Touman or Teoman (Mongolian: Tümen), or T'u-man, – was the earliest
Xiongnu chanyu (匈奴單于), reigning from c. 220 to 209
BCE. The name
Touman is likely related to a word meaning '10,000, a
myriad', which was widely borrowed between language families in, most
plausibly, the order indicated by the following representative list of
its forms: Modern Persian (which includes the Tajik and Dari dialects
of it) tōmān ~ tūmān, Mongolian tümen,
Old Turkic tümän,
East Tocharian tmāṃ, West Tocharian t(u)māne, which possibly even
Old Chinese and later 萬, whose pronunciation can be
reconstructed as for instance an early
Middle Chinese *muanʰ. Note
however that our only certain evidence this number-word already
existed around and before Touman's lifetime would be the Chinese; not
until many centuries after he lived are the other languages with this
word in them first attested.
By the time the Qin Dynasty conquered the other six states and began
its reign over a unified China in 221 BCE, the nomadic
grown into a powerful invading force in the north and started
expanding both east and west.
At the time the Donghu (東胡) or 'Eastern Barbarians' were very
powerful and the
Yuezhi were flourishing. Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the
first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, sent a 100,000-strong army headed by
Meng Tian to drive the
Xiongnu northward for 1,000 li (about
"Touman, unable to hold out against the Qin forces, had withdrawn to
the far north, where he held out for over ten years."
Some time after the death of
Meng Tian in 210 BCE, the
again began to infiltrate south of the bend of the Yellow River until
they had established themselves along the old border of China."
Touman, wishing to favor a son of another consort, sent his eldest
son, Modu (冒頓), as a hostage to the Yuezhi, and then made a sudden
attack on them. The
Yuezhi were about to kill Modu when he managed to
steal a horse and escape back to the Xiongnu.
Touman, impressed with his bravery, put him in command of a force of
10,000 horsemen. However, Modu trained his men well and, in 209 BCE,
killed his father and, after killing his stepmother, younger brother,
and the high officials who refused to take orders from him,
established himself as Chanyu. With his new combined military
force, Modu was able to establish the
A Han-Dynasty history, the
Han shu (in its juan 94's "upper" section)
recounts the end of Touman’s life in vivid language, as follows
(literal English translation, then the Classical Chinese).
... The chanyu[, Touman,] had a son and heir, by name called Modu.
Later, he had a beloved khanum, who gave birth to a young[er] son.
Touman wanted, casting aside Modu, to install the young son [in the
position]. He managed to send Modu as a hostage to the Yuezhi. Upon
Modu having become a hostage,
Touman quickly attacked the Yuezhi. The
Yuezhi wanted to kill Modu. Modu stole their good horses, rode, went
away, and returned home.
Touman took it as a show of strength and
ordered that he have command of 10,000 riders. Modu managed to make
whistling arrowheads and with them training his riders to shoot. He
gave an order, saying: "Those who do not always shoot at something
shot at by an arrow with a whistling arrowhead will be beheaded." He
conducted hunting for game-animals. He had some not shooting at
something the whistling arrowhead(s) [had] shot at, and he on the spot
beheaded them. That being done, Modu with a whistling arrowhead shot
at a good horse of his own. At [his] left and right, some did not at
all dare to shoot. Modu straightaway beheaded them. [Next,] he waited,
a while passed, [then,] again with a whistling arrowhead, he shot at
his own beloved wife. At [his] left and right, he had some who were
quite afraid and did not dare shoot, and he again beheaded them. A
while passed. Modu went out hunting. With a whistling arrowhead, he
shot at a good horse of [Touman,] the chanyu's. At [his] left and
right, all shot at it. Modu thereupon knew that his left and right
could be used [for the task]. He went along on a hunt of his father,
the chanyu, Touman's, and with a whistling arrowhead shot at Touman.
His left and right, all following the whistling arrowhead, shot at and
killed Touman. They put to death both his stepmother and the younger
brother and even some important retainers who did not obey and go
along. Modu thereupon installed himself and became chanyu.
^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University
Press. pp. 26–27. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9.
^ Steingass (1892), p. 337.
^ Doerfer (1963-1975), vol. II, pp. 983 ff., and Beckwith (2009), pp.
387–388, n. 10; p. 390, n. 17, to cite only a very authoritative
source and a recent one (respectively) among many that have discussed
^ a b Watson (1993), p. 133.
^ Watson (1993), p. 134.
^ "What is the origin of the Huns?".
Watson, Burton. (1993).
Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian.
Translated by Burton Watson. Revised Edition. Columbia University
Press. ISBN 0-231-08167-7.
Beckwith, Christopher I. (2009): Empires of the Silk Road: A History
of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Princeton:
Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13589-2.
Yap, Joseph P. (2009). Wars With The Xiongnu, A Translation from Zizhi
tongjian. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.
ISBN 978-1-4490-0604-4. Introduction and Chapter 2.
Doerfer, Gerhard (1963-1975). Türkische und Mongolische Elemente im
Neupersischen. 4 vols. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner. OCLC accession number
01543707 on Worldcat.org, where no ISBN found.
Ban Gu 班固. (89 AD).
Han shu 漢書.
Steingass, Francis Joseph. (1892; Fifth Impression, 1963; ...). A
Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary. London: Routledge &
Kegan Paul Limited.
All Empires: The
Chanyu of the