The Alchon Huns, also known as the Alchono, Alxon, Alkhon, Alkhan, Alakhana and Walxon, were a nomadic people who established states in Central Asia and South Asia during the 4th and 6th centuries CE. They were first mentioned as being located in Paropamisus, and later expanded south-east, into the Punjab and central India, as far as Eran and Kausambi. The Alchon invasion of the Indian subcontinent contributed to the fall of the Gupta Empire.
The invasion of India by the Huna peoples follows invasions of the subcontinent in the preceding centuries by the Yavana (Indo-Greeks), the Saka (Indo-Scythians), the Palava (Indo-Parthians), and the Kushana (Yuezhi). The Alchon Empire was the third of four major Huna states established in Central and South Asia. The Alchon were preceded by the Kidarites and the Hephthalites, and succeeded by the Nezak Huns. The names of the Alchon kings are known from their extensive coinage, Buddhist accounts, and a number of commemorative inscriptions throughout the Indian subcontinent.
The bull/ lunar tamga of the Alchon
|Common languages||Brahmi and Bactrian (written)|
|Historical era||Late Antiquity|
|Today part of|| Afghanistan|
To contemporaneous observers in India, the Alchon were one of the Hūṇa peoples (or Hunas), whose origins are controversial. A seal from Kausambi associated with Toramana, bears the title Hūnarāja ("Huna King").
The Hunas appear to have been the peoples known in contemporaneous Iranian sources as Xwn, Xiyon and similar names, which were later Romanised as Xionites or Chionites. The Hunas are often linked to the Huns that invaded Europe from Central Asia during the same period. Consequently, the word Hun has three slightly different meanings, depending on the context in which it is used: 1) the Huns of Europe; 2) groups associated with the Huna people who invaded northern India; 3) a vague term for Hun-like people. The Alchon have also been labelled "Huns", with essentially the second meaning, as well as elements of the third.
The name "Alchon" generally given to them comes from the Bactrian legend of their early coinage, where they simply imitated Sassanian coins to which they added the name "alchono" (αλχονο, also αλχοννο) in Bactrian script (a slight adaptation of the Greek script) and the tamgha symbol of their clan. Several original coins such as those of Khingila also bear the mention "alchono" together with the Tamgha symbol. Philologically, "alchono" (αλχονο) may be a combination of al- for Aryan and -xono for Huns, although this remains hypothetical. Another ethymology could be al-, Turkish for scarlet, and -xono for Huns, meaning "Red Huns", red being a symbol of the south among steppe nomads.
Early confrontations between the Sasanian Empire of Shapur II with the nomadic hordes from Central Asia called the "Chionites" were described by Ammianus Marcellinus: he reports that in 356 CE, Shapur II was taking his winter quarters on his eastern borders, "repelling the hostilities of the bordering tribes" of the Chionites and the Euseni ("Euseni" is usually amended to "Cuseni", meaning the Kushans), finally making a treaty of alliance with the Chionites and the Gelani, "the most warlike and indefatigable of all tribes", in 358 CE. After concluding this alliance, the Chionites (probably of the Kidarites tribe) under their King Grumbates accompanied Shapur II in the war against the Romans, especially at the Siege of Amida in 359 CE. Victories of the Xionites during their campaigns in the Eastern Caspian lands were also witnesses and described by Ammianus Marcellinus.
Finally around 370 CE, still during the reign of Shapur II, the Sasanian Empire and the Kushano-Sasanians completely lost the control of Bactria to these invaders from Central Asia, first the Kidarites, then the Hephthalites and the Alchon Huns, who would follow up with the invasion of India. The Alchon Huns emerged in Kapisa around 380, taking over Kabulistan from the Sassanian Persians, at the same time the Kidarites (Red Huns) ruled in Bactria and Ghandara. They are said to have taken control of Kabul in 388.
The Alchon Huns initially issued anonymous coins based on Sasanian designs. Several types of these coins are known, usually minted in Bactria, using Sasanian coinage designs with busts imitating Sasanian kings Shapur II (r.309 to 379 CE) and Shapur III (r.383 to 388 CE), adding the Alchon Tamgha and the name "Alchono" in Bactrian script (a slight adaptation of the Greek script which had been introduced in the region by the Greco-Bactrians in the 3rd century BCE) on the obverse, and with attendants to a fire altar, a standard Sasanian design, on the reverse.
