mongol art gallery berlin germany'ZURAG' film original  in German 2010 Berlin

'ZURAG' film in the Mongolian national television, 2011 Ulan Bator
(Original record from the MNB broadcast)
The Secret History of the Mongols
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Deutsch - Erstes Kapitel: Tschingis Chaans Vorfahren und seine Kindheit
English -
First Chapter: Genghis Khan's Ancestors and his childhood



The Huns were a group of nomadic pastoral people who, appearing from beyond the Volga, migrated into Europe c.AD 370 and built up an enormous empire in Europe. They were possibly the descendants of the Xiongnu who had been northern neighbours of China three hundred years before and may be the first expansion of Turkic people across Eurasia. The origin and language of the Huns has been the subject of debate for centuries. The leading current theory is that their leaders at least may have spoken a Turkic language. Their main military technique was mounted archery.
The Huns may have stimulated the Great Migration, a contributing factor in the collapse of the Roman Empire. They formed a unified empire under Attila the Hun, who died in 453; their empire broke up the next year. Their descendants, or successors with similar names, are recorded by neighbouring populations to the south, east, and west as having occupied parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia roughly from the 4th century to the 6th century. Variants of the Hun name are recorded in the Caucasus until the early 8th century.

Traditionally historians have associated the Huns who appeared on the borders of Europe in the 4th century with the Xiongnu who migrated out of the Mongolia region in the 1st century AD. However the evidence for this has not been definitive (see below), and the debates have continued ever since Joseph de Guignes first suggested it in the 18th century. Due to the lack of definitive evidence, a school of modern scholarship in the West instead uses an ethnogenesis approach in explaining the Huns' origin.

Modern ethnogenesis interpretation
There are no historical records that definitively answer where the European Huns of the 4th century came from. Modern understanding suggests that the large steppe confederations of history were not ethnically homogeneous , but rather unions of multiple ethnicities such as Turkic, Yeniseian, Tungusic, Ugric, Iranic, Mongolic, among others. This likely suggests the same was true for the Huns. Many clans may have claimed to be Huns simply based on the prestige and fame of the name or it was attributed to them by outsiders describing their common characteristics, believed place of origin, or reputation. Similarly, Greek or Latin chroniclers may have used "Huns" in a more general sense, similar to the use of "barbarian".
Because of these factors – no ethnic homogeneity among comparable groups; and association with the Hunnic name by outside chroniclers – many modern historians have turned to an ethnogenetic approach in explaining the origins of the Huns. An ethnogenetic approach does not assume that a group is a linguistically or genetically homogeneous tribe, that has a single place of origin or a single tribal history. Rather, small groups of aristocratic warriors may have carried ethnic traditions from place to place and generation to generation. Followers would coalesce or disband around these nuclei of tradition. Hunnic ethnicity would then require acceptance into these groups but no requirement to have been born into a "tribe". "All we can say safely," says Walter Pohl, "is that the name Huns, in late antiquity (4th century), described prestigious ruling groups of steppe warriors."

