinguished.[24]

The Toquz-Tatars and Otuz-Tatars were often proposed to be Mongolic speakers.[1][25][26][27] In contrast, Soviet and Russian orientalist Leonid Kyzlasov, the Toquz Tatars and Otuz Tatars were instead Turkic-speaking, as the Persian-authored 10th century geographical treatise Hudud al-Alam stated that Tatars were part of the Toghuzghuz,[2][28] whom Minorsky identified with the Qocho kingdom in eastern Tianshan, founded by Uyghur refugees following the collapse of the Uyghur Khaganate,[29] whose founders belonged to the Toquz Oghuz confederation.[30][b] At the same time, Kyzlasov is against the identification of the Tatars of the Orkhon inscriptions with Dada from Chinese sources.[2]

Persian historian Gardizi listed Tatars as one of seven founding tribes of the Turkic Kimek confederation.[32] The Shine Usu inscription mentioned that the Toquz Tatars, in alliance with the Sekiz-Oghuz,[c] unsuccessfully revolted against Uyghur Khagan Bayanchur, who was consolidating power between 744-750 CE.[34][35] After being defeated three times, half of the Oghuz-Tatar rebels rejoined the Uyghurs, while the other half fled to an unknown people, who were identified as Khitans[36] or Karluks.[37] According to Senga and Klyashtorny, part of the Toquz-Tatar rebels fled westwards from the Uyghurs to the Irtysh river basin, where they later organized the Kipchaks and other tribal groupings (either already there or also newly arrived) into the Kimek tribal union.[38][39] According to the Russian orientalist Vasily Ushnitsky, reports of medieval Muslim sources about the Tatar origin of the Kimak dynastic clan are the argument of the supporters of the Mongolian origin of the Kimaks and Kipchaks.[40] The news about the Tatars, from whom the Kimaks separated, according to Josef Markwart, confirms the fact of the movement to the west of the Turkified Mongolian elements.[41]

Writing in the 11th century, Kara-khanid scholar Mahmud al-Kashgari included Tatars among the Turkic peoples. He located the Tatars west of the Kyrgyzes.[42]

The Turks are, in origin, twenty tribes. They all trace back to Turk, son of Japheth, son of Noah, God’s blessings be upon them — they correspond to the children of Rūm, son of Esau, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, God’s blessings be upon them. [...] [42]

[In the following list] I outline the geographical position of each of their tribes in the eastern world. They are listed in order [from West] to East, both pagan and Muslim, beginning with those closest to Rūm. First is: BAJANAK' bäčänäk, then: QIFJA'Q Qipčāq, then: UΓUZ oγuz, then: YAM'K yemǟk, then: BAŠΓIRT bašγirt, then: YASMIL basmil, then: QA'Y qāy, then: YABA'QUV yabāqu, then: TATA'R tatār, then: QIRQIZ qirqiz. The last one is closest to Sin. All of these tribes are opposite Rum, extending toward the East.
Then: JIKIL čigil, then: TUXSY tuxsi, then: YAΓM' Yaγma, then: 'ΓRA'Q oγrāq, then: JARUQ čaruq, then: JUMUL čömül, then: 'UYΓUR uyγur, then: TANKUT taŋut, then: XITA'Y xitāy which is Ṣīn, then: TAWΓA'J Tawγač which is Maṣīn. These tribes are middling between South and North.[43]

When listing the 20 Turkic tribes, Kashgari also included non-Turks such as Kumo Xi, Khitans, Tanguts, and Chinese (the last one rendered as Arabic: Tawġāj‎ < Karakhanid *Tawğaç).[44][45] However, the world-map in extant manuscript shows that the Tatars were located west of Ili river and west of the Bashkirs, whom Kashagari already located west of Tatars. Claus Schönig attributed such contradictions to errors made when the text and the map were copied.[46] Kashgari addionally noted that Tatars were bilingual, speaking Turkic alongside their own languages; the same for the Yabaqus, Basmïls, and Chömüls.[47] Yet available evidence suggested that the Yabaqus, Basmïls, and Chömüls were all Turkic speakers; therefore, Mehmet Fuat Köprülü concludes that in the 11th century, the Yabaqus, Basmïls, Chömüls, Qays and Tatars -the last two of whom Köprülü considers to be Turkified Mongols- could speak Kashgari's Karakhanid dialect as well as their own Turkic dialects, yet those peoples' own dialects differed from Karakhanid so substantially that Kashgari considered them other languages.[48][d]

