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Faction: Nomads Xianbei


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as part of the cultures associated with the wars with the Han dynasty, the Xianbei was one that was more successful than the Xiongnu. Even they were able to attack Wa (Japan).


The Xianbei (Proto-Mongol) rulers of the Northern Wei had a very distinct culture

and art-style that greatly influenced northern China's aesthetics for the next few

centuries. Scenes of great hunts with stylized fauna and tri-colored mountain was

frequently seen in the tombs of Northern Wei's aristocrats. The most

famous iconography was the 九色鹿 Nine Colored Deer, which

came from a Buddhist parable. 





Buyao 步摇 ("step shaker" lit. step sway ) headdress worn by Xianbei women. Like the 

ancient Scythians, noble Xianbei women wore ornate gold or gilt bronze jewels in the 

shape of trees or antlers that formed trees on their head. The gilded leaves 

are crafted separately and would shake whenever the women moved~ 

hence the name of step shaker. Both the reindeer sound and

deer are seen as auspicious by steppe cultures. 


The Xianbei state or Xianbei confederation was a nomadic empire which existed in modern-day Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, northern Xinjiang, Northeast China, Gansu, Buryatia, Zabaykalsky Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, Tuva, Altai Republic and eastern Kazakhstan from 156 to 234. Like most ancient peoples known through Chinese historiography, the ethnic makeup of the Xianbei is unclear.

When the Donghu "Eastern Barbarians" were defeated by Modu Chanyu around 208 BC, the Donghu splintered into the Xianbei and Wuhuan. According to the Book of the Later Han, “the language and culture of the Xianbei are the same as the Wuhuan”.


The first significant contact the Xianbei had with the Han dynasty was in 41 and 45 when they joined the Wuhuan and Xiongnu in raiding Han territory.


In 49, the governor Ji Tong convinced the Xianbei chieftain Pianhe to turn on the Xiongnu with rewards for each Xiongnu head they collected.[4] In 54, Yuchouben and Mantou of the Xianbei paid tribute to Emperor Guangwu of Han.[5] In 58, Pianhe attacked and killed Xinzhiben, a Wuhuan leader causing trouble in Yuyang Commandery.[6]


In 85, the Xianbei secured an alliance with the Dingling and Southern Xiongnu.[4]


In 87, the Xianbei attacked the Xiongnu chanyu Youliu and killed him. They stripped the skin off of him and his followers and took the skin back with them as trophies.



After the downfall of the Xiongnu, the Xianbei replaced them with a loose confederacy from AD 93.[2]


Qizhijian became the first great war-leader of the Xianbei in 121. From 121 until his death in 133, the Xianbei made regular raids on Han territory.[8] In 145, the Xianbei raided Dai Commandery.[9]


Around 155, the northern Xiongnu were "crushed and subjugated" by the Xianbei. The Xianbei chief, known by the Chinese as Tanshihuai, then advanced upon and defeated the Wusun of the Ili region by 166. Under Tanshihuai, the Xianbei extended their territory from the Ussuri to the Caspian Sea. He divided the Xianbei empire into three sections, each ruled by twenty clans. Tanshihuai then formed an alliance with the southern Xiongnu to attack Shaanxi and Gansu. China successfully repulsed their attacks in 158. In 177 AD, Xia Yu, Tian Yan and the Tute Chanyu led a force of 30,000 against the Xianbei. They were defeated and returned with only a quarter of their original forces.[10] A memorial made that year records that the Xianbei had taken all the lands previously held by the Xiongnu and their warriors numbered 100,000. Han deserters who sought refuge in their lands served as their advisers and refined metals as well as wrought iron came into their possession. Their weapons were sharper and their horses faster than those of the Xiongnu. Another memorial submitted in 185 states that the Xianbei were making raids on Han settlements nearly every year.[11] The Xianbei might have also attacked Wa (Japan) with some success.