Traditional Xiongnu theory
Debate about the Asian origin of the Huns has been ongoing since the 18th century when Joseph de Guignes first suggested that the Huns should be identified as the Xiongnu of Chinese sources. De Guignes focused on the genealogy of political entities and gave little attention to whether the Huns were the physical descendants of the Xiongnu. Yet his idea, which comes in the context of the ethnocentric and nationalistic scholarship of the late 18th and 19th centuries, gained traction and was modified over time to encompass the ideals of the Romantics.
Some evidence does suggest a political and cultural link between the Huns and the Xiongnu. The Central Asian Bactrian ancient Sogdian letters from the 4th century mention Huns, while the Chinese sources write Xiongnu, in contact with the sacking of Luoyang. However there is a historical gap of 300 years between the Chinese and later sources. As Peter Heather writes "The ancestors of our [4th Century European] Huns could even have been a part of the [1st century] Xiongnu confederation, without being the 'real' Xiongnu. Even if we do make some sort of connection between the fourth-century Huns and the first century Xiongnu, an awful lot of water has passed under an awful lot of bridges in the three hundred years worth of lost history." In other words, we simply have no idea what happened to the Xiongnu for three hundred years and thus associating them with the 4th century Huns is speculative.
Steppe peoples left few written records. Historians have traditionally relied upon indirect evidence such as Chinese records, ethnography, archaeology and linguistics. A certain passage in the Chinese Book of Wei (Wei-shu) is often cited as definitive proof in the identity of the Huns as the Xiongnu. It appears to say that the Xiongnu conquered the Alans (Su-Te 粟特) around the same time as recorded by Western sources. This theory hinged upon the identity of the Su-Te as the Yen-Ts'ai (奄蔡), as claimed by the Wei-shu. Similar passages are also found in the Pei-shih and the Chou-shu. Critical analysis of these Chinese texts reveals that certain chapters in the Book of Wei had been copied from the Pei-shih by Song editors, the chapter on the Xiongnu included. The Pei-shih author assembled his text by making selections from earlier sources, the Chou-shu among them. The Chou-shu does not mention the Xiongnu in its version of the chapter in question. Additionally, the Book of the Later Han (Hou-han-shu) treats the Su-Te and the Yen-Ts'ai as distinct nations. Lastly, the Su-Te have been positively identified as Sogdiana and the Yen-Ts'ai with the Hephthalites.
Other indirect evidence includes the transmission of grip laths for composite bows from Central Asia to the west and the similarity of Xiongnu and Hunnic cauldrons, which were buried on river banks both in Hungary and in the Ordos.
The Huns practiced artificial cranial deformation, while there is no evidence of such practice amongst the Xiongnu. Western sources mention the Huns as having no beards[citation needed]; the Chinese recorded General Ran Min having led a military campaign against a faction of the Xiongnu Confederation called the Jie, who were described as having full beards, around Ye in 349 AD.
Skeletal remains from Kazakhstan (Central Asia), excavated from different sites dating between the 15th century BC to the 5th century AD, have been analyzed for the hypervariable control region and haplogroup diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome. The distribution of east and west Eurasian lineages through time in the region is concordant with the available archaeological information: prior to the 13th - 7th century BC; all samples belong to European lineages. Later an arrival of East Asian sequences that coexisted with the previous genetic substratum was detected.

The literary sources, Priscus and Jordanes, preserve only a few names and three words of the language of the Huns, which have been studied for more than a century and a half. Our sources do not give the meaning of any of the names, only of the three words. These words (medos, kamos, strava) do not seem to be Turkic.
The standard discussion remains Pritsak 1982, "The Hunnic Language of the Attila Clan." On the basis of the existing sparse name records, a number of scholars suggest that the Huns spoke a Turkic language of the Oghur branch, which also includes Bulgar, Avar, Khazar and Chuvash languages. English scholar Peter Heather called the Huns "the first group of Turkic, as opposed to Iranian, nomads to have intruded into Europe". The inscription on the Khan Diggiz plate is interpreted by Mukhamadiev as giving the name of a known Hunnic king, son of Attila, in a form of Turkish. 
Other schools of thought came to the conclusion that "To judge by the tribal names, a great part of the Huns must have spoken a Turkish language." - Otto Maenchen-Helfen.
A variety of languages were spoken by the subjects of the Huns. "For the subjects of the Huns, swept together from various lands, speak, besides their own barbarous tongues, either Hunnic or Gothic, or - as many as have commercial dealings with the western Romans--Latin."

Society and culture
The Huns kept herds of cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. Their other sources of food consisted of wild game and the roots of wild plants. For clothes they had round caps, pants or leggings made from goat skin, and either linen or rodent skin tunics. Ammianus reports that they wore these clothes until the clothes fell to pieces. In warfare they utilized the bow and javelin. The arrowheads and javelin tips were made from bone. They also fought using iron swords and lassos in close combat. The Hun sword was a long, straight, double-edged sword of early Sassanian style. These swords were hung from a belt using the scabbard-slide method, which kept the weapon vertical. The Huns also employed a smaller short sword or large dagger which was hung horizontally across the belly. A symbol of status among the Huns was a gilded bow. Sword and dagger grips also were decorated with gold.
Ammianus mentions that the Huns had no kings but were instead led by nobles. For serious matters they formed councils and deliberated from horseback.
They practiced scarification, slashing the faces of their male infants with swords. Another common custom of the Huns' was to strap their childern's noses flat from an early age, in order to widen their faces, as to increase the terror their looks instilled upon their enemies. Also certian Hun skeletons have shown evidence of artifcially deformed skulls that are a result of ritual head binding at a young age.