Around 430 King Khingila, the most notable Alchon ruler, and the first one to be named and represented on his coins, emerged and took control of the routes across the Hindu Kush from the Kidarites. As the Alchons took control, diplomatic missions were established in 457 with China.:162 In 460, the Alchons conquered Taxila. Between 460 and 470 CE, as they took over Gandhara and the Punjab, they apparently undertook the mass destruction of Buddhist monasteries and stupas at Taxila, a high center of learning, which never recovered from the destruction. It is thought that the Kanishka stupa, one of the most famous and tallest buildings in antiquity, was destroyed by them during their invasion of the area in the 460s CE.
In the First Hunnic War (496–515), the Alchon reached their maximum territorial extent, with King Toramana pushing deep into Indian territory, reaching Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in Central India, and ultimately contributing to the downfall of the Gupta Empire.:162 To the south, the Sanjeli inscriptions indicate that Toramana penetrated at least as far as northern Gujarat, and possibly to the port of Bharukaccha. To the east, far into Central India, the city of Kausambi, where seals with Toramana's name were found, was probably sacked by the Alkhons in 497–500, before they moved to occupy Malwa.:70 In particular, it is thought that the monastery of Ghoshitarama in Kausambi was destroyed by Toramana, as several of his seals were found there, one of them bearing the name Toramana impressed over the official seal of the monastery, and the other bearing the title Hūnarāja, together with debris and arrowheads. Another seal, this time by Mihirakula, is reported from Kausambi. These territories may have been taken from Gupta Emperor Budhagupta.:79 Alternatively, they may have been captured during the rule of his successor Narasimhagupta.
A decisive battle occurred in Malwa, where a local Gupta ruler, probably a governor, named Bhanugupta was in charge. In the Bhanugupta Eran inscription, this local ruler reports that his army participated in a great battle in 510 CE at Eran, where it suffered severe casualties. Bhanugupta was probably vanquished by Toramana at this battle, so that the western Gupta province of Malwa fell into the hands of the Hunas.
According to a 6th-century CE Buddhist work, the Manjusri-mula-kalpa, Bhanugupta lost Malwa to the "Shudra" Toramana, who continued his conquest to Magadha, forcing Narasimhagupta Baladitya to make a retreat to Bengal. Toramana "possessed of great prowess and armies" then conquered the city of Tirtha in the Gauda country (modern Bengal).[Note 2] Toramana is said to have crowned a new king in Benares, named Prakataditya, who is also presented as a son of Narasimha Gupta.
Having conquered the territory of Malwa from the Guptas, Toramana was mentioned in a famous inscription in Eran, confirming his rule on the region. The Eran boar inscription of Toramana (in Eran, Malwa, 540 km south of New Delhi, state of Madhya Pradesh) of his first regnal year indicates that eastern Malwa was included in his dominion. The inscription is written under the neck of the boar, in 8 lines of Sanskrit in the Brahmi script. The first line of the inscription, in which Toramana is introduced as Mahararajadhidaja (The Great King of Kings),:79 reads:
"In year one of the reign of the King of Kings Sri-Toramana, who rules the world with splendor and radiance..."
On his gold coins minted in India in the style of the Gupta Emperors, Toramana presented himself confidently as:
""Avanipati Torama(no) vijitya vasudham divam jayati"
"The lord of the Earth, Toramana, having conquered the Earth, wins Heaven"
Toramana was finally defeated by local Indian rulers. The local ruler Bhanugupta is sometimes credited with vanquishing Toramana, as his 510 CE inscription in Eran, recording his participation in "a great battle", is vague enough to allow for such an interpretation. The "great battle" in which Bhanagupta participated is not detailed, and it is impossible to know what it was, or which way it ended, and interpretations vary. Mookerji and others consider, in view of the inscription as well as the Manjusri-mula-kalpa, that Bhanugupta was, on the contrary, vanquished by Toramana at the 510 CE Eran battle, so that the western Gupta province of Malwa fell into the hands of the Hunas at that point, so that Toramana could be mentioned in the Eran boar inscription, as the ruler of the region.
Toramana was finally vanquished with certainty by an Indian ruler of the Aulikara dynasty of Malwa, after nearly 20 years in India. According to the Rīsthal stone-slab inscription, discovered in 1983, King Prakashadharma defeated Toramana in 515 CE. The First Hunnic War thus ended with a Hunnic defeat, and Hunnic troops apparently retreated to the area of Punjab. The Manjusri-mula-kalpa simply states that Toramana died in Benares as he was returning westward from his battles with Narasimhagupta.