The loose Xianbei confederacy lacked the organization of the Xiongnu but was highly aggressive until the death of their khan Tanshihuai in 182.[16] Tanshihuai's son Helian lacked his father's abilities and was killed in a raid on Beidi in 186.[17] Helian's brother Kuitou succeeded him, but when Helian's son Qianman came of age, he challenged his uncle to succession, destroying the last vestiges of unity among the Xianbei. Qianman was unsuccessful and disappeared soon after. By 190, the Xianbei had split into three groups with Kuitou ruling in Inner Mongolia, Kebineng in northern Shanxi, and Suli and Mijia in northern Liaodong. In 205, Kuitou's brothers Budugen and Fuluohan succeeded him. After Cao Cao defeated the Wuhuan at the Battle of White Wolf Mountain in 207, Budugen and Fuluohan paid tribute to him. In 218, Fuluohan met with the Wuhuan chieftain Nengchendi to form an alliance, but Nengchendi double crossed him and called in another Xianbei khan, Kebineng, who killed Fuluohan.[18] Budugen went to the court of Cao Wei in 224 to ask for assistance against Kebineng, but he eventually betrayed them and allied with Kebineng in 233. Kebineng killed Budugen soon afterwards.






A Xianbei (Proto- Mongol) Warrior in a riding cloak. Many Xianbei 

warriors were depicted with their elaborate cloaks.


A row of Xianbei cavalrymen wearing their scarlet riding cloaks over heavy armor. 

These elaborate cloaks would not only have extended sleeves but also pockets. 







Replica iron lamellar armour of the Xianbei people during the Sixteen Kingdoms period of China (304 AD - 439 AD). The armour is displayed without the cuisses/thigh guard. This replica is made by 蕭何. 7d5fc0b5d451fd630c33b02a84d2221b.thumb.jpg.30606a4ba2c40156b76ff87257edd426.jpg

A warrior in Xianbei-style costume, Northern Qi. The opening of the upper garment is zuoren.Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China - Northern Qi Pottery WarriorIn Xianbei-style costume. National Museum: China through the Ages, Exhibit 5






Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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Mongolic[1] ancient nomadic people that once resided in the eastern Eurasian steppes in what is today Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Northeastern China. They originated from the Donghu people who splintered into the Wuhuan and Xianbei when they were defeated by the Xiongnu at the end of the 3rd century BC. The Xianbei were largely subordinate to larger nomadic powers and the Han dynasty until they gained prominence in 87 AD by killing the Xiongnu chanyu Youliu. However unlike the Xiongnu, the Xianbei political structure lacked the organization to pose a concerted challenge to the Chinese for most of their time as a nomadic people.


After suffering several defeats by the end of the Three Kingdoms period, the Xianbei migrated south and settled in close proximity to Han society and submitted as vassals, being granted the titles of dukes. As the Xianbei Murong, Tuoba, and Duan tribes were one of the Five Barbarians who were vassals of the Western Jin and Eastern Jin dynasties, they took part in the Uprising of the Five Barbarians as allies of the Eastern Jin against the other four barbarians, the Xiongnu, Jie, Di and Qiang



reconstructs the Later Han Chinese pronunciation of 鮮卑 as */serbi/, from *Särpi, after noting that Chinese scribes used 鮮 to transcribe Middle Persian sēr (lion) and 卑 to transcribe foreign syllable /pi/; for instance, Sanskrit गोपी gopī "milkmaid, cowherdess" became Middle Chinese 瞿卑 (ɡɨo-piᴇ) (> Mand. qúbēi).


On the one hand, *Särpi may be linked to Mongolic root *ser ~*sir which means "crest, bristle, sticking out, projecting, etc." (cf. Khalkha сэрвэн serven), possibly referring to the Xianbei's horses (semantically analogous with the Turkic ethnonym Yabaqu < Yapağu 'matted hair or wool', later 'a matted-haired animal, i.e. a colt')[12] On the other hand, Book of Later Han and Book of Wei stated that: before becoming an ethnonym, Xianbei had been a toponym, referring to the Great Xianbei mountains (大鮮卑山), which is now identified as the Greater Khingan range (simplified Chinese: 大兴安岭; traditional Chinese: 大興安嶺; pinyin: Dà Xīng'ān Lǐng).[13][14][15]


The Xianbei later establish six significant empires of their own such as the Former Yan (281–370), Western Yan (384–394), Later Yan (384–407), Southern Yan (398–410), Western Qin (385–430) and Southern Liang (397–414). The Xianbei were all conquered by the Di Former Qin empire in northern China before its defeat at the Battle of Fei River and subsequent collapse.


Most of them were unified by the Tuoba Xianbei, who established the Northern Wei (386–535), which was the first of the Northern Dynasties (386–581) founded by the Xianbei.

