The Tabas were a prominent clan of the Xianbei people who played an important role in China's reunification. Scholars are not entirely certain about their ethnic composition or origin. They seem to have spoken a pre-Turkic language, but there were also pre-Mongol and pre-Tungusic words in it. According to Chinese historians, when the Tabas arrived on China's northern frontier in the late third century, the tribe had just evolved from a primitive communal society. It still had no housing, no written language, and no law code. And probably nor did they, before the tribesmen made contact with Chinese traders, possess any private property.
In the second century the Tabas and other Xianbei groups had started their migration from Manchuria. In 258 a league convention was held at Holingeer in today's Suiyuan, at which the Tabas confirmed their leadership position over thirty-six tribes. In the early fourth century they boasted that they were able to put 200,000 archers into combat. Nevertheless, their whole population seemed to be only about 600,000 persons. It was unlikely to have exceeded one million. In 310 a Taba leader entered into an agreement with a Jin general who needed his help to drive out other nomads. The Xianbei tribes made 20,000