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Tuoba (拓拔; pinyin Tuòbá) or T'o-pa in Wade-Giles was a clan of the Xianbei people in the early centuries of the 1st millennium AD. They established the State of Dai from 310 to 376 AD, and the Northern Wei Dynasty from 386 to 536 AD. Distribution of Xianbei people ranged from present day Manchuria to Mongolia, and the Tuoba clan was one of the largest clans among western Xianbei clans, ranging from present day Shanxi province and westward and northwestward. Tuoba clan was awarded by Chinese rulers as the leader of western Xianbei clans (西部大人) and its people adopted their clan name as their surname.

Tabgach is the name (as attested to in the Orhun inscriptions in the Göktürk language), and most likely meant "earth-origined" (as in toprak), or "round" (as in Topkapi) in Turkish[dubious ]. The Chinese surname Yuan was later adopted by the Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei to replace Tuoba, and approximates the meanings of "origin" or "round" in the Chinese language.

The Tuoba states of Dai and Northern Wei also claimed to possess the quality of earth in the Chinese five element analogy.


Chieftains of Tuoba Clan ¹ 219-377 (as Princes of Dai 315-377)


¹ Tuoba Family was the ruling family of Northern Wei Dynasty, founded by Tuoba Gui, then Emperor Daowu. Hence the rulers of Northern Wei Dynasty will start with him, not as a continuation of this table.

² All chieftains were revered as emperors in Weishu and Beishi but they never were in reality. They were denoted here as 王 pinyin Wáng (literary meaning: King or Prince), which was inherited by all successors of Tuoba Yilu. Refer to Chinese nobility#wang.

³ His temple name was Shizu (Chinese characters: 始祖, py. Shízǔ). Another column was not created since only he was the only chieftain before Tuoba Gui revered with a temple name.

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