History: Pre-Attila
The European geographer Ptolemy writes that the "Chuni" (Χοῦνοι or Χουνοἰ) are between the Bastarnae and the Roxolani in the Pontic area. He lists the beginning of the second century, although it is not known for certain if these people were the Huns. It is possible that the similarity between the names "Chuni" (Χοῦνοι) and "Hunnoi" (Ουννοι) is only a coincidence considering that while the West Romans often wrote Chunni or Chuni, the East Romans never used the guttural Χ at the beginning of the name. The 5th century Armenian historian Moses of Khorene, in his "History of Armenia," introduces the Hunni near the Sarmatians and describes their capture of the city of Balkh ("Kush" in Armenian) sometime between 194 and 214, which explains why the Greeks call that city Hunuk.
The Huns first appeared in Europe in the 4th century. They show up north of the Black Sea around 370. The Huns crossed the Volga river and attacked the Alans, who were then subjugated. Jordanes reports that the Huns were led at this time by Balamber while modern historians question his existence, seeing instead an invention by the Goths to explain who defeated them. The Huns and Alans start plundering Greuthungic settlements. The Greuthungic king, Ermanaric, commits suicide and his great-nephew, Vithimiris, takes over. Vithimiris is killed during a battle against the Alans and Huns in 376. This results in the subjugation of most of the Ostrogoths. Vithimiris' son, Viderichus, was only a child so command of the remaining Ostrogothic refugee army fell to Alatheus and Saphrax. The refugees stream into Thervingic territory, west of the Dniester, and then into Roman territory.
With a part of the Ostrogoths on the run, the Huns next came to the territory of the Visigoths, led by Athanaric. Athanaric, not to be caught off guard, sent an expeditionary force beyond the Dniester. The Huns avoided this small force and attacked Athanaric directly. The Goths retreated into the Carpathians. Support for the Gothic chieftains diminished as refugees headed into Thrace and towards the safety of the Roman garrisons.
In 395 the Huns began their first largescale assault on the East Roman Empire. Huns attacked in Thrace, overran Armenia, and pillaged Cappadocia. They entered parts of Syria, threatened Antioch, and swarmed through the province of Euphratesia. Emperor Theodosius left his armies in the West so the Huns stood unopposed until the end of 398 when the eunuch Eutropius gathered together a force composed of Romans and Goths and succeeded in restoring peace.
During their momentary diversion from the East Roman Empire, the Huns appear to have moved further west as evidenced by Radagaisus' entering Italy at the end of 405 and the crossing of the Rhine into Gaul by Vandals, Sueves, and Alans in 406. The Huns do not then appear to have been a single force with a single ruler. Many Huns were employed as mercenaries by both East and West Romans and by the Goths. Uldin, the first Hun known by name, headed a group of Huns and Alans fighting against Radagaisus in defense of Italy. Uldin was also known for defeating Gothic rebels giving trouble to the East Romans around the Danube and beheading the Goth Gainas around 400-401. Gainas' head was given to the East Romans for display in Constantinople in an apparent exchange of gifts.
The East Romans began to feel the pressure again in 408 by Uldin's Huns. Uldin crossed the Danube and captured a fortress in Moesia named Castra Martis. The fortress was betrayed from within. Uldin then proceeded to ravage Thrace. The East Romans tried to buy Uldin off, but his sum was too high so they instead bought off Uldin's subordinates. This resulted in many desertions from Uldin's group of Huns.
Alaric's brother-in-law, Athaulf, appears to have had Hun mercenaries in his employ south of the Julian Alps in 409. These were countered by another small band of Huns hired by Honorius' minister Olympius. Later in 409, the West Romans stationed ten thousand Huns in Italy and Dalmatia to fend off Alaric, who then abandoned plans to march on Rome.