The Second Hunnic War started in 520, when the Alchon king Mihirakula, son of Toramana, is recorded in his military encampment on the borders of the Jhelum by Chinese monk Song Yun. At the head of the Alchon, Mihirakula is then recorded in Gwalior, Central India as "Lord of the Earth" in the Gwalior inscription of Mihirakula. According to some accounts, Mihirakula invaded India as far as the Gupta capital Pataliputra, which was sacked and left in ruins.:64
Finally however, Mihirakula was defeated in 528 by an alliance of Indian principalities led by Yasodharman, the Aulikara king of Malwa, in the battle of Sondani in Central India, which resulted in the loss of Alchon possessions in the Punjab and north India by 542. The Sondani inscription in Sondani, near Mandsaur, records the submission by force of the Hunas, and claims that Yasodharman had rescued the earth from rude and cruel kings,[Note 3] and that he "had bent the head of Mihirakula". In a part of the Sondani inscription Yasodharman thus praises himself for having defeated king Mihirakula:
He (Yasodharman) to whose two feet respect was paid, with complimentary presents of the flowers from the lock of hair on the top of (his) head, by even that (famous) king Mihirakula, whose forehead was pained through being bent low down by the strength of (his) arm in (the act of compelling) obeisance
The Gupta Empire emperor Narasimhagupta is also credited in helping repulse Mihirakula, after the latter had conquered most of India, according to the reports of Chinese monk Xuanzang. In a fanciful account, Xuanzang, who wrote a century later in 630 CE, reported that Mihirakula had conquered all India except for an island where the king of Magadha named Baladitya (who could be Gupta ruler Narasimhagupta Baladitya) took refuge, but that was finally captured by the Indian king. He later spared Mihirakula's life on the intercession of his mother, as she perceived the Hun ruler "as a man of remarkable beauty and vast wisdom". Mihirakula is then said to have returned to Kashmir to retake the throne.:168 This ended the Second Hunnic War in c. 534, after an occupation which lasted nearly 15 years.
Around the middle of the 6th century CE, the Alchons withdrew to Kashmir and, pulling back from Punjab and Gandhara, moved west across the Khyber pass where they resettled in Kabulistan. There, their coinage suggests that they merged with the Nezak – as coins in Nezak style now bear the Alchon tamga mark.
During the 7th century, continued military encounters are reported between the Hunas and the northern Indian states which followed the disappearance of the Gupta Empire. For example, Prabhakaravardhana, the Vardhana dynasty king of Thanesar in northern India and father of Harsha, is reported to have been "A lion to the Huna deer, a burning fever to the king of the Indus land".:253
The Alchons in India declined rapidly around the same time that the Hephthalites, a related group to the north, were defeated by an alliance between the Sassanians and the Western Turkic Kaghanate.:187 Eventually, the Nezak-Alchons were replaced by the Turk shahi dynasty.:187
The four Alchon kings Khingila, Toramana, Javukha, and Mehama are mentioned as donors to a Buddhist stupa in the Talagan copper scroll inscription dated to 492 or 493 CE, that is, at a time before the Hunnic wars in India started. This corresponds to a time when the Alchons had recently taken control of Taxila (around 460 CE), at the center of the Buddhist regions of northwestern India.
Later however, the attitude of the Alchons towards Buddhism is reported to have been negative. Mihirakula in particular is remembered by Buddhist sources to have been a "terrible persecutor of their religion" in Gandhara in northern Pakistan. During his reign, over a thousand Buddhist monasteries throughout Gandhara are said to have been destroyed. In particular the Chinese monk Xuanzang, writing in 630 CE, explained that Mihirakula ordered the destruction of Buddhism and the expulsion of monks.:162 Indeed, the Buddhist art of Gandhara, in particular Greco-Buddhist art, becomes essentially extinct around that period. When Xuanzang visited northwestern Indian in c. 630 CE, he reported that Buddhism had drastically declined, and that most of the monasteries were deserted and left in ruins.