Sinicization and assimilation

Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei established a policy of systematic sinicization that was continued by his successors. Xianbei traditions were largely abandoned. The royal family took the sinicization a step further by changing their family name to Yuan. Marriages to Chinese families were encouraged.




Leaf headdresses

The leaf headdresses were very characteristic of Xianbei culture, and they are found especially in Murong Xianbei tombs. Their corresponding ornamental style also links the Xianbei to Bactria. These gold hat ornaments represented trees and antlers and, in Chinese, they are referred to as buyao ("step sway") since the thin metal leaves move when the wearer moves. Sun Guoping first uncovered this type of artifact, and defined three main styles: "Blossoming Tree" (huashu), which is mounted on the front of a cap near the forehead and has one or more branches with hanging leaves that are circle or droplet shaped, "Blossoming Top" (dinghua), which is worn on top of the head and resembles a tree or animal with many leaf pendants, and the rare "Blossoming Vine" (huaman), which consists of "gold strips interwoven with wires with leaves."[54] Leaf headdresses were made with hammered gold and decorated by punching out designs and hanging the leaf pendants with wire. The exact origin, use, and wear of these headdresses is still being investigated and determined. However, headdresses similar to those later also existed and were worn by women in the courts.



The nomadic traditions of the Xianbei inspired them to portray horses in their artwork. The horse played a large role in the existence of the Xianbei as a nomadic people, and in one tomb, a horse skull lay atop Xianbei bells, buckles, ornaments, a saddle, and one gilded bronze stirrup.[57] The Xianbei not only created art for their horses, but they also made art to depict horses. Another recurring motif was the winged horse. It has been suggested by archaeologist Su Bai that this symbol was a "heavenly beast in the shape of a horse" because of its prominence in Xianbei mythology.[55] This symbol is thought to have guided an early Xianbei southern migration, and is a recurring image in many Xianbei art forms.



Xianbei figurines help to portray the people of the society by representing pastimes, depicting specialized clothing, and implying various beliefs. Most figurines have been recovered from Xianbei tombs, so they are primarily military and musical figures meant to serve the deceased in afterlife processions and guard the tomb. Furthermore, the figurine clothing specifies the according social statuses: higher-ranking Xianbei wore long-sleeved robes with a straight neck shirt underneath, while lower-ranking Xianbei wore trousers and belted tunics.


Buddhist influences

Xianbei Buddhist influences were derived from interactions with Han culture. The Han bureaucrats initially helped the Xianbei run their state, but eventually the Xianbei became Sinophiles and promoted Buddhism. The beginning of this conversion is evidenced by the Buddha imagery that emerges in Xianbei art. For instance, the included Buddha imprinted leaf headdress perfectly represents the Xianbei conversion and Buddhist synthesis since it combines both the traditional nomadic Xianbei leaf headdress with the new imagery of Buddha. This Xianbei religious conversion continued to develop in the Northern Wei dynasty, and ultimately led to the creation of the Yungang Grottoes.


See also: Para-Mongolic languages

The Xianbei are thought to have spoken Mongolic or para-Mongolic languages, with early & substantial Turkic influences; as Claus Schönig asserts:


The Xianbei derived from the context of the Donghu, who are likely to have contained the linguistic ancestors of the Mongols. Later branches and descendants of the Xianbei include the Tabghach and Khitan, who seem to have been linguistically Para-Mongolic. [...] Opinions differ widely as to what the linguistic impact of the Xianbei period was. Some scholars (like Clauson) have preferred to regard the Xianbei and Tabghach (Tuoba) as Turks, with the implication that the entire layer of early Turkic borrowings in Mongolic would have been received from the Xianbei, rather than from the Xiongnu. However, since the Mongolic (or Para-Mongolic) identity of the Xianbei is increasingly obvious in the light of recent progress in Khitan studies, it is more reasonable to assume (with Doerfer) that the flow of linguistic influence from Turkic into Mongolic was at least partly reversed during the Xianbei period, yielding the first identifiable layer of Mongolic (or Para-Mongolic) loanwords in Turkic. [59]



