Chinas

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The Chinas or Chīnaḥ are a people mentioned in ancient Indian literature
Indian literature
Indian literature refers to the literature produced on the Indian subcontinent until 1947 and in the Republic of India thereafter. The Republic of India has 22 officially recognized languages....

 from the first millennium BC
1st millennium BC
The 1st millennium BC encompasses the Iron Age and sees the rise of many successive empires, and spanned from 1000 BC to 1 BC.The Neo-Assyrian Empire, followed by the Achaemenids. In Greece, Classical Antiquity begins with the colonization of Magna Graecia and peaks with the rise of Hellenism. The...

, such as the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, Laws of Manu
Manu Smriti
' , also known as Mānava-Dharmaśāstra , is the most important and earliest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism...

, as well the Puranic
Puranas
The Puranas are a genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.Puranas...

 literature. They are believed to have been Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

.

Etymology


The name Cina is commonly believed to have been derived from the Qin
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 (Tsin or Chin) dynasty which rule in China from 221 BC. The Greco-Romans referred to China as Sina, or Sinae.

Another theory by Geoff Wade is based on a polity known as Yelang
Yelang
Yelang , initially known as Zangke , was an ancient political entity first described in the 3rd century BC that was centered in what is now western Guizhou province, China...

, in what is now China's Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 province. The inhabitants of this region referred to themselves as zina.

Mahabharata



In the epic
Indian epic poetry
Indian epic poetry is the epic poetry written in the Indian subcontinent, traditionally called Kavya . The Ramayana and Mahabharata, originally composed in Sanskrit and translated thereafter into many other Indian languages, are some of the oldest surviving epic poems on earth and form part of...

 of the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, the Chinas appear together with the Kiratas among the armies of king Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisa (Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

). In the Sabhaparvan, the same king is said to be surrounded the Kiratas, and the Cinas. Also in the Bhismaparvan, the army of Bhagadatta is said to consist of the Kirtas and the "yellow-colored" Cinas.

Bhishamaparva of Mahabharata also lists the Cinas with the Mlechha tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s of the north like the Yavanas, Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, Kuntalas, Huna
Huna
For other uses, see HunaHuna is a Hawaiian word adopted by Max Freedom Long in 1936 to describe his theory of metaphysics which he linked to ancient Hawaiian kahuna...

s, Parasikas, Darunas, Ramanas, Dasamalikas . These verses date to fifth century AD when the Hunas came into contact with Sassanian dynasty of Persia

Shantiparvan of Mahabharata groups the Cinas with the barbarous tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s of the Uttarapatha
Uttarapatha
Ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts use Uttarapatha as the name of the northern part of Jambudvipa, one of the "continents" in Hindu mythology.The name is derived from the Sanskrit terms uttara, for north, and patha, for road...

 viz the Yavanas, Kirata
Kirata
The Kirāta is a generic term in Sanskrit literature for people who lived in the mountains, particularly in the Himalayas and North-East India and who are postulated to have been Mongoloid in origin. It has been theorized that the word Kirata- or Kirati- means people with lion nature. It is derived...

s, Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

s, Shabras, Barbaras, Shaka
Shaka
Shaka kaSenzangakhona , also known as Shaka Zulu , was the most influential leader of the Zulu Kingdom....

s, Tushara
Tocharians
The Tocharians were the Tocharian-speaking inhabitants of the Tarim Basin, making them the easternmost speakers of Indo-European languages in antiquity. They were known as, or at least closely related to, the Yuezhi of Chinese sources...

s, Kanakas, Pahlavas, Andhras, Madra
Madra
Madra, Mada or Madraka is the name of an ancient region and its inhabitants, located in the north-west division of the ancient Indian sub-continent.-Uttaramadra division:...

kas, Ramathas, and the Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

 and states them as living the lives of Dasyus. These verses of epic expect these tribes to perform certain duties which are different from those performed by the Brahmana
Brahmana
The Brāhmaṇas are part of the Hindu śruti literature. They are commentaries on the four Vedas, detailing the proper performance of rituals....

s, Kshatriya
Kshatriya
*For the Bollywood film of the same name see Kshatriya Kshatriya or Kashtriya, meaning warrior, is one of the four varnas in Hinduism...

s, Vaisyas, and Sudra
Shudra
Shudra is the fourth Varna, as prescribed in the Purusha Sukta of the Rig veda, which constitutes society into four varnas or Chaturvarna. The other three varnas are Brahmans - priests, Kshatriya - those with governing functions, Vaishya - agriculturalists, cattle rearers and traders...

s .