The Otuken region, constantly mentioned in the Orkhon inscriptions as the place of residence of the Turks, according to Mahmud Kashgar, was once in the country of the Tatars.[50] According to Vasily Bartold, this message suggests that the Mongols already then reached the west to the area where their neighbors from different sides were Turkic tribes.[51]

According to Klyashtorny, the name of the Tatars was the Turkic designation of the Mongols.[52] As Ushnitsky writes, the ethnonym "Tatars" was used by the Turks only to designate "strangers", that is, peoples who do not speak Turkic. The Turkic tribes of their Mongol-speaking neighbors also called "tat" or "tat-ar".[53] According to Bartold, obviously, the peoples of Mongolian origin who spoke the Mongolian language have always called themselves Tatars. Subsequently, this word was completely supplanted by the word "Mongol".[54]

As for the division of Tatars who remained east, by the 10th century, they became subjects of the Khitan-led Liao dynasty. After the fall of the Liao, the Tatars experienced pressure from the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty and were urged to fight against the other Mongol tribes. The Tatars lived on the fertile pastures around Hulun Nuur and Buir Nuur and occupied a trade route to China proper in the 12th century. Southern Song ambassador Zhao Hong wrote in 1221 that in Genghis Khan's Mongol empire, there were three divisions based on their distance from the Jurchen Jin-ruled China: the White Tatars (白韃靼 Bai Dada), the Black Tatars (黑韃靼 Hei Dada), and the Wild Tatars (生韃靼 Sheng Dada),[55] who were identified, by Kyzlasov, with the Turkic-speakers - including the Öngüds (of Turkic Shatuo origin),[56][57] Mongolic speakers -to whom belonged Genghis Khan and his companions-, and the Tungusic speakers,[e] respectively.[2]


  1. ^ Alternatively known in Chinese sources as 達打, 達靼, 達達, 達怛, 達旦, 塔壇, 塔壇, 韃靼,[3] 大檀, 檀檀.[4]
  2. ^ in Sadur (2012:250), the Toquz Oghuz/Qocho Uyghurs were misidentified with the Oghuz Turks who founded, in the late 8th cenrtury, a nomadic state spanning from the Syr Darya's lower reaches to the Caspian Sea; even though the Toghuzghuz country's locations, given by the Hudud, are identifiable with Qocho kingdom's locations: e.g. Chīnānjikath with Gaochang, Ṭafqān with Eastern Tianshan, Panjīkath with Besh Balïq, etc.[31]
  3. ^ "Eight Oghuzes", an ethnonym which denotes the eight tribes who'd revolted against the leading Uyghur tribe, according to Czeglédy[33]
  4. ^ Golden (2006:42) proposes that Basmïls were Oghurs who remained east after their cousins' westwards migration and in the 11th century Basmïls were still speaking an Oghur Turkic language.[49]
  5. ^ Xin Wudaishi also mentioned the Tungusic background of some Tatars[58]


