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Asia in 400 AD, showing Kidarite lands and their neighbors.

The Kidarite (Chinese: Ki-To-Lo) dynasty of the "Ki" clan originated from the Uar people. As the leaders of the Hara Huna they established a Kingdom in northwestern India during the 4-5th century. They were part of the tribes known collectively as White Huns or Hephthalites.

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When Shi Le established the Later Zhao state, it is thought that many of the Uar around Pingyang (平陽, in modern Linfen, Shanxi) fled west along the Silk Road. This caused the Huna to encroach upon Khorasan and the frontiers of the Kushan state around 320 AD.

The Kidarite king Grumbat mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus was a cause of much concern to the Persians. Between 353 AD and 358 AD, the Chionites under Grumbat attacked in the eastern frontiers of Shapur II's empire along with other nomad tribes. After a prolonged struggle they were forced to conclude a peace, and their king Grumbat accompanied Shapur II in the war against the Romans. Victories of the Chionites during their campaigns in the Eastern Caspian lands are described by Ammianus Marcellinus:

...Grumbates Chionitarum rex novus aetate quidem media rugosisque membris sed mente quadam grandifica multisque victoriarum insignibus nobilis;
...Grumbates, the new king of the Chionites, while he was middle aged, and his limbs were wrinkled, he was endowed with a mind that acted grandly, and was famous for his many, significant victories."
Ammianus Marcellinus, 18.6.22.

The southern or "Red" Kidarite vassals to the Kushans in the North-Western Indus valley became known as Red Huns from 360 AD after Kidara II led a Bactrian portion of Hunni to overthrow the Kushans in India.. At this time Kidarites successfully controlled the length of the Oxus from the Hindu Kush all the way to the Aral Sea..

D.M. Lang (1976) identified the Kermikhion-Kidarites with the Kazar and Kudrigur proto-Bulgarians involved in causing Hunnic migrations across the Volga into Europe around 463 according to their envoy Priscus.

Kidara I fl. c. 320 CE
Kungas 330's ?
Varhran I fl. c. 340
Grumbat c. 358-c. 380
Kidara (II ?) fl. c. 360
Brahmi Buddhatala fl. c. 370
(Unknown) fl. 388/400
Varhran (II) fl. c. 425
Goboziko fl. c. 450
Salanavira mid 400's
Vinayaditya late 400's
Kandik early 500's

The Kidarites were the first "Hunas" to bother India. Indian records note that the Hūna had established themselves in modern Afghanistan and the NWFP in present day Pakistan by the first half of the fifth century, and the Gupta emperor Skandagupta had repelled a Hūna invasion in 455.

White Huns

As a result of "Wusun vultures" descending upon them in Transoxiana, the Kidarite powerbase moved from Southern "Red" Hunuk to Western "White" Khiva in 460 where the Hephthalite or White Hun dynasty was established by Khingila I.

The Greek envoy Rhetor often referred to the "White Huns" as Kidarite Chionites when they united with the Uar under the Hepthalite clan. While in India, the Kidarite Chionites became known as Sveta-Hūna meaning "White Huns". They were said to have been of fair complexion according to Procopius, although according to the central Asian order of cosmic precedence, White Huns would simply mean Western Huns (as the name Xiyon actually implies).

Although they fought against the Sassanians, early 5th century "OIONO" coins (thought to have been minted by Chionite rulers) imitate Sassanian drachmas. For more information on coins see Alchon.

The Kidarite Chionites flourished under the Hephthalites, until something forced them to migrate from Khiva to Itil under Kandik in the mid 6th century. Not long afterwards, the Hephthalites remaining in Uzbekistan submitted to Gokturk rule in 567AD.

Relation to other "Huns"

The Huns already present on the Black Sea Steppes might not have been as closely related to the northern Black Desert Kidarites and their related Alchon or Hunas as is usually presumed. Though the Chronicles of Kiev do mention how the Ki clan founded Kiev after subjugating the eastern Hunno-Bulgars who subsequently became known as the Kazarigs. In Europe the Kidarites became known as the Pseudo-Avar Huns, first mentioned in Balkan province of Turkmenistan attacking the Sabirs in 460 AD and who the following century (in 557) entered Europe under the leadership of Kandik. Because of their very flimsy connection to the Uar the Gokturks objected to the Kidarites calling themselves "Avars" in Europe and demanded the Byzantine Emperor Maurice (582-602) recognise the fact that the eastern Uar (from which the Dulo clan descended) who had submitted to Gokturk rule were the true Avars, while the Kidarites who had entered Europe under Kandik should be called "Pseudo-Avars".

References and notes

See also

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