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Chanyu Chinese Traditional=單于, Chinese Simplified=单于, normally spelled Shanyu and sometimes transliterated Shanuy, was the title used by the nomadic supreme rulers of Middle and Central Asia for 8 centuries, starting from the Zhou go period and superseded by the title "Kagan"" in 402 CE [1]. The title was used by the nomadic Xiongnu Luanti clan during the Qin and Han dynasties.

The reason 'Chanyu' is preferable to 'Shanyu' is to be found in the Guangyun, a dictionary compiled in 601 CE by Lu Fayan, and completed during the Song dynasty, gives three readings for the first character of this title [i.e. Chanyu]: dan, chan, and shan. The form chan is specifically mentioned as being used in the Xiongnu title Chanyu. The reading shan is used as a place or family name; the reading dan means 'single' or 'alone.'[2][3][4]

Literally, the full phrase in which Chanyu is used means "son of endless sky", clearly an epithet for a ruler, just as the Chinese have called the emperor the "son of heaven". The Xiongnu Lateral succession system seems to have been what the late Joseph Fletcher called blood tanistry, with the closest male relative inheriting the position of Chanyu from his predecessor. There were sixty historical Chanyu.

List of Xiongnu Chanyus

NB Chanyu names do not always obey Chinese convention
Chinese name Data Reign
Xia, Chun-Wei (夏, 淳維) Legendary king a.k.a. Sunni c. 1800-1766BC
 ?Kia?  ???  ?- 270BC?
 ?Tangriqut?  ???  ?270 - 240BC?
Touman (頭曼) a.k.a. Toumen 240 - 209BC
Maodun (冒顿) a.k.a. Batur (Baγatur) [5] 209 - 174BC
Ki-Ok Laoshang (老上) a.k.a. Kokkhan 174 - 161BC
Chun-Chin (車臣) a.k.a. Kunkhan 161 - 126BC
I, Tsin-Xien (伊, 稚邪) a.k.a. El'chishye 126 - 114BC
Wu-Wey (烏維) a.k.a. Uvey 114 - 105BC
Wu, Shi-Lu? (烏, 師盧?) a.k.a. Uyshilar 105 - 102/1BC
Ku/Zhou, Li-Hu (口/句, 黎湖) a.k.a. Kulighu 102/1 - 101/0BC
Chu, Ti-Qu (且, 提侯)  ??? 101/0 - 96BC
Hu, Lu-Ku (狐, 鹿姑) a.k.a. Ghuliqu 96 - 85BC
Chu, Yan-Ti (壺, 衍提) a.k.a. Ghuyandi 85 - 68BC
Hsu-Lu (虛閭) & Chuan-Chou (權渠) Two brothers: Shuluy & Qanghuy 68 - 60BC
Ang, Yan-Ti (握, 衍提) a.k.a. Uyanquti (?月句?) 60 - 58BC
Hu, Hanxie (呼, 韓邪) a.k.a. Qoghoshar (Khukheniy I) opposed by...
...Bosiuytang-Zhuki (West)
...Huge (Northwest)
...Cheli (Southwest)
...Uji (Northwest)
...Zhunzhen (West)
...Zhizhi-Guduhu (East)
58 - 31BC
58 - 56
58 - 57
58 - 56
58 - 57
56 - 54
55 - 47
Fu-Chu Ley Ju-Ti (復株 累 若提) a.k.a. Pozhu-Lu-NoTi 31 - 20BC
Su-Xie Ju-Ti (搜諧 若提) Shuzhu-NoTi 20 - 12BC
Che-Ya Ju-Ti (車牙 若提)
Wu Ley Ju-Ti (烏 累 若提)
Qiya-NoTi, opposed by
12 - 8BC
11 - 10BC
Wu-Zhou Liu Ju-Ti (烏珠 留 若提) Uchi-Lu-NoTi 8 BCE - 13 AD
Wu Ley Ju-Ti (烏 累 若提) U-Lu-NoTi (restored) 13 - 18AD
Hu, Duershi TaoGao-JuTi (呼, 都而尸 道皋 若提)

