The state of Pulei 蒲類 was located at the new northern route of the Silk Road, in the valley of Shuyu 疏榆谷 on the territory of present-day Balikun (Barköl) 巴里坤, Xinjiang. During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE), it had a population of 2,000 persons living in 300 households and able to recruit 800 troops. The king was aided by a Marquis Supporting the State (fuguohou 輔國侯), a left and a right general, and left and a right Commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉). The people lived in tents and were pastoral nomads, changing their dwelling place with the seasons. Pulei was famous for the bows and arrows produced by the warriors.
Pulei was dominated by the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 that had forced 6,000 people to move closer to the centre of the land controlled by the Xiongnu, into a land called A'wu 阿惡. The state of Pulei came into being after many persons had fled this forced settlement in the Xiongnu land. When the Han defeated the Xiongnu khan Ri-zhu 日逐, they divided Pulei into two states, Fore Pulei (Qian Pulei guo 前蒲類國) and Rear Pulei (Hou Pulei guo 後蒲類國). Both were parts of the Protectorate of the Western Territories (Xiyu duhufu 西域都護府) of the Han empire.
In the 3rd century CE Pulei, then called Pulu 蒲陸, was conquered by Rear Cheshi 車師後部. In the 7th century the protector-general of the Tang empire 唐 (618-907) established a district (xian 縣) of Pulei that was subject to the prefecture of Tingzhou 庭州.