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Title: Tuoba  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Tuoba Xilu, Tuoba Yituo, Xianbei, Emperor Daowu of Northern Wei, Emperor Xuanwu of Northern Wei
Collection: Agglutinative Languages, Ancient Peoples of China, Xianbei
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Tuoba (Chinese: 拓拔; pinyin: Tuòbá; Wade–Giles: T'o-pa) was a clan of the Xianbei in ancient China. In the Old Turkic language, they were referred to as Tabgach.[1]

The Tuoba founded the Northern Wei (386–535) around the Yellow River delta and increasingly sinicized. As a result, from 496, the name "Tuoba" disappeared by an edict of Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei, who adopted the Chinese language surname of Yuan () instead. A surviving branch of the Tuoba established the state of Tuyuhun before submitting as a vassal of the Tang dynasty; they later established the later Western Xia, whose rulers adopted the Chinese surname Li (李).


  • History 1
    • Marriage policies 1.1
    • Chieftains of Tuoba Clan 219-377 (as Princes of Dai 315-377) 1.2
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Notes 4


Tuoba people and their neighbours, c. III CE
Remnants of Tuoba in Alxa League
Remnants of Tuoba in Alxa League

The distribution of the Xianbei people ranged from present day Northeast China to Mongolia, and the Tuoba were one of the largest clans among the western Xianbei, ranging from present day Shanxi province and westward and northwestward. They established the state of Dai from 310-376 CE[1] and ruled as the Northern Wei from 386-536. The Tuoba states of Dai and Northern Wei also claimed to possess the quality of earth in the Chinese Wu Xing theory. All the chieftains of the Tuoba were revered as emperors in the Book of Wei and the History of the Northern Dynasties. Most scholars agree that the Tuoba were proto-Mongols or belonged to their own branch of Ural-Altaic language family,[2][3] although some also suggest that instead of being related to the Mongols, they were perhaps related to the Turkic peoples.[4][5][6][7][3] In the opinion of Peter Boodberg, much of the Tuoba vocabulary was "essentially Turkish with a certain admixture of Mongolian elements". On the other hand, Edwin Pulleyblank "concluded that it was Mongolian."[8] Chen Sanping observes that the Tuoba language "had both" elements.[9] On the other hand, Liu Xueyao stated that Tuobas may have had their own language which should not be assumed to be identical with any other known languages.[10] The Rourans considered that Tuoba and Rourans descended from common ancestors. [11] Also a historian of the Northern Wei noted that Rourans descended from Xianbei.

Marriage policies

The Northern Wei started to arrange for Han Chinese elites to marry daughters of the Xianbei Tuoba royal family in the 480s.[12] Some Han Chinese exiled royalty fled from southern China and defected to the Xianbei. Several daughters of the Xianbei Tuoba Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei were married to Han Chinese elites, like Princess Lanling 蘭陵公主 to Liu Hui 刘辉, who was a descendant of Liu Song royalty who fled north to the Xianbei in exile, Princess Huayang 華陽公主 to Sima Fei 司馬朏, a descendant of Jin dynasty (265–420) royalty, Princess Jinan 濟南公主 to Lu Daoqian 盧道虔, Princess Nanyang 南阳长公主 to Xiao Baoyin 萧宝夤, a member of Southern Qi royalty.

Chieftains of Tuoba Clan 219-377 (as Princes of Dai 315-377)

Posthumous name Full name Period of reign Other
神元 Shényuán 拓拔力微 Tuòbá Lìwéi 219-277 Temple name: 始祖 Shízǔ
章 Zhāng 拓拔悉鹿 Tuòbá Xīlù 277-286
平 Píng 拓拔綽 Tuòbá Chuò 286-293
思 Sī 拓拔弗 Tuòbá Fú 293-294
昭 Zhāo 拓拔祿官 Tuòbá Lùguān 294-307
桓 Huán 拓拔猗㐌 Tuòbá Yītuō 295-305
穆 Mù 拓拔猗盧 Tuòbá Yīlú 295-316
None 拓拔普根 Tuòbá Pǔgēn 316
None 拓拔 Tuòbá[13] 316
平文 Píngwén 拓跋鬱律 Tuòbá Yùlǜ 316-321
惠 Huì 拓拔賀傉 Tuòbá Hèrǔ 321-325
煬 Yáng 拓拔紇那 Tuòbá Hénǎ 325-329 and 335-337
烈 Liè 拓拔翳槐 Tuòbá Yìhuaí 329-335 and 337-338
昭成 Zhaōchéng 拓拔什翼健 Tuòbá Shíyìjiàn 338-377 Regnal name: 建國 Jiànguó

See also


  • Zuev Yu.A. "Ethnic History Of Usuns", Works of Academy of Sciences Kazakh SSR, History, Archeology And Ethnography Institute, Alma-Ata, Vol. VIII, 1960, (In Russian)
  • Bazin L. "Research of T'o-pa language (5th century AD)", T'oung Pao, 39/4-5, 1950 ["Recherches sur les parlers T'o-pa (5e siècle après J.C.)"] (In French) Subject: Toba Tatar language
  • Boodberg P.A. "The Language of the T'o-pa Wei", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 1, 1936
  • Pelliot P.A. "L'Origine de T'ou-kiue; nom chinoise des Turks", T'oung Pao, 1915, p. 689
  • Pelliot P.A. "L'Origine de T'ou-kiue; nom chinoise des Turks", Journal Asiatic, 1925, No 1, p. 254-255
  • Pelliot P.A. "L'Origine de T'ou-kiue; nom chinoise des Turks", T'oung Pao, 1925–1926, pp. 79–93;
  • Clauson G. "Turk, Mongol, Tungus", Asia Major, New Series, Vol. 8, Pt 1, 1960, pp. 117–118
  • Grousset R. "The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia", Rutgers University Press, 1970, p. 57, 63-66, 557 Note 137, ISBN 0-8135-0627-1 [2]


  1. ^ a b Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. pp. 60–65.  
  2. ^ Holcombe 2001, p. 132.
  3. ^ a b Holcombe 2011, p. 65.
  4. ^ Wong, Dorothy C. (2004). Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form. p. 44. 
  5. ^ Mote, Frederick W. (2003). Imperial China 900-1800. p. 170. 
  6. ^ Walton, ,Linda (2013). World History: Journeys from Past to Present. p. 210. 
  7. ^ Tanner, Harold Miles (2010). China: From Neolithic cultures through the Great Qing Empire 10,000 BCE-1799 CE. p. 148. 
  8. ^ Holcombe 2001, p. 132.
  9. ^ Holcombe 2001, p. 248
  10. ^ Liu Xueyao p. 83-86
  11. ^ Hyacinth (Bichurin), Collection of information on peoples lived in Central Asia in ancient times, 1950. p.209
  12. ^ eds. Watson, Ebrey 1991, p. 80.
  13. ^ No known given name survives.

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