Wu-Ta Ti-Qu (烏達 提侯)
Ghuduarshi Davga-Noti, opposed by...
18 - 46AD
18 - 19AD
21 - 46AD
Pu-Nu (蒲奴) a.k.a. Panu, he was shunned to the Northwest by
KhuKheniy II. The descendants of his supporters were
eventually driven to the west of the Caspian sea by
Ban Chao where they were noticed by Tacitus
46 - 48AD
Hu, Han-Sie/Hanxie (呼, 韓邪) Di II (第二)
a.k.a. Bey/Bi (KhuKheniy II) of the East partition
brought the southern Xiongnu into tributary relations
with Han China in AD 50
Chiu-Fu Yu-Ti (丘浮 尤提) Chupu-NoTi 55/56-56/57AD
I-Fa Wu Yu-Ti (伊伐 於 慮提)  ??? 56/57-59AD
XienTung ShiSuQuTi (醢僮 尸逐侯提) Shtongsi SuyGhuTi 59-63AD
丘除車林提 Kuchi QilinTi 63AD
HuYeh ShiSuQuTi (湖邪 尸逐侯提) Ghushi Shisu Quti 63-85
I-Tu-Yi-Lu-Ti (伊屠 於 閭提) Iltu UluTi 85-88AD
XiuLan ShiSuQuTi (休蘭 尸逐侯提) Shulan 88-93
Anguo (安國) a.k.a. Arqu started a large scale rebellion against
the Han
Tindu ShiSuQuTi (亭獨 尸逐侯提)  ??? 94-98AD
Wanchi ShiSuQuTi (萬氏 尸逐侯提) opposed by...
Wuzhi ShiSuQuTi (烏稽 尸逐侯提)  ??? 124-127/128
Kuti NoShiSuChin (去特 若尸逐就) Committed suicide 127/128-140/142?
Chu-Xiu  ??? 140 - 143
Hu, Lan NoShiSuChin (呼, 蘭 若尸逐就) Ghoran 143-147AD
I-Ling NoShiSuChin (伊陵 若尸逐就) Illin 147-172AD
Dotuk NoShiSuChin (屠特 若尸逐就) a.k.a. Utno Shisu Quti 172-177/8AD
Hu, Ching (呼, 徵) a.k.a. Ghuzhin 177/8-179AD
Jiangqu (羌渠) a.k.a. Qanquy 179-188AD
Luanti Yufuluo (於扶羅) a.k.a. Qizi ShiSuQu (特至 尸逐侯). The last ShiSu.
Overthrown in the Ordos by the unnamed Chanyu of
Xiluo 醯落 and Tu'ge 屠各. Led dozens of refugee
Xiongnu tribes to Pingyang (平阳) in Shanxi.
Huchuquan (呼廚泉) Yufuluo's brother(?) he ruled over the Pingyang Xiongnu
after Yufuluo died.
Liu Bao (劉豹) Yufuluo's son. He changed the Chanyu clan name from
Luanti to Liu - meaning Dragon in the Xiongnu
Language. He bore the title 匈奴 單于 but ruled only
over the West partition in Jiuyuan (九原) of the
Pingyang Xiongnu newly partitioned into North, South,
left (West), right (East), and Centre by Cao Cao
劉(刘)去卑 Liú Qùbēi Huchuquan's son. Cao Cao ordered him to rule
over the north partition of Pingyang Xiongnu as
Tiefu Right Virtuous King (鐵弗 右贤王).
劉誥升爰 Liú Gàoshēngyuán Son of 劉(刘)去卑 Liú Qùbēi. Bore the title 鐵弗 右贤王 272-309
Liú Yuān (劉淵) a.k.a. Guangwen (光文). Son of Liu Bao (劉豹). Bore the
title 匈奴 單于
Liu He, ch. 劉和 py. liú hé  ??? 7 days in 310
Liu Cong, ch. 劉聰 py. liú cōng a.k.a. Zhaowu, ch. 昭武, py. zhāo wǔ 310-318
Liu Can, ch. 劉粲 py. liú càn a.k.a. Yin, ch. 隱 py. yǐn a month and days in 318
Liu Yao ch. Liu Yao 劉曜 py. liú yaò a.k.a. Hou Zhu (後主 hòu zhǔ) 318-329
Liu Xi ch. Liu Xi 劉熙; py. liú xī; Last ruler of Han Zhao 329
劉虎 Liú Hǔ Liu Qubei's grandson. He was not allowed to call himself Chanyu 329-341
劉務恒 Liú Wùhéng  ??? 341-356
劉閼陋頭 Liú èlòutóu  ??? 356-358
劉悉勿祈 Liú Xīwùqí  ??? 358-359
劉衛辰 Liú Wèichén Emperor Huan 359-391
劉勃勃 Liú Bóbó a.k.a. Wulie (武烈 Wǔliè) established Xiongnu Xia 407 and in 413 reverted surname to 赫連 Hèlián 391-425
赫連昌 Hèlián Chāng  ??? 425-428
赫連定 Hèlián Dìng Last native ruler of Huns in China 428-431

See also


  1. ^ Taskin V.S. "Materials on history of Dunhu group nomadic tribes", Moscow, 1984, p. 305,306, (Таскин В.С. "Mатериалы по истории древних кочевых народов группы Дунху") In Russian
  2. ^ "Early Chinese Settlement Policies towards the Nomads." Pan Yihong. Asia Major, 3rd series, Vol. V, Part 2, (1992), p. 42, n. 2.
  3. ^ Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese and Early Mandarin, p. 48. (1991) Edwin G. Pulleyblank. UBC Press. Vancouver.
  4. ^ Indo-Scythian Studies being Khotanese Texts Volume VII, p. 32. (1985). H. W. Bailey. Cambridge University Press.
  5. ^ Hirth F. Sinologische Beitrage zur Geschichte der Turk-Volker. Die Ahnentafel Attila's nach Johannes von Thurocz. Bull. Imp. Acad, series V, vol. XIII, 1900, No 2, pp. 221-261.


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