  1. ^ a b Rybatzki, Volker (2011). "Classification of Old Turkic loanwords in Mongolic". In Ölmez, Mehmet; Aydın, Erhan; Zieme, Peter; Kaçalin, Mustafa (eds.). From Ötüken to Istanbul: 1290 Years of Turkish (720 - 2010). p. 186. The Common Mongolic of this time might be connected with two ethnic groups called Otuz Tatar or Toquz Tatar in the Old Turkic inscriptions
  2. ^ a b c d Sadur Valiahmet: Тюрки, татары, мусульмане, 2012, page 250
  3. ^ Theoblad, U. (2012) "Dada 韃靼, Tatars" for
  4. ^ Songshi, Vol. 95
  5. ^ Golden, Peter B. "Some Notes on the Avars and Rouran", in The Steppe Lands and the World beyond Them. Ed. Curta, Maleon. Iași (2013). p. 54-56.
  6. ^ Songshu vol. 95. "芮芮一號大檀,又號檀檀" tr. "Ruìruì, one appellation is Dàtán, also called Tántán"
  7. ^ Weishu vol. 103 "蠕蠕,東胡之苗裔也,姓郁久閭氏。" tr. "Rúrú, offsprings of Dōnghú, surnamed Yùjiŭlǘ""
  8. ^ *Pulleyblank, Edwin G. (2000). "Ji 姬 and Jiang 姜: The Role of Exogamic Clans in the Organization of the Zhou Polity", Early China. p. 20
  9. ^ Golden, Peter B. "Some Notes on the Avars and Rouran", in The Steppe Lands and the World beyond Them. Ed. Curta, Maleon. Iași (2013). pp. 54-55.
  10. ^ a b Xu Elina-Qian, Historical Development of the Pre-Dynastic Khitan, University of Helsinki, 2005. p. 179-180
  11. ^ Lee, Joo-Yup (2016). "The Historical Meaning of the Term Turk and the Nature of the Turkic Identity of the Chinggisid and Timurid Elites in Post-Mongol Central Asia". Central Asiatic Journal. 59 (1–2): 116. It is not known which language the Xiongnu spoke.
  12. ^ Lee, Joo-Yup (2016). "The Historical Meaning of the Term Turk and the Nature of the Turkic Identity of the Chinggisid and Timurid Elites in Post-Mongol Central Asia". Central Asiatic Journal. 59 (1–2): 105.
  13. ^ Weishu, vol. 103 "冬則徙度漠南,夏則還居漠北。"In winter [they] moved southwards across the desert; in summer [they] returned northwards to dwell in the desert."
  14. ^ Kradin, N.N. "From Tribal Confederation to Enpire: The Evolution of Rouran Society" in Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hung. Volume 58 (2), (2005). p. 149-151, 158, 160 of 149–169
  15. ^ "Kül Tiğin (Gültekin) Yazıtı Tam Metni (Full text of Kul Tigin monument with Turkish transcription)". Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  16. ^ "Bilge Kağan Yazıtı Tam Metni (Full text of Bilge Khagan monument with Turkish transcription)". Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  17. ^ "The Kultegin's Memorial Complex". Retrieved 5 April 2014.
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  19. ^ Thomsen, Vilhelm Ludvig Peter (1896). Inscriptions de l'Orkhon déchiffrées. Helsingfors, Impr. de la Société de littérature finnoise. p. 140.
  20. ^ Xu (2005), p. 181-182 quote: "The Turkic Orkhon Inscription written in 732 declared the thirty clans of the Tartar, who were believed the other name of some Shiwei tribes, were enemies of them."
  21. ^ Zizhi Tongjian vol. 266, the fifth month of 907: "及阿保機為王, 尤雄勇, 五姓奚及七姓室韋, 韃靼咸役屬之" "Up to the time of Abaoji who was more valiant, all of the five tribes of the Xi, the seven tribes of the Shiwei and the Tartar were subdued ..." translated by Xu (2005:72); alternative translation: "When Abaoji became king, [he was] even more valiant; all the five Xi tribes and all the seven Shiwei[-associated] Tatar tribes were subdued ..."
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  27. ^ Theoblad, U. (2012) "Dada 韃靼, Tatars" for
  28. ^ Ḥudūd al'Ālam "Section 12" Translated and Explained by V. F. Minorsky (1937) p. 94. quote: "The Tātār too are a race (jinsī) of the Toghuzghuz"
