An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Huoxun 火尋, Khwarezmia

Jun 2, 2017 © Ulrich Theobald

The state of Huoxun 火尋 was located on the lower course of the River Amu Darya, near modern Urganch in Uzbekistan, a land formerly known as Soghdia or Soghdiana, in Chinese Sute 粟特 (by the Greeks as Transoxania). Legend holds that the city was founded by one of the Nine Barbarian Tribes from Zhaowu (jiuxing hu 九姓胡 or Zhaowu jiuxing 昭武九姓). The Roman geographer Strabo called it Khorasmia, i.e. Khwārazm, or Khwarezmia‎ (Chinese transcription Hualazimu 花剌子模, or Hulumushi 忽魯木石). In Chinese sources of the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE), the place is known with the name Huanqian 驩潛, during the Northern Wei period 北魏 (386-534) as Husimi 呼似密, and in later sources as Huoliximijia 貨利習彌伽, Huoliximi 貨利習彌, Guoli 過利, or Huocimi 火辭. 彌.

Map 1. The Nine States of the Soghdiana
The Soghdia around 600 CE. Based on Tan Qixiang 譚其驤, ed. (1995), Zhongguo lishi ditu ji 中國歷史地圖集, Vol. 5, Sui, Tang, Wudai Shiguo shiqi 隋唐五代十國時期 (Beijing: Zhongguo ditu chubanshe, 1996).

The country was located in the lower reaches of River Amu Darya, and its capital city was either called Aojian 奧鞬 or Yulonggechi 玉龍格赤 (which might be another transcription of the native name Khwarezm). Among the states of the Nine Zhaowu tribes, it did not play an important role. In 712 it was conquered by Muslim invaders.

The state of Khwarezm was founded in 996, but became a tributary state of the Seljuk Empire (Chinese transcription Sai'erzhu 塞爾柱) in 1043. A year later the Western Liao empire 西遼 (1124-1211) defeated the Seljuks, and Khwarezm became a subject to the Western Liao. In the late 11th century Khwarezm won strength again under Ala ad-Din Tekish (1172-1200) and his son Ala ad-Din Muhammad II (1200-1220), and Khwarezm conquered parts of Persia (under the Ghaznavid dynasty), the eastern parts of the Abbasid Caliphate (today's Iraq), Khorasan (in NE Persia) and Afghanistan.

Činggis Qaɣan sent in 1218 a trade envoy of more than 400 persons to the Khwarezmian city of Otrar (Chinese: Edala 訛答刺), but Mohammad II ordered to kill the merchants. This was the pretext for the Mongols to invade and subdue the region. Khwarezm became part of the Ilkhan Empire. In the 14th century Central Asia was wholly transformed by Turkish culture, and suffered greatly under the assails by Tamerlane.

Gao Wende 高文德, ed. (1995). Zhongguo shaoshu minzu shi da cidian 中國少數民族史大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin jiaoyu chubanshe), 999.
Qian Boquan 錢伯泉 (1994). "Huoxun 火尋", in Xue Li 雪犁, ed. Zhongguo sichou zhi lu cidian 中國絲綢之路辭典 (Ürümqi: Xinjiang renmin chubanshe), 14.
Sun Wenfan 孫文范, ed. (1990). Shijie lishi diming cidian 世界歷史地名辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 211.
Tan Qixiang 譚其驤 (1996). Zhongguo lishi ditu ji 中國歷史地圖集, Vol. 5, Sui, Tang, Wudai, Shiguo shiqi 隋唐五代十國時期 (Beijing: Zhongguo ditu chubanshe).
Zhang Guangda 張廣達 (1992). "Sute 粟特", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1030.
Zhang Guangda 張廣達 (1992). "Zhaowu jiuxing 昭武九姓", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 3, 1514.