Although the Guptas were traditionally a Brahmanical dynasty, around the period of the invasions of the Alchon, the Gupta rulers had apparently been favouring Buddhism. Narasimhagupta Baladitya, Mihirakula's supposed nemesis, was, according to contemporary writer Paramartha, brought up under the influence of the Mahayanist philosopher, Vasubandhu. He built a sangharama at Nalanda and a 300 ft (91 m) high vihara with a Buddha statue within which, according to Xuanzang, resembled the "great Vihara built under the Bodhi tree". According to the Manjushrimulakalpa (c. 800 CE), king Narasimhsagupta became a Buddhist monk, and left the world through meditation (Dhyana). The Chinese monk Xuanzang also noted that Narasimhagupta Baladitya's son, Vajra, who commissioned a sangharama as well, "possessed a heart firm in faith".:45:330
"In him, the northern region brought forth, as it were, another god of death, bent in rivalry to surpass... Yama (the god of death residing in the southern regions). People knew of his approach by noticing the vultures, crows and other birds flying ahead eager to feed on those who were being slain within his army's reach. The royal Vetala (demon) was day and night surrounded by thousands of murdered human beings, even in his pleasure houses. This terrible enemy of mankind had no pity for children, no compassion for women, no respect for the aged"
The Alchons are generally described as sun worshipers, a traditional cult of steppe nomads, due to the appearance of sun symbols on some of their coins, combined to the probable influence they received from the cult of Surya in India. Mihirakula is also said to have been an ardent worshiper of Shiva, although he may have been selectively attracted by the destructive powers of the Indian deity.
The Alchon invasions, although only spanning a few decades, had long term effects on India, and in a sense brought an end to the middle kingdoms of India. Soon after the invasions, the Gupta Empire, already weakened by these invasions and the rise of local rulers, ended as well.:221 Following the invasions, northern India was left in disarray, with numerous smaller Indian powers emerging after the crumbling of the Guptas.
The Huna invasions are said to have seriously damaged India's trade with Europe and Central Asia, in particular, Indo-Roman trade relations, which the Gupta Empire had greatly benefited from. The Guptas had been exporting numerous luxury products such as silk, leather goods, fur, iron products, ivory, pearl and pepper from centers such as Nasik, Paithan, Pataliputra and Benares. The Huna invasion probably disrupted these trade relations and the tax revenues that came with them. Furthermore, Indian urban culture was left in decline, and Buddhism, gravely weakened by the destruction of monasteries and the killing of monks, started to collapse. Great centers of learning were destroyed, such as the city of Taxila, bringing cultural regression.
During their rule of 60 years, the Alchons are said to have altered the hierarchy of ruling families and the Indian caste system. On the artistic side however, the Alchon Huns may have played a role, just like the Western Satraps centuries before them, in helping spread the art of Gandhara to the western Deccan region.
Ancient sources refer to the Alchons and associated groups ambiguously with various names, such as Huna in Indian texts, and Xionites in Greek texts. Xuanzang chronicled some of the later history of the Alchons.
Modern archeology has provided valuable insights into the history of the Alchons. The most significant cataloguing of the Alchon dynasty came in 1967 with Robert Göbl's analysis of the coinage of the "Iranian Huns". This work documented the names of a partial chronology of Alchon kings, beginning with Khingila. In 2012, the Kunsthistorisches Museum completed a reanalysis of previous finds together with a large number of new coins that appeared on the antiquities market during the Second Afghan Civil War, redefining the timeline and narrative of the Alchons and related peoples.
A significant contribution to our understanding of Alchon history came in 2006 when Gudrun Melzer and Lore Sander published their finding of the "Talagan copper scroll", also known as the "Schøyen Copper Scroll", dated to 492 or 493, that mentions the four Alchon kings Khingila, Toramana, Javukha, and Mehama (who was reigning at the time) as donors to a Buddhist reliquary stupa.[Note 4][Note 5]
The rulers of the Alchons practiced skull deformation, as evidenced from their coins, a practice shared with the Huns that migrated into Europe. The names of the first Alchon rulers do not survive. Starting from 430 CE, names of Alchon kings, assuming the title "Tegin", survive on coins and religious inscriptions:
The earliest Alchon Hun coins were based on Sasanian designs, often with the simple addition of the Alchon tamgha and a mention of "Alchon" or "Alkhan". Various coins minted in Bactria and based on a Sasanian designs are known, often with busts imitating Sasanian kings Shapur II (r.309 to 379 CE) and Shapur III (r.383 to 388 CE), with attendants to a fire altar on the reverse. It is thought that the Sasanids lost control of Bactria to the Kidarites during the reign of Shapur II circa 370 CE, followed by the Hephthalites, and subsequently by the Alchon.