  29. ^ Minorsky, V.F. (1937) "Commentary" on Ḥudūd al'Ālam, "Section 18". p. 263-265
  30. ^ Golden P.B. (1992) p. 155-157
  31. ^ Minorsky (1937). p. 271-272
  32. ^ Martinez A.P. 1982 "Gardīzī’s two chapters on the Turks". Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi, vol. II: 120-121 cited in Tishin V.V. (2018). "Kimäk and Chù-mù-kūn (处木昆): Notes on an Identification" p. 107-108
  33. ^ Czeglédy, Karoly (1972) "On the Numerical Composition of the Ancient Turkish Trial Confederations" in Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae Akadémiai Kiadó
  34. ^ "Moghon Shine Usu Inscription" text at Türik Bitig
  35. ^ Kamalov, A. (2003) "The Moghon Shine Usu Insription as the Earliest Uighur Historical Annals", Central Asiatic Journal. 47 (1). p. 77-90
  36. ^ Ramstedt, G.I. (1913) "Zwei Uighurischen Runeinschriften", p. 52. cited in Kamalov (2003), p. 86
  37. ^ Czegledy, K. (1973) "Gardizi on the History of Central Asia", p. 265. cited in Kamalov (2003), p. 86
  38. ^ Senga cited in Golden (2002) “Notes on the Qïpchaq Tribes: Kimeks and Yemeks”, in The Turks, I, p. 662
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  41. ^ Бартольд В. В. (1968). Сочинения. Том V. Работы по истории и филологии тюркских и монгольских народов. Москва: Наука. p. 400.
  42. ^ a b Maħmūd al-Kašğari. "Dīwān Luğāt al-Turk". Edited & translated by Robert Dankoff in collaboration with James Kelly. In Sources of Oriental Languages and Literature. Part I. (1982). p. 82-83
  43. ^ Scott Cameron Levi, Ron Sela (2010). Islamic Central Asia: An Anthology of Historical Sources. Indiana University Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-253-35385-6.
  44. ^ Golden (1992) p. 229
  45. ^ Biran, Michal (2005), The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World, Cambridge University Press. p. 98
  46. ^ Schönig, Klaus, "On some unclear, doubtful and contradictory passages in Maḥmūd al-Kāšγarī's "Dīwān Luγāt at-Turk", Türk Dilteri Araştrımaları l4 (2004): p. 38-42 of 35-56
  47. ^ al-Kašğari. p. 82-83
  48. ^ Köprülü (2006), p. 148
  49. ^ Golden, Peter B. (2006). "Cumanica V: The Basmils and Qipčaqs". Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 15. p. 42
  50. ^ Бартольд В. В. (1968). Сочинения. Том V. Работы по истории и филологии тюркских и монгольских народов. Москва: Наука. p. 559.
  51. ^ Бартольд В. В. (1968). Сочинения. Том V. Работы по истории и филологии тюркских и монгольских народов. Москва: Наука. p. 86.
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  54. ^ Бартольд В. В. (1968). Сочинения. Том V. Работы по истории и филологии тюркских и монгольских народов. Москва: Наука. p. 560.
  55. ^ Theobald, Ulrich (2012) "Dada 韃靼, Tatars" in
  56. ^ History of Yuan, "Vol. 118" "阿剌兀思剔吉忽里,汪古部人,係出沙陀雁門之後。" Ala Qus Tigin-qori, a man of the Ongud tribe, descending from the Wild Goose Pass's Shatuo
  57. ^ Paulillo, Maurizio. "White Tatars: The Problem of the Öngũt conversion to Jingjiao and the Uighur Connection" in From the Oxus River to the Chinese Shores: Studies on East Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia (orientalia - patristica - oecumenica) Ed. Tang, Winkler. (2013) pp. 237-252
  58. ^ Xin Wudaishi, vol. 74 txt: "達靼,靺鞨之遺種,本在奚、契丹之東北,後為契丹所攻,而部族分散,或屬契丹,或屬渤海,別部散居陰山者,自號達靼。" tr: "Tatars, remnant stock of Mohe. Originally they dwelt [with] the Xi, northeast of the Khitans. Later they were attacked by Khitans, and the tribe was scattered. [The tribesmembers] either submitted to Khitans, or submitted to Balhae. As for tribes separated and living scattered at Yin Mountains, [they] called themselves Tatars"