Journal Epohi

The Patrician Organa (The Red Khan, Bu-Yurgana, Mohodu-heu?) and the Beginning of the Bulgarian Statehood

Georgi Atanassov Regional History Museum - Silistra, Bulgaria

Pages: 55-64


As a whole, besides the Kutrigurs, who had adopted the Avar dynasty, Bulgarian tribes and the affiliated Utigurs-Unogondurs in North Caucasus, the regions of Kuban and along the sea of Azov came under Turkic dominance. At the same time they had a certain level of autonomy which became explicit from the chronicles of the Utigur leader Anagay. There is another historic event which supports the former one from 619 AD represented by the Byzantine chronicler Nicephorus, which refers to Organa’s personality. 1. Organa’s baptizing in Constantinopole. In 619 in Constantinopole the emperor Heraklius officially hosted Organa, the ruler of the Huns, who adopted Christianity along with his notable companions, and was given the superior Roman title patrician. The special attention that Organa received was closely related to the fact that at that time Constantinople needed a powerful ally against the Avar invasion. Actually patriarch Nicephorus used the name Huns which as an archaism was used to denote mainly the Bulgarians and this particularly becomes obvious in the phrase “at last it should be told about the origin of the so called Huns or Bulgarians and their state structure”. He further used in his narrative the name Bulgars. Along with the other events, Organa’s mission in Constantinopole is an eloquent testimony of the autonomy in the Bulgarian activities in the boundaries of the West Turkic khaganate. Right after that event Nicephorus continued with the beginning of “Great (Kubrat’s) Bulgaria” writing the following words “Kubrat of the Unogondurs, Kernaka’s nephew (Organa – Bulgarian author) who rose in rebellion …” Eventually the Syrian chronicler Yoan Niciu, in the second half of VIIth century writes about Ketrades (Kubrat – the head of the Mutans (=Huns – Bul. author), Kernaka’s nephew (Organa – Bulg. author). 2. About the third ring-seal from Malaya Pereshchepina, the patrician title and the patrician’s insignias. Among the numerous golden objects and jewelleries, as well as two ring-seals belonging to Kubrat (sample 4 a, b) it has recently become obvious that the treasure also includes another, a third ring with a cross monogram who was spelt out by Vera Zaleskaya as ВАТОРХАNOY РАТРІКІOY (Bat Organa the patrician) (sample 3). I have certain doubts whether the inscription on the second ring is the same and exactly XOBPATOY ПATPIKIOY (The patrician Kubrat) (sample 4b), as the rest of the researchers think. As the first ring (with the inscription ХОВРАТОY – Kubrat – sample 4 a) was worn by Kubrat before the patrician promotion in 635 why it was necessary for Kubrat to wear two rings with one and the same text (ХОВРАТОY ПАТРIКIOY), on top of that with different shift of the monograms?! The patrician investiture is a single act and the patrician ring-seal (having the value of regalia) is a one-off gift. I dare to claim, without any scrap of doubt that Organa is Christian as there are no cases in the history of late Rome and early Byzantium, in which the title patrician and any other title to be given to a pagan. I also focus on the patrician’s insignias which closely follow the Byzantine model described by Constantinus Porphyrogenitus. 3. Tribal alliance Dulu, prince Mohodu-heu and the Unogondurs. At the beginning of VIIth century the Unogondurs, Proto-Bulgarians respectively, in the Western periphery of the huge Western Turkic khaganate had their own autonomy since their leader, Organa, ran almost a kind of autonomic external policy. To some extent this was due to the unstable status of the Western khaganat, especially after 603 and the raids between the tribal alliance Nushibi, connected to Ashina clan and the tribal alliance Dulu. It is supposed that actually Organa was the popular, from Chinese resources, leader Mohodu-Heu who was the son of the great khagan Kara-churin from the royal dynasty Ashina, uncle of the khagan Tun-dzhagbu – khan (Tenshehu) respectively. He appeared on the political scene for the first time in 587 under the name of the Siberian “Baghatur – prince”, which means, that he was born around 565 – 570. If Mohodu-heu and Organa are one and the same person and if Organa is Kubrat’s uncle from Dulu clan, we could actually conclude that the latter one on his mother’s side was a descendant of the ruling clan Ashina. The identification of Mohodu-heu with Organa, and the relation between Organa-Kubrat respectively could be derived also onomasticly as the name Organa is comparable to the Mongolian word “Urag”, which in fact means a relative on mother’s side. It became obvious that according to Nicephorus and Yoan Nikiu Kubrat is Organa’s nephew. 4. Mohodu-heu (=Organa) and the state structure – a cause of Unogodurs. After the political takeover in 612 and taking the power by Nushibu clan, on the expense of Dulu clan, it is quite probable that Organa (Mohodu-heu) settled down with his nephew Kubrat (obviously a charismatic figure from Dulu clan) with the Bulgarians-Unogondurs. He started to run an independent external policy which became explicit with his mission in Constantinopole in 619. Under the tense circumstances, caused by Tunshehu khagan, supported by the tribal alliance Nushibu Mohodu-heu, connected to the tribal alliance Dulu, took drastic actions. That was mentioned in a Chinese source dated to 629, translated and interpreted by N. Y. Bichurin, which says that: In the very beginning (around 626 – Bul. author) he (Mohodu-heu = Organa – Bul. author) separated from the state (Turkic khaganate – Bulg. author) a small khaganate (of Unogodurs? –, and declared himself a supreme khagan which made the nobles (Nushibi and part of Ashina clan – Bul. author) grumble. That fact de jure claims Organa’s status as an independent head of the state, which was issued de facto in 619 with his actions in Constantinopole and the title “kyrios” which the Byzntines used to address him. It is quite probable that the event from 629 could be one of the main reasons for the civil war in the Western khaganate in 630. During the war Organa (Mohodu-heu) defeated Nushibu clan and his allies, the Khazars who invaded in Dzungaria and killed his brother’s son – Tunshehu khagan. In the following 631, however, Organa himself, turned already 60 and got killed in the civil war. An extremely interesting fact, according to the Enrolment form, Organa’s power/Gostun lasted for two years. If that is true, we could suggest the hypothesis, that two years before his death Organa made the Bulgarian tribes independent.


Organa, Mohodu-heu, Nushibi, Dulu clan, Turkic khaganate, Kubrat , Unogondurs, Bulgarian Statehood


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