Soon, however, the coinage of the Alchon becomes original and differs from predecessors in that it is devoid of Iranian (Sasanian) symbolism. The rulers are depicted with elongated skulls, apparently a result of artificial cranial deformation.
After their invasion of India the coins of the Alchon were numerous and varied, as they issued copper, silver and gold coins, sometimes roughly following the Gupta pattern. The Alchon empire in India must have been quite significant and rich, with the ability to issue a significant volume of gold coins.
Adityavardhana was a king of Thanesar in northern India around the time of the decline of the Gupta Empire. He was the third ruler of the Vardhana dynasty, and father of the famous Prabhakaravardhana. Adityavardhana's father was Rajyavardhana I and his grandfather, Naravardhana, the founder of the Srikantha dynasty of Tanesar.Adithyavardhana married princess Mahasena Gupta, daughter of Damodara Gupta, king of Magadha, and probably sister of king Mahasena Gupta of Magadha, thus greatly increasing the power of his dynasty.Adityavardhana is mentioned in the 497-500 "Mandsaur fragmentary inscription of Adityavardhana/Gauri" as the reigning king, who had just conquered the region of Dasapura (Mandsaur). This period is intimately linked to the period of invasion of India by the Alchon Huns.Bhamala Stupa
Bhamala Stupa (Urdu: بهامالا اسٹوپ) is a ruined Buddhist stupa and National Heritage Site near Haripur, Pakistan that dates to the 4th century CE. Bhamala stupa is part of the larger Bhamala Buddhist Complex. The site is known for its 1,700 statue of the Buddha attaining enlightenment - considered the oldest such statue in the world.Eran boar inscription of Toramana
The Eran boar inscription of Toramana, is a stone inscription found in Eran in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is 8 lines of Sanskrit, first three of which are in meter and rest in prose, written in a North Indian script. It is carved on the neck of a freestanding 11 feet (3.4 m) high red sandstone boar statue, a zoomorphic iconography of Vishnu avatar, and dated to the 6th century. The inscription names king Toramana, ruler of the Alchon Huns, as ruling over Malwa ("governing the earth") and records that a Dhanyavishnu is dedicating a stone temple to Narayana (Vishnu).Gupta Empire
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire existing from the mid-to-late 3rd century CE to 590 CE. At its zenith, from approximately 319 to 550 CE, it covered much of the Indian subcontinent. This period is called the Golden Age of India by some historians. The ruling dynasty of the empire was founded by the king Sri Gupta; the most notable rulers of the dynasty were Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II alias Vikramaditya. The 5th-century CE Sanskrit poet Kalidasa credits the Guptas with having conquered about twenty-one kingdoms, both in and outside India, including the kingdoms of Parasikas, the Hunas, the Kambojas, tribes located in the west and east Oxus valleys, the Kinnaras, Kiratas, and others.The high points of this period are the great cultural developments which took place during the reign of Chandragupta II. All literary sources, such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, were canonised during this period. The Gupta period produced scholars such as Kalidasa, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, and Vatsyayana who made great advancements in many academic fields. Science and political administration reached new heights during the Gupta era. The period gave rise to achievements in architecture, sculpture, and painting that "set standards of form and taste [that] determined the whole subsequent course of art, not only in India but far beyond her borders". Strong trade ties also made the region an important cultural centre and established the region as a base that would influence nearby kingdoms and regions in Burma, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia. The Puranas, earlier long poems on a variety of subjects, are also thought to have been committed to written texts around this period.The empire eventually died out because of many factors such as substantial loss of territory and imperial authority caused by their own erstwhile feudatories, as well as the invasion by the Huna peoples (Kidarites and Alchon Huns) from Central Asia. After the collapse of the Gupta Empire in the 6th century, India was again ruled by numerous regional kingdoms.Huna people
Hunas or Huna was the name given by the ancient Indians to a group of Central Asian tribes who, via the Khyber Pass, entered India at the end of the 5th or early 6th century. Huna Kingdom occupied areas as far as Eran and Kausambi, greatly weakening the Gupta Empire. The Hunas were ultimately defeated by the Indian Gupta Empire and the Indian king Yasodharman.The Hunas are thought to have included the Xionite and/or Hephthalite, the Kidarites, the Alchon Huns (also known as the Alxon, Alakhana, Walxon etc.) and the Nezak Huns. Such names, along with that of the Harahunas (also known as the Halahunas or Harahuras) mentioned in Hindu texts, have sometimes been used for the Hunas in general; while these groups appear to have been a component of the Hunas, such names were not necessarily synonymous. The relationship, if any, of the Hunas to the Huns, a Central Asian people who invaded Europe during the same period, is also unclear.
