Note: Please read Introduction before continuing with this post.
Kushan Empire is believed to be one of the first recorded empires in the history of Afghanistan. It was a religious and multi-ethnic empire that had its capital located at Bamiyan city. Hazara ancestors had settled in Bamiyan and other area around it before the first century. The Kushan Empire was run by the people of Bamiyan who were Buddhist at that time. They were also joined by the people of Takharistan. Kushan Empire started in the 1st century AD and ended 300 years later.
‘Turan’ is an ancient Dari word which means Central and part of North Asia. To be more specific it refers to the regions that are today known as Mongolia and some countries surrounding it. Around 400 BC, present day Mongolia was home to many nomadic tribes. It was around 250 BC when a young and capable leader named Touman Khan appeared among the tribal Khans in the steppes of Mongolia. In 234 BC his son Modu/Mette was born who later formed the Great Hun Empire in 209 BC.
There are some sources that introduce Huns as an Iranic people or just as an unidentified group of people. However, it is quite clear who Huns were and what their origin was. ‘Hun’ is an ancient Mongol/Turkic word which means ‘people’. Huns were the ancestors of all Mongol and Turk tribes.
All the nomadic tribes who lived in the great vast steppes of Mongolia were united by Modu Khan and formed one united Hun army. Chinese sources refer to Huns as ‘Xiongnu’. Their sources contain information regarding Hunnic lifestyle, tradition and military conquests. All the sources refer to them as brave and skilful hunters and superb horsemen who had a nomadic lifestyle.
Hun Empire kept growing year by year. Their confidence and unity made them believe that there was no power that could resist or stand against their army. Slowly they started expanding to the West in Eurasian regions as well as to other parts of Asia.
In Europe, Huns were led by Atila Khan, where he created the European Hun empire. Later, his successors established Hungary and Bulgaria.
Sami are the indigenous people of Sweden. They have a lot in common with the Huns. Their language and culture suggest that they are also Mongoloid and related to Huns.
Moving back to the Hun conquest, while most of the Huns continued their expansion in the West, some rode South towards present day Afghanistan. Red Huns also known as Chionites, settled in Central Afghanistan and were in power for one hundred years (from 320 AD – 420 AD) when the Ak Huns (Hephthalites) also came and replaced the Red Huns.
Ak Huns ruled from 420 AD till 600 AD. Ak in Turkic means white, therefore, Ak Hun means White Huns or Hephthalites. After their settlement in those regions, they had a long history of conflicts with the Sasanids. Sasanids were an Indo-European people located in the present day Iran.
Buddhas of Bamiyan were built by the Huns of Central Afghanistan. But it is still uncertain as to which particular Hunnic group built them. According to Ann Heirman and Stephan Peter (1), the Giant Buddhas of Bamiyan were built by the Ak Huns. However, another source mentions that these Buddhas were erected by the Red Huns, before the arrival of the Ak Huns (2).
Unfortunately there are not enough sources to tell us the exact names of all the tribes that were part of these Huns. However, the link between the present day Hazaras and the Huns are quite clear. Uar and Hun were the two biggest tribes, but there were many more.
Atta, Yezderi, Baghcheri and Gari are some of the ancient Hazara tribes who live mainly in Ja Ghury, Afghanistan. Without a doubt, these names resemble ancient Hunnic names. There are many similarities and proofs that suggest these tribes are descendants of Ak Huns.
Hazara ancestors before the 12th century created several empires:
- Kushan Empire
- Red Hun and Ak Hun Empires
- Kabul Turk Shahi
- Ghaznadiv Dynasty
- Ghurid Turkic Dynasty
(1) “The Spread of Buddhism” by Ann Heirman & Stephan Peter Bumbacher, Part 8 Vol. 16, pp 88
(2) “Rhie 1999-2002” Vol. 1. pp 232f