A unified Empire under Attila
Under the leadership of Attila the Hun, the Huns achieved hegemony over several rivals using the composite bow and their horsemanship in traditional mounted archery tactics. Supplementing their wealth by plundering and raising tribute from Roman cities to the south, the Huns maintained the loyalties of a number of tributary tribes including elements of the Gepids, Scirii, Rugians, Sarmatians, and Ostrogoths. The only lengthy first-hand report of conditions among the Huns is by Priscus, who formed part of an embassy to Attila.

After Attila
After Attila's death, his son Ellac overcame his brothers Dengizich and Ernakh (Irnik) to become king of the Huns. However, former subjects soon united under Ardaric against the Huns at the Battle of Nedao in 454. This defeat and Ellac's death ended the European supremacy of the Huns, and soon afterwards they disappear from contemporary records. The Pannonian basin then was occupied by the Gepids, whilst various Gothic groups remained in the Balkans also.
Later historians provide glimpses of the dispersal and renaming of Attila's people. According to tradition, after Ellac's loss and death, his brothers ruled over two separate, but closely related hordes on the steppes north of the Black Sea. Dengizich is believed to have been king (khan) of the Kutrigur Bulgars, and Ernakh king (khan) of the Utigur Bulgars, whilst Procopius claimed that Kutrigurs and Utigurs were named after, and led by two of the sons of Ernakh. Such distinctions are uncertain and the situation is not likely to have been so clear cut. Some Huns remained in Pannonia for some time before they were slaughtered by Goths. Others took refuge within the East Roman Empre, namely in Dacia Ripensis and Scythia Minor. Possibly, other Huns and nomadic groups retreated to the steppe. Indeed, subsequently, new confederations appear such as Kutrigur, Utigur, Onogur / (Onoghur), Sarigur, etc., which were clloectively called "Huns". Similarly, the 6th century Slavs were presented as Hun groups by Procopius. However, it is likely that Graeco-Roman sources habitually equated new barbarian political groupings with old tribes. This was partly due to expectation that contemporary writers emulate the ‘great writers’ of preceding eras. Apart from exigencies in style was the belief that barbarians from particular areas were all the same, no matter how they changed their name.

Chroniclers writing centuries later often mentioned or alluded to Huns or their purported descendants. These include:

  • Theophylact Simocatta
  • Annales Fuldenses
  • Annales Alemannici
  • Annals of Salzburg
  • Liutprand of Cremona's Antapodosis
  • Regino of Prüm's chronicle
  • Widukind of Corvey's Saxon Chronicle
  • Nestor the Chronicler's Primary Chronicle
  • Legends of Saints Cyril and Methodius
  • Aventinus's Chronicon Bavaria,
  • Constantine VII's De Administrando Imperio, and
  • Leo VI the Wise's Tactica.

Memory of the Hunnic conquest was transmitted orally among Germanic peoples and is an important component in the Old Norse Völsunga saga and Hervarar saga and in the Middle High German Nibelungenlied. These stories all portray Migration Period events from a millennium earlier.
In the Hervarar saga, the Goths make first contact with the bow-wielding Huns and meet them in an epic battle on the plains of the Danube.
In the Nibelungenlied, Kriemhild marries Attila (Etzel in German) after her first husband Siegfried was murdered by Hagen with the complicity of her brother, King Gunther. She then uses her power as Etzel's wife to take a bloody revenge in which not only Hagen and Gunther but all Burgundian knights find their death at festivities to which she and Etzel had invited them.
In the Völsunga saga, Attila (Atli in Norse) defeats the Frankish king Sigebert I (Sigurðr or Siegfried) and the Burgundian King Guntram (Gunnar or Gunther), but is later assassinated by Queen Fredegund (Gudrun or Kriemhild), the sister of the latter and wife of the former.
During a 16th-century peasant revolt in southern Norway, the rebels claimed, during their trial, that they expected the "Hun king Atle" to come from the north with a great host.