In its farthest geographical extent in India, the territories controlled by the Hunas covered the region up to Malwa in central India. Their repeated invasions and war losses were the main reason for the decline of the Gupta Empire.Khingila I
Khingila I (Persian: شنگل Shengil, Bactrian: χιγγιλο Khingil, Middle Chinese: 金吉剌 Jinjila) c.430-490, was the founding king of the Hunnic Alkhan dynasty (Bactrian: αλχανο, Middle Chinese: 嚈噠), a contemporary of Khushnavaz (fl. 484) in Khwarezm.
In response to the migration of the Wusun (who were hard-pressed by the Rouran) from Zhetysu to the Pamir region (Chinese: 葱嶺), Khingila united the Uar (Chinese: 滑) and the Xionites (Chinese: 狁) in 460AD, establishing the Hepthalite dynasty.
According to the Syrian compilation of Church Historian Zacharias Rhetor (c. 465, Gaza – after 536), bishop of Mytilene, the need for new grazing land to replace that lost to the Wusun led Khingila's "Uar-Chionites" to displace the Sabirs to the west, who in turn displaced the Saragur, Ugor and Onogur, who then asked for an alliance and land from Byzantium.Loriyan Tangai
Loriyan Tangai is an archaeological site in the Gandhara area of Pakistan, consisting of many stupas and religious buildings where a large number of Buddhist statues were discovered.
The stupas were excavated by Alexander Caddy in 1896, and the many statues of the site sent to the Indian Museum of Calcutta.Mankiala
Mankiala (Urdu: مانكياله; also known as Manikyala and Manikiyala) is a village in the Potohar plateau, Punjab near Rawalpindi, Pakistan, known for the nearby Mankiala stupa - a Buddhist stupa located at the site where, according to legend, Buddha sacrificed some of his body parts to feed seven hungry tiger cubs.Mehama
Mehama, ruled c.461-493, was a king of Alchon Huns dynasty (Chinese: 嚈噠). He is little known, but the Talagan copper scroll mentions him as an active ruler making a donation to a Buddhist stupa in 492/93. At that time, it is considered that the Alchon Huns were firmly in charge of the Buddhist region around Taxila, but had not yet started to conquer the Indian mainland.Mihirakula
Mihirakula, also Mahiragula, was one of the most important rulers of the Alchon Huns, who led a conquest and gained temporary control of Gandhara, Kashmir, northern and central India. Mihirakula was a son of Toramana, both of Huna heritage, and ruled the Indian part of the Hephthalite Empire. Mihirakula ruled his empire from 502 to 530, from his capital of Sagala (modern-day Sialkot, Pakistan).According to Buddhist texts, the Huna king Mihirakula was extremely cruel and barbaric. He destroyed Buddhist sites, ruined monasteries, killed monks. Yashodharman and Gupta Empire rulers, in and after about 532 CE, reversed Mihirakula's campaign and ended the Mihirakula era.Narasimhagupta
Narasimhagupta Baladitya was an emperor of the Gupta Empire of North India. He was son of Purugupta and probably the successor of Budhagupta.Nezak Huns
The Nezak Huns were one of the four groups of Huna people in the area of the Hindu Kush. The Nezak kings, with their characteristic gold bull's-head crown, ruled from Ghazni and Kapisa. While their history is obscured, the Nezak's left significant coinage documenting their polity's prosperity. They are called Nezak because of the inscriptions on their coins, which often bear the mention "Nezak Shah". They were the last of the four major "Hunic" states known collectively as Xionites or "Hunas", their predecessors being, in chronological order, the Kidarites, the Hephthalites, and the Alchon.
The term 'Hun' may cause confusion. The word has three basic meanings: 1) the Huns proper, that is, Attila's people; 2) groups associated with the Huna people who invaded northern India; 3) a vague term for Hun-like people. Here the word has the second meaning with elements of the third.Red Huns
The names "Red Huns", Karmir Xyon (in Iranian) and Kermichiones (in European languages) usually refer to the:
The Rīsthal inscription is a stone-slab inscription which was discovered in 1983 in the area of Rīsthal in Ghazidabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.
