From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia

Template:Other uses Template:Refimprove Template:History of the Turks pre-14th century The Shatuo (Template:Zh or Template:Zh, also: Shato, Sha-t'o, Sanskrit Sart [1]) were a Turkic tribe that heavily influenced northern Chinese politics from the late ninth century through the tenth century. They are noted for founding three of the five dynasties and one of the kingdoms during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.


The Shato tribes descended from the Chigil [1] tribes, belonging to a group of six Chu tribes collectively known as Yueban.Template:Citation needed

The Yueban state survived to the end of 480s, until its independence was destroyed by the Teleuts. After the fall of the its state the Yuebans formed four tribes - Chuyue, Chumi, Chumuhun and Chuban. These tribes became major players in the later Turkic Khaganate and thereafter[2]

Altai Chumuhuns

An 8th-century Tibetan geographer mentioned Chumuhuns in Altai and south of it as the Ibilkur, and associated them with Külüg-Külchur. They were the only Chuy tribe that in the middle of the 8th century preserved their independence, in spite of being sandwiched between Karluks and Turgesh. Their possessions were on the west side of the Tarbagatai range.[3]

Chuy Shato

The branch of the Chuy tribes that remained in the Western Turkic Kaganate as part of On-Ok (Ten Tribes) union occupied territory east of the lake Barkul, called in Chinese Shato ("sand masses", i.e. desert), formed of three sub-tribes. Shato participated in suppressing many uprisings on behalf of China, and for that the Chinese emperors granted their leaders various titles and rewards. After a defeat of Chuy by Tibetians in 808, Chuy Shato branch asked for protection from China, and moved into Inner China. It is known that after suppression of Huang-Chao uprising in 875-883, and establishing three out of five dynasties during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907-960), their number in China fell down to between 50-100,000, which ruled a Chinese population of about 50 million people.

Some argue that early Chinese sources identify them as the Xueyantuo. Others even claim they emerged as part of the Üç-Oğuz confederation of Oghuz Turks.[4]

A detailed analysis of the term Shato (Sanskrit Sart) is given by prof. Chjan Si-man.[5] Their social and economic life was studied by W. Eberhard.[6] In "Tanghuyao" the Shato tamga is depicted as File:ShatoTamgaZuev.gif [7]

The Shatuo Turks were gradually assimilated, and held onto their power base in Shanxi (central region of modern-day China). They gained in strength through the 910s until finally in 923, they were able to overcome the Later Liang with Khitan assistance to found The Later Tang

Shato nobles established the Later Tang dynasty of China (923-956).[8] During the Mongol period the Shato fell under the Chagatai Khanate, and after its demise remained in its remnant in Zhetysu and northern Tian Shan.

The Shatuo received tribute from the Tata people from norther of the Ordos in 966, while they were vassals of the Khitan Emperor.[9]

In later history the Shato, together with the Tian Shan Kirgyz, fell under domination of the Mongol Oirats, later known as Kalmyks. With the expansion of the Khanate of Kokand, the Tian Shan and Zhetysu Shato were in its protectorate.Template:Citation needed

Shato and the Tang Dynasty

To the Tang Dynasty, the Shato served a purpose. Some claim that they were a part of the Tang dynasty's foreign policy to control and manage other 'border' peoples identified as a threat. The Tang Chinese refer to such peoples as Western barbariansTemplate:Citation needed. Some argue that a divide and conquer policy was applied against those identified as a threat, specifically the Tibetans and Turkic tribes in Central Asia. The Tang Chinese continued this long policy and in other epochs this became an institutionalised traditionTemplate:Or.

Xueyantuo (Seyanto)

Template:Main Seyanto were a member of the Tele union who, after being assaulted by the Western Türkic Chora-Kagan in 605 (Ch. Chulo), seceded from the Western Türkic Kaganate, established their own Kaganate under a leadership of Kibir tribe's Baga-Kagan Yagmurchyn, retaining the control and income from the Turfan segment of the Silk Road. A head of Seyanto tribe, Yshbara, was installed as a lesser Kagan Yetir (yeti er "seven tribes"). In the 610, when on the Western Türkic Kaganate throne was raised Yakui-Kagan (Ch. Egui, r. 610-617), both rulers renounced their Kagan ranks and rejoined the Western Türkic Kaganate. But when the next Western Türkic Tong-Yabgu-Kagan (r. 617-630) annexed all seven tribes of the Seyanto-headed Tele confederation, which also included Uigurs, Bayarku, Edizes, Tongra, Bokuts, and Baisi tribes, the Seyanto leader led in 627 his tribes into the territory of the Eastern Türkic Kaganate, defeated the main force of the Kaganate led by the son of the reigning Kagan El-Kagan, Yukuk-Shad (Ch. Yuigu-she), and settled in the valley of r. Tola in the Northern Mongolia. After the victory, Uigur leader Pusa assumed a title kat-elteber (Ch. go-selifa) and split from the confederation, and in 629 the Seyanto Ynan-erkin declared himself a Jenchu Bilge-Kagan of a new Seyanto Kaganate. The Kaganate was quickly recognized by the Tang Empire, as a counterweight against its enemy Eastern Türkic Kaganate.[10] "Raising Ynan on Kagan throne was done under pressure from the Tang court interested in stripping El-kagan of the rights to the supreme power in the huge region, and also in final dismemberment of the Türkic state, a source of many conflicts on their northern borders." [11] Seyanto provided military service by assisting the Tang Empire against the Tatars in the 630s. The Seyanto built a vast state spanning from the Altai Mountains to the Gobi desert. In a few years, mindful of a new powerful state on their northern border, the Tang empire switched their allegiance to independent Uigurs, who defeated Seyanto in 641, when under Jenchu Bilge-Kagan they threatened to attack other Chinese-aligned tribes. Five years later the short-lived empire was all but destroyed by a Tang-Uigur alliance. The remnants of the Seyanto fled west to Dzungaria and the Semirechye area.