Successor nations
Many nations have tried to assert themselves as ethnic, or cultural successors to the Huns. For instance, the Nominalia of the Bulgarian Khans may indicate that they believed themselves to have descended from Attila. The Bulgars were probably a major element of the Hunnic tribal alliance. A number of similarities between Hunnic and Bulgar cultures, for instance, the practice of artificial cranial deformation, as well as other archaeological evidence, suggest a strong continuity between the two. The most characteristic weapons of the Huns and early Bulgars (a particular type of composite bow and a long, straight, double edged sword of the Sassanid type, etc.) are virtually identical in appearance. Some scholars have hypothesized that the Chuvash language, (which is believed to be a descendant of the Bulgar language), is the closest surviving relative of the Hunnic language.
The Magyars (Hungarians) in particular lay claim to Hunnic heritage. Although Magyar tribes only began to settle in the geographical area of present-day Hungary in the very end of the 9th century, some 450 years after the dissolution of the Hunnic tribal confederation, Hungarian prehistory includes Magyar origin legends, which may have preserved some elements of historical truth. The Huns who invaded Europe represented a loose coalition of various peoples, so some Magyars might have been part of it, or may later have joined descendants of Attila's men, who still claimed the name of Huns. Despite the lack of any concrete historical or archeological evidence, the national anthem of Hungary describes the Hungarians as "blood of Bendegúz'" (the medieval and modern Hungarian version of Mundzuk, Attila's father). Attila's brother Bleda is called Buda in modern Hungarian. The city of Buda has been said to derive its name from him. Until the early 20th century, many Hungarian historians believed that the Székely people were the descendants of the Huns, but that is no longer the scholarly consensus.
In 2005, a group of about 2,500 Hungarians petitioned the government for recognition of minority status as direct descendants of Attila. The bid failed, but gained some publicity for the group, which formed in the early 1990s and appears to represent a special Hun(garian)-centric brand of mysticism. The self-proclaimed Huns are not known to possess any distinctly Hunnic culture or language beyond what would be available from historical and modern-mystical Hungarian sources.
While the Huns left descendants all over Eastern Europe, after the disintegration of the Hun Empire, they never regained their lost glory. One reason was that the Huns never fully established the mechanisms of a state, such as bureaucracy and taxes, unlike Bulgars, Magyars or the Golden Horde. Once disorganized, the Huns were absorbed by more organized polities. The Hun Empire included, at least nominally, a great host of diverse peoples, each of whom may be considered 'descendants' of the Huns. However, given that the Huns were a political creation, and not a consolidated people, or nation, their defeat in 454 marked the end of that political creation. Newer polities which later arose might have consisted of people formerly in the Hun confederacy, and carrying the same steppe cultures, but they were new political creations.

20th-century use in reference to Germans
The term "Hun" has been also been used in modern times as a nickname for the Germans in World War I and World War II.
On July 27, 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion in China, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany gave the order to act ruthlessly towards the rebels: "Mercy will not be shown, prisoners will not be taken. Just as a thousand years ago, the Huns under Attila (Etzel) won a reputation of might that lives on in legends, so may the name of Germany in China [sic: be asserted] such that no Chinaman will even again dare so much as to squint at a German."
This speech gave rise to later use of the term "Hun" for the Germans during World War I. The comparison was helped by the Pickelhaube or spiked helmet worn by German forces until 1916, which was reminiscent of images depicting ancient Hun helmets. An alternative reason sometimes given for the use of the term was the motto Gott mit uns (God with us) on German soldiers' belt buckles during World War I. It is suggested that the word uns was mistaken for Huns. This usage, emphasising the idea that the Germans were barbarians, was reinforced by Allied propaganda throughout the war. The French songwriter Theodore Botrel described the Kaiser as "an Attila, without remorse", launching "cannibal hordes".
The usage of the term "Hun" to describe a German resurfaced during World War II. For example Winston Churchill referred in 1941 to the invasion of the Soviet Union as "the dull, drilled, docile brutish masses of the Hun soldiery, plodding on like a swarm of crawling locusts.". Nevertheless, its use was less widespread than in the previous war. British and American WWII troops more often used the term "Jerry" for their German opponents.

Text from Wikipedia