The inscription describes the event in the year 515 CE, when the Aulikara king Prakashadharma of Malwa finally defeated the Alchon Huns ruler Toramana in his campaigns into Central India, and how he took away the tusks of his elephants and his harem.The portion of the inscription related to Toramana reads:
Who in battle rendered the title "Lord" of the Huna king false, (though it) had been firmly established on earth up to Toramana, whose footstool had glittered with the sparkling jewels in the crown of kings (that had bowed at his feet);
By whom auspicious seats were offered to the ascetics, splendid ones, made of the long tusks of that same (king's) elephants, whose rut was dripping (from their temples) while they were being shot down by (his) arrows at the battle front;
And by whom were carried off a choice of ladies of the harem of that same (king), whom he had defeated by his vigour in the thick of battle, after which he offered them to Lord Vrsabhadhvaja (Shiva) to mark the strength of the arms of the "Light of the World" (Lokaprakasa, i.e. Prakashadharman)
This ended the First Hunnic War in Indian territory, until Toramana's son Mihirakula would again attack Central India a few years later.Sanjeli inscriptions
The Sanjeli inscriptions consist in three copperplate charters found in Sanjeli in northern Gujarat. The copperplates mention the rule of Alchon Huns king Toramana in the area.The first copperplate refers to the 3rd year of the reign of Toramana, and describes pious gifts made by merchants in the area of Vadrapali in the district of Sivabhagapura.The copperplates also describes how the local king Maharaja Bhuta in Sanjeli was made Governor (visayapati) of the district of Sivabhagapura (northern Gujarat) by the grace of Toramana.The Sanjeli inscriptions indicate that Toramana penetrated at least as far as northern Gujarat, and possibly to the trading port of Bharukaccha.Seri Bahlol
Seri Bahlol, also Sahri Bahlol (Urdu: سری بہلول), is located near Takht-i-Bahi, about 70 kilometer north-west of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.Talagan copper scroll
The Talagan copper scroll, also known as Schøyen Copper Scroll (58 x 26 cm), was discovered and published in 2006 by Gudrun Melzer and Lore Sander. The scroll, dated to 492/3, mentions the four Alchon Huns kings Khingila, Toramana, Javukha, and Mehama (who was reigning at the time) as donors to a Buddhist reliquary stupa.The scroll reads:
"In the sixty-eighth year on the seventh day of the bright half of the month Karttika: On this day this caitya of the Realized One containing relics was established by the lord of the great monastery, the son of Opanda, the Talaganika-Devaputra-Sahi, . . . , together with [his] father Opanda, together with [his] wife, the daughter of the SaradaÍahi . . . , together with the mistress of a great monastery Arccavamana, together with [her] father Ho . . gaya, [and] with [her] mother, the queen . . . , together with the spiritual friend, the religious teacher Ratnagama, together with the great Sahi Khingila, together with the god-king Toramana, together with the mistress of a great monastery Sasa, together with the great Sahi Mehama, together with Sadavikha, together with the great king Javukha, the son of Sadavikha, during the reign of Mehama."
The scroll was commissioned during the reign of Alchon Huns ruler Mehama in 493/94, slightly after the occupation of the Buddhist area centered on Taxila around 460, but before the major invasions of the Indian mainland, known as the "Hunnic Wars" (from 496 to 534). Besides Mehama, the Alkhan kings Khingila, Toramana and Javukha are also listed as donors, although it is not known whether they were still alive, or whether their named were just summoned for the dedication.
The location of Talagan mentioned in the text is unclear and subject to debate. Talagan may be a region in Bactria (east of the city Kunduz in North Afghanistan) or an area in Punjab, north of the Salt Range.Toramana
Toramana was a ruler of the Alchon Huns who ruled its Indian region in the late 5th and the early 6th century. Toramana consolidated the Hephthalite power in Punjab (present-day Pakistan and northwestern India), and conquered northern and central India including Eran in Madhya Pradesh.
The Sanjeli inscription of Toramana speaks of his conquest and control over Malwa and Gujarat. His territory also included Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kashmir.According to the Rīsthal inscription, discovered in 1983, the Aulikara king Prakashadharma of Malwa defeated him.Yashodharman
Yashodharman (IAST: Yaśodharman) (r. 515 - 545) was a ruler of Malwa, in central India, during the early part of the 6th century. He belonged to the Aulikara dynasty. He conquered much of the Indian subcontinent between c. 530-540 CE according to Mandsaur pillar inscription.