The Twelve Families of the Toles

Yildirim K.

CENTRAL ASIATIC JOURNAL, vol.60, pp.265-273, 2017 (Journal Indexed in AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 60
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Title of Journal : CENTRAL ASIATIC JOURNAL
  • Page Numbers: pp.265-273


The Toles, as one of the originators of the Turkic peoples, are alternately referred to in early Chinese sources as Tolog, Tiele, 'Red Di', Dili, Chile, Gaoche and Dingling TV. All refer to the same people, the Gaoche rising to prominence during the fourth and fifth centuries CE. For a multifaceted investigation into the history of the Toles, this article proposes to examine this ethnic group in terms of family networks. Families constitute the smallest unit of social history and ethnology. By analysing the textual evidence of Toles families and their names in the extant sources, we can trace their changing roles within the ethnic and political processes of their time. Our analysis suggests that most of the Toles families have Xianbei and Ruanruan roots. Another outcome is that many Toles family members attained high positions in different states in China, eventually forming tribes, and thus shedding light on Turkic history in general.