Vanaparvan of the Mahabharata states that the territory of the Cinas can be reached by a land-route across the country of the Kiratas in the mountain regions of the north.

Ramayana


Kiskindhakanda of Valmiki
Valmiki
Valmiki is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. He is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself. He is revered as the Adi Kavi, which means First Poet, for he discovered the first śloka i.e...

's Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

makes reference to Cinas as well as Parama-Cinas and associates them with the trans-Himalayan tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s of the Daradas, Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, the Yavanas, the Sakas, the Kiratas, the Bahlikas, the Rishikas, and the Tañkanas of the Uttarapatha
Uttarapatha
Ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts use Uttarapatha as the name of the northern part of Jambudvipa, one of the "continents" in Hindu mythology.The name is derived from the Sanskrit terms uttara, for north, and patha, for road...

..

The epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 literature asserts that the Cinas, Khasas
Khasas
The Khasas / Khas or Khasiyas are an ancient people, believed to be a section of the Indo-Iranians who originally belonged to Central Asia from where they had penetrated, in remote antiquity, the Himalayas through Kashgar and Kashmir and dominated the whole hilly region...

, Huna
Huna
For other uses, see HunaHuna is a Hawaiian word adopted by Max Freedom Long in 1936 to describe his theory of metaphysics which he linked to ancient Hawaiian kahuna...

s, Shakas, Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, Yavanas, Pahlavas, Kiratas, Sinhalas, Mlechchas etc. were created by sage
Wise old man
The wise old man is an archetype as described by Carl Jung, as well as a classic literary figure, and may be seen as a stock character...

 Vashistha through the divine powers of cow Sabala or Nandini (Kamdhenu) .

Puranas


In the Kalika Purana, the Cinas are again grouped with the Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, Shakas, Khasas and the Barabaras etc. and are said to have sided with Buddhist king Kali in the war against Vedic king Kalika .

Bhuvanakosha section of numerous Puranas locates the Cinas along with the Tusharas
Tocharians
The Tocharians were the Tocharian-speaking inhabitants of the Tarim Basin, making them the easternmost speakers of Indo-European languages in antiquity. They were known as, or at least closely related to, the Yuezhi of Chinese sources...

, Pahlavas, Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, and Barbaras in the Udichya
Uttarapatha
Ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts use Uttarapatha as the name of the northern part of Jambudvipa, one of the "continents" in Hindu mythology.The name is derived from the Sanskrit terms uttara, for north, and patha, for road...

 or northern division of ancient India..

According to Vayu Purana
Vayu Purana
The Vayu Purana is a Shaiva Purana, a Hindu religious text, dedicated to the god Vayu , containing about 24,000 shlokas.-Date:Banabhatta refers to this work in his Kadambari and Harshacharita...

and the Matsya Purana
Matsya Purana
Matsya Purana is the sixteenth purana of the Hindu scriptures. During the period of mahapralaya, Lord Vishnu had taken Matsya Avatar to save the seeds of all lives and Manu...

, the Cinas and several other tribes would be annihilated by king Kalika or Pramiti at the end of Kali age .

In the Matsya Purana, the Chinas are said to be unfit for performing shraddhah..

There is yet another reference to China as Cina-maru as referred to in the Vayu Purana
Vayu Purana
The Vayu Purana is a Shaiva Purana, a Hindu religious text, dedicated to the god Vayu , containing about 24,000 shlokas.-Date:Banabhatta refers to this work in his Kadambari and Harshacharita...

and Brahmanda Purana
Brahmanda Purana
The Brahmanda Purana is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts and has been assigned the eighteenth place in almost all the lists of the Puranas.Brahma in Sanskrit means "the biggest", anda/andam means globe...

