from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tuoba Wei in the east of the map, between 330 and 555

The Tabgatsch (in Chinese sources: Tuoba ( 拓拔 or 拓跋 , Tuò bá ), earlier often transcribed T'o-pa ) were one of the most important tribal confederations that emerged after the collapse of the Xiongnu Empire .

After they had conquered large parts of northern China, called her name in the following years with the peoples of Central Asia the whole of China, so in the inscriptions of Orkhon traditional old Turkish form of the name Tavġaç in Byzantine sources (as in Theophylact Simocatta ) Taugast (Ταυγὰστ) or with the Arabs Tamġaǧ . In this respect, there is a similarity to the generalization of the name Cathay , with which Marco Polo referred to China, which is derived from the Kitan who ruled northern China with their Liao dynasty .

Tabgach power extended from Shanxi and Hebei to the Yellow River towards the end of the fourth century . Here they founded the Northern Wei Dynasty . The Tabgach rulers were predominantly Buddhist .


The Tabgatsch are generally considered to be one of the subgroups of the Mongolian-dominated Xianbei (consisting of Tuoba ( 拓跋 , Tuò bá ), Yuwen ( 宇文 , Yǔwén ), Qifu ( 乞 伏 , Qǐfú ), Murong ( 慕容 , Mùróng ) and Duan ( 段氏 , Duànshì )).

Wolfgang Eberhard stated that 60% of the tribes were Turkish , 35% Mongolian , at least two tribes Tungus and one tribe Indo-European . The core tribe, i.e. the tribe in whose hands political power lay, was Turkish.

Annemarie von Gabain comes to a different conclusion, apparently based on similar material. A third of the surviving language material is recognizable as Turkish, a further third as “Mongoloid”, another indefinable, she concludes that the Tabgatsch language was not “Turkish” but (common -) “Altaic”


Around 260 the Tabgatsch came to power north of Shanxi , north of the Great Wall .

In 315 Tuoba Yilu ( 拓拔 猗 盧 , Tuòbá Yīlú ) Daiguo ( 代 國  /  代 国 , Dàiguó ), the kingdom of the Tabgatsch, with the capital Shengle ( 盛 樂  /  盛 乐 , Shènglè ), north of today's Hohhot . This empire is said to have comprised 119 different tribes, some of which were still nomadic .

The rise of the Tabgach was founded by Tuoba Gui ( 拓拔 珪 , Tuòbá Guī ) (386-409), who successively took away all cities from the Murong clan of the Xianbei, his people a permanent capital on the edge of the steppe in the north of Shanxi , near Pingcheng, the present-day city of Datong , proclaimed himself emperor and founded the Northern Wei Dynasty ( B , Běi Wèi ).

This Wei-empire stretched across northern China , on the east of the present-day provinces of Gansu and Qinghai , also today Autonomous Region Ningxia the Hui to the Yellow Sea . The 20 rulers of the Tabgatsch ruled northern China for 170 years. During this time, the Wei adopted Chinese customs and became Sinicized . But with the steady influx of Han Chinese into the Tabgatsch rulership, the situation changed: The ruling class slowly became impoverished and from 530 onwards, conditions similar to civil war began, which were exploited by the neighboring Gök Turks.

Ultimately, the empire split into two sub-empires that were at war with each other and were led by two generals: The Eastern Wei ( 東魏  /  东魏 , Dōng Wèi ) and the Western Wei ( 西魏 , Xī Wèi ). They were followed by the Northern Qi Dynasty ( 北齊  /  北齐 , Běi Qí ); it covered the east of the former Wei Empire, while the Northern Zhou Dynasty ( 北周 , Běi Zhōu ) included the west.

After 580, the Tabgach Empire fell and its territory was incorporated into the Sui dynasty .

The Tabgatsch reign is generally divided into three phases:

  • the time of the Northern Wei (386–534 / 535), also known as the Wei Dynasty.
  • the time of the eastern Dong Wei (534–550) and the western Xi Wei (535–554). These emerged in 534/35 when the empire was divided between two rival armies.
  • the period of the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577) and the Northern Běi Zhōu Dynasty (557-581)

Therefore the term “Tuoba-Wei” ( 拓跋 魏 , Tuòbá Wèi ) has become common for the Tabgatsch period.


  • Wolfram Eberhard: The Toba Empire of North China. A sociological investigation. EJ Brill, Leiden 1949, OCLC 883933 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  • Shing Müller: The graves of the Northern Wei period: (386-534) . tape 1-3 . Munich 2000, OCLC 644740174 .
  • Shing Müller: The nomads of the fifth century. The Tuoba Xianbei . In: Annette L. Juliano, Judith A. Lerner (Eds.): Nomads, traders and holy men along China's Silk Road. (=  Silk Road studies . No. 7 ). Brepols, Turnhout 2002, ISBN 2-503-52178-9 , pp. 33-44 .
  • Dorothy C. Wong: The origins of Buddhist steles under the Northern Wei . In: Chinese Steles Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form . University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 2004, ISBN 0-8248-2783-X , pp. 43 ff ., JSTOR : j.ctt6wqsbp ( limited preview in Google book search).
  • Mark Lewis: China between empires. The northern and southern dynasties (=  History of imperial China ). Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.) 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-04015-1 .
  • Charles Holcombe: The Xianbei in Chinese history . In: Early Medieval China . tape 19 , no. 1 , 2013, ISSN  1529-9104 , p. 1-38 , especially p. 11 ff. Section The Tuoba Xianbei , doi : 10.1179 / 1529910413Z.0000000006 .
  • Chang-Chun Yu, Li Xie, Xiao-Lei Zhang, Hui Zhou, Hong Zhu: Genetic analyzes on the affinities between Tuoba Xianbei and Xiongnu populations . In: Yi Chuan . tape 29 , no. 10 , October 29, 2007, ISSN  0253-9772 , p. 1223-1229 , PMID 17905712 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ George Coedès: Texts of Greek and Latin authors on the Far East. Volume 1: Texts and translations Turnhout 2010, ISBN 978-2-503-53366-7 , p. 135.
  2. a b Wolfgang Ekkehard Scharlipp: The early Turks in Central Asia. Darmstadt 1992, p. 11.
  3. ^ The Tuoba Xianbei and the Northern Wei Dynasty. on, accessed August 30, 2016.
  4. Wolfram Eberhard: The process of state formation among Central Asian nomadic peoples in: the same: China and its western neighbors. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1978, ISBN 3-534-06483-6 , pp. 267–271, p. 268 (first published in: Research and Progress Vol. 25 (1949) No. 5/6, pp. 52–54)
  5. Annemarie von Gabain: About the ancestors of the Turkic peoples. Reflections on Franz Altheim, "Literature and society in the late antiquity". In: Communications from the Institute for Orient Research. Vol. 1 (1953), pp. 474-479, pp. 475/476
  6. Tabgac - 385-550. (PDF) from, accessed on August 30, 2016.
  7. a b c Wei dynasty - Chinese history [386-534 / 535] . In: Encyclopædia Britannica . ( [accessed August 30, 2016]).