Yuezhi


Yuezhi

▪ ancient people
Wade-Giles romanization  Yüeh-chih , also called  Indo-Scyth 

      ancient people who ruled in Bactria and India from about 128 BC to about AD 450. The Yuezhi are first mentioned in Chinese sources at the beginning of the 2nd century BC as nomads living in the western part of Gansu province, northwest China. When Lao Shang (reigned c. 174–161 BC), ruler of the Xiongnu (a powerful people of North China), defeated them and killed their king, the main body of Yuezhi moved westward into Sogdiana and Bactria, putting an end to Greek rule there. They and related tribes are the Asi (Asiani) and Tocharians (Tochari) of Western sources. About 128 BC the Yuezhi were recorded living north of the Oxus River (Amu Darya), ruling Bactria as a dependency, but a little later the Great Yuezhi kingdom was in Bactria, and Sogdiana was occupied by the Ta-yuan (Tocharians). The remnant in Gansu were called Little Yuezhi.

      A new dynasty, the Kushān (Kushan dynasty), was subsequently founded by one of the five chieftains among whom Bactria was divided. The Kushān kingdom extended its power southward and eastward into India and northward into Central Asia. From the 3rd century, however, Kushān power declined, and about AD 400 the Kidara dynasty arose in Gandhāra; it survived only to about AD 450, when it was overwhelmed by the Hephthalites (originally a Yuezhi tribe).

      Missionaries from the Great Yuezhi played an important part in the propagation of Buddhism in China. The spread of Indian culture into Central Asia as far as the borders of China probably also resulted from Kushān influence.

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Universalium. 2010.

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