The Huns: Addendum

There seems to be some unresolved controversy regarding the roots of the name 'Hungary'.   I stated unabashedly in my movie that Hungary derives from 'Hun'.   I find people trying to refute this all over the place (and challenging me directly), the alternate theory being that the country name Hungary derives from 'On-ogur', which were either a tribe closely tied to the Bulgars, a federation of tribes of which the Bulgars (and the Magyars) were a part, or a federation of tribes (of which the Magyars were a part) which is described as Bulgar in nature … it all depends on what you read.

On-ogur is allegedly a Turkic word meaning '10 arrows' or '10 tribes'.   The rational I have read for this is that 'On' in modern Turkic means 10 while 'Ok' means arrow – I'm not sure how you get from that to saying definitively that On-ogur meant 10 arrows/tribes, but knowing that the many Hunnic tribes are represented as arrows in the Alan Goa legend in the Secret History of the Mongols, I can easily buy it.

But here's the question – if it can be justifiably said that Hungary derives from On-ogur (and there's a question about that, it's just a theory), could the same not be said for the 'Huns', as we call them, as well?

While I lean toward the interpretation that On-ogur refers to a federation of tribes rather than a specific tribe, a wikipedia article on the On-ogurs says this:

They [the On-ogurs] were ethnically closely related and allied to the Cozarig-Bulgar tribes, the legend being that the Onogurs and Bulgars descended from princes of Kush: Hungor & Maugor.

This is the same myth of the White Stag mentioned in the previous post, here describing the mythical ancestors of the On-ogurs and Bulgars, while in the Hungarian myth describing the ancestors of the Huns and Magyars.

I looked for any confirming or primary source for the Bulgars (and/or On-ogurs) sharing the White Stag origin myth and found this:

[Bulgars:] Regarded as direct descendants of the Sumerians and the Scythians, the myth of their origins roughly reproduces the legends of the Magyars.

The Bulgars were, or became, the main component of a larger ethnos known as Hunogurs or Onogurs, and were closely related to the Khazars. There is also a controversy about the original Bulgars being Huns or not; nevertheless, if they were not, and however closely related to them, they joined the Huns in early times and reached Europe together with them…

Then of course the Bulgar Khans trace straight back to Hunnic kings.

So, it's sort of looking to me like On-ogur and Hun are one and the same thing – a federation of tribes which included who we call the Magyars, Bulgars and probably the Khazars as well – or even more likely, there were 'Hun' tribes (like the 'White-Huns' and 'Black-Huns') with their own identity within this loose federation as well as Magyars and Bulgars (and Khazars?), but that collectively, if only loosely, they were clumped all together and referred to as 'Huns' by enough people to cause all this confusion.   Anyway, that's my take on it all at this point.

As to the often refuted claim that Hungary didn't get its name from the Huns, I learned something interesting when I stumbled on to an article about a seldom used Japanese way of writing the country-name Hungary.   The article is here, but it's not important to read it all, I will explain the relevant parts.  The author is probably not Japanese, for he has his pronunciations a bit wrong.

The Japanese normally write Hungary using katakana, one of three Japanese alphabets and which is used for foreign words like fork (foh-ku).  'Hun' is actually written using a combination of katakana ('fun' フン, which is as close as you get to 'hun' in the Japanese tongue) and kanji, the collection of 2000 plus Chinese characters used in Japanese … in this case 'zoku' 族 which means tribe, so 'Hun' is 'fun-zoku' [フン族].  Well, it turns out there's another word for 'Hun' in Japanese – 'kyoudo', written like this:  匈奴. 

Chaos, Kyou

For those whose computers are not set up to display Chinese and Japanese characters, the first of those characters, 'kyou', the one we are interested in, looks like this. Its uses and pronunciations can be found at the following link:

Interestingly, the country name Hungary can also be written using the same character, in fact one of the meanings listed for the character is Hungary.   The character is normally pronounced 'kyou' but when used to write the name Hungary it is pronounced Han. 



Now check this out … the Mandarin pronunciation for the character is 'Xiong'.

Xiong-nu!  Which is what the Chinese called the Huns … and finally, the meaning of the character is given as turmoil or chaos, which, given the nomadic nature of the Xiong-nu/Huns and the grief they caused the Chinese (who built the Great Wall to try and keep them out), it all makes sense.

Copyright (c) 2015 Eric Westfall.
Original content may be quoted or replicated under the Fair Use doctrine. All other rights reserved.

One Comment to 'The Huns: Addendum'

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  1. Gundoswzb said,

    Aloha! vpj

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