. However, at the same place, Matsya Purana
Matsya Purana
Matsya Purana is the sixteenth purana of the Hindu scriptures. During the period of mahapralaya, Lord Vishnu had taken Matsya Avatar to save the seeds of all lives and Manu...

mentions Vira-maru. China-maru or Vira-maru has been identified with the lands of Turkestan
Turkestan
Turkestan, spelled also as Turkistan, literally means "Land of the Turks".The term Turkestan is of Persian origin and has never been in use to denote a single nation. It was first used by Persian geographers to describe the place of Turkish peoples...

 situated above And-khui in the north of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 (Dr K. P. Jayswal, Dr M. R. Singh).

Buddhist literature


The Cinas also find reference in the Buddhist play, Mudrarakshasa
Mudrarakshasa
The Mudrarakshasa , a historical play in Sanskrit by Vishakhadatta in late 4th or early 5th century narrates the ascent of the king Chandragupta Maurya to power in Northern India.-Origin:...

, where they are listed with other contemporary tribes, such as the Shakas, Yavanas, Kiratas, Cambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, Bhalikas
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

, Parasikas, Khasas, Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

s, Kalutas, etc.

Buddhist text Milindapanho (see: Sacred Books of the East, xxxvi, 204), associates the Chinas with the Sakas, Yavanas, Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

 and Vilatas(?) etc., and locates them in the western Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

/Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

, according to Dr Michael Witzel .

Other literature


Chanakya
Chanakya
Chānakya was a teacher to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta , and the first Indian emperor generally considered to be the architect of his rise to power. Traditionally, Chanakya is also identified by the names Kautilya and VishnuGupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise...

 (c. 350-283 BC), the prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 of the Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

 and a professor at Takshashila University, refers to Chinese silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

 as "cinamsuka" (Chinese silk dress) and "cinapatta" (Chinese silk bundle) in his Arthashastra
Arthashastra
The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy which identifies its author by the names Kautilya and , who are traditionally identified with The Arthashastra (IAST: Arthaśāstra) is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and...

.

The Sanmoha Tantra speaks of the Tantric
Tantra
Tantra , anglicised tantricism or tantrism or tantram, is the name scholars give to an inter-religious spiritual movement that arose in medieval India, expressed in scriptures ....

 culture of the foreign countries like the Bahlika (Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

), Kirata, Bhota (Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

), Cina, Maha-Cina, Parasika, Airaka, Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, Huna
Huna
For other uses, see HunaHuna is a Hawaiian word adopted by Max Freedom Long in 1936 to describe his theory of metaphysics which he linked to ancient Hawaiian kahuna...

, Yavana, Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

 and Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

a.

Around the 2nd century BC, the Laws of Manu
Manu Smriti
' , also known as Mānava-Dharmaśāstra , is the most important and earliest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism...

describes the downfall of the Chinas, as well as many foreign groups in India:
"43. But in consequence of the omission of the sacred rites, and of their not consulting Brahmana
Brahmana
The Brāhmaṇas are part of the Hindu śruti literature. They are commentaries on the four Vedas, detailing the proper performance of rituals....

s, the following tribes of Kshatriya
Kshatriya
*For the Bollywood film of the same name see Kshatriya Kshatriya or Kashtriya, meaning warrior, is one of the four varnas in Hinduism...

s have gradually sunk in this world to the condition of Shudra
Shudra
Shudra is the fourth Varna, as prescribed in the Purusha Sukta of the Rig veda, which constitutes society into four varnas or Chaturvarna. The other three varnas are Brahmans - priests, Kshatriya - those with governing functions, Vaishya - agriculturalists, cattle rearers and traders...

s;
44. (Viz.) the Paundrakas, the Choda
Choda
Choda, Chaudra or Koda is an ancient Indian tribal group described in the Manusmriti, which says that, because of the omission of sacred Brahmanical rituals/codes and of their not heeding to the Brahmins, some noble Kshatriyas have gradually degenerated...

s, the Dravidas, the Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, the Yavanas, the Shakas, the Paradas, the Pahlavas, the Chinas, the Kiratas, the Daradas
Daradas
Daradas were a people who lived north and north-east to the Kashmir valley. This kingdom is identified to be the Gilgit region in Kashmir along the river Sindhu or Indus. They are often spoken along with the Kambojas...

 and the Khashas."


Besides China and Parama-China, there is also a reference to Mahachina in the Manasollasa which text mentions the fabrics from Mahachina. It is thus possible that China probably referred to western Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 or Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

, Mahachina to Tibet proper, and Parama-China to Mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

.