According to Sinologist Penglin Wang, some Xianbei had mixed west Eurasian-featured traits such as blue eyes, blonde hair and white skin due to absorbing some Indo-European elements. The Xianbei were described as white on several occasions. The Book of Jin states that in the state of Cao Wei, Xianbei immigrants were known as the white tribe. The ruling Murong clan of Former Yan were referred to by their Former Qin adversaries as white slaves. According to Fan Wenlang et al. the Murong people were considered "white" by the Chinese due to the complexion of their skin color. In the Jin dynasty, Xianbei Murong women were sold off to many Han Chinese bureaucrat and aristocrats and they were also given to their servants and concubines. The mother of Emperor Ming of Jin, Lady Xun, was a lowly concubine possibly of Xianbei stock. During a confrontation between Emperor Ming and a rebel force in 324, his enemies were confused by his appearance, and thought he was a Xianbei due to his yellow beard.

There was undoubtedly some range of variation within their population. Yellow hair in Chinese sources could have meant brown rather than blonde and described other people such as the Jie rather than the Xianbei. Historian Edward H. Schafer believes many of the Xianbei were blondes, but others such as Charles Holcombe think it is "likely that the bulk of the Xianbei were not visibly very different in appearance from the general population of northeastern Asia."[60] Chinese anthropologist Zhu Hong and Zhang Quan-chao studied Xianbei crania from several sites of Inner Mongolia and noticed that anthropological features of studied Xianbei crania show that the racial type is closely related to the modern East-Asians, and some physical characteristics of those skulls are closer to modern Mongols, Manchu and Han Chinese.




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even a video game includes them.

Oriental Empires is a turn based 4X style civilization-building game set in ancient China. It will feature both single player campaigns as well as a multiplayer mode. Oriental Empires covers the period from earliest recorded history, until the widespread adoption of firearms (roughly 1500 BC to 1500 AD) and aims to realistically depict the world of ancient China, with a focus on the unique aspects of that civilization. This extremely deep strategy game includes both an historic scenario on a realistic period map of China, and skirmish-style scenarios on random or user generated maps.





Cavalry units add 20% to kill chance.

Craft technology development rate increased by 20%

Power technology development rate reduced by 30%

Thought and Knowledge technology development rate reduced by 20%

Military development technology development rate increased by 30%


Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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Xianbei cavalry figurines.

The Xianbei people … invade our frontiers so frequently that hardly a year goes by in peace, and it is only when the trading season arrives that they come forward in submission. But in so doing they are only bent on gaining precious Chinese goods; it is not because they respect Chinese power or are grateful for Chinese generosity. As soon as they obtain all they possibly can [from trade], they turn in their tracks to start wreaking damage.”

- Book of the Later Han

The Xianbei were a confederation of nomadic tribes that inhabited the steppe region to the north of China during the Jin Dynasty and the succeeding Northern and Southern Dynasties. The best-known and most politically successful group within the Xianbei federation were the Tuoba Xianbei, who founded the Northern Wei Dynasty, a major power in the north during the Northern and Southern Dynasties period.

Not all scholars, however, agree with Proto Mongolian origin, and there are various theories regarding the ethnic and linguistic affiliation of the Xianbei. Some, for example, have argued that the Xianbei were proto-Turks, whilst others have suggested that they were of Tungusic ethnic origin.


In spite of this, the Xianbei and the Han Empire had an uneasy relationship. For instance, around the beginning of the 2nd century AD, the Xianbei migrated into territory once occupied by the Wuhuan (another nomadic tribe), which caused alarm in the Han court. As a result, the Han allied themselves with other barbarian tribes to repel the Xianbei.


Towards the end of the same century, the Xianbei were led by Tanshihuai, who formed an alliance with other barbarian tribes and launched a large-scale attack on the Han. As the Han were unable to defeat Tanshihuai, they offered him the title of ‘prince’ and the hand of a Han princess in marriage in exchange for peace. After the death of Tanshihuai, the Xianbei confederation began to disintegrate, as his successor was a weak leader.


The Tuoba Xianbei Found a Dynasty

The Xianbei became a powerful force once more during the 4th century AD. During this time, China was ruled by the Jin Dynasty, and some of the Xianbei clans were already vassals of the Jin emperors. The Jin Dynasty, however, lost control of northern China during the beginning of the 4th century, which ushered in the Sixteen Kingdoms period. During this period, various barbarian states emerged in northern China, a number of which were founded by Xianbei clans. The Sixteen Kingdoms came to an end during the first half of the 5th century AD and was followed by the North and South Dynasties.


