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Tumen (unit)

Tumen, or tümen ("unit of ten thousand";[1] Old Turkic: tümän; Mongolian: Түмэн, tümen;[2][3] Turkish: tümen; Hungarian: tömény), was a decimal unit of measurement used by the Turkic and Mongol peoples to quantify and organize their societies in groups of 10,000. A tumen denotes a tribal unit of 10,000 households, or a military unit of 10,000 soldiers.

English Orientalist Sir Gerard Clauson (1891-1974) defined tümän as immediately borrowed from Tokharian tmān, which according to Edwin G. Pulleyblank might have been etymologically inherited from Old Chinese tman or .[4]

Magyar military organization of the Conquest Era

It was thought that the same kind of military organization was used by the Magyars during the conquest of Hungary. According to Ahmad ibn Rustah (c. 930), a Persian explorer and geographer relying on second-hand information, the "Magyars are a race of Turks and their king rides out with horsemen to the number of 10,000 and this king is called Kanda".[5]

Genghis Khan's organization

In Genghis Khan's military system, a tumen was recursively built from units of 10 (aravt), 100 (zuut) and 1,000 (mingghan), each with a leader reporting to the next higher level. Tumens were considered a practical size, neither too small for an effective campaign nor too big for efficient transport and supply. The military strategy was based on the use of tumens as a useful building block causing reasonable shock and attack.[6] A Mongol army usually consisted out of three tumen, but armies consisting of only one tumen were also deployed. Regardless, tumen would often be understrength and the number of tumen deployed doesn't provide an accurate number of combatants.[7]

The commander of a tumen was a tümen-ü noyan, a term sometimes translated "myriarch" (cf. myriad), meaning commander of 10,000.[8]

In modern armies

Tümen is a military unit which is still used in the Turkish Army, consisting of 6,000 to 10,000 soldiers.[9] Its commander is a tümgeneral in the Army and Air Forces and a tümadmiral in the Naval Forces. It is the equivalent of a modern division.

See also


  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language - toman Archived 2007-12-09 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Vietze, Wörterbuch Mongolisch - Deutsch, VEB 1988
  3. ^ The Silk Road And The Korean Language
  4. ^ Clauson, Gerard (1972). An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth-Century Turkish. Oxford, Clarendon Press. p. 507. ISBN 0198641125.
  5. ^ Laszlo Gyula, The Magyars: Their Life and Civilization, (1996), pp. 41–42.
  6. ^ Corvisier, André. A Dictionary of Military History and the Art of War. Blackwell Publishing, 1994. page 529
  7. ^ Archer, Christon I. (1 January 2002). World History of Warfare. U of Nebraska Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-8032-4423-8. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  8. ^ Qiqing Xiao, The Military Establishment of the Yuan Dynasty, PhD diss. (Harvard University, 1978), pp. 9–10.
  9. ^ Sabah Newspaper Online - Turkish Armed Forces
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Tumen (unit)
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