The Xianbei (/ʃjɛnˈb/; Chinese: 鮮卑; pinyin: Xiānbēi, Korean; 선비 Seonbi) were an ancient nomadic people that once resided in the eastern Eurasian steppes in what is today Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Northeastern China. They originated from the Donghu people who splintered into the Wuhuan and Xianbei when they were defeated by the Xiongnu at the end of the 3rd century BC. The Xianbei were largely subordinate to larger nomadic powers and the Han dynasty until they gained prominence in 87 AD by killing the Xiongnu chanyu Youliu. However unlike the Xiongnu, the Xianbei political structure lacked the organization to pose a concerted challenge to the Chinese for most of their time as a nomadic people.

Traditional Chinese鮮卑
Simplified Chinese鲜卑
Painting depicting a Xianbei archer
The Xianbei state (1st–3rd century).

The Xianbei were at one point all defeated and conquered by the Di Former Qin empire before it fell apart at the Battle of Fei River at the hands of the Eastern Jin. The Xianbei later founded their own states and reunited northern China as the Northern Wei. These states opposed and promoted sinicization at one point or another but trended towards the latter and had merged with the general Chinese population by the Tang dynasty.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The Northern Wei also arranged for ethnic Han elites to marry daughters of the Tuoba imperial clan in the 480s.[7] More than fifty percent of Tuoba Xianbei princesses of the Northern Wei were married to southern Han men from the imperial families and aristocrats from southern China of the Southern dynasties who defected and moved north to join the Northern Wei.[8]