In the north, the Northern Wei had already been the dominant power since the late 4th century AD, and would continue to be as such until the first half of the 6th century AD. This dynasty was founded by the Tuoba Xianbei, the most politically successful Xianbei clan.




Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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The Xianbei [Syanbi, Hsien-pei, etc.] and the Wuhuan used mounted archers in warfare, and they had only temporary war leaders instead of hereditary chiefs. Yet this less cohesive political organization did not decrease the military threat the Eastern Hu peoples posed to the Zhou emperors to the south.


Although the Xiongnu finally had been driven back into their homeland by the Chinese in AD 48, within ten years the Xianbei (or Hsien-pei in Wade-Giles) had moved (apparently from the north or northwest) into the region vacated by the Xiongnu. The Xianbei were the northern branch of the Donghu (or Tung Hu, the Eastern Hu), a proto-Tungus group mentioned in Chinese histories as existing as early as the fourth century BC. The language of the Donghu, like that of the Xiongnu, is unknown to modern scholars. The Donghu were among the first peoples conquered by the Xiongnu. Once the Xiongnu state weakened, however, the Donghu rebelled.


By the first century, two major subdivisions of the Donghu had developed: the Xianbei in the north and the Wuhuan in the south. The Xianbei, who by the second century AD were attacking Chinese farms south of the Great Wall, established an empire, which, although short-lived, gave rise to numerous tribal states along the Chinese frontier. Among these states was that of the Toba (T'o-pa in Wade-Giles), a subgroup of the Xianbei, in modern China's Shanxi Province. The Wuhuan also were prominent in the second century, but they disappeared thereafter; possibly they were absorbed in the Xianbei western expansion.


Agriculture, rather than full-scale nomadism, was the basis of the Xianbei and Wuhuan economy.



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second wargame the army of Xianbei is.


Infantry archers.

Crossbow archers. 

Han close combat infantry. Polearm.

Horse Archers

Spear cavalry

Heavy Cavalry. Spear/Bow.


The Book of the Later Han records a memorial submitted in 177 CE: Ever since the Xiongnu ran away, the Xianbei have become powerful and populous, taking all the lands previously held by the Xiongnu and claiming to have 100,000 warriors. … Refined metals and wrought iron have come into the possession of the Xianbei rebels. Han deserters also seek refuge and serve as their advisers. Their weapons are sharper and their horses are faster than those of the Xiongnu.


Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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these helmets are common among the Sogdians and Sakas.

They even resemble or are related to the Chinese helmets.





Afrosiab, Sogdian helmet



ca. 700 BCE–ca. 500 BCE




Ab Langereis




Tashkent, National Museum of Uzbek History




CC0 1.0 Universal




Scythians / Sacae, Sogdians




Greater Iran




Military equipment


We share high-resolution versions

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1 hour ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

This "Saka" helmet would work well for the Scythian/Dahae/Parthian units (Persians) already in the game (and potential Scythians civ as well).

Sogdian extra units Mercenaries.

Cavalry lancer.

Cavalry axe

I was wrong here, it was the Xiongnu who used Sogdians and Sakas.

Yuenzhi too.


Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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1 hour ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

I wonder how to differentiate:

  • Scythians
  • Xiongnu
  • Xianbei
  • Huns


Xiongnu like Han but Nomads. Population bonuses, multiethnics. Better cavalry, better technologies for cavalry.

Mediocre infantry. (Little health and little armor) these towns suffered a lot from famines at times.

they settle down to the last era.

More Warlike than Xianbei.


Semi settled. Start similar to Xiongnu, but they can steal farms.

Even can have a building to unpack and steal territory from farmlands.

(How you destroy the farmstead of enemy but yours, done. have their own territory influence,  little btw.)

In second phase they can build some little farms.

In late game they settle and become more like Han.

Huns. its name literally is hunger. These start with Total Rush, They catch fast. But they have no infantry in P1, only villagers with infantry weapons.

Its purpose is to destroy and capture.

Bonus to capture CC.

His best infantry units are defeated Germanic and Iranian people. Reduced to slavery.

Their embassies generate gold. Persian Sasanid and Roman Embassy. 


Greek infantry hoplites(late phase), Thracian Mercenaries, They expand faster than everyone with their territories.

They finally settle down. They maintain many relations with the Greeks and Persians.

They have Amazons. 

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