Emerging Shato

At the beginning of the 8th century, the Shato were subject to the Tang Empire. They provided significant aid to Emperor Suzong of Tang, alongside the Uyghurs, during the An Shi Rebellion in the 750s. Consequently, their chieftain Zhuye Guduozhi was conferred the title of tejin (governor) and xiaowei shang-jiangjun (colonel high general).

By the end of the eighth century, the Shato had fallen out with the Tang Empire. They joined with other Turkic tribes in Tibet to form an alliance with the Tibetans as they felt oppressed by the Uyghurs. Though the Shato fought alongside Tibetan armies for more than a decade against the Tang, the Tibetans were concerned about their loyalty. When, in 808, the Shato decided to leave, the Tibetans pursued them, fighting battles along the way. They made it to Lingzhou Prefecture in the Gansu corridor, where Tang general Fan Xichao granted them asylum. A source quotes them as committing mass suicide in 832 while fighting for an Uyghur ruler, but this seems to refer to a related tribe who had settled far west, into the Fergana valley. The Shato who had escaped Tibetan rage managed to maintain a power base in northern China around modern-day Shanxi from the late ninth century into the tenth century.

In the middle of the ninth century, it may be said that the Shato rewarded the generosity of the Tang by fighting alongside them against the invading Tibetans, playing a prominent role in numerous victories. They also helped quell the Pang Xun Rebellion and the Wang Xianzhi Rebellion.

Li Keyong

Template:Main The Shatuo Li Keyong was conferred the post of cishi for Dai County. He hired more than ten thousand Tatar nomads to bring back to Daizhou, but was denied admittance to the Shiling Pass. In 882, Su You and Helian Duo joined to prepare for an attack on Li. However, he launched a pre-emptive on Su’s stronghold at Weizhou Island. The Tang emperor would soon offer amnesty to assist against Huang Chao, who led a fierce rebellion against the Tang. Li Keyong was named the Prince of Jin in 895 for his loyalty to the Tang.

Five Dynasties

Template:Main The Tang Dynasty fell in 907 and was replaced by the Later Liang. The Shato formed their own state, called Jin, in the area now known as Shanxi. They had tense relations with the Later Liang, and cultivated good relations with the emerging Khitan power to the north.

Later Tang

Template:Main The son of Li Keyong, Li Cunxu, succeeded in destroying the Later Liang in 923, declaring himself the emperor of the “Restored Tang”, officially known as the Later Tang. In line with claims of restoring the Tang, Li moved the capital from Kaifeng back to Luoyang, where it was during the Tang Dynasty. The Later Tang controlled more territory than the Later Liang, including the Beijing area, the surrounding Sixteen Prefectures and Shaanxi Province.

This was the first of three short-lived Shato dynasties.

Later Jin

Template:Main The Later Tang was brought to an end in 936 when Shi Jingtang (posthumously known as Gaozu of Later Jin), also a Shatuo, successfully rebelled against the Later Tang and established the Later Jin Dynasty. Shi moved back the capital to Kaifeng, then called Bian. The Later Jin controlled essentially the same territory as the Later Tang except the strategic Sixteen Prefectures area, which had been ceded to the expanding Liao Empire established by the Khitans.

Later historians would denigrate the Later Jin as a puppet regime of the powerful Liao to the north. When Shi’s successor did defy the Liao, a Khitan invasion resulted in the end of the dynasty in 946.

Later Han and Northern Han Kingdom

Template:Main The death of the Khitan emperor on his return from the raid on the Later Jin left a power vacuum that was filled by Liu Zhiyuan, another Shatuo who founded the Later Han in 947. The capital was at Bian (Kaifeng) and the state held the same territories as its predecessor. Liu died after a single year of reign and was succeeded by his teenage son, in turn unable to reign for more than two years, when this very short-lived dynasty was ended by the Later Zhou. The remnants of the Later Han returned to the traditional Shatuo Turk stronghold of Shanxi and established the Northern Han Kingdom. Under the protection of the Khitan Liao Dynasty, the tiny kingdom survived until 979 when it was finally incorporated into the Song Dynasty.

Surnames of Shatuo

  • Li (李)
  • Zhu-Ye (朱耶)
  • Zhu (朱)
  • Sha-Jin (沙金)
  • Sha (沙)*
  • Liu (刘)*

Surnames of Xueyantuo

See also


  • Chavannes, Édouard (1900), Documents sur les Tou-kiue (Turcs) occidentaux. Paris, Librairie d’Amérique et d’Orient. Reprint: Taipei. Cheng Wen Publishing Co. 1969.
  • Findley, Carter Vaughn, The Turks in World History. Oxford University Press, (2005). ISBN 0-19-516770-8; 0-19-517726-6 (pbk.)
  • Mote, F.W.: Imperial China: 900–1800, Harvard University Press, 1999
  • Zuev Yu.A., "Se-Yanto Kaganate And Kimeks (Türkic ethnogeography of the Central Asia in the middle of 7th century)", Shygys, 2004, No 1, pp. 11–21, No 2, pp. 3–26, Oriental Studies Institute, Almaty (In Russian)
  • Chinaknowledge: 5 DYNASTIES & 10 STATES
  • Shatuo



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